After a travel day from hell we touch down in Colombia. First impressions are strange as we are confronted not by the busy, lively and often rough around the edges Latin feel, this place seems super organised and clean. We breeze through immigration with German efficiency and leave the impeccably clean and polished airport a little bemused. We’re not sure we’re in the right city except for the first view of a television showing a person being drugged and kidnapped off the street: yep, we’re in Colombia!
But as we land in South America officially, we must make a historical note. There’s one particular name we haven’t been able to get away from thus far, Simon Bolivar. Statues grace every city, he’s credited with being possibly the most prominent leader in liberation from the Spanish along with a political dream to unite South America. Sculpted often in scholarly robes, he’s presented to be of unblemished character and so far seems to be one true constant to stability and clarity in a continental history teeming with unrest, bloodshed and brutality.
But this efficiency and cleanliness comes at a cost, Bogota feels like it’s lost its soul, it’s amazingly quite dull. A venture around the historical centre rings few aesthetic alarm bells and the up-market area is again bleached clean of any heart, polished chrome and pine veneer abound. Possibly it’s just a come down from being in Havana, I think that’s the city that manufactures ‘soul’ and exports to the world but we simply can’t get over this, Bogota is boring as batshit! One point to note is the drugs. Charlie comments in a hushed incriminating tone as we’re exploring “I’ve seen a shitload of people on drugs”…. Um… we’re in Colombia!
As much as I write it off, there are some redeeming features, the relatively clean and organised manner of it is a breeze to exist within, it facilitates laundry, haircuts and even our first home cooked meal, hurrah! On top of that there is the Museo de Oro (Gold museum) which is really quite awesome and Monserrate. Backdropping the city, mountain peaks rear up aggressively, creating quite a picturesque backdrop, the awe inspiring scene at odds with life in the shade of the range. Atop one of these peaks is Monserrate, a church; of course. The hour long walk up at some altitude of 3150m is a good lung buster and the view from the top is amazing. Bogota is a big city, ten million people and the sprawl goes on forever and ever. The surprising feature is that there are a couple of posh restaurants up here and amazing gardens. We spend the middle of the day soaking up the tranquility and chasing hummingbirds.
Ok so not much to say about Bogota but it isn’t all that bad, it’s just a matter of expectations; but either way, we’re still pretty keen to get outta here.