Back in August, 2010, which was about 6 months ago, my interest in traveling was renewed. My biggest passion in life is travel, and my ultimate goal is to visit all 194 countries in the world before I die. So, in the beginning of August, I got my passport renewed and started planning my next country to visit. I had traveled a lot back when I was younger, back when my parents had more money. I had been all over Europe and Asia, including England, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. However, I was young when I went to these countries, and I am sure that I did not appreciate these trips as I would now. So, I decided to wipe the slate clean.
I had no real reason for going to Colombia specifically. I chose South America because I had never been to this continent, and it was more economical than going to any other continent. Every location in South America had the exotic lure, and when I picked Colombia out of the hat, I guess it was due to the one advantage that Colombia has over its neighbors: coffee production. Anyone who knows me knows my love for a good cup o’ joe.
So, I planned Colombia and a trip to it’s capital city, Bogotá. I bought a round trip ticket on Mexicana Airlines, so I could earn AAdvantage miles, as Mexicana was a OneWorld Alliance member. At the end of August, I was horrified to find out that Mexicana Airlines had filed for bankruptcy. I would not get my money back until after my trip, so I quickly booked another ticket on TACA Airlines, for September 24 – October 2, 2010.
I started a website called The Dauntless Jaunter (www.dauntlessjaunter.com) back in August, which I intend to use as a travel reference guide and a blog to document my journeys. This website will have many features, and is targeted towards the solo and independent traveler, though there will be resources and advice suitable for just about any vacation soon, I hope. This is one of my side projects, so please support me by bookmarking the website and following the posts.
Back to the topic. So, I have been a member of this great little niche travel website called CouchSurfing. CouchSurfing is a website where travelers can meet real locals in the city that they are planning on going to. The primary tool on the site is for enabling you to find locals that will host you in their house. Hence, you “surf their couch”. Not only is this a great way to save some money, but I was thrilled at the prospect of getting to see how real people live from day to day in the cities where I want to go. There are almost 2 million members, so it should not be a problem finding someone to host you if you are going to a major city, but in case you cannot find anyone, there are many more people who are probably open to other things, such as having lunch, dinner, or drinks with you, or giving you a tour of their city. This is especially great, because who better to show you the city than a native? But more on CouchSurfing in a different blog.
I stayed for 10 days in Bogotá and loved every minute of it. I met this girl, Kathe, on the first day that I arrived, and she ended up spending every single day of my stay with me. Kathe was a great tour guide, and we built some sort of connection. After I got back to New York City, we continued talking on Skype, and we are now dating. I have been to Bogotá six times in the last 5 months, and have another trip planned in 3 weeks. To keep this long-distance relationship working, I try to visit her every 3 weeks or so. Plus, it gives me a great excuse to travel!
Bogotá is a great city, full of beautiful, warm, and passionate people. The people there seem to only want to have a good time, and it is weird for me to see a city with the same population as New York City with such calm and amiable attitudes. It seems to rain every 3 hours, and the sky seems forever overcast, the streets are filthy, and there are stray dogs everywhere, which I assume to be feral, but the people keep a great attitude. The food is wonderful, and cigarettes are $1.50 USD a pack, which allows me to buy a whopping 9 packs of smokes for the price that I can buy 1 pack in Brooklyn.
This is just a brief summary about the city that over the past half-year has become my second home. There is much to do and see in Bogotá, Colombia, and you would miss a great opportunity if you never took the time to experience it. It is not anywhere as dangerous or drug-infested as the stereotype still implies, so you can travel there with relatively little worry. As their marketing team says: Bogotá, the only danger is wanting to stay.