Sunday morning brought with it our move to the hotel where we would stay for an unknown amount of time for our training. We are working on a bilingual program run by the ministry of education in which we support teachers at local secondary schools in English lessons. From the incredible standard of our rooms in this 5 star hotel in one of the nicest parts of Bogotá, it’s clear they are pouring a ton of money into the program.
We were put into groups based on our location in the country and spent the rest of the week in lectures for 8 hours a day, in which we were tested on our ability not to fall asleep. We were talked at on the most irrelevant, dense teaching theory by people who have never experienced teaching in state schools. TEFL jargon was thrown around while some of the basics and useful resources were left out. I felt quite lucky that I actually have experience teaching so I knew what they were on about. Needless to say after 8 solid days with no break, we were quite relieved when the last day came and we were heading to our cities.
Thankfully it wasn’t all doom and gloom. We escaped the hotel one night and headed to Andrés Carne De Res, a restaurant that had been recommended to us and everyone seemed to know about. We thought we had reserved a table, but underestimated just quite how popular the place is and still had to wait an hour at the bar for a table. Overwhelmed by the size, the decor and the music, it was like stepping into another world. A strange trio dressed in zebra costumes stalked around, one playing the clarinet while the others strangely danced at the tables of those who were celebrating their birthdays, whilst throwing heart shaped confetti. We were finally seated and ordered chicken wings and a steak to share. As our mojitos arrived, in a bowl the size of my head, so too arrived 4 strange gremlin like creatures. In skin tight Lycra suits, with lingerie over the top of them, they slid down the banister, proceeding to line up and then pull down their lingerie underwear in front of us. Their faces were painted white and they had each enhanced a body part-bum, boobs, stomach or shoulders, whilst the Lycra suit also covered their head so we were unable to tell if they were men or women. They muddled around the restaurant, banging a plastic leg of jamon and teasing customers. Our food arrived, a huge pile of chicken wings and four cuts of steak that inevitably left us stuffed. By the time we had finished, the party had kicked off and we spent the rest of the night exploring the other floors of the place and dancing away to salsa and pop music.
When we were in Spain, we had gone down to meet Abby and Gary who were living in Cordoba. It was there that we had met their Colombian friend, Wilmar, who we met up with one evening while we were in his hometown. For the third time so far on the trip, we frequented Bogotá Beer Company and met up with him and his sister over some craft beer. It was great to catch up and he showed us how the locals do it with aguardiente. Dangerously, we polished off a bottle between us (mainly thanks to the guys), with the thought of getting up at 7am looking rather unappealing.
|The infamous, dangerous aguardiente|
The next evening he invited us to his house for dinner, as he picked us up and took us out of our bubble of the posh hotel to his home. We met his family and we were welcomed with open arms. We had some fantastic home made arepas, which naturally put the hotel food to shame and our eyes were opened to the genius of hot chocolate and cheese- a combination confusing to any Brit but surprisingly delicious. We were also introduced to the magic of panela (a substance made of sugar cane, which is boiled and stirred until honey like, and then solidified), which I am sure will be a best friend of mine here in Colombia, enabling me to drink my first ever cup of coffee!! It can also be put with canela (cinnamon) or lime (which confusingly is known as limon here), and can be warming with cheese or a cold refreshing drink. So many options! I left with a full stomach, warmth in my heart and feeling an excitement for what was next to come on our adventure.