As I mentioned in a previous blog posting, we are all content creators now. I started the M’s Adventures blog/website when I moved to Bangladesh in 2011 (you can read one of my early blog postings here), and since then, I’ve created a book for each country I’ve lived in. As I will soon depart Peru, I was looking through photos to put together my book. The previous books have been published on Lulu.
But, this time, as I’m learning how to make movies on iMovie, I thought I’d make a “videobook” or moving picture book, a love letter to Peru. I may also make a paper book, but I’ll see how I feel when I’ve edited 8,000 photos and taught myself more iMovie. For now, here’s a film trailer so you can see what how it’s going. Don’t worry, the content of the body of the show will be less dramatic (film production really teaches one how much music changes the mood of a piece).
Here is the video trailer for “M’s Adventures in Peru: A Love Letter”
Or if you prefer to watch it on my YouTube channel, here is the link.
As I’ve recently been staying close to sea level, I thought I’d reflect on when I lived 8,500 feet above the sea. Something I had not thought about when I moved to Bogota was that there would be earthquakes. There are. Which shouldn’t be surprising since Bogota is part of the Sierra Nevada mountains which is part of the Pacific ring of fire. Fortunately, I only felt a few tremors in my time in Bogota. One of them was big enough to cause the crack in the photo.
The Spanish word for earthquake is “terremoto” which is appropriately terrifying sounding to me.
Sometimes communication requires a different form of “technology” language… when I was getting a custom paint job on my bicycle in Bogota, it wasn’t just that I had to learn more Spanish, but I found that it was easiest to communicate with the store manager via Whatsapp. Acquiring a product like a painted bike requires ceaseless vigilance and dogged constant contact… hence Whatsapp messages, and then magically, two months later, a reality in my possession.
Yup, I did find it sort of strange but eventually, I gave in… what’s that? Yes, I got my bike painted in a graffiti style as a homage to Bogota. Not in time to use it on Ciclovia, and just in time to pack with my belongings when I moved from Colombia. So, my advice is that if you plan to get anything custom made in Bogota, work on 12 months before you depart.
With frame shops, it’s just like real estate — location, location, location. I know that many expats recommended the framer on the corner of Carrera 11 and Calle 85. It’s convenient. I went to the frame shops on Carrera 17 somewhere near Calle 70. (The photo is from the national gallery of art in Bogota.)
After the prodigious amount of items that I got framed in Dhaka, I didn’t have much wall space left in my apartment. So I took my time getting my two items framed in Bogota. On one of my epic six-hour walks, I decided to check out the prices and options for framing. I found the prices reasonable. About $24 to frame a certificate in plain black. I also got a fancy frame for my tiny certificate from the equator in Ecuador. One of the activities at the equator was the egg balancing act. More about that in another blog posting.
It’s M’s Adventures (madventures to many) fifth anniversary. This map shows just one random day of visitors to my blog…
As seen on the map, the readership of my blog seems very dependent on subject. That subject is Bangladesh. Despite the facet that Bangladesh has a small landmass, it has a large population, and in the social media universe, an interesting statistic. If one looked solely at who is reading M’s Adventures and what topics they like, then it would seem that Bangladesh was the center of the world. But, I’m sure that Google could tell you that that Bangladesh is not the most searched term in their engine. I think that the spike in numbers on M’s Adventures is because there simply aren’t that many blogs written in English about Bangladesh.
As I watch my readership numbers dip, I wonder if I should stop writing this blog. Or when it’s just me and my friend’s cat reading the blog.
But, I’m still amazed each day to see how many hundreds have read my little blog. So for now, I keep blogging! After all, if I didn’t blog about it, did it happen?
Uchuva (cape gooseberry/yellow berry): These cherry-sized yellow fruit inside a paper cover (they look like small yellow tomatillos) have an aroma that I can’t describe (a subtle tomato-ish aroma), are slightly sour, and have a tomato-like texture.
Lulo: This fruit is unique to this part of the world (grows in Ecuador and Peru as well). The Colombians have really made it part of their daily juice selection (fresh juice is a part of daily life here). The lulo looks like a tomato but is super sour so only used for juice. The juice is greenish in color even though the fruit is orange.
Pitaya (yellow dragon fruit): This fruit could change the world. I call it the “110-minute fruit”… as in, you know where you will be 110 minutes after you’ve eaten it. I like to scoop out the insides sort of like eating a kiwi. It is part of the cactus family.
Maracuya (passion fruit): When I went on the fruit tour, I learned that the passion fruit sold in the U.S. is the brown version created by mixing a “mom” and a “dad” fruit. In the photo, the big round greenish one on the right is the “mom” and the long narrow one on the left is the “dad” (called a “caruba”) and the one in the center is the one I think of as a passion fruit.
Tree tomato: I tried three different kinds of tree tomato in Colombia. They don’t have much flavor and look like long narrow tomatoes.
Chirimoya (custard apple): This green pear shaped fruit that looks a bit like an artichoke is a surprise.
Kumquat: Looks like a grape-sized orange. Supposedly you can eat it, rind and all. I find it very bitter.
Papayuela. The only fruit that must be boiled with sugar before consumption.
Orange: The oranges used for Colombia are often green on the outside and orange on the inside. And sweet.
Mandarin: I mention these because the juice is great. Most of the mandarins I tried in Colombia were in juice form. When I would go to my favorite market, Paloquemao, the vendors would often give me a free mandarin. I appreciate the freebie but really I don’t like the mandarins because they are too papery and fibrous. But, great as juice! And so incredibly orange colored (the green juice in the back is feijoa – mentioned later)!
Zapote: Baseball size and dirt-colored. Inside is the texture of a pumpkin and it is bright orange. This is just one of the fruits you can try on the fruit tour in Bogota.
Obos: It looks like an olive and one chews around the hard seed inside. It seems like a lot of work for what you get.
Mamoncillo: Little round hard fruit a bit like lychee but without the same aroma.
Curuba zanahoria: The fruit from a palm tree. It’s a bit like a pumpkin. It needs salt, sugar, and lime juice… is it worth it?
Feijoa (pineapple guava/guavasteen): It tastes like kiwi with a soapy aroma. Not so good for those who don’t like cilantro. Used mostly for juice. Named for a Brazilian explorer.
Guayaba araca (wild acidic guava): These are yellowish and the size of an apple. The aroma of these led me to them in the produce section. Inside the flesh is pale custard color with flesh like a peach. But, they are super sour. Once I read about it, I found out that it needs to have sugar added and it needs to be diluted to 1 part juice to 10 parts water.
Granadilla: This was the go-to fruit for Colombian school kids because this is a sturdy fruit (and apparently the kids would smash it against their forehead to crack it open).
Guamas: looks like a mega green bean pod but you just eat the inside white fluff that surrounds the beans.
Carambola (starfruit): You have seen them on many a cocktail. I assume.
Papaya: This is a meat tenderizer and the Colombians eat this for breakfast — like they are trying to tenderize the night.
Pepino melon: a long attractive melon.
Agraz (blackberries, but like a small bitter acai): This small berries are so bitter that they must be good for your health.
Higos: The fruit of the cactus fruit.
Cashew fruit: The fruit of the cashew tree is great if you can get it. The nut hangs off the end of the fruit. It’s much better as a juice.
Mango: There are many sorts of mangoes. Colombia has the larger reddish kind.
Mangosteeno (mangosteen): Not from Colombia but they are very proud to grow them here. This is my favorite fruit.
Piñuela: This was a small shallot-shaped fruit. To eat it, one peels the leaves it like a banana. Inside is a white floss around a large black seed. Eat the floss.
Yacon: I first heard of this in the U.S. as it was being used in dried form as a diet tea. It’s sold on the streets of Bogota. On the outside, this fruit looks like a dirty potato. On the inside, it looks like a pear. Sort of.
Plantain: It is a fruit. It’s eaten like a starch. It is. But, it looks like a banana. A word about bananas in Colombia. Most of them are spotty. There are many different kinds. If you want unblemished Dole bananas, you need to buy “export” bananas. And good luck finding them.
Breva: This fruit looked like a styrofoam. I had lots of discussions with my Colombian colleagues about what it’s actually called. I believe it has to be boiled with sugar for ten hours.
Noni: And then there were these “noni”… so ugly. Apparently, they also have to be boiled for 24 hours with sugar. I couldn’t find anyone who had ever had these.
Actually, the rarest fruit to find in Colombia are lemons.
While researching the names of the fruits, I found this photo contest. It’s amazing to see what fruits are out there for us to try: Some links to other fruit adventurers: A blog about all kinds of things.
I did not find 100 new fruits to try, but these are a sample of the ones that I tried. Many of the new fruits were variations of other fruits. And frankly, a lot of the fruits were not very tasty and had to be boiled with sugar for 24 hours to be edible… stick with the pitaya, lulo juice, and mangosteeno.
There are many “body shops” in Bogota. Not for cars but for people.
I’ve stood crossed leg in many a bathroom in Bogota (photo is from the U.S.), waiting for the lady in the stall as she frees herself of the “body” (pronounced “bow-dee”) so that she can relieve herself. These are also called “faja” (“fa-ha). Actually, some women wear more than one spanx-like corset: one for the waist, one for the bust, one for under the bust, one for the rear, one for the overall… and maybe there are more. Just as there are many ankle specialists (from the combination of platform shoes and rough sidewalks), there are also many “body” shops. The shops also have “body” for men.
Some women use these corsets to diet. If the corset is so tight that you can’t eat, well, then…
Bogota is a big city with nine million inhabitants. The traffic is that of a big city. Muggings and robberies are normal here. Again, it’s not going to happen every day. I’m not sure what the crime rate is compared to New York, but Bogota doesn’t “feel” dangerous. It’s best to not go out alone after dark (male or female) and take the usual precautions that one would take in a big city. The rich neighborhoods are not free of muggings, sadly. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere really safe. That’s the main difference, I think, between, here and there (where ever that might be).
The people are big city people so they are not always perceived as the friendliest in the world. Outside Bogota, the people of Colombia are very friendly. Also, the friendliness level may change depending on if you are visiting a strata six or strata two neighborhood (six is the rich area). I find the people friendlier, the lower the strata…
And then there’s “scope,” scopelamine. Actually, on the walk up to Guatavita Lagoon, we saw the beautiful flower from which the “scariest drug” in the world is made. Read up about this online. Don’t get scoped. Watch your drinks when you go out.
Also, never let the waiter take your credit card out of your sight. Watch your wallet at all times. And, if you get mugged, don’t fight (at least that the advice I’ve been given). Unfortunately, some of the muggings have ended in murder which seems to exemplify how dangerous it is here.
But, again, I know people who have lived here for years and don’t feel that Bogota is dangerous at all. They walk outside at night by themselves and are fearless.
Some of the other downsides to life here in Bogota is the pollution. Also, to many, the fact that the weather is always 65 F, every single day, every day, for 365 days of the year… well, some consider it to be cold. This is not the tropics. It’s not Panama. I think that the biggest misconception that people have about Bogota is that they think this is a Mexico with warm weather, corn tortillas, beans, and sand. It’s not. It’s a cool, temperate climate with overcast days and rain on a daily basis. It’s also sunny every day. There is no heating or air conditioning in the apartments. Most people live in apartments. So, if you want a house with a large yard, then this is not the city for you.
On the other hand, if you like dogs, this is the place for you. If you like having a nanny (for your kids…), a dog walker, etc. then this is the place for you. Also, exercise, gyms, and plastic surgery are normal parts of life here. But, the sidewalks are cracked, the traffic can be awful, the drivers aggressive, and the politeness can drive you mad! In traffic, the drivers take out their aggression but in other ways, people are very polite, even when they keep telling you that you can’t pay there, or that you have to go to the next counter, or that the line is busy, or the till just closed, etc. It can drive you bonkers!
Mainly, for me personally, the lack of diversity and lack of quality Vietnamese, Lao, and Thai food is the biggest downside. But, give it 40 years.
The photo below is from one of my adventures when I went looking for a multi-pocketed “chaleca” vest like what the workers wear (and photographers and tour guides).
Personal space in Bogota is very different from in the U.S. Like in many places, MIGHT is right. But, what happens more often than not is that everyone walks, drives, and moves like they have the right of way.
So, to my friends, if you notice me moving into your “air space” and not saying “excuse me” every time I pass within five feet… sorry.
If you ask, many people will tell you that Medellin is nicer than Bogota. It is warmer, more organized, and cleaner. I liked it. To get a good view, I’d recommend taking the cable cars over the city.
Much of Medellin was built by Pablo Escobar. There are tours relating to his life and death. But there is much else to see in Medellin. And, the food was pretty good. I had a halfway decent Pad See Ew at a Thai restaurant near the Hotel Charlee (which also has decent Asian fusion food at its rooftop poolside bar).
Her name is Reiko, she’s Japanese, and she speaks very good English. Plus, I have seen the hair that she colors and I would never have guessed that the hair was anything but natural.
She works independently out of the French hair dressing salon in Atlantis mall up on the third or fourth floor. She is the first hair dresser who knew instinctively how to cut my hair. For a simple hair cut the price was 70,000 (I think).
Very typical… as I’m on my way out of Bogota, I finally meet the best mani-pedi (and waxing, apparently) ladies in town. The word for nails in Spanish is “uñas” with an ñ but they understand “mani-pedi.”
The ladies make house calls and bring everything with them include a vast array of nail polish. They simply need access to warm water. The cost is 50,000 pesos (about $17) no tip required.
And then you get to relax and be pampered as they rub, scrub, scrape, massage, and polish your nails. Ah…