Ok, the first thing that you need to know about our stay in Bogota is that our B&B was on a street flanked by two bread shops or panaderias, one on each side. I called them “dueling panaderias” because every time you walked down the street it seemed like they would try to outdo each other by wafting the irresistible smell of freshly baked bread your way. Think of that classic cartoon with visible smells floating through the air and someone following that smell as if they were floating. Yeah, that was me.
The second is that the city has some amazing museums and most of them are cheap if not free! This includes what we came to call the trifecta of museums: a complex of three connecting building housing Museo Botero, Museo de Arte del Banco de la Republica and Casa de Moneda. Fernando Botero is one of Columbia’s most famous artists. He has a distinct style:
The third thing about our time in Bogota: we got back on the bike. The top tour in the city according to TripAdvisor is Mike’s Bogota Bike Tours. And considering the city has a reputation for being considerably more dangerous than most of its South American counterparts (muggings, car bombs, active revolutionary groups), we thought touring with a chaperone was a good way to go. It turned out these bikes were much more comfortable and suited to cruising than the ones we had in Chilean wine country.
And it was so much more than a bike tour. You can never discount the kind of off-the-cuff color that you get from an ex-pat like Mike. First, we headed down to Bolivar Square where the more culinary adventurous of the two of us (Nellu) was brave enough to try the roasted fire ants they sold as street snacks. He swore he even liked it.
Next up, we got to see the informal emerald trading that happens right on the street. We visited smoothie stand where the secret ingredient to the mix (which of course they swear is natural Viagra) was a live small crab. They throw it right into the blender. I did get up the courage to try it although I had to fight back the image I had in my mind of the little jar of crabs.
Mike took us to the fruit stand where we tried all kinds of native fruits. (I just kept thinking that we should really do this in the states. We’ve got great access to all kinds of produce from around the world. I swear that I will be more adventurous when it comes to bringing some of the crazier looking ones home.) We went to the cemetery and we even got to run around the city’s prominent bull fighting ring. Apparently when it comes to bull fighting, Columbia is right up there with Spain and Mexico.
But I have to say, the best thing about Bogota was our unofficial tour guide, Beth. We went to grade school together and hadn’t spent much time with each other in the last 15 years. But she took us into her circle of friends and showed us the best of what the city had to offer. It was also nice to see, especially on a trip like the one we are embarking on, that your roots have just as much to offer in terms of enriching your life as your wings.