Bringing in the New Year in Bogotá

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After spending Christmas with my family in the states, I headed back to Colombia for New Years. We moved from Medellín to Bogotá on December 29 so we didn’t have much time to prepare for the New Year’s celebrations. Many people were out of town for this but a handful of us stuck around. We celebrated New Years at a restaurant/bar in downtown Bogotá that was complete with a full meal and dancing afterwards. It was 4 floors and each one was packed. The dinner was great, the drinks began flowing and we all danced in the New Year together. It was my first time spending New Year’s outside the US and it was much more exciting and fun than the previous few years. It was great to be with so much of my Balboa family to ring in 2018. It also meant we only had two full months left but we weren’t thinking about that at the time. After the New Year’s celebrations, we rested for a day and then were back to work.

The first week in a New Year is always a bit slow and it took a minute to get back into the flow of work after spending Christmas back home, moving to a new city and have NYE all within a few days. It made it a bit easier as it wasn’t super cold like most Januarys. Bogotá had nice mild temperatures even if it was cloudy most of the time since it is tucked in between a mountain valley which makes it very similar to Medellín in that way. If you got a good view from a rooftop, you can see lush, green rolling mountains all the way around. The city itself is in a little valley and it’s a huge metropolis. Like most months, we stayed in a nice area near many of the restaurants/hotels/touristy things. The city of Bogotá is so massive and had the typical traffic of big South American cities. The area was super nice with plenty of restaurant options, indoor malls, parks, grocery stores and everything you need in a downtown city. It was decked out with lights for the holidays so at night the city lit up and it was fun to walk around and through the parks. This was one of the months that much of the group was traveling and I took a week to go to Costa Rica and another weekend to visit Chivor.

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One of the best parts about this month was the workspace and my location to it. My apartment was on the same street as the workspace and just a few blocks down so it made everything very convenient. We were in a WeWork this month and I was excited because I always wanted to work in one. It was 7 floors of office spaces and there were always new people walking around so I’d hear some English sprinkled in with the majority of Spanish. We had our own section of one of the floors and I enjoyed working by one of the big windows each day. Some of the upper floors were all common area working and that is where many Remotes decided to post up each day. They had snacks and flavored waters at the top and of course free beer on tap and on the rooftop patio. It was great to wind the workday down with some friends up on the rooftop patio with an amazing view of the mountain top in the distance. Bogotá was the city I drank my 1,000th beer in my beer app, Untappd, so it was a cool milestone for me to achieve this month. Between some people being away and me being so close to the workspace,  I feel it was a very productive month for me. This was important as now that is was January and since I knew I needed to be back in the office in March, I was beginning to prepare for that and finish up a few projects I was working on.

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One of the most fun activities we played in Colombia was Tejo, Colombia’s surprising national sport. It was more popular in Bogotá than it was in Medellín so we played at a few different spots this month. It is always the same deal even if the location is technically different. It is always a run-down place with a few pool tables and 4-8 tejo lanes in the back. You buy a case of beer and the game is free. No one there speaks English but after some hand motions you can usually get the point across that you want a lane and some beers to go with it. The easiest way to explain the game is that it is like cornhole with explosives. Each team has equal people on it and each person does one throw per round. You underhand throw a weighted metal disc with varying weights and sizes. Your target is a board of clay, similar to the size of a cornhole board,. The clay board is slanted more upright than a cornhole board and has a metal ring in the middle just wide enough for a disc to go right in the center on a great throw. 4 paper triangles filled with gunpowder line the metal ring. The object is to throw the metal disc and hit one of the paper triangles to create an explosion. 6 points for being inside the middle of the ring and 3 points for an explosion. If neither happens, which is most of the time, the closest tejo to the outside edge of the ring gets a point. You play to 21 and you add up all the points each time (it isn’t aggregate scoring) and there isn’t a penalty for going over 21. Once you get the hang of it, it is super fun especially with a big group of people as you hear more explosions, which are always unexpected and very loud. It is definitely more difficult than cornhole because the metal disc is much heavier, the lane is much longer and the target is smaller. After a few games, you do get pretty good though and it was definitely the group’s favorite “family activity” for our two months in Colombia.

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Bogotá was an interesting month because as soon as New Year’s was over, we knew that our trip was really beginning to end. We only had two months left and most people began thinking about what they wanted to do when our trip ended. Because the end was near, lots of people (including myself) traveled for a week or so during the month since most of us wanted to stay in Mexico for the entire final month. Bogotá is a nice city metropolis and there are plenty of little neighborhoods to see but there wasn’t as much to explore or do as previous months. It was still very enjoyable and Bogotá is probably a city I would go back to.  Month 11 is in the books and now we head to the final chapter – Month 12 in Mexico City!

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