Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beating the Bogotá Blues

Fat-skinny Jesus will haunt your dreams.
There is something about Bogotá, with its endless rain, smog-choked air, and unrealistically crowded thoroughfares that can cause even the most gleeful gringo to dissolve into a lugubrious puddle of sadness and tears. I should know; I’ve been living here a while and have experienced becoming the aforementioned puddle more than just a few times.

The key to psychological survival in Bogotá is learning how to stay solidified or to regain your solidification after you’ve lost it.

Wow, that came out wrong.

But you know what I mean.

Anyway, after nine months in Colombia’s capital, I have figured out a few tricks for beating the Bogotá blues and, lucky for you, am willing to share.

1. Check out museums—After the initial “living in Bogotá” honeymoon period has expired and you are locked into the daily grind, it can be easy to forget that you are living in the Athens of South America. Bogotá boasts a wide variety of fascinating museums, many of them free to the public. Granted, there are only so many times you can check out Museo de Botero before you start having nightmares about fat-skinny Jesus, but nothing helps beat the blues like a healthy dose of Colombian art.

Beautiful view on top of the Monserrate.

2. Go to the top of the Monserrate—
Although you likely rode the aerial tramway to the top of Cerro Monserrate when you first arrived in Bogotá, returning to take in the breathtaking view of the city can go a long way to curing gringo depression. I especially enjoy the contrast between the city on one side and the lush, green forest on the other. This high up, you are above the smog and able to breathe crisp, clean air, so pause for a moment to take it all in and remember how beautiful a place Colombia truly is.
The gods' nectar.

3. Get a Crepes & Waffles ice cream—Without Crepes & Waffles, few gringos would make it through their first three months in Bogotá. Although the food is great, the real reason to go is for dessert. It has been scientifically proven that a Crepes & Waffles ice cream can alter your chemical balance to induce a state of euphoria. Okay, maybe not but I’m sure they are close. My personal favorite is the Hot Chocolate Vanilla—three scoops of vanilla ice cream, almonds, whipped cream, and topped off with hot chocolate syrup. I think it’s intended for a family of five, but I polish off one of these babies every time I feel my morale fading. And boy does it do the trick.

Skyping with my dog, Gerico.
4. Skype with your dog—Seriously, it works. When I reach my lowest point and all I want to do is hop on the next plane home, a quick Skype session with my golden retriever back in California never fails to put a smile on my face. Sure, he has no idea that I am there and my parents have to goad him into sitting in front of the computer with a doggie biscuit, but just seeing his face makes me happy.  If you aren’t a dog person, I suppose a cat will suffice. If you aren’t an animal person, humans could work, too.

Climbing in Suesca.
5. Leave Bogotá—Sometimes nothing you can do in Bogotá will cheer you up and the only recourse is to peace out for a while. Luckily, there are plenty of towns within easy bussing distance of Bogotá that can give you a break from the big city. You can go rock climbing in Suesca, hiking in Villa de Leyva, or spend the weekend in Tierra Caliente. Even a day trip to the suburbs of Cota or Chia can give you a much-needed respite from the hectic city. With Colombia’s ample supply of festivo (holiday) weekends, it is not hard to plan a quick weekend getaway.


  1. Hi Mike
    this also helps with Bogotá Blues

    Take Care

    Andrea C (Bogotana)

  2. Oh yeah, the Hot Chocolate Vanilla is my favourite too!

    And for dinner, the Mediteranean or Thai Salad.

    Mmmmmm ....