After a quick stop back in Fort Lauderdale, we were on our way to South America. I was cautiously optimistic about this trip. So much has been ingrained in our psyches about Colombia being unsafe that I was a little afraid. Also, this is really our first foray into the great big world without a quick return trip planned. Our scheduled return to the US is April 29, so that gives us seven weeks of relatively unplanned time in South and Central America. At the Yoga Retreat we spoke with several people who were from Colombia who encouraged us to give Colombia a chance. It doesn’t have the good press of other, larger, more frequently visited South American countries. I am really glad we did because it is really a terrific place. You still need to exercise the good sense of traveling with consideration for your surroundings, but it is no more safe or unsafe than Puerto Rico or Mexico. I also remind myself that if anyone does approach me maliciously they are after my money and not my life. My pocket money, I can live without. With that said, I will add that I have not been approached maliciously or non-maliciously for that matter. So, on to Bogota…
Bogota is the capital of Colombia and is a bustling city. It is a city with much history~ as I was repeatedly told by cab drivers, Bogota has fourteen churches. Many buildings date back more than 400 years, and they are still in daily use! There are roughly 100,000 taxis in Bogota; they are metered and you hold the conversion sheet when you ride in one, so you can be sure of the fairness of your rate. Still, some try to pad when they think you don’t know what you’re doing. (This happened to me a lot.)
My first day in Bogota was ruined due to altitude sickness. Bogota is over 8000 feet and I did not adjust well. After staying awake all night being sick, I spent the next day lying in bed feeling sick. I ate only yogurt and fruit that day and was better by Sunday. On Sunday, we had our first adventure in Bogota, a trip to Cerro Monserrate, a church poised atop a hill accessible only by tram and gondola. The hiking trail is under repair and subject to banditos.
This is the base of the ride to the top. Two options: tram on tracks and funicular (gondola) on overhead cables. We rode up the tram and down the funicular.
This is my view from inside the tram…This picture doesn’t really do it justice. I could usually see much less than is shown in this pic. The other direction I saw mostly the backs of the heads of the other tourists jammed into the tram.
This is Keegan and I at the top. Who needs a photobomber? Keegan does a fine job of photobombing his own pics. From the top we had amazing views of Bogota and came to realize that it is ENORMOUS!
If I had a panoramic lens for the camera, you’d see even more of Bogota.
This is a close up of the financial district seen in the pic above. I am always surprised by the modern facilities, some of them more modern than we have in the US in “emerging nations”. I also love the easy accessibility of public transport whether it be taxis, buses or more rapid commuter transport. They really get that people need to move around and the government plays a strong role in making this happen. May be the future of the US with the rise in gas prices…
Back to Monserrate…the Stations of Cross are depicted in life sized statues. We would have taken pics inside the church, but this was Sunday and they were holding back to back Masses during our time at the top. Fortunately, the tourist attraction shops were open…
Muchos, muchos cosas bueno en el Mercado de Monserrate. Bolsas y sombreros y hojas de coca para ti, Todos quieren claro que si.
I think that says “many, many good things in the Market of Monserrate. Bags & hats & coca leaves for tea. Everything you could want, for sure.” (My Spanish, though slow and plodding is improving.)
I stared at these “hoof bags” for a long time. I have never seen anyone carrying one, but I keep looking! I’ll warn Jerry that his birthday present (He’ll be 60 on the 25th! 60!) was purchased at this market. I have not included a picture here, so he can be surprised but we plan to send it from Colombia on Monday.
This is our last shot from Monserrate…the cable that holds the funicular heading down. This ride was similar to the tram at Squaw Valley but without the skis and parkas.
This was a very cool place to visit. It added a good 500 feet altitude to my discomfort in lower Bogota, but the tram/gondola rides were worth it. (Oh, and the price for the rides and visit to the Church & grounds? $4 US. I do appreciate the reasonable entrance charges to their attractions.)
Bogota continues on the next blog post.
Life lesson: Don’t take life too seriously. There is no place so sacred that you can’t make a buck or two off the visiting turistas.