Bogata - we are in SOUTH AMERICA
It was strange to be in an airport again, we had crossed into 9 countries with our bikes and here we were foot loose and fancy free …no bike hassles, no sweat dripping down our bikes from waiting in +30 degree temperatures for hours …this was a breeze.
We didn’t have to but we both opted to wear masks after several people were coughing on the plane …catching COVID again was an inconvienice neither of us needed. Plus we had been asked on the online pre entry to Colombia form if we had been in contact with anyone infected with smallpox in the past 3 weeks! Hmmm… we know we a bit out of touch with what is going on in the world, but seriously, smallpox?
We taxied to the end of the runway and the pilot said something we couldn’t understand in very fast Spanish and the whole of the plane gasped in horror …smallpox??? No, what he actually said was that there was a delay and we were going to sit here on the tarmac at the end of the runway baking in the heat for the next hour. Pftt… our fellow travellers needed to “man up” a bit; they had obviously never tried to get two motorcycles into Nicaragua the week before Christmas. We are sitting here AND they bring round free water!
When we landed in Bogota we noticed straight away how much cooler it was and then realised we were 2500 metres above sea level here. Sweet!
We made it to our reasonably priced hotel and were knocked over by how flash and luxurious it was. This was our first indiction that our daily budget spend was about to halve overnight! (And 20% of what we had been spending in the USA).
Unfortunately we had decided to travel on a long holiday weekend in Panama and Colombia so our bikes were delayed for a couple of days longer than expected.
So we set out exploring the city. We were still desperatly looking for a folding map of South America but it was a Sunday …however on asking it seemed all shops were open. We tried all the book shops in our district …nothing! And then saw there was a shopping centre to the north and only 3 kms away. We walked through another couple of districts …all completely safe, quiet and clean as in free from any rubbish. When we reached the bookstores there were still no maps; it seems that the country has turned 100% electronic! However there was a great market that twisted through the back streets and was full of local crafts and artisan products. We later discovered this was the Usaquen Flea market and a “must do” when visiting Bogota.
The following day we met up with a friend of a friend of Nick’s brother who had kindly offered to show us a little of the old district of Bogota.
We immediately liked Guillermo, there was something incredibly genuine and kind about him.
He showed us all the beautiful street art around the district he lived and then walked us around the old town giving us history lessons on the buildings and people who had lived here as we went.
What we thought was going to be a couple of hours of his time in the morning turned into an all day tour of not only the city but the surrounding area.
We visited an art museum and a photographic exhibition by Jesus Abad Colorado, who has spent the past 25 years photographing the effects of war on the citizens of Colombia. It was another eye opening moment for us and hard to believe that the wonderfully kind and generous and happy people of Colombia had been through such harrowing and tumultuous times …and such a short time ago.
Things have definitely, and continue to change.
For lunch we went to an award winning cafe where all the locals eat and had Bogata’s signature dish Ajiaco; a soup made from 3 kinds of potatoes with sweetcorn, chicken, rice, avocado and capers …delicious!
We then visited the Cerro de Guadalupe, a mountain that overlooks the whole city. Wow this city is HUGE! 9,000,000 people! That is a big deal to a couple who come from a city with only 5,000,000 people in the whole country.
We then drove to the town of Choachi where Guillermo was keen to show us the beautiful church and plaza BUT they were doing a major rehaul of the area much to his disgust! He then took us to try some of his favourite street food, the first of which was “Arepas” a maize meal cake filled with a fresh cheese.
We are starting to see a pattern here that all the most delicious locals foods are maize meal with some kind of stuffing! Gorditas in Mexico, Pulpusas in El Salvador and now these!
We said goodbye to Guillermo around 7pm that evening, knowing we had made a friend for life! As mentioned MANY times in these blog posts it the people that make this journey so very special.
Big day tomorrow! We pick up our bikes!