Our arrival was the opposite of auspicious. The airport looked unusually busy as we descended through the clouds to Bogotá’s bright lights but I shrugged it off and focused on getting off the plane. We’d already been traveling more than 13 hours. The aircrew announced that they had forgotten to get the Customs paperwork for us. Whatever. I rolled my eyes. Airline incompetence, we’ve all lived it. Then they said “Oh, and we don’t have a gate so we’ll be exiting onto the concourse.
Normally I love exiting down stairs. It makes me feel like a celebrity or similar. Burbank is my favorite airport to arrive to for exactly that reason. I like to step out of the plane dramatically, taking an extra moment to feel the sun shine on my face and shake my hair out. It’s the little things, you know.
The stairs in Bogotá were a very different Hollywood experience. I dragged myself and my small son off the plane into… chaos. It wasn’t just our plane that didn’t have a gate. El Dorado airport is under construction and most arriving planes were exiting without gates. The tarmac was a disaster of planes, people and busses, all sporting flashing lights. It looked like “James Bond: Behind the Scenes”. Elian looked at me with wide horrified eyes. We descended from the plane into my first-ever tarmac traffic jam.
Did I mention it was raining?
All of this is to say, it didn’t start so well. Colombians like to do things big, so it wasn’t just a mess. It was A MESS! There is also construction all over La Septima, the principal street. I swear the first day I thought the whole city was in ruins which, yeah, not the way to start your vacation or reintroduce your son to his hometown.
Isn’t this fun? I chirped to Elian as he covered his ears to drown out the jack hammers.
The thing is though that Bogotá is a beautiful city. Even with construction scarring its main streets it is impossible to resist its pristine skies, so crisp and clear after the predictably unpredictable rainstorms and it’s magical mountains which rise up straight to the heavens. We had a great couple of days there, hanging out with good friends and drinking coffee every two hours because of course. It’s Bogotá! In Bogotá there is always a good excuse to drink more chocolate, stay up later and laugh harder. Even the construction feels hopeful, part of the constant push to make the city better. They close all the main arteries every Sunday for family bicycling. This is a city that rallies.
I fell in love with Bogotá a long time ago. Before it gave me friends like family. Before I married Arnold and before I knew this city would give me my first-born son. I highly reccomend it to each of you. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll fall in love too.