I am sitting on a rooftop terrace basking in the morning sun and drinking the best cup of Joe that I’ve ever had. Yes, even better than what I had in Ecuador earlier this year, and better than anything in the States. Rich, robust, and so aromatic that normally just a mere whiff of it from across a room would put a smile on my face. But not today.
Today, I am nursing a massive hangover, the kind where it feels like a kid with a ballpeen hammer is demonically tapping out a tune on my temples. Not the knee-walking, sidewalk-vomiting, bed-spinning variety of my youth, but then I’m supposed to know better by now. No, this one is determined and unremitting in its merciless message: “Don’t do that again, fool!” But alas, like Hank Williams, Jr. once lamented, it’s a “family tradition”, passed down from one Haley to the next like my affinity for younger women. But I digress.
I can piece together last night from my receipts. I DO remember having an excellent pizza at the Grand Italian sitting on a corner in the Parque Llejas, and it serves to show that prices are indeed very reasonable for restaurant food and drink. My tab for an individual pie and two glasses of earthy Carmenere was about $20 after a very nice tip. Then I went on to a nameless discotheque, drank more, but this time rotgut, and ended up at a sidewalk bar where I made the mistake of ordering wine for the grand sum of 3500 pesos. The exchange rate here isn’t easy, at 1750 pesos to the dollar, but if you do the math, you can see I had the Colombian equivalent of “2 buck chuck”, and that probably administered the coup de grace to what little remains of my brain cells.
But I can say with certainty that my initial impressions of a beautiful, affordable, and exciting city have been born out. El Poblado is the hub of the city’s nightlife, full of light, music, and laughter, and these people are always out for a good time.
What I can also affirm is that, unlike many so-called third world countries, you CAN drink the water here. What you CAN’T do is expect to get around knowing as little Spanish as I do. As soon as you leave the hotel, knowing the native lingo is a must. This was also true of Ecuador, proving that proximity to America doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to language. Yet in Europe, even the eastern formerly Communist parts, you can get around pretty painlessly with just dollars and English.
So I’m here suffering a huge headache right now, but it’s subsiding, the sun is out, the women are gorgeous, and I have plans to visit the Metrocable and maybe see a penthouse apartment or two for sale. I’ll let you know how that goes! Adios!