Day one of the official start to my travels is near complete. New York was wonderful (after I got a nap- as you might have realized by the grammatical mediocracy of my last entry, I needed it.) Good friends, good weather, good Italian food at a friend's new restaurant- good 24 hours. =)
The flight to Bogotá yesterday was uneventful. As it turns out, tourists cannot enter Colombia without proof of their date of departure (aka a plane ticket out of the country). I only had a one-way ticket from NYC to Bogota as I plan on leaving the country via bus at a later date. Luckily, I had heard of this rule through my travel research and purchased a return ticket yesterday morning, only to cancel it last night after passing through customs, well within the 24 hour window for fully refundable reservation cancellations. Tricky I know, but worth it not to get sent back to the States on the same plane I came in on.
Paul picked me up from the airport last night and brought me back to his home where his wife Carol was waiting. Paul and Carol are friends of a close friend from Austin and have been my main contacts in Bogota, also helping to coordinate all the volunteer projects I will be participating in this week. Their hospitality has been a wonderful welcome to what might have been a rougher transition to South America. Spent the day today sleeping in a little, helping Carol prepare a delicious homemade meal which we shared with her extended family, and walking the neighborhood to get my whereabouts. I must add that I was walking slower than normal- I noticed the 8,000 something foot altitude difference the moment I got off the plane. No headaches or stomachaches typical of altitude sickness, I just get out of breath faster and feel more tired. I expect this will resolve after a couple days. (And it's nothing compared to what Machu Picchu will feel like next month!)
Tonight I will be moving to stay with a lady named Maria Inés who has agreed to house me these next couple weeks. She and I will ride the bus there and back daily to an area of Bogotá known as Soacha where I will be doing some health fairs and education with the community. I'm sure there will be lots of stories to tell… Here are some pictures from the day: