Lines and Laughter in Bogotá


I gasped for air and kept peddling, my head down so the spinning instructor wouldn’t see me laughing.

“Is it just me, or is he doing a sexy dance on top of the bike?” my friend Kari said on the bicycle next to me.

In the dark room, a spotlight highlighted the instructor’s deep-set eyes as he stared out into his audience. Beads of sweat rolled down his neck. He turned up the electronic salsa music and increased the resistance on his bike. His hips were thrusting back and forth as he shouted, “uno, dos, tres!”

Kari and I laughed about it the whole walk home.

This is just one example of the sexual nature of Colombian men—or the sexual undertone that envelops the city of Bogotá, my new home.

At restaurants, couples sit next to each other instead of across—kissing one another’s necks and lips in between bites of food. Young lovers can be found making out on stairwells outside department stores and on street corners. Everyone can dance salsa.

Just three days after landing in my new city I met a Colombian guy named Santiago. A casual meeting in the park turned into a hike to Monserrate (pictured above), hot coco at a restaurant overlooking Bogotá, then a bottle of wine and tapas at an outdoor café. When he dropped me off at the hotel he asked to kiss me. “I don’t know if it’s your perfume, but I’m intoxicated by you,” he said as his lips touched mine. I almost spit in his mouth.

Santi and I have been out several times since then, and every time he says something that makes me bite the sides of my cheeks to keep from laughing.

“They’re not lines,” he tells me. “I’m just telling you what I’m thinking, and I’m thinking about you.”

I admit, it’s nice to hear. And I suspect in a few months the sight of my spinning instructor gyrating on top of his bike will be commonplace. But until then, I’m going to enjoy the unbridled laughter that Bogotá brings me. And I think I’ll take Santi up on salsa lessons.

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