mercredi 11 mai 2016
A FRIENDLY MORNING IN BOGOTA, COLOMBIA 9 MAY 2016
After a long flight to Bogota from Madrid via Cali, I had hoped to rest well at Hilton Bogota, where they had upgraded me to a spacious room on arrival very close to midnight. I used yogic techniques at my disposal, hoping that the relaxation would ward off the jet lag.
At 9 am I came down to the reception to get my boarding pass printed, was very pleased to see Leidy behind the desk. I also recognized Natalia and said hello to Nataly a recent arrival. Climbing up one flight to the Executive Lounge, Alejandro (had seen him before) greets me warmly and offers to make Café con Leche. I had a simple breakfast while reading the local newspaper El Tiempo( I think Gabo was once a journalist for this paper?), Lola Juice which it says is good for the Kidneys, smoked salmon, small bits of arepa, a small pain au chocolat the attentive service of Alejandro completed this pleasant breakfast.
Today I am determined to control my appetite, my hunger and my food intake in preparation for the ten days in the Indian reservations in Nebraska.
Today in Colombia, is a dia festive-holiday to celebrate Mother’s Day which fell on the previous Sunday. The huge Carratera 7, snaking from the south to the north had been partially blocked and was filled with bicyclists, mothers with children, young, old and families with an occasional juggler or a vendor of something or another, adding to the festive feeling.
Being a holiday, the traffic jam Bogota is famous for, was nowhere in sight. (Spend a Sunday or a holiday in Bogota for a quiet stay).
Leidy, Natalia and Nataly and I chatted for a few minutes. I was very pleased with the friendliness and the warm smiles here at the Hilton Bogota. It is a business hotel so it is rather quiet during the weekend, the Americans having departed. I am a great fan of UBER, after saying good bye to the young ladies, on leaving the lobby was greeted by Oscar, arriving there just four minutes after I had requested Uber!
In Colombia everyone is happy to speak to you in English. The people of Colombia are in general good looking. Bogota has less of a Black or Mulatto population and the faces reflect the fierce yet at the same time the sweet origins of their ancestors with a fair bit of Indian blood thrown in, which may not be immediately evident, but delineates itself , like in the face of the Uber driver with his crystalline nose.
I enjoy these little snippets of sweetness during my travels and try to make these interactions as sweet as possible.
Tourists do not pay the nearly 20% tax at hotels, so if you are in Colombia, especially over a weekend, you can get good deals. I promised to come back, thought very fondly how my Cuban friends would enjoy a stay in a hotel like the Hilton Hotel in Bogota!
The Uber had arrived quite quickly and on this holiday, the drive to the airport was a rapid one. He was not very chatty but was very polite.
On arrival at the Customs/security, I was asked about the ten cans of Sardines I was carrying from France to Miami. There are five of us, the agent joked, each of us can have two then. These ten cans of sardines, freshly packed in Quiberon in olive oil, had been checked at the airports at Nantes in France, Madrid in Spain and twice in Bogota! I am glad they are terminating their journey in Miami.
It is my habit to walk through the duty free shops, mindless and uniformly dull all over the world as they are, but I do take the opportunity to sprinkle myself with colognes and try some creams. (Women’s eau de colognes and perfumes are far more interesting than the dull tones for the men). You are forced through to walk amidst the garish displays of the same perfumes and brands whether it is Buenos Aires or Doha, with attendants with short attention spans. I am pleasant to them but have no intention of buying any of these overpriced luxury items. So my scarf smells a little better for a while longer...
I sought out the LATAM lounge which is slightly more sophisticated than the Avianca Lounge at the El Dorado International Airport at Bogota. A pleasant young woman by the name of Susana greeted me. I took an immediate liking to her, perhaps because of a certain innocent sweetness to her face, this young lady from the Caribbean coastal town of Cartagena de las Indias.
We chatted, just formalities, and then I asked her whether she knew my friend Melissa from Barranquilla who had worked at this lounge where I had met her during my previous visits to this lounge. I was very happy to hear that Melissa had gone off to work with the Emirates airlines in Dubai. Just yesterday I felt I was among a garden of butterflies, as a group of EK Flight attendants flitted past me at the Madrid airport, going to their waiting Airbus 380 with its capacity of nearly 400-500 passengers! I thought, Good Luck to my friend Melissa from Barranquilla!
After a few sips of a good chardonnay from Rutini in Mendoza, Argentina, I retrieved Melissa’s email from my computer and wrote to her, congratulating her and expressing a desire that our paths cross amidst the skies of the Persian Gulf! Then I thought it might be nice to take a photo of Susana and send it to her, since they seemed to be good friends. Susan and I got into a conversation quickly, which veered away from the superficiality of materialistic orientation of chats and especially facilitated by the fact that she is eager to travel to India. I emphasized her privileges about flying at a discount and mapped out some itineraries: Bog to Madrid to the Gulf and then on to any one of the destinations in India or BOG TO ISTANBUL TO INDIA on Turkish Airlines. Our conversation quickly turned to Yogic Philosophy, I encouraged her to cultivate courage to follow path of extraordinariness, whether in career, relationships or travel. I also mentioned Sadhguru and promised to send some articles by him.
Most of the interactions of a traveler are short, and I make every effort to make them pleasant and able to carry some message or other, almost always bringing them closer to their dreams.
I was looking forward to the privacy and rest on my flight to Miami, certainly was not expecting anything other than dour dutiful service of middle aged flight attendants. Much to my great surprise (the Kleisha of attachment springs up here), both the Flight Attendants, with years of experience, were polite, professional and friendly and very accommodating.
My good friends M/G would be waiting for me at the MIA airport to go for a little nosh (nourriture) nearby. I wanted to be hungry enough for it, so did not partake much in the dish offered on the flight. These Colombian flight attendants have not adopted the US based AA flight attendants in their attitude towards service and their impoliteness, they are a credit to the American Airlines Latin American services.
So I had a friendly morning in Bogota, Colombia
Thank you my new friends, I hope to see them again!