My trip to Bogotá and Ibagué was a welcome break after a couple of weeks of a lot of work. I went to present on blogging in the language classroom at ASOCOPI's (like TESOL) annual conference. It was the first time I'd presented, and it went well. E and I had sixteen people there, which was fine by me. Ibagué was beautiful! The rumor that there's a lot of good-looking guys there seems to be true, but at any rate doesn't compare to the paisajes.
I got to Bogotá on Thursday afternoon, after an extremely unstressful flight from San Salvador through San Jose, which I didn't really expect. The lack of security in San Salvador surprised me after the US and Colombia. They x-rayed the bag I checked and then the only other thing I had to do was walk through one screening thing where I swear they didn't even look at the screen for me or the ladies in front of me who had their huge boxes of Pollo Campero to take with them (just like the barraquilleros taking boxes of Dunkin Donuts back from Bogotá). Thursday night I had dinner, then another dinner with some friends from Barranquilla.
Back on Colombian time, my idea of leaving for Ibagué at 8 in the morning on the Friday slowly turned into 1:00 or 1:30, after running into a friend for breakfast and then walking around in the rain for no real purpose, but certainly enjoying it! The bus ride was supposed to be 3.5 hours long, but turned into around 8 hours with all the accidents on the rode there. Two-lane highway, lots of bogotanos fleeing the city for the puente weekend, and lots of other running towards the city for the same reason makes for lots of fun! Among the 7 or so accidents I saw, there was a truck that had dumped its load of empty Aguila bottles al l over the highway, making a mess of broken glass, and a semi that had somehow managed to completely lose its back axle, an amazing feat, seeing how the traffic couldn't have been moving any faster than 35 mph in most places! Turned out those who flew from Bogotá to Ibagué, all of what, twenty minutes in the air, had to wait around just as long in the airport. I got there, had some nice, greasy empanadas, then went out to dinner with more barranquilleros. We went someplace that had arepas de choclo (kinda like cornbread), which were the first Colombian arepas that I can actually say I liked so much that I wanted to eat them again.
The conference itself was very laid-back, which I appreciated greatly. Go to session, coffee break, talk, maybe go to a plenary, coffee break, lunch, session, coffee break, talk, and so on. I miss that! I got to see a lot of friends, since everyone seemed to have some sort of conference in Bogotá or Manizales. We ended up hanging out with a group of people from our conference in Ibagué, that we randomly found at a bar while we were waiting for some other friends to show up. This group didn't know each other before the conference (from the capital, around Bucaramanga, Buenavista, and others), nor did they really know us (except for the guy that'd seen Kathleen's presentation at another conference and had gone to it again), but they were so friendly! Sometimes it takes moving away from a place to appreciate certain aspects of it that you might not have even noticed before. I noticed the friendliness and openness while I was wandering around Bogotá, too. I had some fabulous conversations with vendors on the street.
I went back to Bogotá on Sunday afternoon with Pablo and Jorge...much better this time at about 4.5 hours. We went out to a place that had salsa that night and met up with yet more people from Barranquilla. It'd been too long since I'd last danced! The change in altitude beat me up, though; I could only get through about two songs with Ernest before I had to sit down and rest. Monday was spent shopping, filling up my bags with things that I can't get in El Salvador, like maracuyá and lulo pulp, mix to make sancocho and ajiaco, milo, and panela, cheap good café or that are way cheaper in Colombia, like my new hamaca. In all, it was a great trip, both to give me new ideas for work, see friends, and just relax for a while!