DUNCAN 80 years, 1 World Tour Site

Bogota

(January 26, 2009)

Comments

Diego Delgado

(February 2, 2009)

in spanish dont forget CUADRA PICHA is the street clubs .Is nice those events in colombia . hungs for takesy and markc and clap for duncan tanks
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If you are from the US... or it seems every other country in the Western world, you have been told nothing but horror stories about Columbia. A buddy of mine went to Bogota years ago and told me how the gringos had to e driven around for fear of being kidnapped.
Either everyone who has told me those stories is a liar or the last President they elected really did whip the place back in to shape. It's nicer than LA. If my mom said she wanted to go to Columbia I'd tell her to brush up on her Spanish and bring her credit cards.
First rule of traveling to international countries: when you get off the plane, hit the ATM. ATMs in the airport are the most reliable source of local cash and they give you the good rate of the day. After you leave the airport, you can usually get cash but it's not as reliable (as we learned in Tokyo, the Airport is the only place you can get cash). In Bogota the international arrivals area shoots you right out onto the street. I broke rule #1. We pop out and look around for our connection, Juan, a guy I've never met, never talked to, never even seen! Only traded emails with... and I hadn't done that for about 3 days. But there is a guy with a sign that reads "Mack McBride". Assuming the odds are pretty low that there were 2 guys named McBride on the flight, one "Mack" and one "Mark" we walked over to him, "Juan?" He kind of gave us this vague nod. We started following him walking out of the airport and after realizing that this guy's English was not so hot, I decided that this was not Juan (All of Juan's emails were written in pretty good English.) But no matter. He had obviously been sent for us.
The ride in to Bogota from the airport was spent with Takeshi trying to get local slang out of this guy and us fumbling through figuring out how we were going to pay for the ride. Funny thing is that Takeshi seems to be able to understand Spanish better than I can but I seem to have a bigger vocabulary than the does. So someone will say something in Spanish, we discuss in English, then I reply in Spanish.
The drive stayed on the main roads most of the time (a good indicator that you are going in one direction and not being set up). There were military police-looking guys hanging out on a few corners. Takeshi said the thing that disturbed him wasn't the site of guys with machine guns, but that they all looked like they were 16.
Our driver dumped us at the hotel and we gave him $25US. That was about twice what it would've cost if we paid in Columbian pesos but still half the cost of what it costs to get from LAX to my place in Hollywood, or simply to get from Kennedy into Manhattan.
The next day, we woke up planning to ask the people at the hotel where the closest park was. The last bit of info I had gotten out of Juan was that he set up a meeting for us at 10am at a park right by the hotel (no name) with the Columbian Yoyo Group that found me on FaceBook. Luckily about 30 minutes before we would've walked downstairs to realize there were no nearby parks, Juan called. He met us in the lobby with his lovely wife Susannah and we all walked to a nearby shopping/eating area.
I wondered who is going to be showing up at 10am on weekday. Turns out over a dozen people. Alexsandra, her husband, Diego and son, Mario(I hope I got that right). Mario and another guy Nicholas (again, hope I spelled that right), where the only little guys. Everyone else was college age or more-- again 10am on a Friday, kids are in school. There was also Andreas, Jason, Oscar, another Diego, and everyone else got away without telling me there name. Just a lot of smiling and yo-yoing.

The yoyo scene in Columbia is pretty new. Isaac apparently had gone down there, met the Columbians and encouraged them to start a Yoyo Association... a few months ago. And playing with them felt the same way. Here's perfect example: They said that Diego (the other Diego) was probably their best player. He had a couple Triple A tricks that looked like they were right out of Paul Yath routine, kinky, crossed strings, hard.
"Can you do two yoyo tricks?" Someone asked me.
"Sure, can you do this?" I did Spencer's Underwear and they were impressed. I showed them how and thought, "That's not a very far out trick." So I thought, let's take it back a bit and showed them how to do Velvet Rolls... and it was new! The scene down there was, like so many "new" scenes built on the internet. So they were playing with complicated tricks but still finding tricks we have done and moved on from. And everyone was excited to do it!
Beyond the yoyo players and the amazing top players, we had 2 Columbian celebrity run-ins. The first happened day one. While hanging out at the T (that was the area where we were), a guy by the name of Harry Sasson stops by. He's a gruff stalky guy in a chef's uniform with his name for the restaurant. He is apparently the Wolfgang Puck of this part of the world and he was throwing a wooden Duncan Tournament. Apparently he owns and runs about 5 amazing restaurants; one of which we were yo-yoing in front of. After the yoyo meet started to disperse, he had Takeshi, Juan, Susanna and I in for coffee. He's an interesting character; he was somehow coarse and intimidating, but yet really nice and cool like a favorite Uncle, at the same time. He was talking to Juan and said we had to go to a place called Andre's Carne de Res.
Andre's is an institution in Bogota. It's at least a half hour outside of town past the airport. Story has it that 30 odd years ago this guy bought a little house from some rednecks and opened a butcher shop/grill with his wife. Then as he could he kept adding to it. "Now he has over a thousand waiters and waitresses." I wasn't sure about that until we got there. Imagine a curio shop or flea market or one of those places where hippies sell bent iron sculpture. Now make it the size of multiple city blocks. We went in and it was insane. They label the tables individually so that when you get up to use the bathroom and get lost trying to find your way back (which you will), you can ask someone. It was everything T.G.I. Fridays wished it could capture with it's corporate-forced "Flare" but just didn't have the guts to really commit too.

We walked through the first building, across a street, to the second building, where there was face-painting, sandboxes, magicians....and plenty of tables and food. Takeshi and I did a demo for the little kids and sat down with Juan and Susanna to eat. The food was great. The hit was this stuff called "Chicharron"(I probably misspelled that). My buddy Rob Z in LA would've died for it. Imagine bacon that is not cut in to slices but instead cut into cubes. Yep, 3D bacon! And that was jus the appetizer. The main course beef was as good as I've had. Simple fact, the best beef in the world is in South America. Usually I say Argentina, but Brazil and Columbia are very close seconds.
So while sitting there enjoying steaks brought to us still sizzling on the plate, Juan points out an attractive blonde sitting a few tables away. She is apparently a famous model in Columbia. Susanna said you can't pick up a magazine here with out her in it. After dinner Juan Asked her if we could take our picture with her and she was very cordial and put up with the goofy Americans.
The next day we were supposed to meet everyone at the same spot. We had seen them the day before also and said, "Tomorrow, right here at noon." When noon came around Takeshi and I stumbled out of the hotel and Diego and Andreas (who, with Jason, had taken us out for Pizza, rock'n'roll and Columbian dancing on Friday night) were out front in Andreas' car. "Let's go!" We hopped in and went. Later I asked him what about everyone else and Diego said that he called them and not to worry about it. I guess everyone has stuff to do on Sundays.
"What did you do yesterday?"
"We went to Andre's Carne de Res. It was good and we met some model. Her name was like Natalia... Paris...?"
"NATALIA PARIS!"
I thought the car was going to swerve off the road. Apparently she was a big star in Columbia. Diego and Andreas gushed over her for a good few minutes. "I here she is very stupid." "She speaks very well," said Takeshi.
"Yeah, she seemed real nice and poised to me," I said.
"You went o Andre's. So you like beef?"
"Of course"
"Then we will take you out for a cut you will only have in Columbia. Chiguira."
We ended up at a place that was modeled to be like the Northern rural part of the country. We sat up on the second floor. Juan and Andreas ordered for us; we all got the same thing: a basket of meat. Takeshi was ecstatic. In case you didn't know Takeshi only eats meat and starch. Beef, chicken, fries, rice, bread. That's it. No sauce, no veggies, nothing like that. Pizza is the only exception. I tease him that all food for Takeshi is brown. From the lightest brown of white rice to the darkest brown of chocolate cake. Brown. This basket was brown. But it wasn't beef.
"This isn't beef."
"No. It's chiguira." They started looking around at the mural on the wall, "There is no picture of chigiura here."
I looked up pork in my pocket translator: "Cerado?"
"It is like cerado."
It was tasty whether it was beef or pork or whatever.
As we walked out they said something to one of the waiters and he lead us upstairs and pointed to a pat of the mural. "That is chiguara."
Ha! Takeshi had eaten something other than a cow, chicken or pig!
Afterwards we went to a street market and then stopped by a park where there were a bunch of juggle punks. We traded tricks with them and some local cameramen interviewed us.
So just like Mexico City the metaphors abounded. Bogota was not the place of military police and kidnappings we were told as we hopped in the cab with a guy who doesn't couldn't spell my name, but actually filled with models and gourmets. So if you get a chance go down and hang out with the Columbian yo-yo gang. Good people.
...and we got driven tot he airport by an old friend...
©Duncan Yo-yos