Tag: Random

Shit on the nativity

by Alex on Jan.04, 2011, under Blog

This is well funny…

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently on, a great place to learn Spanish that also has a lovely community of people to help you with questions about Spanish language usage.

Anyway, today came up the question regarding what a caganer is. It seems that it is traditional in some parts to include in one’s nativity scene, a figure of someone just having curled out a massive logger!

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They don’t want my blood

by Alex on Dec.28, 2010, under Blog

A while back I popped in to a blood donation tent in the centre of Bogotá. After being weighed and filling in the form I was told that I could not donate as I had recently been in an area with high risk of contracting malaria. Fair enough.

Yesterday, I’m wandering home and walk past another blood tent. Sticking my head round the door I’m told that they will open in 15 mins and would I mind waiting. So, I did some shopping and went back a while later.

The first step was to take my ID card and note, amongst other things, my nationality. Then I had my finger stabbed to give a sample which I think is used to test for anaemia. Next was answering a whole load of questions to determine if my blood was safe to use.

So, including the time that I effectively waited for them to open, the whole process took say 40 minutes.

And, get this. They don’t want my blood as I’m European and there is a risk that I might carry CJD. OK, fair enough but then the first information they took from me was the fact that I was British. So why carry on wasting my time and their time. In fact, it was clear that I was either gringo, European or antipodean when they first spoke to me. How easy would it have been to ask where I’m from. So bloody typical of how things are done here… Note also that a few months ago, nothing was said about my origin with regards to eligibility to donate…

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Piss up in a brewery

by Alex on Dec.09, 2010, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá

cerveza sierra

You have no idea how much I am enjoying writing this post…

The Cervecería Artesanal de Los Andes would like to invite you to try its beautiful beer directly from the tanks

The ‘tour’ consists of me pointing at some metal tanks and saying stuff for about 3 seconds before proceeding with the tasting, and tasting, and more tasting of the beer

We have two very good quality beers, Sierra del Tigre Pale Ale and Sierra del Tigre Brown Ale. The beer is better than much that I have drunk in the UK, home of real ale. I really like this ‘job’

The tour is free and beer is available at the much cheaper than pub price of $15,000 for 4 300 ml glasses and. If you are new to Colombia then you might not know that to buy ‘real’ beer, the most well known in Bogotá being BBC and Colón, you’ll pay, with tip $10,000 a pint

We have a regular event on Wednesday evenings will put on private events if you can arrange a group of a least 10 people, for more info mail me at See our Facebook page here

We look forward to seeing you

P.S. Joking aside, we are happy to talk to you in depth about the beer making process and what makes our beer different to that which has been available until now in Colombia…

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Veg me up baby!

by Alex on Dec.06, 2010, under Blog

So, we’ve got our weekly shop nailed – loving our local market. Czech out the fresh pro-dooce below:


All that for $70,000 pesos – £23.60. Take off the cost of the shroomers and apples (what are very hexpensive here) and you get the rest for £17.50 – not too bad methinks…

That bunch on the left is mint, basil, lemongrass and camomile, for making agua aromatica – a popular herbal infusion here in Bogotá, cost: $1,000 pesos – 34p, which is nice!

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Mmmmm, beer…

by Alex on Nov.10, 2010, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá

I love beer, real ale is my fave and I’m also a big fan of good Belgian and German beers – Chimay, Duvel, Erdinger, Leffe, Paulaner, Westmalle and that.

Colombian beer is pretty shit. Bavaria (a massive brewery that SAB Miller paid 7.8 billion dollars for and that has probably about 95% market share) makes 5 Colombian beers, all average and below average lagers. Bogotá Beer Company and Colón make European-style beers that sell for more than you’d pay for a pint in London, this might be less disagreeable if the beer were even half as good as your average British beer. You’ll be served BBC or Colón, in Bogotá at least, in most bars that serve draught beer.

botellas San Tomás makes not bad Hefe Weizen, Märzen, Dubbel and a lager. If you are a fan of these styles of beer and don’t want to pay the hefty price charged for imported beers then give San Tomás a go. I’m told by an expert that what San Tomás lacks is due to insufficient maturing time – the cost of the storage would make the beer too expensive to market.

A friend has told me that 3 cordilleras, a Medellin brewery makes great beer, I’ve yet to taste it.

duff The funniest beer in Colombia is Duff, funny from the staggeringly blatant copyright infringement point of view…

Wholly unexpectedly, I recently found myself drinking what I have no doubt must be the best beer in Latin American and certainly better than a lot of ale that I’ve drunk at home. We Met Juan Camilo through Lee, an English guy who’s been in Bogotá for about 5 years, used to work at the Ivy and runs El Inglés, an English café on Kra. 11 with 69. Having tried his beer I was keen to meet Juan Camilo and after a few minutes of listening to his passionate and highly informative talkings it was clear that he was the veritable expert. Needless to say I was very much looking forward to it when he invited us to his house for a tasting.

We tried, and when I say tried I mean drank with great pleasure, American and English pale ales, Southern English and American brown ales, and an English IPA, with brewing notes and detailed explanations regarding the classification and properties of, and differences between the beers. All were exquisite and I felt quite privileged to have had the pleasure. We had invited Nick along, another Colombian friend of ours who is in the process of opening a brewery. By the end of the tasting I was really hoping that Nick and Juan Camilo could in some way work together, combining Juan Camilo’s expertise with Nick’s facilities and business plan – I’d love to be able to buy (or better still get for free :-) ) beer of the quality that Juan Camilo makes and also would like to help introduce Colombians to good beer.

Update: Nick’s beer is good. Better than a lot of beer you get in pubs in the UK. We are in the process of getting it out to market, we’ve had a few tastings in the brewery and already have one pub chain owner interested in buying and many more interesting in trying the beer. We are also organising ‘Piss up in a brewery’ events, the trial of which was a great success. I can’t wait until I can get this beer commercially!

And, better still in the short term, Juan Camilo has just given me 3 bottles of his IPA, it was young when we tried it, it is now perfect – by far the best I’ve ever had. Mmmmm – beer!

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A picture of some cute stuff for Sarah

by Alex on Oct.25, 2010, under Blog


I was in Puerto Nariño in the Colombian Amazon with my fiend Kate on top of a watch tower. Watching and stuff. She went down before me and I was overcome with disdain as the sounds of her ahhhhhhing scratched at my ear drums. I reasoned that she had come across a puppy and/or kitten and railed at the devolution of 25 years that she seemed to have suffered, judging by the stoopid sounds I was hearing. So, I followed her down, nose held high, face of scorn, then promptly turned to mush when I came across these little guys…

More pics here

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Colombian economics

by Alex on Oct.10, 2010, under Blog

Economies of scale, supply and demand – I used to consider these laws reasonably universal. I do remember years ago in Chepstow Market shaking my head at a sign declaring something like ‘t-shirts: 1-£2, 3-£6, 5-£10′. It gets much better than that here…


A box of 100 tea bags – $15,100 pesos, 2 boxes of 50 tea bags $14,320 pesos. Although counter-intuitive, it’s perfectly usual here to find larger quantities of stuff costing more per unit that smaller quantities, always worth checking the prices carefully.

I little while ago we were outside a Crystal Castles gig looking for tickets. We knew there were plenty of tickets on the door and with the number of ticket touts around, you’d imagine you’d have been able to find a bargain. Imagine again:

Me: Hello mate, how much for a ticket
Tout: $110,000
Me: They are only $90,000 on the door
Tout: There are no tickets left on the door
Clearly I did not believe this but checked anyway
Me: I’ve just asked, they do have tickets on the door, for $90,000
Tout: OK then, $100,000
Me: Why would I pay you 100 when I can pay 90 on the door, you need to sell them for less than they cost on the door
Tout: 100
I walk away, familiarly bemused

One day on bed street – a street with about 30 bed shops selling pretty much the same stuff:

Me: Hello mate, I have a price of 420,000 pesos for that bed and I’m going in to every shop looking for the best price I can get, can you do better than 420,000?
Shop bloke: I can do it for 450,000
Me: Ok, well I’ll keep looking to see if anyone can beat 420,000
Shop bloke: 430,000 if you buy it now
Me: I’ve just told you that I can get it for 420,000, why would I pay you more for the same thing…

This does tie in nicely with many sales experiences one suffers here, my best so far being when I went shopping for a shower head, not knowing the word for shower head:

Me: Hi there, I’m looking for the shower thing that goes at the end of the tube that comes out of the wall in the shower. I DO NOT need an electric one, we have gas heating so we have hot water coming out of the tube. I just need the plastic thing that spreads the ALREADY HOT WATER out
Shop bloke: Here you go (handing over an electric shower head)
Me: I just told you that I do not need an electric one. We have hot water, I just need the thing that goes at the end of the tube
The shop bloke then comes back with what looks like a wooden pear with electric windings around it supplied by a long electric cable. I guessed it was a heating element that you could throw into a large pot of water
Me trying not to go mental: What is that, that’s got nothing to do with a shower AND it’s clearly an electical appliance. What has that got to do with what I asked you for?
Shop bloke looks utterly bewildered and a little hurt
I walk away, familiarly bemused

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Since when have angels had permission to come down from heaven?

by Alex on Sep.18, 2010, under Blog

Of the many cultural differences between here (Colombia) and the country in which I grew up, one of the most blatant and in-your-face is the way that men and women interact. It is, interesting to say the least.

I recently followed a link sent to me by a friend and clicked the ‘login via Facebook’ option and lo, without warning, I had a profile on which appears to me to a hook up site very thinly veiled as some kind of social networking thing.

Flicking through public comments on profile photographs on Badoo one notices a theme. I’m not going to express my opinion though I do wonder how the authors possibly think they are going to be taken seriously. Check these out:

Hey, since when have angels had permission to come down from heaven? Don’t tell me that you’ve escaped. Well, if that is what’s happened I’d love to cut your wings so that you can’t go back and be able to look upon the beauty that you are, precious princess

An exquisite woman is not she who has most men at her feet but she who has one man that makes her really happy
A beautiful woman is not the youngest nor the slimmest, neither her with the smoothest skin nor the fairest hair, rather she who with just a smile and good counsel can bring cheer to your life
A rich woman is not her with many titles or academic honours, it is she who would sacrifice her dream for the happiness of others
An exquisite woman is not the most passionate, but she who shakes with joy on making love with the man she loves
An interesting woman is not she who feels flattered for being admired for her beauty and elegance, it is she of solid character who can say no
And a man, an exquisite man is he who values this kind of woman

Meeting people via this medium is a lottery, there are people of all types, for all types of people. The key lies in sincerity, respect and chemistry. Your profile caught my attention and if you’d like to get in touch it would be interesting to know a bit about you. I love your look and demeanour – the irony with this is that the guy has left the same comment on loads of girls’ pictures

In the beginning we were one, unknown, splendour without gaze, love without value. Then two through many reincarnations, we lost the footprints of the other without looking for each other, without finding each other. Like curious, frightened children wandering the world without destination painfully conquering fears and at last, suddenly, light is born. Aeons bear fruit, conscience lights the path brining us back together, to the one, to the same

Precious, you are the most beautiful woman in the world. I’d love to talk to you, my MSN is … sending you lots of kisses xxxxxxxxxx The sun hides itself, out-shined by the beauty of your heart

Not sure about you, but I think I’m going to chuck…

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by Alex on Jul.06, 2010, under Blog

I’ve heard a few explosions since being in our new(ish) flat. I’ve never worried that they might be bombs and the lack of any subsequent siren action has suggested that they were indeed something other than bombs.

Hearing two bangs in quick succession this afternoon, I thought nothing of it, after all from the not unusual noises one hears ’round here it seems that letting off fireworks is not infrequent… Ten minutes later in my local shop I asked Ángel, the owner, what all the police were doing – he told me that they were looking for a criminal. I asked him about the bangs and he said that indeed they had been gunshots. Apparently the police had fired (into the air), presumably to frighten the guy. To be fair if anyone fired a shot near me I’d run like shit, cops or otherwise!

The mental thing is that about 2 blocks from here is a massive police complex with plenty of guys outside sporting automatic weaponry, not the place to do crime, by any means.

Still, I guess it’s better than worse, definitely a safe part of town to live in…

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Police escort dos

by Alex on Jun.01, 2010, under Blog

Although the title of this post sounds like a shit sequel to an equally shit what ever you call the film that precedes the sequel, it pertains to a much cooler set up than was my first police escort experience in Colombia.

Having worked out that paying in cash rather than by debit card is going to be part of doing business here, we headed to the bank to withdraw ten million pesos. That’s about £3500/USD 5000. On signing receipt of my wads of currency, the teller told us that we could use one of the office phones to call the police for an escort. Clearly we were at first a little confused but we thought it over, figured why not, verified that it wasn’t going to cost anything and then called the boys in… green and reflective.

The standard two cops on a bike set up turned up, and in very friendly manner too. We’d not planned on this and had stuff to do before going home but didn’t want to impose on them, what to do… Basically they would come with us wherever we needed to go, so long as it was in Bogotá – decent! So we hailed a cab, one cop got in the front and the other followed us on his bike. Stopped off at an office to pay for an engineering survey then headed to the furniture district to sort some stuff out there. The guys were more than happy to chip in regarding what colour material to chose for the sofa although there was a little disagreement on the selection of colour for the cushions. We certainly got more looks than usual as we wandered around, the people in the beanbag shop were almost dumbfounded.

I guess that it might have been a small-scale insight into what it might be like living as an ‘important’ person surrounded by body guards and escorts, I must admit it did feel pretty cool in the taxi on the way home with a motorcycle outrider stopping traffic so that my beanbag-stuffed taxi could change lanes as it pleased.

I can’t think of a better example of acting out the motto ‘To Protect and Serve’…

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