I really didn’t expect to like Bogotá this much. I fell in love with the city and its people, the many handsome men included. Here are the highlights and a photo gallery.
Comedor: This was a volunteering trip organized by Nueva Lengua Spanish School. A group of us went to a Catholic soup kitchen for children in a neighborhood in the hills of Bogotá, which are the poorest areas. For a lot of the kids, this is the only meal they get all day. As in every traditional Colombian meal, they get soup, a main dish which includes meat and rice, and fresh fruit juice. We handed out dishes to the kids, making sure they ate everything and everyone got one serving of each. When the kids were gone, we sat down and ate the same meal for lunch, looked at the view from the rooftop (not safe enough to walk the streets) and went home. I wasn’t planning to participate in this excursion because I didn’t feel like being around swarms of children, but I’m glad I changed my mind last minute.
Monserrate y el Museo de Oro: I rode the cable car to the top of Monserrate, a mountain that is one of Bogota’s main tourist attractions. The view is amazing. It overlooks the entire city and has a church, walking paths, a restaurant, and a cafe. There was a thunderstorm that day so it was very cloudy, but it didn’t hurt the view one bit. I’m glad I came here alone since I was able to take my time and relax. It ended up being a very calming and spiritual experience for me. When I finally decided to leave, I headed to the Gold Museum in the Candelaria neighborhood of Bogotá. This is the biggest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work in the world and I enjoyed it just as much as I expected, given how much I’m interested in the topic. I also got some second tattoo design ideas.
Catedral de Sal, Zipaquirá: The First Wonder of Colombia is an underground Catholic church built inside a salt mine in Zipaquirá, a couple of hours outside of Bogotá. Another student and I took the Transmilenio (city buses that operate like metro with dedicated street lanes) and then a ~40 minute bus ride after our morning classes were over. The salt mine was impressive. I can’t imagine the amount of time, effort, and artistic talent it took to create the carvings, let alone the natural beauty of the mine. My favorite part was definitely the mirror pool.
Cascada la Chorrera: This was officially my first waterfall trip. Located high in the mountains that provide Bogotá’s backdrop in a town called Choachi, the ride up the mountain alone was beautiful. Nothing but farms, cows, chickens, and dogs that, unlike in the city, looked happy to be there. The hike made me feel like my lungs were going to explode, but it was worth the effort. We first came to a small waterfall and stream, then after more sweating and heavy breathing we arrived at the main waterfall, Chorrera. Not for people afraid of heights, we climbed over moss-covered rocks to take pictures, look at the fantastic view, and feel the ridiculously fresh water. (The water was the best I have ever tasted.) With a burst of energy from the fresh water, we hiked some more and then had a typical Colombian lunch of soup and a main meat dish with fresh fruit juice. In this case, the juice was tomate de árbol (tree tomato). After lunch, it turns out there was another waterfall. This one was bigger than the first, but smaller than the second and had a little cave behind the waterfall that you could venture into. I just stuck my feet in because the water was freezing, but this was probably my favorite Colombia experience so far.