No one was kidding when they said Colombians are friendly. This was immediately proven on the airplane ride over as I sat in between a kind older woman and a young woman moving back to Bogota to get married after living in the US for 13 years. Both were helpful: one gave a great rec on the local live music scene, the other provided me with her phone number for absolutely anything I needed and personally escorted me to a police officer who could help me find an authorized cab driver. Why I spent even a minute worrying about safety even going so far as to wearing a cheap wedding band I have no clue. This police officer clearly wanted to practice his English and gave me an apparently difficult to find map and secured an authorized cab ride for me. And the friendliness continued...the cab driver wouldn't let me sit in the back seat chatting the whole way to my hostel. Me delirious and understanding probably only half of what he said but still managing to get a crash course of Colombian history and was rewarded? to a rendition of his favorite Colombian song belted at the top of his lungs.;-) Welcome to Colombia indeed!
The Tip Top Hostel is located where most tourists stay, in the La Candelaria neighborhood. Thankfully, just outside were Evian and Riley, a super friendly couple from Durango, Colorado who seemed to be just as happy to see me, a fellow American. They quickly gave me the rundown of the friendly staff, Sergio, who speaks impeccable English. And as fast as I could check in and drop my bag in the six bed dorm room that I have to myself, score!, we left to explore the hood, being careful to avoid falling into potholes or stepping on dog s***. Oh and a water line broke so no running water means no shower for this weary traveler after all. Perhaps I'm more of the typical backpacker after all as I didn't even mind too much.
Got a good lay of the land by night choosing a cafe where they drank Aguila, a national beer, and as I couldn't stomach cerveza yet so instead I grabbed a fresh mango juice and slice of pizza on the way back to the hostel. Despite my deliriousness, we stayed up til 1 am discussing the kinds of stuff you just do with people you connect with. Bummed they left early the next day but plan to meet up again in Cartagena in a few weeks. Ahhh, reminded of the beauty of the backpacking circuit and running into the same people again at a different locale, I love this gig!