Blurring over the green on the green expanse of the countryside below me I contemplated the glittering jewels sparkling up at me from 30,000 feet below. What were these glittering fish in this expanse of growth? Cognitively I knew them to be Man, though what construct of the beast I was not sure; these reflecting lights bedazzled over the landscape, scattered like a child using the made-for-tv tool.
I hadn’t gotten a handle on the space between these domiciles – trying to decide if it was a lot of emptiness or a landscape uniformly full of Man-Life – when we hurtled past and descended to El Dorado International Airport, Bogota, Colombia. Where I proceeded to have a remarkably civil if un-eventful, 5-hour layover for my flight to Cartagena.
Now, this is a far cry from my first trip through El Dorado a dozen years ago; when navigating the corridor like terminal was more akin to wading through a souk then engaging in modern era jet-travel. Not today – today I calmly pulled money out the ATM, drank an espresso cortado with condensed milk from the Juan Valdez Coffee shop (always a shameful delight in Colombia – the national obsession with the sweetened condensed milk), purchased minutes for my cellphone at the pharmacy and sat down at the food court, being waited on by an ultra-pleasant late-year teen who did his absolute best to help me achieve gastronomic satisfaction.
He was successful, bringing me a toasted arepa (a flat corn biscuit-like bread made out of corn) smothered with Guiso. Guiso is a delight of stewed onions and tomato that is found throughout Colombia, though under different names. Guiso in the interior, Hogao on the Caribbean coast, and who knows what its called in the places I haven’t yet been! This was followed by one of the traditional Colombian soups – Changua; milk, and egg soup that has a flavor and happiness all its own. With floating chunks of soft bread and green flecks of Cilantro, Changua has the beauty of being completely comforting, filling, and at the same time feeling oddly healthy. That is until you hit the melted cheese hidden underneath – when the comfort starts to out way the health!
The food is like the service – Simple but having the overall feeling of being made with local ingredients that have yet to be corrupted by the world at large.
So Welcome to Colombia, and as they now say – The only risk is that you’ll want to stay!