First thoughts on Bogotá
I just returned from spending two weeks in Bogotá conducting interviews for my dissertation research on Colombia’s economic and security relations with Venezuela. It was my first time south of the U.S. border, and it was a fantastic experience. Bogotá has everything you could want in an international city including delicious food and culture. Everyone was incredibly gracious with their time, and the success of this trip is indebted to the generosity of many including our amazing host and hostess — Bernardo Ortiz and his wife María Clara Sánchez.
I admit I was a bit nervous to show up in Bogotá without any interviews scheduled, even though Bernardo reassured me that meetings of this nature are almost impossible to set up in advance in Colombia. I was hoping for at least ten, and was thrilled to have left the country with fourteen interviews with former Colombian (and one Venezuelan) ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Defense as well as their deputies. These interviews also included business leaders, academics and journalists.
While there wasn’t much time for sightseeing, Ryan and I did make it out The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. The huge cathedral is built in the interior of a salt mine in an area where salt has been excavated since the pre-Colombian Muisca culture in the 5th century BCE and continues today. Opened in 1995, it was built entirely for tourism and is not an official Catholic church. They do, however, have a Eucharist mass. Regardless, it is an impressive feat of architecture and representation of the Colombian people.
Finally, one of my favorite parts of traveling and living around the world is the possibility of reuniting with friends in the oddest of places. I haven’t seen my friend Christine since we were living in the Netherlands, so it was incredibly serendipitous that she happened to be working in Bogotá during my visit. Although, we might have a few more wrinkles 😉 it scarcely seemed that ten years had passed. It was the cherry on top of an already great trip.
I still have a lot of research to process, but I hope to be posting further analysis on Colombia and Venezuela relations soon.