The plans for today were to go meet a friend that I had chatted with online since even before my first trip to Colombia. Miguel was living in Cali when we first started chatting and he is now in Bogotá as well, so we scheduled to meet. Not only was this to be a highlight for my day, but also the fact I was going to take the public transportation to meet him. I kept watching the clock on my computer to allow all the time to take my first unaccompanied trip on Bogotá’s Transmilenio public transportation system. I left to go to the Transmilenio station 2 blocks from my apartment, I looked at my watch and instead of 1:30 I saw 2:30!! Oh crap….I had not changed the time on the computer to Bogotá’s time zone and did not have the time to make the adventure of Transmileno alone! I grabbed a taxi and off we went to my new unknown destination. I knew about where I was headed but not exactly, so I was surprised when we were close to the destination the taxi driver asked where the exact place was. My limited Spanish all I could do was call Miguel and have him explain for me. 2 minutes later, we arrive. The taxi driver says the fare is 9,200 pesos (about $4.00 US) all I have in my wallet is a 20,000 peso bill. He played up he had no change. I called Miguel to see if he could meet me at the curb with some change and of course my phone died! I took the 4,000 pesos he did have as change and threw him the 20,000 peso bill. Lesson learned… always have small bills when traveling by taxi. Even though 20,000 is only the equivalent of about $10 US it is too big to make change in a Bogota taxi. It still was not that big of a deal, my trip only cost $8 US and where in the U.S. can you take a 20 minute taxi ride for $8. But still the lesson was learned.
Miguel and I visited for a couple of hours over a couple of cocktails. He was insecure about his English, but he spoke very good English. He was amazed an American loved his country so much. We discussed how most Americans lacked an understanding of what Colombia was REALLY like. He owns a car. Owning a car in Bogotá is like owning a car in Manhattan. He wants us to travel to the Salt Catheral of Zipaquirá in February. It is a cathedral built in a salt mine about 650 feet underground. I am looking forward to that, it will be my first day trip out of Bogotá!
After the visit I was in no hurry to get home and did take the Transmilenio home. There were no issues. This was the moment I began to feel like a local as I stood on a crowded bus and tried to avoid eye contact with anyone or to draw any attention to myself!! Sitting on my bed now, I feel a sense of accomplishment – I traveled alone via taxi and public transportation on my 3rd day in my new city.
Taxi drivers are a weird even more with a foreign people. Sometimes it´s better use the Transmilenio, they never charge you more than $1500 pesos. jeje.
I was surprised when I read your article..I am there!! ajajajaj…
Thomas, you are a very special person..and I want to you know, that I am your new friend and you can to ask me for as you want.. I am so happy for you in this new life experience, and I am waiting the time to next month go to zipaquira..Hugs