Abroad in Colombia
Photo courtesy of Anneliese Delgado
welcome to our new interview series, 8 Questions With..., featuring unique adventures, extraordinary places, and interesting people who live life on their own terms.
Anneliese Delgado, an American journalist, travel blogger and marketing writer currently living in Bogotá, gives Fashion Studio Magazine a glimpse of her daily life, her favourite spots in the city, and a couple of reasons why Colombia should be at the top of your travel bucket list!
FASHION STUDIO: Why did you decide to move to Colombia?
ANNELIESE: I decided to move to Colombia for my love of coffee and cocaine. Just kidding, I actually never planned on living in Colombia. The plan was to visit Colombia for two weeks, then head to Peru for an internship. I had a wonderful time in Colombia, so when my internship in Peru fell through, I found myself on a plane back to Bogotá.
I didn’t have a job; I didn’t have a plan; I didn’t know a single person – but something drew me back to Colombia. It felt like that is where I needed to be. So in January of 2016, I started building a new life for myself in Colombia.
Bogotá (Photo by Anneliese Delgado)
FASHION STUDIO: What do you like most about living in Bogotá?
ANNELIESE: The constant view of mountains is what I like most about living in Bogotá. The capital city is nestled in the Andes at more than 8,000 feet above sea level. Being born and raised in flat Florida, I think I appreciate these beautiful features of Bogotá more than others might. The altitude change takes a few days to get accustomed to, but it’s worthwhile every time I peek out my office window or hop off a bus and see those captivating formations lining the horizon.
FASHION STUDIO: Which aspects of Colombian culture did you find most surprising?
ANNELIESE: I didn’t expect family bonds to be so strong. A lot of people know family ties are important in Latin culture, but never the less, I was surprised at how tight my Colombian friends and coworkers are with their families. It’s not unusual to live with your folks in Colombia, even if you’re in your 20’s and 30’s. It’s also normal for out-of-town relatives to crash for a month, where as in the Unites States, it’s more common for family to only visit for a week or two tops.
Climbing the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas in Cartagena (Photo courtesy of Anneliese Delgado)
FASHION STUDIO: What are your favourite spots in the city (for dining / shopping / going out)?
ANNELIESE: Zona Rosa and Parque 93 are my favorite spots in the city for eating out and dancing. A couple of places in Zona Rosa even offer free Salsa lessons. Usaquén, Zona T and La Candelaria (Bogotá’s historic district) also have cool restaurants and bars. As for shopping, many sleek mega malls are located throughout the city.
FASHION STUDIO: How would you summarise your Colombian adventure so far?
ANNELIESE: My time in Colombia started with so much uncertainty and instability, but it quickly turned into a life of normalcy and routine. I found a job with a visa so I can live here legally, an apartment, a boyfriend, a soccer team and friends.
Between shopping for a new washer, paying bills and catching buses, it’s easy to forget that I am on an adventure. But instead of staying in a new place every night or sightseeing during the day, my Colombian adventure consists of complete immersion. I try to mirror the lives of Colombians so I can constantly improve my Spanish and learn more about Colombian culture.
"Moving to Colombia taught me to embrace change." - Anneliese Delgado
Unicentro Shopping Mall (Photo courtesy of Convel)
Handmade Mochila Bags (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)
Street art, Bogotá (Photo courtesy of Lonely Planet)
FASHION STUDIO: What is the biggest challenge you face in everyday life?
ANNELIESE: Transportation is my biggest headache. Much like any big city, housing near the central parts of town is more expensive. I chose to save money and live on the outskirts of Bogotá. I take two buses to get to my office, then two buses to get back home for a total of two hours of commuting every workday.
The buses are usually packed during rush hour and snagging a seat is almost impossible. Taking a car or using ride sharing apps and taxis aren’t usually a better alternative since traffic in Bogotá is painfully slow. I now work from my home office two days a week, which offers some sweet relief from the nightmare commute.
FASHION STUDIO: What is the best piece of travel advice that you've ever received?
ANNELIESE: Plan, but be flexible. I have seen so many people slumping over their phones in hostel common areas searching for things to do in a new country. What a waste of time! Figure out what you want to see and where you want to go before stepping on a plane. Of course, plans change. Tours get canceled. Roads are blocked for construction. Don’t have a meltdown when things don’t go exactly according to plan, but map out what you want to see and where you want to go so you can get the most out of your time in a new country.
Rooftop swimming pool (Photo courtesy of BOG Hotel)
Colombian coffee (Photo courtesy of Pinterest)
La Candelaria, Bogotá (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)
FASHION STUDIO: How would you encourage our readers to visit Colombia in 2017?
ANNELIESE: Don’t let Colombia’s reputation scare you away. It’s not the same drug and crime-riddled country it was decades ago. Once you decide to go, plan to visit more than one or two cities. Colombia isn’t a huge country, but its regions are extremely different. Hit up multiple cities to experience the diversity for yourself.
I also suggest taking a tour, especially if you don’t speak Spanish fluently. I have been on some great day tours near Bogotá with a company called Uncover Colombia. I recommend the coffee tour because you get to visit an actual coffee farm, roast the beans yourself, then sip on different samples.
A lot of people think taking longer tours or day tours lends for an inauthentic, cheesy experience, but it all depends on which tour company you choose and where you opt to visit. At the end of the day, you’re still a tourist, whether you backpack around and crash in hostels or stay in nice hotels and pay for guided tours. Colombia is gaining a lot of recognition for its biodiversity and colorful culture, so it would be wise to visit soon before everyone else does.
Follow Anneliese's adventure at: abroadincolombia.com