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My first 48 hours in Colombia

semi-overcast 20 °C

So far I have been in Colombia just over 48 hours. And in that time, I have already had so many adventures that I just don’t know where to start!
My friend Jaime picked me up from the airport and we went back to his place so I could have a shower and a nap as I had not slept for over 24 hours. unnamed__1_.jpg
We then went out for a coffee - delicious, I understand entirely why Colombia is so famous for its coffee – before heading over to Kat’s family’s house. I had been so excited to meet Mama and Papa Kat, and Kat’s sister Ari, for so long that it was great to finally be there.
Mama Kat had kindly made me a beautiful room with space for all of my things. Just like in Spain, the concept vegetarian doesn’t really seem to be understood here (as I knew it would) so I was eating pork within an hour of being in the house. I couldn’t eat much of it, but I must admit that it was fantastic! I always hate pork in New Zealand, and Kat would always tell me that the meat in NZ was awful compared to that of Colombia – and well, she is right! It is a completely different taste!
I went to bed really early because I was so very tired. When I woke up, it was time to watch the football game – Colombia vs. Greece. I didn’t need to be told the game was happening as the entire city was full of colour, car horns beeping, flag waving, mini trumpets, and 7 million cheerful voices. Every time Colombia scored a goal, the noise from outside was just crazy, so I would always run to the window and watch what was going on. When the game was over (3-0 to Colombia) the noise was so intense, everyone came running out of their houses and people were jumping up and down, throwing flour at each other, and partying in the middle of the streets. If this is Colombia, I can’t even imagine what it is like in Brazil right now!
After the game, Mama and Papa Kat kindly took me out for a big drive around the outskirts of the city. We saw lots of amazing little towns, including my favourite which is called Chia. We saw lots of people out celebrating the game and everybody was in such a great mood.
We stumbled across this avocado stand, selling the biggest avocados I have ever seen! Each one was nearly the size of a rugby ball! The man let us try some before we bought them, and I can’t even explain how amazing it tasted, I feel like all of the other avocados I have ever eaten were actually just trick avocados. I don’t know how I will ever eat anything else!
We kept driving and stopped at a dairy factory called Alpina, set high in the mountains. Alpina is very famous as it is the largest dairy factory in Colombia. We had coffee and a snack here before looking at all of the delicious products. The cheese in Colombia is so yummy and somehow it seems healthier and far less oily (it probably isn’t), it tastes like a blend of cheese curds and mozzarella.
After Alpina, we headed higher into the mountains. Bogota is 2640m high and surprisingly, my breathing has been better than ever! We drove to Restaurante Emilio, a beautiful restaurant hidden in the trees and mountains of La Calera and owned by a very good friend of Papa Kat. The restaurant was gorgeous and had a real feeling of being a secret, only for special people who know where to find such amazing places. I told Emilio that I thought this, and I think he was very pleased. I had trucha, which is a type of fish from Colombian rivers, with rice and salad. We also had an incredible entrée of eggplant with tomato sauce and cheese (of course, cheese!). We watched the England vs. Italy game at the restaurant, and I explained how we had to cheer for Italy because the English are Colonists to NZ, just how the Spanish were to South America, so we were all pleased when Italy won! We stopped on at a beautiful viewpoint along La Calera where we saw the most amazing view of lights, from the whole city of Bogotá.
On the way home, Papa Kat wanted to stop off for something, so he left Mama Kat and I in the car. When he came back, he had a present for me in a little adidas bag. I opened it up, and he had bought me my very own Colombia football teeshirt! He even bought me a red one because he knew I thought the yellow looked too Australian for my liking. I was so touched and I still feel so very very lucky to be staying here with them. I feel so at home, even though I don’t understand everything (and often feel like an idiot because everything needs to be repeated or said slowly), Mama and Papa Kat are so kind and patient with me and I love them so much already. When we got home, I put on my teeshirt (which is perfect!) and Mama Kat introduced me to what will be a very good friend of mine during my time in Colombia – Cola y Pola. There is no way to describe it other than it is beer that tastes like ice cream! I can’t understand why Cola y Pola hasn’t made it internationally, why it isn’t Colombia’s biggest export, their instant billion dollar a day success! I know already, I will drink a lot of Cola y Pola and it will be something I crave for the rest of my life, whenever I am not here in Colombia!
After yet another amazing sleep, I woke up and met Jaime again. Today we headed to the Catedral de sal (salt cathedral) which is about 45 minutes outside of Bogotá. What was once a massive mine in a mountain is now a very impressive series of passages, sculptures, hallways, massive archways, carvings, about 15 deep chambers around 120m by 40m underground, and of course two chapels, all deep under the earth.
There was even a café set at exactly 180 meters underground, which was perfect because all of the salt and sulphur in the air had made me so thirsty for water that my throat was scratchy and sore!
Everything is made of salt rock and when the guide held a light against the tables/ walls, you could see the thousands of salt crystals – the ground, the walls, the sculptures, the tables, (most of) the chairs, the bannisters…
Of course, me being me, I just had to check it out to see if it was the truth…
There were lots of secret passages and stair cases and I can see it would be very easy to get lost there. There was one part of the tour that showed us how the miners worked, they had even built a mini underground replica of one of the main emerald mining towns.
They showed us emeralds in their natural environment which was really cool - we were even allowed to touch them. I tried to pick one out of the wall for you Mum but the lady was watching me like a hawk, haha!
They took us to another part of the salt mine, this place had even more salt, the walls were actually white - rather than the other parts that looked like rock (but still tasted of salt). I tasted this wall too, and it was so yummy that I just wanted to keep licking the wall!
Jaime and I returned to Bogotá after a failed attempt to reach Guatavita due to car problems. We were so close to where we wanted to go, but we just couldn’t risk getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. The scenery was beautiful though and it did make for a lovely drive.
Jaime dropped me at the shops, just 2 short streets away from my house. I told him I could find my way back, and that I have my phone’s GPS for if I got lost. Well, first of all when asking (in Spanish of course) for Zinc tablets at the shop, the lady tried to sell me menstrual tablets - god only knows what I was actually asking for, I guess I will never know!
Then when I tried to make it home, and got EXTREMELY lost. I thought I was going the right way but then second guessed myself and used my GPS, which turned out to be the worst thing to do as I had the wrong address written down! I walked for an hour and a half, trying to find what should have been a 5 minute destination. The apartment buildings look very similar, especially to a foreign eye and I just couldn’t tell them apart, especially with the wrong address in my GPS. So I finally admitted defeat and called Jaime who came to rescue me. Somehow, I was on the other side of the shops where I started from! We walked home together, and it turns out that when I first tried to walk home I was right; I had walked right past the house! Let's hope the rest of my adventures here in Colombia turn out more successfully, especially when I am in places where I don't have people to come and rescue me!

I have had an amazing start to my adventures here in South America, I feel so lucky to have Kat's amazing family who are looking after me, teaching me, and just being generally awesome.


Posted by chasingsummer 09:45 Archived in Colombia

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