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Bogota and around

A successful change of scene


View Taking on latin america on VGH on tour's travel map.

So our last day in Peru was pretty uneventful - though we did see a dead turtle on the beach - it looked like it had just walked up and was sitting there, but on further observation its shell was a bit busted and it was pretty dead..
It was pretty exciting travelling out to the airport and getting reading for a plane! Vivacolombia is a pretty budget airline - so budget in fact that it doesn't assign seats, just calls you up in groups and you can pick your seat. Lucky for us, the flight was full of other gringos who had no idea what was happening (our check in lady told us), so we scored some pretty sweet seats.

My lovely friend Dani (who I met on my last trip to Ecuador), came and picked us up from the airport at midnight, and took us to our hostel. So nice to not have the taxi battle and see a familiar face.
The next morning we were greeted with an exciting change for breakfast - eggs and juice! No dry bread and jam in site! Another surprise was to find that I knew 2 other Kiwis in the hostel from school/the halls. NZ sure is a big village.

We had an excellent lazy morning, wandering the streets of Bogota and finding which ATM would give us more than $150 at a time. Bogota, though a city of 10 million people, has a calm feeling about its centre and a nice chilled out vibe that we'd found lacking in other capitals.
In the afternoon we signed up for a graffiti tour, a little reluctantly. All the walking tours we have done to date we have left after 10minutes out of sheer boredom.

The graffiti tour was different - the guy was interesting, understandable and passionate about the street artists. It was awesome! We learnt about the political implications of the art, how the mayor of town wants to wipe it out, how its becoming more accepted amongst the neighbourhoods and so now the artists can get away with daytime painting.

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This is made of paper mache, and sits atop a wall. It has been so well painted that its been there for something like 10 years or more!

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Would you like a banana? Also paper mache, painted to look like copper

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This wall is supposedly worth over $10 000USD

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Some political street art

While on the tour we learnt that some of the artists would be painting shirts / other items of clothing the following day, and we'd be welcome to go and check them out..

After the street art tour, we wandered the streets a little more - initially in search of juice, but we ended up in an art gallery. Saw our first Picasso - thought it was done by a child. Ops!
Bought some churritos (baby sized churros, which are like straight sugar covered doughnuts). Richard enjoyed telling everyone after that I'd eaten EIGHT churros. Not mentioning each was like 2cm long.

Next day we had another lazy morning with eggs and juice. We then broke our golden rule, and visited a museum. Our very first in all of South America. It was the museo del oro - it was fine, for a while, and we did learn some things about how they used bees wax and clay to make their metal jewellery and the like over a 1000 years ago. Not in a hurry to revisit another museum.
We also checked out the handycraft market across the road, where we required all of our self control to not buy my brothers the clay penis flutes that we found there...
Then thought it was time to head across town to check out this T shirt graffiti thing.
Navigation was initially straightforward - grid system, but then the road signs disappeared and replaced by complicated block numbers. Eventually made it, after like an hour and a half of walking... to spend less than 5 minutes there as it was so disappointing.

But we got to catch the biggest bus we have ever seen back - the transmilenum is Bogota bus system, and its pretty awesome.

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When you sit at the back, you can see the front of the bus already around the corner!

That night we went out for dinner with Dani and her husband, to a fancy restaurant (which cost like $25 each for entrees, drinks and mains!) I had some cocoa flavoured rice - really strange to eat sweet rice, but it mixed well with my meat + sauce. Richard had lamb and some spuds covered in some kind of amazing sauce. Dani and her husband hit the jackpot with their pork though. Man it was good! We were told we had to try a particular entree, but then they wouldn't translate it out of spanish until after we had tried some. When it arrived, it became apparent why - deep friend intestines. In the end it mostly just tasted crunchy.
Post dinner, we headed up the hills (Bogota is in a basin), so we could try agua de panela - a local sweet hot drink, and look at the city lights. It was really beautiful, and there was some epic lightning going on. Several party buses drove past too - man they put the NZ ones to shame! Epic music, dance floor in the middle, and everyone partying hard, even as it winds up the side of the mountain.

For our final day in Bogota we decided to make a day trip to a nearby town to visit the Salt Cathedral - supposedly the best thing to do in Bogota.
We are not really sure why. Its an underground church, very plain, but very large, with many different rooms. We suppose its something different?

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Inside the cathedral

The highlights were; the natural orange juice, the passionfruit / condensed milk icrecream, and being offered "big assed" deep friend ants.

Next, we were off to Villa de Leyva - about 3 hours from Bogota for a few days. Villa de Leyva is famous for being a place to go and chill out on the weekend with the rest of Bogota - so we made sure we went during the week, and having the biggest central plaza in Colombia - yes its huge. Found ourselves this awesome hostel just out of town, with nice hammocks to sit in the garden and look out over the valley and read. It was perfect!
The thing to do here is to hire bikes and go cycling to visit El Fossil - some giant water dwelling dinosaur fossil, housed in the nearby countryside. So we did, and it was actually quite cool. It was also cool cycling around the gravel roads checking out some very nice houses, and seeing this crazy clay house that someone has built themselves.

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The giant fossil

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Look at those teeth!

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Looked kinda like the Flintstones moved out

Richard also made sure he got all the photos of the dinosaur road signs, and was very vigilant in looking out for any dinosaurs that might be roaming nearby...

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We finished our ride off with a visit to the blue pools - which apparently you used to be able to swim in. Rules changed, and we slogged our way back up the last bit of the hill for a disappointing visit to some ponds that looked like they were used for irrigation.

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Feeling skeptical...

Back to our hammocks with a sore butt!

Today we caught 3 different minivans, and moved to San Gil, which is a small town en route to the coast, famous for its adventure sports. We arrived late to some blackening skies. Sure enough while out for dinner the rain began in a hurry. Ten minutes later the roads (they are reasonably steep), were rivers. Half an hour later, there was so much water coming down, it was washing over the top of the parked motorbikes. It was insane!
Naturally, we were pretty reluctant to walk home in this, and all the taxis were occupied. Luckily we moved to the bar next door and had the best milkshakes we've ever had - mine peanut butter and nutella, and Richard's coffee and Baileys. I think they even beat Sweet Mamas cafe in Welly.

With a small break in the rain, we bolted home. Not quite fast enough... But its now been pouring for another 3 hours solid, so we're pleased we made a move when we did!

Overall, first impressions of Colombia are AMAZING!

Posted by VGH on tour 19:03 Archived in Colombia

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