After a merry journey in a rather crowded collectivo from the desert, we were deposited in Neiva where several bus companies very nearly jumped on us offering rides to Bogotá. After a moment of shopping, we jumped onto a minibus and settled in for the long ride.
We arrived in Bogota’s main bus terminal and, after squinting around and then asking around for buses, opted to take a taxi. The taxis in the city are metered, and are exceptionally reasonable. The twenty-minute or so ride from the terminal to the centre cost us less than $10. We turned up at a Lonely Planet-recommended hostel, the old Platypus , which is now called Chocolate House, located in Candelaria. The hostel was sweet and came with amazing beds with fluffy duvets and, on the downside, showers that were lukewarm at best. The staff was friendly, the wi-fi shoddy, and the free breakfast included amazing hot chocolate.
We unfortunately only really had a day in Bogotá before we were to be on a plane destined for the Amazon. What we saw demonstrated that we certainly need to give the city some more time next time we are back in Colombia. It’s an interesting place; full of amazing street art and poor vandal tags, gated and guarded communities and ramshackle housing, money and poverty. We were lucky enough to have met a lovely couple early on in our travels that live in Bogotá. She is American, he Colombian, and they made their home in the capital of this beautiful country.
We met up for dinner (beer and pizza) and chatted about our trip so far, their lives, Colombia, and what was to come. The conversations were incredibly interesting and it was amazing to have some insight to Colombian life from people who experienced it every day and, in one case, had grown up in it. They talked about how the country had changed, and yet there was still so much that needed to get better. Wealthy people in Bogotá, they said, were still very worried about home break-ins, and as a result most upper middle class families lived in gated communities with full-time security. Even still, it could be difficult to know who to trust, as we heard stories of security guards, housekeepers, and other staff stealing from their employers and then disappearing. We talked about the traffic that, while appearing completely hectic, could also be described as fluid. The constant whirling and merging of cars without structure appears slightly insane to an outside point of view, but they said it was simply necessary in Bogotá: there are literally places where four lanes turn into three without signage or diminishing lanes, and the drivers need to be able to react quickly. We talked about places we still needed to go, for our initial estimates of wanting a month in Colombia were pretty accurate. The top of our list would certainly be the area a few hours north of Bogotá: San Gil, and outdoor adventure capital, and Cocuy, an area of amazing scenic hiking.
We left Bogotá in the morning for Leticia, the gateway city to the Amazon and, for us, the World Cup in Brazil. Let the next adventure begin!