We spent about a week in Bogota. It was our first stop in South America. I wanted an authentic experience, so I got us an inexpensive AirBnB near the “cultural center” of town. This way I thought, we could save some money on transportation, rather than staying in the nicer, northern part of the city. Well, I may have overestimated our readiness for the whole “authentic experience.” I probably should have gently eased us into traveling South America. I also didn’t take into account the fact that we are not city people. Our kids felt pretty trapped in the apartment and we didn’t really find any green areas or playgrounds for the kids to really get their energy out.
There are a few things I may have forgotten about traveling in Latin America. Here’s a list
- Toilet seats are rare
- Toilet paper is not guaranteed
- Toilet paper goes in the trash, not in the toilet
- There are different standards of cleanliness than I am used to
- Hot water showers are a luxury
- Internet is a luxury
I had read that Colombian cuisine was the best in South America, but the food was definitely not to our liking, if you like your food bland without any hint of spices, you may enjoy it. We did find one good restaurant, Crepes and Waffles. Can you guess what they serve?
Well, I asked for an authentic Bogota experience and I got it. There are very pretty areas of Bogota, there are also very ugly ones. It is a dirty, polluted, graffitied city. There were also a few interesting sites that we enjoyed. The Botero Museum was cool, I really like his work. He is the most famous artist from Colombia. He paints fat people, you should check out his work if you haven’t heard of him. The Gold Museum was quite impressive. They had pieces from all over prehispanic Colombia and I got to learn a lot about those cultures that i had never even heard of. We also enjoyed a cable car ride up to the top of the mountain of Monserrate to view the entire city.
There were a few interesting things about the city. The pedestrian only avenue that we were just two blocks from, was quite vibrant and great for people watching. On the weekend they had guinea pig races, dancers, street performers, protesters, and all kinds of vendors. Judah won his bet on the guinea pig and tripled his wager! He was so excited, he celebrated by spending his earnings on a pirated movie that he enjoyed that night. (We are really teaching morals here!) There were loads of bookstores. This, of course, warmed my heart. It was wonderful for me to see all the books. In Mexico nobody reads and books are very expensive, so it was great for me to see such a literate culture. There were specific bike lanes on the main streets and on Sundays they make certain streets open only to bicycles. The people that we met were really nice everyone was so helpful and open.
We also got to get to know the medical system there, thanks to a concussion for Judah. He and Jovani were wrestling and he fell off the bed and banged his head. We thought he was ok, he bumps his head all the time, he even fell off a carousel in D.C. head first with no problems. But an hour or so afterwards he was incredibly sleepy and began throwing up. That’s when we began to worry. I was able to contact a friend of mine who is a nurse practitioner and she urged me to take him to the E.R. Thankfully, the AirBnB host had left information with the name of the best hospital in town. The pediatrician saw him within 15 minutes and he had a CT scan 15 minutes after that. Thankfully all was normal and they just kept him a few hours for observation. It all ended up costing a little over $200. Hopefully that will be our first and last hospital experience of this trip.
I was really hoping to see more of the country, but we found an inexpensive plane ticket leaving Monday, so we decided to take advantage. Ecuador, Peru, and Chile were really what we came down here for, so we may as well start now.