Note: Merry Christmas!!! Since we are always a couple weeks behind on the blog we'll tell you all about our Overlander's Christmas in Filandia in a couple weeks. For now enjoy an account of our adventures in Bogota!
It’s funny how when we travel, we go to foreign, unknown places and seek out similarities with places we know, particularly home. So often KP and I say to each other, “doesn’t this town remind you of…” or “don’t these hills look just like…” It’s our way of finding connections with home and with places we know to feel less afraid of the unknown. Not that we really ever feel afraid on this trip. Our own specific brand of preparation and optimism seems to keep us out of any trouble that we might otherwise come to… so far.
After we dropped Jordan off at the airport in Bogota, we moved to an Airbnb in the Chapinero neighborhood to be close to our friends Gabby and Sandro of Vanabundos who were also visiting Bogota. We had plans to do one of those things that for me brings home to wherever you are: an Escape Room. We had ulterior motives for bringing these two. We knew we needed people who were smart and would enjoy spending an hour solving puzzles, but we also needed Gabby for the fact that she spoke way better Spanish than us! Since our Escape Room adventure was booked for the following evening, we decided to all get together for dinner. It still amazes me how friendships forged on the road are so deep and develop in such short spans of time. We had only spent a couple weeks with these guys in Guatemala and in Nicaragua and it had been nearly six months since we had seen each other, but it was like no time had passed! We spent the night at a Mediterranean tapas place that was said to have some of the best Indian food in Bogota along with Vegan friendly options for our Swiss pals. The food was great, the wine was wonderful, and the company was perfect.
The next morning, we decided to venture into the old town and the heart of Bogota in La Candelaria. Here you can visit countless museums, find emeralds mined locally in Colombia (about 70% of the world’s emeralds come from here), and experience some of the European influence on this country in its beautifully Italian-like squares. While in this area we had to visit the museum devoted to one of our favorite Colombian artists Fernando Botero. Botero has an affinity for all things “chubby” whether it be women, men, children, or even inanimate objects like fruit or a vase of flowers. You have probably seen him featured in our Cartagena blog where his famous La Gorda is prominently displayed, and in our Medellin blog where they had a whole square full of his sculptures. There is something about the simplicity of these sculptures and paintings and the way they show beauty in a completely different way that just draws you in… or maybe we just like chubby things as well.
After thoroughly exploring the Botero museum and taking a peak in the monetary museum next door to learn about Colombia’s history through the changes in its currency, we headed over to the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum). The museums in Bogota are really amazing and not to be missed, and the best part is that most are free or really cheap; the first two we visited were free and this last was $4,000 pesos per person (about $1.30 each.) When we finished up with the gold museum it was GO time. We went back to our respective Airbnbs to get ready and then head over to Escape Rooms Colombia to take on the Cientifico Loco (mad scientist). After an adventure in public transit that I’d rather forget involving an Uber, two buses, and a taxi, we arrived and were escorted in to the room the Mad Scientist had locked us in. Just as we had hoped, Gabby and Sandro proved to be the perfect partners and though we did not escape this room, we were soooo close! Another minute and we would have had it! We all left feeling exhilarated and our friends enjoyed the experience so much they insisted we do another room the following day!
The night was not over for us though, as we had plans to visit another friend in Bogota that evening. Four years ago, KP and I took a cruise in the Mediterranean and made some amazing friends including Paola who lived in Bogota at the time. We exchanged emails and two years ago I wrote to Paola and told her about our upcoming travels and how we would be in Colombia eventually! Well almost two years later exactly, we met for dinner at a beautiful restaurant in the city. Her friend Andres accompanied Paola and we shared stories about what we had seen, and especially tasted, so far in Colombia. Sometimes we take for granted how easy it is to travel in the US. If we want to see another city or state we just go and visit it, but for people like Paola and Andres, most of their lives Colombia was too dangerous for them to travel. We have seen more of their country than they have by far, and even described places to them that they had never heard of. This same thing was true of our travels in Mexico as well. Friends back home who had been born in Mexico or who were second generation Mexican-American were amazed that we had seen so much of the country that they were from. It’s something that we try not to take for granted. We got so caught up in our almost three hour dinner with Andres and Paola, that we completely forgot to get a picture with them, so we’ll just have to return another time to remedy that!
Round two of Escape Room the following day was much more successful and we finished with 4:30 on the clock! We celebrated with a full night of beers at Bogota Brewing Company, Vegan hot dogs (surprisingly delicious), karaoke and more drinks at a really cool underground bar that looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland, and then a round of midnight burgers (both Veggie and beef) to finish off the evening. It was a wonderful send off as The Vanabundos are heading home for a month and will end up behind us for the remainder of our two trips. We don’t anticipate meeting up again for a long time, but we will stay in touch and I’m sure the next time we meet it will seem like no time has passed at all!