Yo amo Bogotá

If you don’t know it already, here’s a cool page to check if you are addicted to that wonderful city or just curious about it. It’s one of the biggest Bogotá lovers community on Facebook, full of amazing pictures of the town which will add a nice colombian taste to your usual Facebook surfing.

Should I recommend to put some good music as you browse the pictures and make yourself an agua de panela to go with it? Of course not, I’m sure you are doing it at this very moment 🙂

Yo amo Bogotá

Advertisements
Posted in Bogotá, Colombia, Photography, Travelling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Insomnia and Inspiration

Lately, I’ve been struggling really hard with insomnia. The fact that I’ve been travelling a lot during the past year probably didn’t help my body to understand that 4 am is NOT a good time to be awake and certainly not the time to check what’s going on at the other side of the world (thank you Facebook and Whatsapp to keep me linked to my mates but you know how to ruin my nights as well). I’ve also been under some kind of a so-called health treatment that did a huge mess on me, you know this kind of heavy shit which temporarily cures one thing but messes out everything else in your body? Yeah, this one. Strangely, even if the last 3 months have been a total nightmare, it has also been the perfect time to fix myself a few goals and stick to them. Here we go again, same old two options: seeing the glass half full or half empty…  mine has now a tendency of brimming over!

catseye

A bunch of Daring girls.

Putting myself into art again, that’s what I needed. You can also buy a good bottle of negativity repellent but it’s quite hard to find one (in France at least, no offence to my compatriots who are constantly complaining about everything). No, I’m not that kind of person who can spend 2 hours watching a blank canvas with polka dots with tears blinding my eyes, I’m more like a makeup/comics/street art kinda girl, who can spend 2 hours transfixed by a zombie makeup or a weird punk staring at me saying “I will dance on your grave” (see picture below).

Street art in the center of Bogota.

About a month ago, after seeing a tv show that basically changed my perception of life (I could never thank my Aussie twin enough for that), I choose to take a pencil again and draw some stuff, after years of thinking I wasn’t good enough and guess what? I loved it. Barney Stinson would have said: “When I’m sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead” and everyone knows that awesomeness takes practice right?! Seeing my enthusiastic 2 year-old niece drawing faces day after day on her small blackboard with a smile up to the sky makes me think that Barney got it all figured out. Or maybe that little girl did.

So I tried to enter the competition myself, with shaking hands: since I haven’t touched a pencil for years, it is certainly not perfect but Daring Girl is out so here’s what I have committed lately:

IMAG0968

IMAG0976

Yeah, Mohawk’s kinda crazy…hum.

You might find it amusing that I’ve spent like half an hour thinking “should I post those drawings or not?” before hitting publish… well, Daring Girl might speak her mind but is constantly working on her confidence skills. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by so many talented artists, writers, singers, musicians, dancers and little faces makers that always give me inspiration and keep me focused and motivated.

So tell me, what keeps you people awake at night? What inspires you? What kind of artist lies inside of you?

Posted in Art, Health, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The King of May

Another great two-pager set in an imaginary universe, to enjoy at your break with a cuppa:

The King of May.

If you are looking for some good inspiration for your next movie/tv show/what-have-you, I strongly recommend you follow Rob’s blog: it’s like a treasure chest!

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Con sabor latina

For all you dance lovers out there, this post is tailor-made for you! I can hear hearts bumping and  hips furiously shaking. I already told you a bit about the side effects of dancing in a previous entry (I like to warn people about how addicted you can become after just one try), I wanted to introduce you to the team of Elegua Dance, formed by Colombian teachers and dance lovers with whom I spent 3 months of pure craziness:

Right. Now you can easily understand the need to find places and people sharing the same interest but, you’ve got to be prepared. Do you really think you can stop the salsa effect like that? Truth is, there’s no rehab for that. Back in France, I had to go to Confession: I had sinned for I haven’t danced for 6 months. Sometimes I fear I have a tendency of changing myself into a cave bear, minus the hair thank you very much.

Last Sunday, it was meant to happen: I went to a salsa event in Paris called Le Village Latino: after 7 hours of dancing on Colombian and Cuban rhythms while having Mojitos (keep you hydrated, that’s the key), I felt amazing and incredibly happy even with my hair glued all over my face. Fortunately I was wearing braids, which made a guy think I was peruvian… I didn’t know Peruvians were so pale. Obviously, too much Rhum can lead to serious hallucinogen effects.  For a couple of hours, I was back to South America: salsa finally saved my soul.

Once more with feeling!

Posted in Colombia, Dancing, France, Meeting people, Music, Nightlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Travelling to Colombia: de una!

Getting ready. M&M's optionals (but so tasty).

Getting ready. M&M’s optionals (but so tasty).

Forget what you’ve heard on tv and open your eyes: this will be my one and only advice if you ever thought about going on a trip to Colombia. How many times have you heard good things about the country? I bet not as much as you’ve heard “narco-trafficking is everywhere” or “you’re gonna get kidnapped, are you out of your mind?!” and of course the famous “don’t you remember it’s Pablo Escobar’s land?”. What people tend to forget, if they have ever tried to get curious about the country -well yes, there is life and often truth outside the medias- is that Colombia is a beautiful country with just about every kind of landscape you can dream of, with a history and a culture you probably never heard of during high-school (unless you had a Colombian teacher): Tayrona people anyone? The Ciudad Perdida, Barranquilla carnival, the history of the Plaza Chorro de Quevedo in Bogotá, does any of this ring a bell to you?

DSCN0598

If it doesn’t, then put your best walking shoes on, grab your camera and go out. In 2011, 62,2% of the people who came to Colombia went there for tourism with 54,5% who chose to travel to Bogotá (9,6% decided to try the wonderful arepas in Medellin; 6,9% went to move their hips in Cali and 11,2% prefered get a tan in Cartagena de Indias). Tourism is getting stronger and I honestly don’t know how can one get tired in a country so welcoming and full of, well, yeah: everything.

Can we please talk about the safety now? Well here’s a quick Q & A: would you go out -even in your own country- with your smart phone/wallet/Ipad in your hands at night while heading home? Would you let your bag without keeping an eye on it at a shopping mall while talking to a friend? Of course not. Would you go to unknown or sketchy places without having checked with locals first or called a friend to come with you? No. So why on Earth would you do that when travelling abroad? Colombia is no different from any other country for that matter. I’ve never had any problems related to mugging or theft of any kind during my travels but yes, it happened to some of my friends… in Paris, London, Bogotá, Buenos Aires and New York. Colombia has a very heavy past, ignoring it or forgetting what happened is not the point, but one has to get over it for good. Carefulness and common sense will be your best buddies if you decide to explore it.

I should probably mentioned the 30.000 pesos I gave away plus the restaurant bill I had to pay for 3 people the very first day I arrive, because the guy -who’s been recommended to me by a friend- didn’t have any money with him… Common sense and intuition are teaming when you are travelling alone for sure! I learned my lessons and when that so-called guide tried the same trick the next day, I used the most internationals 4 letters and then went my own way. As simple as that.

Parque Natural Chicaque.

Travelling alone gives you that tremendous sense of freedom and awareness: following your spider sense is usually enough to take you out of tricky situations, along with wall crawling (if you master the skill). That trip helped me growing up in many ways and I can’t stop raving about backpacking now; so, is it safe to travel to Colombia? Yes it is, if you trust your senses and plan a few things ahead. Better than that: it could be your best experience ever. If I could go back in time, I would have changed only one thing: I’d have left earlier.

Posted in Colombia, Meeting people, Travelling | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been to.

These words literally caught my eye a few days ago as I was spending a lazy and cosy afternoon checking things on the Internet. Outside the streets were empty on that beautiful but cold day and I won’t hold a thing against anyone, for I was warming my bones at home with a nice green tea. It wasn’t the right time to wear my bad-ass outfit anyway…it doesn’t have a fleece lining yet!

Cosy home Wallpaper__yvt2

When words slap you in the face so hard that you could feel it (see that red mark on your right cheek? That what I’m talking about) that means it might be time to dig something out. Oh, hello morning introspection! I wasn’t expecting you that early, 4am is early, right?! Returning to crazy Bogotá, my sister’s upcoming move to the land of kangaroos, dear friends going on trips around the world, all those things are somehow echoing to each other because let’s be honest here: we all look for that special place where we belong. What if travelling was just be a preliminary step to something much bigger, like a moving?

If you ever thought about leaving your country, or if you already did so, what triggered your decision? How do you feel about it by now? Niños, it’s time to bring a little interactivity to your morning coffee!

Cafe

Posted in Expatriation, Life, Travelling | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Je suis française, by the way…

Practicing Spanish in Colombia, writing about it in English and using (abusing?) of span-glish et voilà! Here’s that identity crisis again. Probably due to the fact I barely spoke my own language for months… When other expats stick to their roots, I just decided to loose mine.

haddock-600x434

Oh believe me, I swore in French on occasions! But living with an american girl for some time then a Czech guy who perfectly spoke the language of Shakespeare, I couldn’t help but swearing in English more and more, like an old and grumpy mariner. Though I can have a proper conversation in Spanish, don’t ask me to explain how semiconductor physics is working then I won’t have to lie to you.

Speaking of that guy I lived with for a few months, I should make a statement: Czech people never ceased to amaze me with their language skills. The first time we met, even though I knew he was from Czech Republic, he looked like he was Argentinian or something with a perfect manner of speaking, using Colombian slang and making jokes with an off-putting ability. Then, as I tried to explain something with my broken Spanish,  he just switched into English in a blink of an eye. That, my friends, is bad news for us French who already are (and I think I’m not far from the reality, ouch it hurts again) the WORST language learners in all Europe. Prenons-en de la graine mes chers concitoyens.

Of course I thought about taking a Spanish course when I was in Bogotá but as every foreigner who looks for a job and has to live, I had to be careful with my pesos, as classes can leave you broken for some time. So plan B was on: I decided to attend “special” local classes, here’s how to do it:

  1. Leave your phone (and your mp3 player) at home. Or just turn it off. You can do it. It’s going to be all right I promise. It even has a switch off button! Are you really going to update your Facebook status when you can have a new and exciting day off wandering in a new town full of mysteries? If your hands and arms become itchy, you could always find an internet cafe somewhere;
  2. Jump on a bus and listen to the locals around you. That could easily turn into a good one-hour and a half class if your bus is stuck in the Septima (7th avenue) during rush hour. But it’ll cost you only 1450/1500 pesos and you might make new friends in the end. Or at least know what “bacano” or “que mamera/que pereza” means)
  3. Have coffee/lunch by yourself and again, pay attention to what’s happening around you; You won’t get kidnapped because you are sitting alone sipping your coffee and smoking a cigarette, but you can get hit on by Colombians, yes. It happens. A lot more than in Paris.
  4. Socialize. Colombians are so far, the most welcoming people I’ve evermet and they will be more than happy to talk to you and introduce you to the wonders of their countries (you will likely be introduced to their family too, which is a big deal there and can be quite surprising for us, Europeans).

There’s also a great community of CouchSurfers in Colombia and particularly in Bogotá. If you think those guys are new species of sea surfers, then check my previous post about it: Socializing 101 (and avoiding compatriots). Another good option if you want to learn the language is going on Tuesday nights at la Villa, (a nice bar in the Zona T, cra 14A#83-56) to attend the weekly Gringo Tuesdays: from 6 to 10 pm, there’s a language exchange where expats, travelers and Colombians from all over the country meet around a beer for a nice chat before the place turns into a nightclub caliente until 3am. It’s usually quite crowded but in a nice and chilled atmosphere before 10pm… then it gets crazy. Give it a shot then decide! Here’s a video to show you what a proper Gringo Tuesday is:

Or, you could even learn with those guys!

 

Posted in Bogotá, Expatriation, Friendship, Meeting people, Music, Nightlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment