It feels weird to write this in the Cancun airport where I am relearning how annoying North Americans can be (I got used to the South American brand of annoyingness), but, you know, you take what connections you can get when heading back to the United States for three weeks of serious business on a budget. But why get into boring stuff like that when I have so much to type about my first impressions of Bogotá?

And luckily my first impressions were better than my last impressions, which may or may not have involved an old man dying across the hall from me. Yeah. You just read that correctly. I think a dude staying in the room across from mine at the jankiest hostel of all time died while I was there. I say that I “think” because I don’t know for sure. All I know is that when I returned yesterday after checking out the planetarium (you read that correctly, too — I learn astronomy in my spare time), there were a bunch of people swirling around his room (counter-clockwise, of course, since we were in South America) and today there was a giant padlock on his door. Sketchy? Yes. Good story? Uh, maybe?

But anyway, like I said, thankfully my first impressions were better than my last. And, in fact, despite the probable dead body across the hall, I’m chomping at the coca leaf to go back. Indeed, when I wasn’t at the sh*ttiest, sketchiest hostel of all time (did I mention there was no hot water?), I really got a good vibe from that city. There’s a nice mix of Old World culture and New World comforts, meaning that I could go from accidentally eating a traditional Colombian meal of beans and pig’s feet at noon in a Bohemian cafe in La Candelaria (in a rush to meet my bean quota for the week, I saw the word frijoles on the menu and prematurely ordered without reading the entire description), to seeing Avatar 3D in a first-class cinema located in a neon-lit shopping mall that evening. Or I could saunter (yes, saunter) around the cobblestone streets of the old city by day and head out to the glitzy northern neighborhoods to dine on pretty decent Thai food at night. For once, the most annoying cliché in the English language actually applies: Bogotá is the best of both worlds.

And after coming in from Medellín, where the general opinion of Bogotá isn’t the best (it’s a rivalry to rival that between St. Petersburg and Moscow), I found myself pleasantly surprised.

From the sounds of many in Medellín, I was expecting to find Bogotá to be a sh*thole of Cusco proportions. “The people are mean and ugly,” they told me. “The city is too big and dirty,” they said. “The weather is horrible and cold,” they repeated.

Well, newsflash: you boners were wrong.

Or maybe I’m just lucky.

The first day I was there, looking dumb and dumber (it’s hard to look both at the same time, but I manage), two separate people stopped to help me with directions without me even asking. Of course, in retrospect, I would’ve punched in the dick the guy who showed me to the hostel where people allegedly die. Not really, of course, I just bring up that turn of phrase in remembrance of that ridiculous letter written by the owner of Murky Coffee a few years back to a customer who wanted iced coffee. I’m going back to DC, after all. I’m feeling nostalgic. Never forget.)

But back to the point, what I’m trying to get to as verbosely as possible is that Bogotanos are nice for the most part and, well, no offense to the dudes in Medellín, but their Bogotano brothers seem to be taller and more attractive. Good-looking (relatively) and nice? Point to Bogotá.

Of course, now all you skeezy dudes are wondering about the women, especially after learning about their (debatable) renowned beauty in Medellín. Unfortunately, dudes, for the purposes of your international creeping, I’m going to have to plead idiot here (as per usual) and not comment. Why? Because, considering I apparently can’t tell a hot chick from a hooker (hell, I don’t even know if there’s even a difference, according to the standards of most heterosexual men), I don’t think I would be able to give any sort of accurate assessment. If it helps, the women in Bogotá dress less like circus-whores. You can decide if that’s a plus or minus.

Moving on to contention numero 2. “Bogotá is too big and dirty.” OK, so I’ll give you this one. Compared to Medellín, Bogotá is a bit too big and dirty, but hey, so is New York and Paris and Moscow and Tokyo and every other major urban area. It’s called grit and I love it.

Well, unless, of course, that grit is the city’s transportation grid, or lack thereof. Indeed, the one thing I think I’ll probably get annoyed with quickly when I return next month is the lack of a proper metro/subway system. Although the city is building an underground railroad (not that kind) to be completed sometimes this decade, right now it looks like I’ll either have to rely on smelly buses or cabs. Either way, I’m sure I’ll be stuck in traffic for several unnecessary hours on my way from eating indecipherable animal hooves to shoveling delicious noodles in my Thai-hole. (Wow, that is a disturbing play of words.)

But luckily, while I was there this past week, I was able to do quite a bit of walking in the lovely 70-degree, sunny weather. That’s right, haters, EVERY DAY FOR FIVE DAYS STRAIGHT IT WAS SUNNY AND 70 DEGREES. (For all you metric people, that’s about 21 degrees Celsius.) Now, some of you may call that dumb luck to encounter such beautiful weather in Bogotá, which is known for clouds, cold and precipitation, but think again. That’s called global warming, fools! Indeed, Bogotá’s got a brand new forecast in 2010: the average low is cool and the high is awesome! Shamwowza!

And speaking of “awesome shamwowza,” maybe the most telltale reason I fell a little bit in love with Bogotá is because I ended up finding a ridiculously tight place to live next month and possibly beyond. And just to shove it in your faces in the wake of learning this (chew on that Washingtonians), the rent is one-third of what I was paying in DC, the apartment’s in an awesome spot in La Candelaria and the price includes all utilities and maid service twice per week. El boo-ya-o!

OK, so this last one is a bit cloudy. But it was sunset so technically the day is over. Plus, cloudy or not, that sky looks FARCing sweet.

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