““All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
Day 127 – Travel Day (Bogota to Leticia, Colombia)
This’ll be a short post as today we got on a plane for only the second time in months! We are heading to Leticica, Colombia, and the only way in is by air. Yup, it’s deep in the jungle and our plan is to spend four days exploring the mighty Amazon! Should be amazing!!
Not much to share today except one exceptional thing – when we got to Leticia, we were told we had to go to Parque Santander (named after the guy, not the bank…) for sunset. According to them, all the parakeets come there to roost for the night.
So, after we had wandered the town and found a guide (Miguel) for our jungle adventure, we walked the two blocks there. And OMG it was insane!! Not a dozen or a hundred birds came, but thousands, maybe tens of thousands of birds came shrieking into the small park. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life! Birds were swooping over the trees, and then there would be massive clouds of them in layers above. Taking a picture straight up, it looked like someone had spilled pepper on the blue sky. In-sane. We took a video of them bombing the trees, the sheer numbers are fantastic.
And after that, it was time to get sorted for the big jungle trip – definitely had to get industrial strength bug spray and suntan lotion!!
See you on the other side!
Day 126 – Bogota, Colombia
So today was Bike Tour Day. Kelly from Colorado had suggested it, and it sounded good so off we went. We met our guide, got our helmets and were ready! Or so we thought…
Firstly, let me point out that riding a bike in Bogota isn’t like a nice scenic stroll. It’s more like combat manuevers, using evasive techniques and some serious trick riding! I seriously thought I was gong to die about five times. People, cars, motorbikes, donkeys, carts, all jump out in front of you without warning, stroll on the bike paths, and come to a dead stop in front of your tires. I thought riding in Bali, with its lack of lanes and close cars was bad, but this brought it to a whole nother level. Whew!
But the fearing for my life (and a bit for others) side, it was actually pretty great. We started off seeing the sights, but then he took us to see the ‘real’ Bogota, and get a feel for the city.
We turned south past Calle 13, where our guide said ‘Don’t think about coming here on your own’ (!), and after flying through crowded side streets with decaying sidewalks and homemade stalls selling just about everything, we stopped by Grafitti Alley, where the street artists come to regularly paint. Afterwards, after a stop at a local factory, we made it to Bogota’s big fruit market. That was really cool, as there were tons of stalls piled high with things we had never seen! We grabbed about five strange looking fruits to try back at the hostel and juices to try now. My Lulo was fantastic, but Jon’s Borojo tasted like dishwashing liquid. Eww.
Then it was on to a Coffee factory, to try some real Colombian gold, and a visit to what as formerly called ‘the safest street in the world’ – the emerald sellers street, where they all used to carry guns. I didn’t see any guns, but we were offered cut price emeralds by dozens on men on the road. Umm, I may be a skeptic, but I think I’ll pass on buying jewels from someone selling them from their jacket pocket!
And on our way back, we rode through what can only be called ‘Hoochie Street’, where all the prostitutes were. Similar to Amsterdam, they just all hang out in a line and wait to be picked up. Truly there was a lot hanging out if you know what I mean. Probably thankfully, we were trying not to be killed riding and so couldn’t take any pictures…
It wasn’t your typical city bike tour, but I think it was definitely a different view of Bogota. You got to see the real life – dirty, noisy, raucous, colorful, and interesting. I thought it was really cool, and totally worth it. Even with the near death experiences!!
Day 124 & 125 – Bogota, Colombia
After a day of recovering from the journey, it was time to explore Bogota! We were staying in La Candeleria, the old colonial part of town, and walked into the Central Square, which was covered in pigeons! The buildings are beautiful but dotted in paint from a student protest about three months ago. God knows why they haven’t cleaned it up, but it’s all over every government building. Another place where students aren’t happy about tuition raises, eh?
We walked down the main street and while Bogota is in many ways, a typical big city, we did find some jewels – the Botero museum, with paintings and small bronzes from Fernando Botero, whose big sculptures we saw in Medellin. It had a history of his life and work, along with his usual fat portraits. The best one was the chubby Mona Lisa!
The other major gem is the Gold Museum. They seems to have them all over Colombia but we were told to wait for Bogota, and it truly is amazing. They have more pre-colonial gold then anywhere I have ever seen, thousands of pieces of jewelry, from nose rings, to collars, to headgear.
And you’d think it would be quite basic work, but it’s incredibly intricate, using techniques we still use today. The picture below is from 490 d.c (a.d.)!! We went with Kelly and Adam from the US, and Shane from Australia, and we were all pretty blown away. Not the normal museum reaction! Highly recommend going, just for the sheer amount of stuff to see!
And the exciting thing for me was that I also FINALLY got to do Silks again! Carolina, a friend of a friend from London, trains silks in the capital and told me of a place. Happily, it was nearby, and so I went to try it out. Ivar, the Colombian coach, didnt speak a word of English, but with my Spanish and some hand signals, we managed to make it happen. It’s definitely tough being off practice for 5 months, but I did as much as I coulf, and it was really interesting to watch new tricks from the girls there! Really fun!
So that was Days 1 & 2, just checking out the city and getting a feel for the place. Big cities are a bit samey, so it’s nice to find the best parts of each place. Tomorrow we do a bike tour of Bogota, which promises a view not usually seen by tourists. Hmm… sounds intruiging!
Day 121 & 122 – Santa Marta and Travel Day to Bogota, Colombia
After finishing our Open Water, we decided to spend one more day in the sun before heading back to Santa Marta, and from there, a fun 17 hour bus ride to the capital of Colombia, Bogota.
We ran into two Dutch girls that we had met back in Mancora, Peru and as the beach at Taganga isn’t fantastic, hiked around the corner to Playa Grande, and the cute beach there. It was just a nice day, relaxing in the comfy chairs, with beer and food from the beach sellers. They come by bringing the most amazing ceviche (marinated raw fish) or potato stuffed with meat – yum. We even saw an ice cream seller that took his cart into the water! Who carries money into the ocean???
But, it being our last beach day, all of a sudden the sky changed and we were in a torrential downpour! We all sprinted for the palm covered restaurants, and dodged the drops coming from the ceiling! There was so much rain, there started to be rivers of mud channeling down into the ocean. It was mental!
After making our way back to Santa Marta (we managed to get soaked on the way there as well), we had one night at the cool La Brisa Loca hostel (basically spent most of the day in the pool to escape the baking heat!) and then it was a horrendously long bus ride to Bogota. You’d think we’d have gotten used to these by now, but this one was a tough one…