colombia {day 9-10} bogota & traveling back to boston

Warning: This post is text-heavy and skimps on pretty pictures, but I promise you’ll find it entertaining if you enjoy reading about irresponsibility and embarrassment.

My last morning in Santa Marta was a sad one. Mostly because I had to say goodbye to my friend, but also because a night of Aguardiente shots has this funny way of making you feel like road kill the next morning. After being force-fed* some onion soup at the house, we headed to Lulo for lunch. I ordered “café Americano,” and considering Colombia is known for its coffee, I’m pretty sure that’s the equivalent of eating at the Olive Garden in Italy. I’m an asshole.

*Saying “no, thank you” when Colombians offer you food is like saying “no, thank you” when Americans offer you free Chanel bags. They look at you like you’re crazy and INSIST you eat. As much as I loved Colombia and found all the people to be so welcoming and gracious, I think that’s one cultural difference I would have an extremely difficult time adjusting to. You literally can’t say no when offered food. Being full or not caring for a certain dish just simply aren’t acceptable reasons to turn down food.

After briefly exploring the market, it was time for me to head to the airport for a night in Bogota with another of my close friends from college. (Lucky me having two friends in Colombia, huh?). The airport confiscated a pair of tweezers from me, but considering I hadn’t used them the entire trip, or done anything remotely hygienic for that matter, I let it slide. (The peanut butter incident was far more traumatic).

In the absence of my bilingual friends, getting from the Bogota airport to my friend’s apartment was the first time I had to rely on my nonexistent Spanish skills. Surprisingly, I managed. After a quick outfit change and a good hearty laugh at the condition my “hair” was in (I literally didn’t brush it once the entire time I was in Colombia…because I’m sexy), we headed out for the night to Andres Carne de Res.

I can’t even explain how cool this place is. First of all, it’s the size of a strip mall, and every inch of it is decorated in the most eclectically outrageous way possible. Rooms of tables are surrounded by dance floors and bars, and the whole place just screams “fun.” I think it would literally be impossible to have a bad time there. And if you’re not convinced, they have a room similar to a coat check where you can drop off a friend if she/he gets too drunk. Someone will give you a ticket in exchange so you can pick up your friend at the end of the night, and a nurse will feed them soup and take care of them while you continue to party. How hilarious is that?!

We had a delicious meal of authentic Colombian food and steak (I’m not a huge meat eater, but when at a steak house, do as the Romans do…?), tons of frozen fruit cocktails and…Aguardiente (there was no escaping it).

We danced and danced and danced—it is the understatement of the century to say that Colombians have more rhythm than I do—and before long I was talking in a Spanish accent because I have the embarrassing tendency to mimic people I’m with. I blame you for that, Aguardiente.

I had to be at the airport by 5AM to catch my early morning flight to Miami, and being the responsible adult I am, we made it back from Andres with enough time for me to get approximately 7 minutes of sleep before hailing a cab. Getting from my friend’s apartment to the airport after drinking and dancing all night was a blur.

Literally. I left my contacts at my friend’s apartment. Oops.

I’m cripplingly nearsighted, yet didn’t realize I was contact-less until I arrived at the airport. How did I not notice this, you ask. Well, I had a slight suspicion something was wrong in the cab, but attributed it to the booze, naturally.

So there I was. Blind, unable to speak Spanish, and still wearing my dress from last night and a Colombian flag sash I had somehow acquired at Andres. I probably should have been scared and embarrassed, but I’m really good at saying “si” repeatedly and nodding vigorously at people, so I easily made it through customs and on to the plane.

The plane was practically empty, so I took the liberty of upgrading myself to an empty exit row. Normally this would be a problem because you need to speak Spanish to sit in the exit row (and, ya know, not be drunk) but again, I’m very good at smiling, nodding and saying “si.” Totally played it off like I was Colombian.

Also working in my favor was my dark hair and skin coloring. The entire time I was in Colombia, practically NO ONE knew I was a gringa. I got mistaken for being Argentinian and Chilean, but never was my Stupid-American identity revealed. Blondes may have more fun, but brunettes don’t get kidnapped AND we get to sit in the exit row. BOOM!

Once in the air, I promptly sprawled out across all three seats in the row and fell asleep. I was out like a bulb the entire flight, but strangely awoke for 5 minutes to accept the in-flight meal and inhale it. Even stranger than me popping wide awake at the exact moment the food cart was approaching was the fact that they were serving turkey sandwiches at 7:30AM. But you don’t question things like this when you’re wearing a mini dress and sash on an airplane.

I had an eight-hour layover in Miami, so naturally I decided to take a $70-round-trip cab ride to South Beach. I spent the majority of my time on the beach in the fetal position, but it was worth the $70 to soak up one last day of sun and salt water.

When it was time to return to the airport, I was covered in sand (no towel) and still in my bathing suit. Add that to the previously described mini dress and sash, and I looked like a walking disaster. I snapped one pretty picture at sunset in the air, and then promptly fell asleep until landing in Boston.

Me, my bags and my sparkly floral manicure made it back home in one piece, leading me to conclude that the warnings of kidnapping and drug cartels I was berated with before leaving for Colombia were highly exaggerated. What I experienced was a gorgeous country full of kind, fun-loving people and I cannot wait to return next year.

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