Bogota, Colombia

New website, new conviction: My goal is to kick this nasty procrastination habit and write journal entries right away— I am driving myself insane by putting it off for weeks and then trying to remember details! So bear with me while I catch up and then prepare yourself for (almost) instant updates!

Now, back to Colombia…

Because we were used to traveling through relatively tiny countries in Central America, we did not think to allocate enough time for Colombia. The sheer size of it makes it impossible to cover in three weeks, as we had planned, so we had so skip some great places—Medellin, the Coffee Zone, etc. Guess that’s just one more reason to go back!

Our friends from San Diego, Richard and Mark, were meeting us in Bogota for a week’s vacation on March 22nd. We found an airline that offers insanely cheap domestic flights, so we flew there directly from Santa Marta and avoided another miserable bus ride. We then took a taxi straight to the neighborhood in which the boys had booked a hotel and began the scavenger hunt of finding a place to stay.

IMG_6148We decided, since we would be living in the city for a while, that renting an apartment would be much more economical (not to mention comfortable) than staying in a hostel or splurging on hotel rooms. On airbnb we found a wonderful place just two blocks from their hotel—3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, terrace, living room, fireplace, washing machine and 24/7 security—all for $90 a night! It was a fabulous no-brainer and gave us a new perspective on how to travel. With 3-4 people, an apartment is not only the same cost as (or often less expensive than) staying in hostels, but by buying groceries and cooking rather than eating out all the time we were able spend less money as well as eat healthier.  We also appreciate having enough space to move around, entertain, and get some quality alone time.

Bogota is roughly 8600ft in elevation, which means it’s cold there and difficult to breathe. Just walking up the stairs to our apartment would leave us clutching our chests and gasping for air. In retrospect, it was a clever precursor to Machu Picchu, but that’s not quite what we were thinking at the time.

Back when we were in El Salvador we met a lovely girl named Vicki, who we instantly fell in love with. Vicki is originally from England but has been living in Bogota for three years now. She is also a freelance writer with a fantastic blog—— and she was very sweet about making time to meet up with us and show us her city.

IMG_6150One of the first nights we were in Bogota, we had everyone over to our apartment: Richard, Mark, Doug, Vicki, Ben and Bianca. After a glass of wine and a few of Meghan’s stuffed mushroom appetizers, we all loaded into two vans and went 45 minutes outside the city limits to the famous restaurant/bar Andres Carne de Res. We had heard from many separate sources that this place was hands down the best in the Bogota area and we couldn’t miss it…

Without knowing what to expect, we arrived at what looked like a neon carnival in the middle of nowhere. The place was packed and overflowing into the street. Once inside we tried to register our surroundings while two women dressed like Marie Antoinette handed us shots of Agua Diente in lime shells. The place looks like it was decorated by a dumpster diver on crystal meth and made us feel as if we’d fallen down the rabbit hole—knickknacks and random debris hanging from the ceiling, sporadic parades of costumed fanatics and random downpours of glitter and confetti! I think it’s fair to say it’s the most aesthetically stimulating place I’ve been in a long time.

IMG_6169We did our best to order from the 50-page menu and were soon presented with an array of appetizer platters, steaks and exotic cocktails. As soon as we finished eating we all set out to explore the scene—there are multiple bars and dance floors and a million different props to entertain us until the wee hours of the morning.

The next day was pretty brutal and we were, again, grateful for a living room in which we could all lounge and suffer together. The recovery process took all day, but that night Kyle, Meghan, Doug, Richard and Mark bounced right back and got dolled up before heading out to Theatron—Bogota’s gay discoteca. I stayed in and missed out on the fun, but I heard all the wild stories over a champagne brunch the next morning.

Kyle, Richard and Mark went crazy in the shopping district, Zona T. Each day they would venture out and return hours later, laden with bags from Diesel and Prada.

On one of our shopping trips, Kyle accidentally left his iPhone in a taxi and we were unable to catch up with the car to recover it. With the GPS locator app, he tracked it to a neighborhood in the shadiest area of south side Bogota. Even though it was a Hail Mary, he and Doug went out there in a taxi to try and get it back. Unfortunately the phone was inside an apartment building with many different units, so he came home empty-handed; however, while he was in the dodgy section he got a tip about an underground cockfight… We were so excited to learn about the risky adventure!

We called Vicki to join us and found two cabs willing to take us to the secret location. The cars caravanned in circles around a sketchy residential neighborhood and I was instructed to keep my hood up to hide my blonde hair. After several phone conversations, our drivers deliberated and finally delivered the bad news: the cockfight location got changed at the last minute to a part of town to which they were unwilling to drive us. Apparently it was way too dangerous and they were afraid we would be kidnapped or murdered out there so, reluctantly, we turned around and drove back to our side of town. We were extremely disappointed—especially Kyle—but we got ice cream and martinis in Zona T to cheer ourselves up.

IMG_6200Our last main outing in Bogota was the Montserrate Cable Car—one of the main tourist attractions. From watching Mark lovingly hug a llama to cramming way too many people into the tiny carriage, our final hurrah was unforgettable. We chose to take this trip on a Sunday, so obviously the place was packed with tourists and locals alike, all taking advantage of the atypical sunshine and warm weather. We could have hiked up the mountain but decided to take the overcrowded and shaky five minute transit instead. Once at the top we had a beautiful panoramic view of the entire city as well as the mountains beyond. After a quick tour of the church we wandered through the markets before riding back down.

That’s it for Colombia! Many thanks to our amazing friends who came down to temporarily join the Juicebox Journey and help us make extraordinary memories! If anyone is craving a South American vacation please let us know, we’d love to meet up and share this magical experience with you, too!.

Posted on by Erica Duncan in Colombia

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