Banana Skin Flip Flops may not be the New York Times but because Bogotá, especially among our little corner of English speakers, is more of a village than a city, I do meet people who’ve read it.
Sometimes they’ll write to me after our meeting and say: “You never said you were that Banana Girl,” or, better, “I feel like I know you already,” to which I always mumble something about the “carefully constructed version of myself I put on the Internet” and insist I am not a worry-stricken, culturally-confused, disasterous-at-dating blonde woman who runs around Bogotá in too-tall shoes, but actually someone who is always cool, calm and well put together.
I started Banana Skin Flip Flops to let my family and friends know I was safe during my six month trip to South America. At first it was awful – the classic ramblings of a journalist who’d spent six years writing to format, with space in mind and didn’t know what to do when someone said: Hey, write what you want, make it as long as you want and, er, no-one is going to edit it.
I called it Banana Skin Flip Flops because one of my dear friends in Liverpool was worried that South America would turn me into a hippie. “Please don’t come back here one of them,” she groaned, slurping her cocktail and kicking off her shoes in whatever bar we would have been in at the time. “I worry you’ll be one of those people boasting about the banana skin flip flops some guy made on a beach. Totally cheap and ecological man.”
Then I decided to stay and live in South America and the name became ridiculously apt as I slid precariously through everything from the language to the visa, from tax returns and bus issues to the time that man tried to mug me with a knife and I walked away because I didn’t understand his Spanish. Sometimes I make mistakes in this town and I still can’t believe I’ve made them and then beautiful things happen like when I couldn’t get my key in the door the other day and I eventually turned around, swearing, to find the taxi driver still patiently waiting for me to go inside.
For a hobby, Banana Skin Flip Flops has done quite well. It’s well on its way to having been viewed more than 200,000 times, around 300 people get it sent to their inbox each week and it has 1,000 followers on Twitter, 700 on facebook. More than 25,000 people have viewed 101 Reasons to love Bogotá alone which makes me cringe (I wrote it back in the days when I knew all of my readers) until I remember that President Obama wrote that book about smoking weed when he never expected to be President. Maybe I am one day destined to be Mayor of Bogotá and I won’t mind being haunted by that article.
Anyway, I should mention the real purpose of this post. I left the UK exactly three years ago on April 10 and that’s when I started this blog. So I was wondering if on Friday, April 12 you would like to come to Banana Skin Flip Flops birthday party? I know loads of you live all around the world but some of you live in Bogotá and it would be nice to meet you. We (that’s the blog and I) are going to have it at La Villa in the Zona T, from 5pm so you can come after work.
Let me know if you can make it and no gifts please, it’s not my real birthday (that I spent at the Hotel Villa Colonial in Cartagena. I found them through HostelBookers who gave them a 2013 Excellence Award so well done to them!)
Like this? You’ll love Colombia a comedy of errors.
Congratulations! I’ll sip a virtual cocktail in your honour at 5pm Colombo time 🙂
Thank you, if I was technologically minded I would set up some kind of webcam to involve readers from outside Bogota but I’m not so… we’ll drink a cocktail, you guys have a cocktail… the idea is there! 🙂
first i would love to attend to the party but i am one of those who live faraway. I for that matter want to congratulate for your wonderful post and wish you that do you really run for mayor of Bogota please take care.
Hahaha, can you imagine me as Mayor: “Sorry minister, can you repeat that in English? Are you trying to rob me?” Would probably work out quite well! 🙂
Que lindo post. Muchas felicidades y Feliz cumpleaños!!! Después de 3 años en Colombia, puedes decir a tu amiga que no usas Banana Skin Flip Flops. Sólo para ir a la playa! 😀 jajajaja
Jajajaja, cierto!! 🙂
I began to read your blog before going on my 3 weeks-that-turned-into-1 month and a half trip to Colombia, kept on reading it back in France, then browsed it a bit more when I decided to give it a shot and live in that beautiful and disturbing Bogotá. Still patiently waiting to go back there, with my heart full of an inconditional and overwhelming love, and now I am receiving a weekly confirmation that Bogotá really has that power to change someone’s life. Joyeux anniversaire to your Banana skin flip-flops and next time I’m around, it will be a real pleasure to meet you. Yes we can, do it and live in Colombia 🙂
Will be a pleasure to meet you too, good luck on the patience front! 🙂
If only you were celebrating when I’m travelling through Bogota on the 7/8th May as I absolutely love reading your updates! Your blog is making me quite excited about my trip to Colombia – I just wish I was going for more than a couple of weeks, but no doubt I will fall in love with it like you have and most probably visit again 🙂
I am sure you will and you should be excited about your trip, this country is fantastic!
This makes me want to hop on a plane and head right back! Dam work. Oh well, maybe I’ll get lucky in September when I return when there will be some other special event lol. Saludos a usted y felicitaciones por su aniversario! Lo siento te lo pierdas
We don’t seem to struggle for a party here, so I am sure there will be something in September for you! 🙂
Hello, I have never been to Bogotá, and today is the first time I read your blog. However, I will be in Bogotá next week and I would be more than happy to celebrate with you! Very random that I found this blog today, and that I am in Taganga making my way to Bogotá, and that you are having this party when I will be in the city. hah! Life is funny sometimes.
Very very nice blog. I found it today and love it!
I celebrate my 2 year anniversary of moving to Colombia on the 12th. 🙂 Will most definitely try to make it! 🙂
Would be lovely to meet you Valerie, hope you can make it!
Hola mami 😛 I recently began reading your blog and I find it very interesting, it is great to hear the perspective on your city from a foreigner. I was born and raised in Bogota but have been living the past few years in Boston. Right now I happen to be visiting Bogota with a good friend of mine, Maria, she is from Finland. I will be in Bogota for 10 more days, so we will be in town for your celebration and we would love to join your birthday party at Zona T if that is ok, would be so much fun to meet you!
That is, as long as you don’t mind not being the only blonde at the party for a change 😉
It will be a pleasure to meet you both! Looking forward to it 🙂
Hello, If you don’t mind I would like to tag along 🙂 I’m in love with England and it would be a thrill to listen to a British accent live once again. Don’t know if I can make it, but will give it a try.
You would be very welcome, if you don’t want to come alone, feel free to bring people!
That’s something else we Colombians do ( it shows how you’re used to us).. bring uninvited people but thank you for telling me I can bring other people in advance 🙂 Hope to see you then. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
Hello¡¡¡¡ I just heard you talking on w radio and it’s a shame im just 1,69 (kidding) awesome to read from you, i’m from Cartagena and love your writing about it =)
Hola Victoria…escuche tu entrevista por la “W” y me pareces una bacana…encantadora!!
I read your “101 reasons to love Bogotá” the day you posted it and I have been reading your blog ever since. love it, love it, love it! Happy anniversary BSFF, have a good one.
I heard your interview this morning on W and you are absolutely adorable! I have recently returned to Bogota from London, where I lived for the past 12 years. I was getting tired of hectic and cold London, but listening to you just made me want to really stay, and start my writing again, maybe we could exchange ideas, “a Colombian living in London”! Have fun at your party, Im sure it’s going to be awesome. xx
hola victoria, me llamo rolando melo, entiendo que es vivir lejos de donde uno nacio y vivir en un pais con diferente cultura,; por lo que quiero compartir con tigo el viernes, estos 3 años de estar con nosotros en bogota
Hi Victoria, thanks for the invite and congrats on your Third Anniversary. Tiffany was nice enough to introduce me to you, after my awesome wife Diana heard you on Wradio, and we look forward to meeting you tomorrow.
Hola Vicki Felicitaciones por tu tercer aniversario me has hecho pensar en lo hermosa que es Bogota con todos sus defectos es bella Gracias
Reblogged this on juanantonio195202 and commented:
Hey you all. I was invited by my friend, Tiffany, co-owner of La Villa, to meet and greet Victoria, a real queen of blogs. She, as well as all her friends, are celebrating her third anniversary. I had a blast at her party, attended by more than a 100 of her Bogota friends and fans, and discovered a very WISE person with a passion and a voice that resonates true feelings. Her blogs are the manifestations of her encounters and explorations of Bogota, Colombia and many other South American countries. Enjoy!
I hope this isn’t too personal a question – but, how do you stay in Colombia without an employer/being married? I didn’t think it was possible?
No, it´s okay. I am a self-employed writer so I have a working visa that way.
Wow, I was certain that wasn’t an option. I had to provide so much from my employer, and I was freelance before during my tourist visa.
It wasn´t easy, I am lucky because I have a degree in journalism, which isn´t so common among journalists and I had lots of evidence of my work in English newspapers so I could pass the “bona fide” test. You have to prove you are a writer (which is so weird because writing is just writing) and that you can live from it.
Ahh I see, makes sense!
Sorry I missed your blogoversary. 🙂 Congratulations. Three years in one place. Wow. I hope one day I find somewhere I can stay like that.
I couldn’t settle anywhere and came to Bogota when I was 27, so I reckon you have time. I did two years tops in every city and now I am at three years more or less here and couldn’t even think about leaving!