Posted by: robinson2000 | January 15, 2011

Bogota, Part 2

11th-15th January – After the initial shock of being mugged had worn off we really started to enjoy Bogota (except that we had to stuff money in our socks). It’s the 4th largest city and also the 4th highest city in South America. It’s completely surrounded by mountains and contains some of the most beautiful women found in the world. The people on the whole are really friendly and don´t laugh too much when you mess up on the Spanish. After dark is a little different as the police and private security guards clock off (kinda inconvenient) which gives the city a real edge.

Over the next few days we saw all of the sights that the city had to offer. We took a cable car up to the peak that overlooks Bogota and saw wonderful panoramic views of the city. We visited multiple free museums such as the Museo Del Oro containing 35,000 pieces of gold ornaments, the Casa Museo Quinta de Bolivar which was the house that Simon Boliver lived in, and the Museo Historico Policia which was a museum run by the police force documenting the capture of the top drug baron Pablo Escobar and included an alarming collection of guns.

On another day we caught a local bus and travelled 35km north of the city to Zipaquira, famous for its salt cathedral which had been mined underground completely of salt. We explored the mine for a couple of hours and only managed to see about 1% of it. The place was huge and was big enough to house a city full of people. That night we headed to the posh part of Bogota and ended up in Hooters playing card games with one of the waitresses who made up the rules as she went along, but it was fun.

On our final day we hired a local guide and a couple of bikes to explore more of the city. The 17-year-old guide who insisted that i was a torturer for teaching maths took us to the main plaza where all the governmental buildings are located. He then told us several stories about corruption and scandal in the government. One of the stories was that the government paid the army for every guerilla (militia) that was killed in order to crack down on the drugs trafficking that takes place in the jungles in the north of the country. If the army didn´t kill any militia then they wouldn´t get paid so they started kidnapping civilians, shooting them, and then dressing them up as militia fighters in order to get paid. Apparently over 800 people went missing during this time. We were then shown the Bullring which staged the seasonal bull fights. Outside the stadium the guide showed us some red bricks that had been chipped away using a knife. He said that some of the locals who can´t afford drugs mix the crushed up brick with a solvent and use it as an alternative! The guide was excellent but a little crazy on his bicycle as he lead us across 3 lanes of on coming traffic and weaving in between buses. Unfortunately due to the anit-maleria drugs and the lack of sun cream that i stupidly forgot to take I ended up pretty sun burnt at the end of the day.

Tomorrow we move onto Suesca, known for its adventure sports. We´ve had nearly a week in Bogota and have really enjoyed the city apart from the odd blip. The culture and the history is fascinating so its well worth the visit. It also had that element of danger and surprise to keep you on your toes.

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