Why no one needs Narcos

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Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar in the new Netflix series, Narcos

A couple of months ago I was walking home and saw an ad for a new TV show at a bus stop: white powder formed an outline of South America, a breeze just beginning to scatter the dust. Narcosa new drama which chronicles drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s violent rise and years in power, was now available on Netflix and apparently Colombia was a target audience.

I’ve made no secret of the misconceptions I had of Colombia before we moved to Bogotá—misconceptions that are still common because each time I tell someone from the U.S. that I live in Colombia, it isn’t long until a reference or question about the C word tumbles out. Generally, this is quickly followed by some expression of concern for my safety. Colombia has moved beyond its notoriety for drugs and violence. When will the rest of us?

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Sembrando Confianza: Organic eats with a social impact

sembrando confianza

I come from California, the birthplace of fancy—but unregulated and therefore technically meaningless—food buzzwords like local and natural.   That said, my first reaction at these kinds of terms is a little bit of an eye roll.  Moving to Bogotá, I wasn’t too concerned with finding an organic or local label. I find little buggies in my broccoli every week, which says to me that what I’m eating is probably more on the natural side.  However, if I can directly support small operators who really are doing their best to organically and sustainably farm, all the better!

This past week I learned about a really cool non-profit organization who is using a CSA-type program in order to make a big social impact here in Bogotá.  Sembrando Confianza, which translates to Seeds of Confidence, is a non-profit which seeks to help Bogotanos in two specific ways. Firstly, they provide education on healthier food habits and help neighborhoods in Bogotá install self-sustained, organic gardens. Secondly, they support already operating urban farmers by connecting them with a market.

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Five days, four friends and one World Wonder: Our trip to Machu Picchu

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The only thing that turns people into “photographers” faster than their own newborn babies is traveling…even more so if you’re visiting one of those must-see places like Machu Picchu.  A couple of short weeks ago we shouldered our bags and did this ourselves as we took a quick trip to Cusco and Aguas Calientes with our best friends.

Much like my post about our trip through Argentina and Uruguay this past Christmas, keep scrolling for a gratuitous display of what we did with a few tips thrown in by way of providing some text.

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Cristal Artesanal – Handblown glass in Bogotá

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Don’t let the simple façade fool you, there are treasures inside Cristal Artesanal’s  warehouse in La Candelaria.  As soon as we stepped inside, I immediately regretted bringing a purse…firstly because I wanted to buy everything in sight and secondly because I quite literally felt like a bull in a china shop and was terrified I’d knock something over.  This past week I spent an hour happily (and carefully!) browsing through the seemingly endless shelves of glassware, adding things to my “spot” at the checkout counter.

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Andrés Carne de Res: A Bogotá institution

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After a year I feel like Cody and I have this “hosting visitors” thing down pat…based on who you are, how much time you have with us and what you like, we can pretty easily whittle down the list of tourist attractions into a nice itinerary of things you have to see while you’re with us.  However, there are a few places so synonymous with Bogotá and so crucial to experiencing the city that they make the cut no matter who you are.  Andrés Carne de Res is one of those places.

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Recommended Read: A Moveable Marriage

moveable marriage

We get so caught up in the logistics of moving that we either take for granted or simply ignore the fact that after all of those boxes are unpacked and you’ve figured out how to get to the grocery store, you will be living in a new country with your support system gone and identity in limbo.  And remember that your marriage (already hard without the added stress of an international move) is coming along for the ride…

I did a post all about researching prior to an expat assignment, so it should come as no surprise that I looked high and low for a book about expat marriages and the impact of international relocation. There were books about marriage in general and how to take your job abroad. I found books about moving your kids and how to take care of them. But, there was nothing dedicated to both relocation and marriage.

Once we’d been in Bogotá for several months I finally happened upon a book about expat marriages and had it waiting for me on my next visit to the U.S.

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Villa de Leyva: A great weekend away

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Charlie in Villa de Leyva’s main square

While Cody’s parents were visiting us for a couple of weeks (and coincidentally over Easter) we thought it was a the perfect time to visit this sweet little town that we’d heard so much about.   Villa de Leyva was named a national monument in 1954 and its whitewashed colonial buildings and cobble stone streets have been practically perfectly preserved.  Apparently, the nice weather and lovely surroundings have always been a draw since it was founded as a retreat for military officers, clergy and nobility in the late 16th century.  There are so many things to do in Villa de Leyva that it warrants a return trip or two—I can totally understand why it’s such a popular weekend getaway for people living in Bogotá.  However, we chose to go the way of Villa de Leyva’s former settlers, wandering around the charming streets and enjoying the warm weather.

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Bogotá’s best bean? Bourbon Coffee Roasters

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Sampling the brews at Bourbon Coffee Roasters

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of U.S. chains popping up around Bogotá…while they all irritate me just a little bit I suppose the most offensive is Starbucks.  Now, I don’t have a problem with Starbucks per se. The problem is more that I live in a country producing some of the best coffee in the world and therefore am expecting something a little more well, crafted.  I mentioned before that since the best of the best coffee is exported, you have to be a little intentional about seeking out a good place.  Luckily for us, Bogotá has a few really good shops that are able to get local beans and roast them in small batches.  The best we’ve found so far is Bourbon Coffee Roasters.

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Art outside the museum: Bogotá’s Graffiti Tour

bogota graffiti tour

If you know me, you know I studied art history and given the choice my first stop when visiting somewhere new would be an art museum. While Bogotá has several great museums, the Bogotá Graffiti Tour is a little something different that I think is a must see for any visitor (or person who spends most of their time in the northern parts of the city!).

As you head southward you’ll start to see brightly colored murals which serve as the backdrop for the tour. Along with our friend David, Cody and I spent a couple of hours one morning wandering through some previously unexplored parts of La Candelaria and learning about Bogotá’s amazing community of street artists and some of their best-known works.

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Cevichería Central

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Continuing with things we love about Bogotá, today’s post is about the best restaurant and is probably long overdue.

If you have talked to Cody and me since we’ve moved to Bogotá, Cevichería Central has probably come up in our conversation. If you’ve visited us, either we took you there to eat or—if you aren’t a big fan of fish—I spent a good 15 minutes convincing Cody that it wouldn’t be the best place for dinner. We go there so often that the hostess greets us with the customary kiss hello and the waiters all shake our hands. And I don’t mean to brag, but sometimes we get a free dessert.

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