I sleep for maybe 4 hours. Tonight I am going to go to Viejo Almacen to dance. My room is a wreck. Whatever. I should eat. I really don't feel like it. I drink a bottle of water and eat some yucca chips and fruit. I will probably lose weight on this vacation. I am doing lots of walking, dancing, and little eating.
One major difference between Bogota and Buenos Aires is that things are not so accessible here. I am used to walking out of my apartment and finding whatever I want. That is not the case here. I have to walk a good distance to the supermercado. There are no small markets or kioskos. There are no fruterias. There are no restaurants. Nothing decent. I am not about to eat in the gas stations. I hate getting in taxis to go places, I like walking. Welcome to Bogota.
Alison another guest in the hostel is a yoga fanatic. She is very interesting. She is going around South America doing yoga. She also finds it difficult to eat here. She asks Luz to make her a fruit plate. I didn't know we could do that, so I ask too. Alison is leaving early in the morning to go to Ecuardor. She will be back in Buenos Aires in a month. I give her my info and ask her to please call me. She leaves to go do night yoga.
Alex calls me to make sure I know where Viejo Alamacen is and what time the milonga starts. He tells me he will meet me there at 9. I go to my room to get ready. No one dresses for the milongas here. In reality, they are more like practicas than milongas. I finally figure out what to wear. They call a taxi for me.
Where I am staying is incredible. It really is more like a bed and breakfast than a hostel. The staff is amazing. I would recommend anyone coming to Bogota stay here. The zona norte is very nice. I would not stay in the La Candelaria. It is very colorful during the day, but at night it is pretty sketchy. The taxi comes for me.
The driver is really nice. He gives me a small tour on the way to La Candelaria. Most of the drivers are nice. Taxis are cheap here. I can go across town for 12,000 pesos. This is about $6 USD. When I can I take the transmilenio. I could take it here to the milonga, but I do not want to walk through La Candelaria at night, especially when I am not sure of the streets. My life is worth more than $6.
We arrive at Viejo Almacen. The entrada is 8,000 pesos plus two drinks. Amazing. I walk in. I look around. I don't know anyone. It has been a long time since I have gone to a milonga and not known anyone. The place is very interesting. It is a homage to Gardel. There is Gardel memorabila all over the walls. It is really cute.
Suddenly I hear my name. I look over. Lucila, a woman I met the other night is calling to me. She is sitting at the bar. I walk over to where she is. I greet her. She introduces me to Pato the owner and to some other people. She is muy simpatico. A beautiful woman. I am happy to see her. We chat.
Soon Tania comes over. She invites me to her table. I met her the other night as well. She wants to know how it went the other night with the chicos. "Spectacular!" I tell her and Lucila. "They were great. I had a wonderful time." Tania wants to know how the club was. "You should have come," I told her, "It was amazing, really good dancers. The music was hot." "Come to my table." she tells me. "I will." I tell her.
I watch the dancers. This is not Buenos Aires. The important thing is that they are having a good time. I am invited to dance. The man is very sweet. Here the tandas are mas o menos. I am never sure when they start or end. Sometimes men leave me in the middle of the floor, and sometimes they take me back to where I was.
Alex arrives. He comes to greet me. He tells me he will come to get me to dance. I go to sit with Tania a bit. She is going to come to Buenos AIres. She is mystified when I tell her no one dances like this in Buenos Aires. She is surprised. I tell her maybe if she goes to where the tourists dance she will find this kind of dancing, but not in the majority of the milongas. "You mean I cannot do ganchos?" she asks. "Noooo!" I tell her, "There is no space. Our floors are too crowded. You cannot lift your feet off the floor." "Tango," I tell her "is a walk, a giro, and an ocho." I am not sure she understands. I have not seen anyone do an ocho here.
Alex comes to take me to dance. They are playing Gotan. Oh no, I am going to dance Nuevo. Shoot me dead. No one would believe this. He is a good height for me. Poor guy, he has never been subjected to me. I love music and I love to feel the music. I am amazed that I can dance this way and my body is feeling no pain. I can go down in a half split. We dance 3 songs.
I go back to the bar and to sit with Lucila. She comments to me "Alex looks very elegant when he dances with you." I am not sure whether I should say thank you. Alex lacks technique. When he dances with me you don't see it. I tell Lucila, "The people here have no technique. No one has taught them posture or how to walk." She agrees.
I dance more. I am not exactly sure what I am dancing at times, but I am dancing. People are very nice. It doesn't really matter. At one point I go "D' arienzo." Everyone at the table looked at me and went "Como?" I said "D' arienzo." Nobody knew what I was talking about. I had to tell them it was the orchestra that was playing. The same thing happened with Biaggi. They are dancing, but they have no idea what they are dancing to. They call each other milongueros. It is sort of funny.
I am hungry. Tania tells me there is a place around the corner that sells arepas. I ask her if she will come with me. We go outside. La Candelaria definitely is not a place to hang out after dark. We walk the short distance to the arepa place.
I order an arepa filled with chicken and a mango juice. Tania orders one filled with cheese. They bring sauces. I realize after I eat my arepa that I am not eating well at all. I have eaten only a little bit of fruit the last two days. Bogota is not easy to find restaurants or food. It is not like Buenos Aires. I order another arepa filled with cheese. These are not the best arepas, but they will do. I spy the salsa I am looking for and ask for it. Tania freaks out. "Don't eat that! She says to me. "You will die! It is so hot!" I put some on my arepa and try it. It is to die for. Spicy hot with garlic. I am in heaven. She thinks I am crazy.
We go back to the milonga. It is almost 1:00 am. Most of the people have gone. Every thing closes early here. A young man comes. Tania tells me she thinks he is the best dancer. I look at him. I don't think so. I reserve my judgement. I watch the dancers. I miss Buenos AIres. They play DiSarli. I am asked to dance. I close my eyes. This is my favorite orchestra. I have no idea what I am dancing but it is not salon tango. If people in Buenos Aires saw me they would die. If El Attorante saw me he would have immediate heart failure. If I saw me, I would have me committed.
I sit down. Tania's favorite dancer is now dancing. Nooo, this is Gumby in tennis shoes. A disaster. She looks at my face. He is a major disaster. I only hope he does not ask me to dance. I ask a young man at my table to dance. He is very sweet. It turns out he has only been dancing four months. He is doing very well. After the second song, I correct his posture. I explain to him why he should stand differently. At first he is a little miffed. I know I should not be doing this, but I can't help it. I ask him to try . He sees the difference right away. I wish I could come back here and teach technique. There is absolutely none here.
I go to sit down. Gumby in tennis shoes comes to ask me to dance. My worst nightmare. He is impossible. Apparently he took 3rd place in some contest in Bogota so he thinks he is a great dancer. I cannot dance with him. There is no lead. None. At one point we are completely stopped because I have no idea what I am supposed to do. He finally moves my foot. I know he thinks that I am the disaster. If this were Buenos Aires I would walk off the floor. It would not be so bad if he were not so cocky. I so grateful for the end of the song. He leads me back to the table smirking. The "great dancer from Buenos Aires."
Alex comes to take me to dance. It is now 2:00 am. The last dance. Tania films us. I hope it never gets anywhere. I will die. My reputation will be ruined forever. We go to sit down. At the playback all I see are my defects. Alex is mesmerized. "Que lindo." he says. "What are you doing tomorrow?" he asks me. "Not much," I tell him. "I have to get ready to go to Armenia." "Do you want to practice?" he asks. "Llamame." I say to him. He then corrects my Porteño accent, "llama me" he says. Then in fun I give him my full force Porteña personality, "No me haces un tiempo duro boludo, entendes?" Everyone laughs. He looks at me "Boludo?" I give him a kiss on the cheek. "llamame."