bogota - welcome to colombia

  • some important looking dudes
  • not so keen on israelis around here
  • smoking near gas canisters - living on the edge
  • weird bus in rain storm
  • abandoned mango stand in rain
  • tallest building in bogota
  • tav drinking chicha
  • the chicha bowls
  • picaso painting

On the 19th of August, I flew into Bogota airport from Quito. Tav's flight came in round the same time as mine and after meeting up in the baggage lounge, we had a quick cigarette and jumped into a cab to La Candeleria - the old, bohemiam part of Bogota. We checked into a hostel called Hostel Fatima, just up the road from a punkish/grungy road of bars. First thing we needed to do is go for a beer and catch up on the past few months.

Within minutes of walking up the street, we had already been offered coke and weed - crazy place this.

We headed into one of the grungy bars and I convinced Tav we had to have a chicha. Chicha is a corn beer found throughout South America and made in different ways depending where you go. I had some in Bolivia, which I quite liked, but this one was very, very different. The barman brought it to us, in a dodgy looking bottle, and he he popped it open it started bubbling out the bottle. Then he pored it into 2 halves of some sort of coconut shell and gave us straws. Every sip of that drink made me want to vommit, purely cause it tasted like vommit. We were forced to pretty much down it just to end the experience quickly.

We then decided to head to the hostel bar and claim our free beers and possibly meet a few people. As the night went on the place filled up a bit and while we were outside having a cigarette (it is illegal to smoke in bars in Colombia - strange considering it's a drug capital) we were approached by a group of local girls, Alexa, Liliana and Anna Maria. They started chatting to us in English and their English was pretty decent and I think they were loving practicing it. I spoke back to them in Spanish most of the time to get my own practicing done. They asked us to join them at their table and then carried on telling us what an awesome city they lived in and that they were more than happy to take us around town and show us the sites and even take us to a couple of clubs. As the night carried on they did the full on Colombian thing and suggested we all buy a bottle of rum and just sip it away. It was a great night 'cause we were just hanging out with locals and got loads of tips on what to do in Colombia.

The next morning (eventhough I had a bit of a rum hangover) we decided to do some siteseeing. We headed around the old part of town getting in most of the main sites, and just generally people watching. I have to say at this point, that the Colombian women's fame of being the most beautiful in the world, is not exaggerated. Definitely a high percentage of stunners round here. So much so, that while we were walking around the Andy Warhol exhibition at one of the galleries, it was pretty hard to stay focused on the exhibits. We also headed into the Botero exhibition. Great painter who loves painting extremely rounded women - his best work for me being a piss take on the Mona Lisa (photo's above). Tav has a brilliant camera and because I still don't have my camera, he has now become the official trip photographer.

Bogota is at high altitude and so, it's not quite the tropical place I was picturing. The evenings get cold and even walking around in flip flops gets a bit cold in the afternoon, especially when you get hit by a rainstorm the way we did.

The second evening we chilled out. The next morning, at breakfast we got talking to Nina. An Australian girl who has been all over the world doing humanitarian work. Very cool girl who we've subsequently spent a good few days with. We told her we were getting a bus to Santa Marta that afternoon, and she told us she was flying to Cartagena (in the Carribean coast of Colombia) for little more than what our bus was going to cost. We had a look at flights and she was right, so we booked tickets for that afternoon with her and all jumped in a cab for the airport. It was a short stop in Bogota, but after hearing so much about Tairona national park and Cartagena, we made the decision to limit the time spent in the city.