Carrera 7 is one of the main avenues leading into central Bogota and on New Years Eve it’s closed off to cars and buses to make way for street vendors and live music. As I walked down the street to the big concert downtown I was offered everything from beaded necklaces to weed to life-size Justin Beiber posters. Although tempting, I brushed them all off and walked over to where a big crowd had formed in the middle of the street. It was a good ‘ol fashion game of Hide the Guinea Pig! I definitely would have kept moving if it was “hide the gerbil” but this was exciting… The crowd bets (individually) on which of 15 mini houses setup along the street the guinea pig will run into after the announcer gives him a push.
These little furry entertainers are quite the well-trained crowd pleasers. They casually walk down to where the houses are setup and stick their heads in and out of a few houses as the crowd tries to persuade them with cheers until finally disappearing into the tiny door of a given one. The announcer then collects all the other wagers and pays the winner. SIDE NOTE: I bet on the #7 house and that little bastard didn’t even give me the time of day.
Once I made my way through the street entertainment I entered into a gated off concert setup that was already underway. The crowd cheered as the band and MC got everyone hyped up for the New Years countdown. I stayed for about an hour to get a pulse of the festivities and then headed back to the hostel to experience the other side of New Years.
The party bus was supposed to arrive at the hostel at 11pm to take a big group of us out to experience the Colombian nightlife. However, at about 10:30pm the front-desk of the hostel got a phone call that the bus driver had already began his new years celebration and that he was too drunk to come get us. Plan B: Luckily the Cranky Croc Hostel staff was amazing and then quickly arranged two smaller buses to come grab us to save the night. After our own countdown in the hostel at midnight the buses arrived shortly after and we all piled in in high spirits.
After two quick bar stops we made it to the primary goal of the night. The multi-room mega club was called “The End” and it was on the top floor of a hotel that had 360 degree views of Bogota. It was great. I danced my face off for a few hours and then a few of us were invited back to one of the girls apartments who was helping the hostel staff that night.
As always, I cautiously accepted and we grabbed a taxi back to her place. We danced, drank and enjoyed the watching the sun come up until my body was ready to shut down. Realizing that I was only a few blocks from my hostel I bid farewell to the partygoers and headed down to the lobby towards the front door.
Just as I was about to leave the building there were two shady guys standing outside their apartment door that I would have to pass to get out. I casually slowed down to look for alternative options and one of the guys stepped out of his apartment and stopped me as his friend watched from inside.
I thought “oh shit, here we go…” and just as I was about to make the first move he lifted his hands towards me holding a Colombia travel guidebook with four, very hearty lines of cocaine on the front cover. “Quieres? amigo”
“No gracias, muy amable pero tengo que irme” and I just like that I took a deep breath, turned and headed out the front door. The morning sunshine beamed down on the back of my neck as I sprinted walked quickly back to my hostel laughing.
What a great start to a new year. Bienvenidos 2011!