An American Girl in Bogota

by Danielle Robles

I arrived on a rainy Saturday, not quite knowing exactly where I was going, what to expect or even how to complete a coherent sentence in Spanish for anyone to understand. Some may say it was a bit risky, but I was hungry for adventure, so fuck it I said. The city was a dreary grey color, the epitome of a concrete jungle, accentuated by the vibrant colors of street art, hugging the buildings, walls and highways like an electric-hued blanket.

Armed with 2 bottles of tequila in my suitcase and a chunk of Colombia pesos I still had yet to figure out what to do with, I was buzzing with the excitement of the unknown as the cabbie whisked me across the downtown center to my girlfriend’s humble abode. European-style buildings poked their heads out of the monotonous skyline every block or two, a street performer walked across a tightrope that was spontaneously hung across the middle of the road, vendors selling knick-knacks and aromatic panaderias lined the pavement, as I inhaled the hustle and bustle of the magnificent town. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

I finally arrived at my friend’s house, feeling both frazzled and exhilarated, and was greeted with a squeal and a hug. Yep, I had finally made it. I had arrived. I unpacked my gifts from the states for her, cracking open the bottle of tequila first. Anyone who’s ever suffered a hangover from aguardiente would understand the reasoning behind me importing the Mexican goodies in.

A few shots deep, I decided I was starved so we headed to the local panaderia for my first taste of Colombian heaven. Mushroom, cheese and chicken empanadas. Honestly, there are no words.

One piece of heaven down, I was ready to get back at that bottle of tequila. I mean it was my first day in Colombia after all! Hearing that there was a zombie march going down downtown, a small group of us decided to scour the streets for a costume. A feat that I thought would prove much more difficult — apparently Halloween is a very big deal. But the party gods got the best of us, and the booze burning in our bellies began calling for more, so after snagging a random Mardi Gras mask and a few palettes of face paint, we headed back to the expat house.

More shots were poured while we lined up to get our zombie faces painted on by the resident makeup artist. Our original plans had gone out the window as the tequila took over. We’d just have to see where the night would lead us next. Bottle killed, zombie faces on — we headed out to the streets with a massive, rowdy crew. Bogota isn’t even ready for us, I slurred to myself. We walked what seemed like 10 miles to a Halloween house party. Pouring rain. Our clothes soaking wet. And as we entered I was immediately hit with the mug that would only occur from cramming wayyyy too many people into a building. It was impossible to move. Claustrophobia began to kick in. After doing one round (lasting about 2.5 min) around the party we decided to bounce. We’ll find something better, or so we thought.

We hopped into a cab with intention of hitting up Theatron — the biggest, brightest, most ostentatious gay club Bogota has to offer. We totally got this in the bag. We arrived soaking wet, zombie makeup running down our faces, attempting to barter our way into the glamorous venue. I can’t even imagine the horrific sight the bouncers had to entail.

Time travel a few hours forward…a small group of us are sitting on my friend’s living room floor, quietly listening to music, Twister board sprawled across the dining area as if a serious sesh had gone down. And while the rest of the events that night remain unknown, lost to the Colombian party gods no doubt, one thing’s for sure: Bogota, night #1…in-the-motherf*kin-bag. We went nowhere, we did nothing, yet somehow…First Night = Best Night. Ever.