We headed slowly towards Bogota, we could have avoided it completely as we had done Mexico City and as mentioned before van + big city = Unhappy husband. However, after finding a cheapish hotel with underground car park we intended to spend a couple of days seeing the main museums and a bit of the city. Enroute we took a couple of days to visit other places, firstly the salt cathedral at Zipaquira. As this part of Colombia was under the sea before the Andes were formed there is a lot of mining of halite rock from which salt is extracted.
The current cathedral is the 3rd to be build since 1932 as the mine has evolved, it was initially for miners to worship, now it is also open to the public and from the amount of people there the same day as us it is a lucrative tourist attraction. Quite a spectacular space.
Laguna Guatavita, an important sacred site for the Muisca people since pre Colombian times. It was thought the lake may have been created by a meteor strike but it has now been proved it is a sinkhole caused by the salt in the rock underneath dissolving.
First time the waterproofs have been out for a while.
We never found out why this nativity scene had been created from gun shells!
New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair, if there were parties going on we didn’t find them. At least we had a cosy fire in our room to warm us and the wine!
We headed into Bogota on New Year’s Day which proved to be one of the best days of the year to drive there. Based on the experience of others we had expected gridlocked traffic and a long journey but it was fine.
Juanita seemed pretty happy next to this cool dude.
We were staying in Candelaria the historical district, which also had some “colourful” streets and characters.
This guy is not only standing on glass but eating it as well! Check out the expressions of some of the onlookers.
Guinea pig racing?!?! About 5 metres away were little numbered boxes and the audience bet which number a particular GP would head for. Maybe not the best animal husbandry but perhaps a longer life than their cousins on the menu in Equador and Peru.
We were having dinner with Andres, who we had met on our flight to Cartagena and his wife Clara. John’s footwear wardrobe consists of flip flops, Crocs and walking boots, the weather was cool so John’s walking boots were required and got the full shoeshine treatment so we didn’t look too shabby for our hosts.
With Andres and Clara looking at the bright lights of Bogota viewed from the surrounding mountains. Clara disappeared and came back with cups of a tradition Colombian version of a hot toddy/mulled wine called Canelazo. It is a mix of water, panela (sugar cane), cinnamon, lime, cloves and the hit comes from aguardiente a clear spirit that you see absolutely everywhere here. The evening continued with a few shots of aguardiente (tastes of aniseed), a good dinner, nice wine and wonderful company, in fact Clara it was ASTONISHING!
The next day we headed to the Museo del Oro, a huge collection of ancient gold artefacts (the ones that the Spanish didn’t find). It is beautifully displayed.
It’s all very nice but I’m just looking for some small silver earrings!
Our last shot of culture was the Fernando Botero gallery, certainly Colombia’s and some say South America’s favourite painter and sculptor.
Well rounded was definitely his style.
The local chess club.
The shop attached to our hotel. Not your usual souvenirs to take home!