I've been in Colombia for almost 2 weeks now and it's fair to say I'm enjoying myself......!
About a week before flying out here, I was put in contact with a fella named Ricardo (thanks Siân!), who lived in Oxford last year to learn English. Ricardo and Carlos (his brother), have welcomed me to Bogotá and I'll be renting their spare room for.......I don't know how long.
This is the apartment block we live in below:
I think Carlos had me moving in forced upon him (!), but he's been an absolute legend, showing me around when he's not at medical school & helping me with constant questions about Español. Gracias Carlos!
Ricardo's been great too, but I'm reluctant to praise a Chelsea fan at the best of times.........
So I'll be out this weekend with a group of Ricardo's friends for his birthday and he's keen for me to try the Colombian spirit 'Aguardiente', which is known as, or translates to, 'Burning water'.
Apparently, 'It tastes like gasoline'. I'll write Sunday off now then.....
Luckily for me, Ricardo and Carlos both speak pretty good English, which made my arrival less troublesome, but we're now trying to do as much as possible in Spanish, to get me up to speed as quickly as possible. I don't understand much of what they're saying at the moment, bar the odd word here and there, but it's the best way to make progress. Since I've arrived, I think I've learnt a couple of hundred words, which is a decent start I'd say. Turns out studying is far easier when you're interested and motivated, which is a unique feeling for me!
I just hope Español doesn't have too many confusing aspects further down the line, like English....
As it was Ricardo's Birthday on Monday, we went to visit his parents in Tunja over the weekend to celebrate, (as mentioned above, we'll be celebrating with his amigos this weekend). Due to the high altitude, Bogotá isn't particularly hot, it's even chilly at night and Tunja is is slightly colder. The welcome from his parents, (and grandma, uncles, aunts and cousins) was extremely warm however and I was fed enough to bury an elephant.
So let's meet the Martinez-Piñeros familia!
(Carlos is next to me, Ricardo's on the right)
On Monday Ricardo's mum took us on a mini tour of Tunja, pointing out some of the old churches and more traditional buildings in general. The following day, once we'd returned to Bogotá, Tunja had an earthquake, which damaged the main historical church in the town. This church below is a different one however:
So it turns out that Ricardo's got a similar sense of humour to some of us Brits, which is perhaps why we're getting on so well.
His mum asked him how to say, 'Thank you for visiting us, please come back soon' in English, so she could repeat it to me. Safe to say she told me to 'go away' in language befitting of a sailor. The poor lady was devastated when she found out what she'd really said, ha!
Since being in Bogotá, I've had a few people warn me to be careful, as walking around with your iPhone out in South America, is generally asking for trouble. So far however (touch wood), the only thing that's disturbed me has been Ricardo wearing his Chelsea shirt in the flat.
Right, that's enough for the time being; I'm now studying like a madman for the nights out tomorrow and Saturday, in the hope I can at least make a few basic enlightened statements in Spanish.
I'll let you know how I got on in a couple of weeks.....