A Travellerspoint blog

B-O-G-O-T-A

Plata o plomo en Colombia


View MAP OF THE JOURNEY on AnnaMickus's travel map.

The first time in our journey’s history we arrived earlier than expected to some place. And it was even three whole hours earlier! Wau! Hello Bogotá!

The new bus experiences just don’t seem to stop. We have encountered a totally new feature: bargaining on the price of the ticket. Yes, really. Even though the prices are listed on a board behind the counter, you can get it down quite a lot. E.g. we just got a bus ticket for 55 000 pesos, but the listed price was 93 000 pesos. So the difference, 43 000 pesos, is like 16 Euros! Can you believe it? Another new bus experience is that here in some buses they have trash cans! Never seen that before during our journey! In one bus they had just plastic bags hanging from the seats, but in another we actually saw real bins on the side of the seat! Wau! Sadly enough they still seem to be using the traditional waste disposal way they have used throughout the continent: opening the window and throwing it out on the street. The ”don’t litter” sign with the threat of fines has no effect. How about some education?

Another new thing is the military check points along the road. Up here in the north it is a bit better, but in the south it was crazy; more or less every 30min there was a military check point. At the check points everybody has to get out from the bus and show their identifications. The men have to go against the bus with their hands up and get body searched by a soldier. To be honest, the women could be carrying anything underneath their clothing, because they are not touched at all... Then all the bags are searched. Almost all of the soldiers are very young, and many of them seem to search our bags just out of personal interest to see what we are carrying rather than being concerned about our security. But all of this is done out of security reasons, of course...

We’re now back at about 2500m altitude, which is a bit annoying because my head is all messed up again and it gets cold at night. But it doesn’t matter, after this we are heading for the Caribbean! Jihaa! And it has been nice anyway to see this town as I have always wondered what Bogotá would be like after hearing so many scary stories about it. Well one of the first stories we heard here was when we overheard some guys talking and they said that there had been 5 muggings with a knife just around the corner from our hostel. Niiiice.

Well at first glance the town didn’t seem to be much of a place to be in, but after a few days here we have noticed that there is something to it after all. There is a nice old part of town with lots of bars and cafés and artisans selling their stuff, which is pretty cool. Then there is another part of town that is more the ’yuppie’ part where you can find lots of boutiques, malls and nice restaurants. We actually had one of our best meals in a long time there in an Italian gourmet restaurant. We celebrated the birthday once more there with some really nice Italian food and delicious wine. Yummy!

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Then there is the centre of town, which is a really typical centre with just high buildings and lots of traffic. One Sunday afternoon we had a weird experience there when we walked through there and there had just been some kind of a second hand market and the place was jammed with poor people. It was so strange because it was like the market of the living dead with smelly people dressed in dirty ripped clothes and some of them started to follow us begging for money. We hurried quickly out of there. It is truly horrible to see how many people are living in really bad conditions and how they have to beg in order to survive. Some people sleep on the street with no mattress or nothing just straight on the pavement. In this city you can really see the difference between the rich and poor, with the well off people dining in nice restaurants with almost Finnish prices and the poor people begging in the streets.

Speaking of rich people, we went out one night to this night club in the 41 floor of an old hotel. It was this fancy house club with a view over the whole city and with rich kids dancing and drinking expensive drinks. We almost had a shock when we ordered two drinks at the bar and the cost was almost 20 Euros. I wonder if it would have been more economical to buy the whole bottle of rum as seems to be the local practice. Seriously, here and in other Latin American countries we have been to, it is very usual that you buy the whole bottle from the bar and get these small shot glasses with it. At one place in Bolivia you couldn’t even buy just one shot; you had to buy the whole bottle. The Latin Americans would get a shock in Finland where you can’t even buy a double whiskey without getting it in two separate glasses so that you know how much you are drinking.

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They have a really funny way of naming their streets here in Colombia. The streets form a grid and the horizontal streets are called ”Calle” and the vertical ones ”Carrera”. An adress can be Calle 23 5-23, which means it is on Calle 23, 5 meters from Carrera 5 towards Carrera 6. I just had to mention this because it is a bit funny.

We actually did a really touristy thing here. We went to a museum! We visited the Museo del Oro, the gold museum. It had all kinds of pretty cool objects made out of gold made by pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia.
Next stop: Venezuela. Wonder what that will be like.

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Posted by AnnaMickus 15:54 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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