After months of planning, we finally arrived at the first stop of our RTW trip in Bogota, Colombia! Although not hot, it is a pleasant temperature and a welcome relief from the -30degrees we had at home.
The last few days leading up to our departure was a mad dash to try to pack up the entire house and organize our affairs. The actual packing of our bags didn’t happen until the night before. The intention was for each of us to carry one backpack. However, at 25 litres, the kids bags didn’t fit much, least of all bulky books and shoes. We relented and reluctantly added a small rolling suitcase. But just as we were about to lock up the house and say good-bye to Red Deer, I heard a blood curdling scream from the garage… ok , maybe it was just some groaning and a few choice words… John strained his back as he was putting a measuring tape back into the tool box! Although we were trying to keep things to a minimum, we had to add a cane to our load. That cost him a few pairs of underwear and socks in exchange. He is on the mend and I’m sure he will be able to ditch the cane soon enough. This goes to show that the best laid plans can fall apart in a flash and I fully anticipate this theme will resurface over and over again in our next 18 months. But hey, what can you do but go with it.
It’s only been a few days but so far we are really enjoying Bogota. The people are friendly and welcoming, but not intrusive. No one has tried to sell us anything or stare at us like in some parts of the world. People seem to just go about their business. But like many parts of the world, the traffic is slightly chaotic at times as cars jostle for space on the busy roads. They don’t lay on the horn as they do in Asia though. Taxis and Uber are readily available and super affordable. All 5 of us seem to be able to fit into a small Kia easily as they are not so concerned with restricting numbers of passengers. Wearing a seatbelt of course is at your own discretion. The impressive thing about the roads in Bogota is that they have many designated bus and bike lanes throughout the city.
Typical Colombian fare that we have tried is heavy on the meat, cheese and starches but quite delicious. We even had a beef dish topped with with fried ants! And yes we ate them! Snack stalls selling arepas, empanadas, bunuelos, fried plantains and fruit juices are readily available on the streets.
Inspired by watching the Ultimate Beast Master Challenge (a show in which contestants navigate their way through extreme obstacle courses), the boys have been all about the parkour. They leap, bounce, scale their way through the streets of Bogota. In fact, we had to get an extra pair of pants for Milo due to a miscalculation with packing on my part, and he picked out “parkour pants”. He was rather excited about them.
Bogota has a plethora of museums to suit any interest and many of them are free. We visited the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) , Museo Botero (famous Colombian artist), and Casa de Moneda (Money Museum). The boys were dazzled by all the gold artifacts but rather shy about all the nude painting and sculptures of Botero's work. Simon Bolivar Plaza was a great place to hang out and people watch, and every town in S. America no matter how small seems to have a central square named after Simon Bolivar.
We also did a day trip to see the Salt Cathedral, a huge salt mine with an even more impressive cathedral inside. Besides checking out some of the tourist sites, we have been just been exploring different neighbourhoods and enjoying some great eats. We even found a Cat Cafe!