Flying high with heroes
So I have finally touched down in Colombia, after a little bit of a shaky ride. I didn´t clock that with the time difference I was actually travelling on the 11th September English time. Luckily it was still the 10th Colombian time. But despite my ominous flight, I was comforted by the guests I shared my flight with.
I arrived at Madrid airport to find my flight delayed by four hours and had to travel into Madrid and back again to retrieve the rest of my things and camera equipment from my friend’s house, a journey which set me back a scandalous 50 euros. Unfortunately my Spanish haggling skills didn´t get me very far on that trip.
After curling up in the airport and taking a guilty trip to McDonalds for breakfast (justified by it being the only place open at 6am), I continued through security and strolled through duty free, picking up requested gifts for my Colombian counterparts! Malteasers, Lady fingers (I think people have different ideas of what these are on different continents) and cider, the latter of which I failed to find!
Finally I rocked up to my gate with perfect timing after wasting the day brushing up with my ´´Culture and Customs of Colombia” book, only to find the entire Colombian Paraolympic team ready to board my flight to Bogota!
As a would be journalist, I thought I´d struck gold. I bet these guys had some stories to tell. I managed to bag my seat in front of wheelchair basketball player Juan who pretty much slept all the way other than mealtimes and to tell me his name and sport.
I was a little luckier on touch down when I approached Freddie, also on the wheelchair basketball team. So perhaps this wasn´t the entire Colombian Paraolympic team, as I first imagined but just the wheelchair basketball crew.
Still, my excitement accelerated as Freddie agreed to a slightly weary looking picture with me after our long haul 10 hour, bumpy flight. He was very friendly and asked what I was doing in Colombia. I explained I was a student journalist here to make a documentary in my broken Spanish and he posed for one more photo before rushing off in sight of his luggage!
So my first Colombian celebrity encounter I would argue which set the pace for my journalistic driven trip to investigate this intriguing country.
Already , after day one I can tell you:
*The traffic is crazy
*The people are very friendly
*There are far too many of the people worsening the transport situation- approx 8 mil with no train or underground system, only the packed out TransMilenio
*The food is fantastically cheap
*Clothes aren´t as cheap as imagined
*A uniformed officer wielding an AK47 is “normal”
*Advisory not to get your valuables out on the street, even for a quick photo, which makes tourism slightly more difficult!
*I love ensalada helado
* I don´t particularly care for Papaya – it tastes a bit like poo
*I am ecstatic that they use avocado all the time in their dishes
*Health care isn´t free, perhaps we under appreciate the NHS
*Taxis prove cheaper than buses, unlike in Madrid