Over the years I’ve moved many times, started over in many different cities that span two continents and several countries. It’s never easy to settle in, to deal with that initial confusion that can last for weeks (ok, Bogota still confuses me and I’ve been here for over two years. It’s a big city).
And there are those little details that can ruin your day, like not knowing who to call when the toilet breaks. Or when you need to pick an area of the city to live in (that you won’t regret later), or get curtains made for your house.
Just simple things, like how to get a taxi or needing a suggestion for a good restaurant (in a language you can understand) can become aggravating in a new country.
That’s where expat guides come in. These are guides published for main cities around the world, with information oriented to short-term or long-term residents. In a language they can understand. It’s like having a friend take you by the hand and show you around the city, even if you don’t have any friends there.
Bogota needed one of those expat guides, written by expats in an English that’s actually readable.
So when Boris Kruijssen, Director of Lure Media and publisher of the beautiful Lure City Guides for Bogota and Cartagena, contacted me to tell me about their project for an expat guide, I was all ears.
I’d admired the Lure City Guides for some time, since they are practical for visitors and tourists but almost as importantly, their excellent design and photos make them beautiful and easy to use. They’re easy to read, entertaining in either Spanish or English (or you can read both and still find them a good read, thanks to their talented and creative translator).
Boris explained that their next goal was to produce Living in Bogota, a publication with detailed information about living and working in Bogota, with the customary beautiful design that characterizes Lure Media.
And I was quite enthusiastic when he asked me to join the project as editor, to help keep an eye on the details of the book.
The untiring researcher he is, Boris investigated travel guides from around the world (and I mean that, from Mexico to Amsterdam, Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, and other places you can’t pronounce) to get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
In all, the Living in Bogota project lasted about a year, with the input of over a hundred foreigners from all around the world that now make Bogota their home, with their thoughts on the best of the best in Bogota.
Different from the crowd
The Living in Bogota expat guide is different from others. It’s a complete guide, starting with what you need to know before you arrive, for settling into life in the city, all the way through to tips for when you have to finally leave.
The 11 chapters of the book each have a telephone directory so you know who to call, with everything in Spanish and English. Out of the thousand recommendations (yes, really, someone counted) you’ll find the main brands and services in the city, as well as that little known seamstress that you might need, or that Japanese guy who owns that tiny restaurant that serves the best lunches in town…
As well as some ads to help you know where to get what you need. And of course, some beautifully edited articles.
All those recommendations made by all those expats have been carefully verified, investigated, and come with a carefully crafted description of each place, person or store.
The book is practical because of its content, which I know you’re now impressed with, but also because of its beautiful photos, infographs and maps. The size is practical to handle – at 223 pages it is complete but not overwhelming. The spiral binding on the hardback book makes it easy to flip through, leave open, make notes on, spill coffee on, or whatever else you need to do.
Think of it as your expat workbook to help you survive and thrive during the change of habitat to Bogota.
What else is in it?
The 11 chapters will neatly divide your life into all you need to know:
- Domestic stuff like a good plumber and electrician or who will make that custom-design kitchen for you.
- Stores, like where to get imported ingredients and clothing your kids will actually wear.
- Real estate. Enough said in such a huge city – anyone needs guidance.
- Education. For when your kids need a place to study, or you want to pick up some Spanish classes (or salsa classes!), or even get your MBA in Spanish (now, that’s a challenge).
- Doctors and hospitals and how to survive them.
- Restaurants. Yea, my favorite chapter. Believe me, the recommendations are good. (I wrote them. Sorry, I’m biased.)
- Entertainment and culture
- Traveling, both near and far.
- (Ok, if you count, that wasn’t 11, but I didn’t want to share the whole long list in such a short post).
To get the book off to a running start, book launches were planned. In addition to several smaller events, the main one was held on the evening of Thursday, September 18th at the residence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands.
The Embassador of the Netherlands, Robert van Embden, and his wife, María Estela van Embden (who is also the President of the Association for Spouses of Accredited Diplomats in Colombia) hosted an elegant launch for Living in Bogota at their residence, with ambassadors, diplomats, Lure Media clients, and the Lure team present. It was an exciting moment to share the book with expats and locals that love Bogota and want to transmit that love to others.
The book will be available in major bookstore chains in Bogota.
To see the Lure team as we were photographed by the guys with the cameras at Jet Set, a leading social magazine here in Bogota, click here.
And you can see the coverage the newspaper El Tiempo gave it it here.
And the financial newspaper Portafolio here.
The Lure team is currently working on an online version of the book, but for the moment you can check out the Living in Bogota website and the Living in Bogota Facebook page to get up-to-date news about the book’s release.
Don’t miss the Lure City Guides website to get tips on what to see, do and eat in Bogota and Cartagena.