Bogota is such an unusual place. There is huge a dichotomy between the feeling of danger that is constantly a part of things here and the kindness of the ordinary people. I'm not sure I have ever met nicer, more friendly, funny, welcoming people as I have here in Bogota. So I wonder why this country has such a history of violence? Why are things so bad here that there are armed guards everywhere, that there are drug sniffing dogs at the entrance to the theater, and that our bags had to be x-rayed both before we got on the plane AND when we landed? Maybe the unluckiness of having a good climate for growing cocaine plants has lead the people to be incredibly nice in order to offset the damage that the drug industry has done to their country. I really don't know, but I know that I am always amazed when I get to rehearsal at how wonderfully kind everyone is.
First of all, I want to say that everything about going to a job with your best friend is fantastic, beginning with not having to travel alone. The only negative thing about us being in Bogota together is that two blondes in Colombia are even more of a spectacle than one for all the brown haired Colombian people, and people full on stare at us when we go anywhere. But I digress. I am so used to traveling everywhere alone, and it was such a luxury just to have someone to watch my bags while I went to the bathroom. But also, having someone to talk to on the 5 hour flight, and having someone to arrive in Bogota with, because it can be a little daunting. As soon as you get to Bogota, there are soldiers and guards literally EVERYWHERE. At the airport, in the streets, in front of our hotel, at the entrance to every major building, etc. Instead of making you feel safer, you always wonder "why do these guys need to be here? What must have happened in this town that it requires this kind of supervision?" Here is the entrance to the apartment/hotel where we are staying.
We arrived at the Residencias Tequendama, where we have both stayed before on previous singing jobs in Bogota, to discover that nothing had changed. No one speaks any english, and while everyone is incredibly kind, no one understands what you need even if you think they do, and when you finally are able to communicate what you want, implementing it takes an extraordinarily long time. We were exhausted, but we spent almost an hour at the front desk while they tried to find us rooms on the same floor. Then, when we got to the rooms, they were the wrong size (we are supposed to have one bedrooms and these were studios), so they told us it would be another couple of hours until the new rooms were ready. All either of us wanted to do was go to sleep (having awoken in NY at 4 AM) but we went and had lunch instead. When we came back, they told us it would be another half hour, so we waited in the old rooms and both fell asleep. Another hour later we went downstairs and after another 10 minutes or so, they led us to our new rooms. Except they were in the middle of cleaning mine, so I had to wait in Georgia's for another 15 minutes. Finally we got into out rooms, but we didn't unpack because we discovered that there was no hot water. Then we went off to our first musical rehearsal.
The rehearsals so far have been a lot of fun. The music rehearsal after no sleep and flying all day was a challenge, but the staging rehearsal yesterday was great. We managed to stage the first two acts in one day, including my big act (II) with the chorus. Georgia and I are already having a blast because all of the guys in the cast are totally hilarious in different ways, and are making us laugh a lot. I knew two of them from when I sang Cenerentola here, and Georgia had sung with all four of the Bohemians before. There is also a fantastic childrens chorus which is almost entirely made up of girls from a private bilingual high school, so they all gather around me after we exit stage and start excitedly talking to me in english, which is impeccable. They are trying to teach me spanish, but I'm not very good so far.
I'm glad to be back here and experience the place in all its grit and glory.