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Crazy Colombia!

so many adventures in so many places

sunny 30 °C

I don’t really know where to even start the adventures of the last 10 days, things have been so busy and so crazy. I have been out of Bogotá and seen many different towns, landscapes, waterfalls, deserts, valleys, mountains, and rivers! It has been just magical. I know I need to write today, because if I let too much time go by, I will forget everything and the pictures I have will just become a blur.

After the Salt Cathedral, my friend Jaime and I met in the centre of the city to go to visit the Museo de oro (Museum of gold). The amount of gold is absolutely astounding, and the designs from the ancient native tribes of Colombia are fantastic. DSC04343.jpgDSC04342.jpg90_DSC04341.jpg90_DSC04338.jpg
The way they were able to manipulate the gold, to create their pieces of art, and to portray their significant images were incredible. This one was my favourite, and it turns out that it is a very important and well known image throughout Colombia!DSC04339.jpg
After the Museo de oro, we went for a walk around the Presidential house and (as my luck in life with always finding army boys goes) we stumbled across a group of Army boys doing a parade!
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I then managed to pluck up the courage to ask these 2 guards for a photo, who could see I was scared because of their massive guns. I could see the smirks on their faces as they gave each other commands and then started doing all their gun tricks with me standing in the middle. It was so funny, but kinda terrifying too! They were so much more relaxed than the guards in London, and they told me to have a good day. It’s weird though, even after so many years of travelling, years in the States with family, and a lot of time spent on farms, I can just never get used to seeing guns!
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We found these amazing llamas, and I went absolutely nuts. The man who owned the llama wanted me to climb on and have a ride, but I felt like I may break the poor animal. I just gave it lots of cuddles and kisses instead, stroking the soft fur. I think the llama was grateful he didn’t have to take me for a ride, he certainly wasn’t very big! DSC04353.jpg90_DSC04351.jpgDSC04347.jpg90_DSC04346.jpg
We then went for a walk through the Candelaria which is a beautiful part of the inner city, with colonial style buildings and lots of pretty street art.DSC04364.jpg90_DSC04361.jpg90_DSC04360.jpg
We went to watch the Mexico game in a bar, where I tried chicha. This is an indigenous drink available in many different forms, but the type I had was made from corn. It wasn’t the most amazing tasting drink of my life, but it was pretty good and I had no trouble finishing it off – despite its intense potency! 20140617_140055.jpg Luckily we found Arepas Rellenas to take the edge off, these are delicious Arepas (no explanation other than amazing) filled with whatever you choose - so I got mushrooms, cheese, and tomatoes much to the mans confusion, he kept thinking he heard my order wrong as he couldn't understand why I didn't want any meat!! 90_20140617_161842.jpg
On the Thursday, I went to Parque 93 with Ari and her friends to watch the Colombia vs. Ivory Coast football game. I can’t even explain the craziness of Colombians when it comes to football. Parque 93 is a big park in Bogota that puts up a giant screen for the games. It is basically the main “go to” point for party people at game time – and omg, was it what! We were there really early so that we could have an area to sit down. But it was still really squashed. And after each goal, everyone would go absolutely mad, throwing foam and flour, jumping up and down. We were near the outside of the seated area, and at one point the crowds standing around us were pushing in so hard that people were falling all over us. It was quite scary, but I will really hand it to the people here, they could see us girls getting trampled and at goal time and close to the end, there was always people helping us get to our feet, and at one point when the crowd was really pushing in, I had one stranger standing behind me kinda holding/ bracing my head as if he was my helmet, so that I wouldn’t get crushed! I don’t think I have ever known such consideration in any of my travels through any other country.20140619_092759.jpg90_20140619_104853.jpg
After the game, the streets were ACTUALLY crazy! Trumpets blowing, flour and foam was all over us, and just everyone dancing, jumping, screaming, laughing, even crying, in celebration. It was as if Colombia had won the entire world cup! Of course, I was having the time of my life with my Colombia tee shirt, trumpet, and people to laugh and dance and jump with! I couldn’t take many pictures because it is very dangerous to have your cell phone out on the street here, but these are what I did manage to take and it shows a little bit of the craziness. Just imagine it all around you, and as far as you can possibly see!IMG-20140619-WA0002.jpg20140619_104921.jpg
On Friday night, I had my date with a guy I met from Medellin. We had met earlier in the week at a Spanish/ English language exchange and decided to meet for a drink on the Friday. We met at the same bar we first met at, and then made our way around Calle 85 – kinda the main drinking street in Bogota. We made the plan to go around all the bars trying different cocktails… Mojitos de lulo, pisco sours, margaritas, tequila sunrises lead us dancing salsa and bachaata for the rest of the night in a club. We also ended up drinking what is called a giraffe, a 3 litre tall vessel of beer! Things got way too out of control when he introduced me to aquardiente – a very famous drink in Colombia that literally translates as fire water. I can’t really explain what it tastes like but I will try. It is similar to those old fashioned blackballs and black zambuca, but it is completely clear. So far, I have only drunk it straight as shots, but it is so delicious and addictive – and very very strong!
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I came home late afternoon Saturday, looking and feeling like an absolute mess. I slept until Sunday morning, when Ari, Papa and Mama Kat, and I went on a big drive out of the city to see some beautiful places. We went to some really lovely little towns and my favourite was Raquira which is a town known for its handmade crafts. The buildings were all multi coloured, and all the shops sold beautiful items. We weren’t there for very long which was a shame as I would have loved to spend a week exploring it properly – next time! 20140622_114327.jpg90_20140622_113632.jpg90_20140622_113619.jpg
We then went to Villa de Leyva which is a very old town, I think nearly 600 years old. It was all white with cobbled streets. We went to see the main part of the town, and then to a fossil museum. It turns out that quite a huge part of Colombia never used to exist, and that what is now a desert was once part of the ocean! This explained the salt mines and salt cathedral, and the beautiful fossils in the museum that were all dug up from underneath Villa de Leyva, including cool dinosaur bones! The landscape here was very dry and dusty, completely different to the luscious green that is found in most other parts of Colombia that I have seen so far. 20140622_154840.jpg20140622_142115.jpg20140622_151449.jpg90_20140622_152500.jpg
We saw many amazing things on our drive including the point in Boyaca where Colombia achieved it’s independency from Spain, this is a very significant place for people here so I was happy I got to see it! 11176_med_..oyac__Tunja.jpg

On the following Tuesday, I met with Kat’s cousin Marce and we took a flota (the name for those giant busses that aren’t quite busses, usually schools and old people homes have them) for 2.5 hours to get to her parent’s house in the country. The farm itself is a blackberry farm, and of course the blackberries are super delicious! I got to try some new fruit that I hadn’t ever seen in my life, it tastes like a tomato but of course the most amazing thing is that it comes inside a little flower. I immediately thought of Grace who loves tomatoes, flowers, and anything that comes inside a little package! 90_20140624_191329.jpg
We stayed at the farm for two nights before heading to San Gil on a 4 hour flota ride… 20140629_173144.jpg20140629_172635.jpg20140629_172624.jpg90_20140629_172606.jpg
The great thing about San Gil is – IT IS WARM! And, it is also the adventure capital of Colombia due to its vast number of caves, waterfalls, river rapids, cliffs for abseiling down, mountains for paragliding off etc. I was very tempted to go caving through a massive series of tunnels and caves that resulted in a 6 metre jump into water at the end, all in the pitch black… But I was told that the smells and dampness in there was very strong, and I didn’t want to find out half way inside that it was a dangerous place for an asthmatic… See, I am making wise choices!
We did however find a massive 8 meter waterfall to jump off which made for a great afternoon. A group of Colombian tourists came up after their abseiling and were most impressed to see a crazy kiwi girl laughing and jumping off easily wearing only a bikini, while they were jumping off in their life jackets, wetsuits, aqua shoes, and screaming for their lives! 90_20140628_121013.jpg20140628_115238.jpg90_20140628_115214.jpg20140628_105602.jpg
The way we got to the waterfalls and back was on the back of moto-taxis, which was crazy because I was wearing a summer dress and had a bag full of fruit between my legs! Oh dear!
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Marce and I went to a beautiful place called Parque Nacional de Chicamocha. It was stunning. Beautiful mountains and very deep canyons with rivers right at the bottom. The view was 360 degrees, and went for as far as the eye could see. I was in complete awe, I couldn’t stop looking at everything. I feel my pictures just do not do it any justice whatsoever!
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Right at the top, was a giant culumpio (swing) that goes out over the canyon. Naturally, I basically ran up the hill to get there, super excited for that amazing feeling of I NEARLY DIED BUT I DIDN’T! The swing was super scary, super fun, and with a spectacular view. I love how things like this in Colombia are so cheap. What would be a ridiculously priced activity in New Zealand cost just $8 here, so it was something I didn’t even have to hesitate about doing!20140627_130425.jpg90_20140627_130343.jpg
We watched the game in San Gil, and then partied all night afterwards – drinking of course, Aguardiente! Because the town is the adventure capital of Colombia, I managed to stumble across 3 other Kiwis and about 4 Australians, all who said that the only place on their travels they have found other Kiwis and Ozzies has been in San Gil! Trust the Kiwis to follow the smell of adventure! Just because we were in a smaller town, it made no difference to the scale of celbrations after the game! Absolutely NUTS!180_20140628_172828.jpg20140628_171225.jpg20140628_170825.jpg90_20140628_174419.jpg20140628_170623.jpg
Marce and I also went to a small town nearby to San Gil. This town is yet another gorgeous place, on the edge of a hill looking out towards a beautiful mountain range. The town itself is called Barichara and full of lovely little shops, cafes, and restaurants. I bought a few arts and crafts here, and we had a lovely lunch. I can really see myself living in a town like this one day. It reminds me a lot of Vejer, where I lived in Spain. In Colombia it is very easy to work out which town/ area is a Spanish colonial town, especially after being in Spain last year.cathedral.jpgbarichara_572610.jpgbarichara_hill.jpg1246570767..a_santander.jpg
Marce and I caught 2 flotas all the way back to Bogota, stopping off at the farm to collect the rest of our belongings and saying our farewells on the way. I was determined to get back to Bogota because I had a very important date – Paddy was finally back in town from his trip to the Amazon! Paddy and I had met in Spain last year and instantly became like brothers. We nearly died together in our adventures to Morocco, tore Spain apart with our craziness and identical sense of humour, and just had an instant love for each other that made seeing him a huge appeal about my coming to Bogota where he has been studying here for the past 6 months. I turned up at his house where he ran outside and picked me up, twirling me around and jumping up and down with me, before I had even had a chance to pay the laughing taxi driver – who had of course had the very lucky and grand experience of hyperactive Katy in broken Spanish mode. We went out and partied all night before sleeping all day and going to get amazing vegetarian pizzas for lunch – that actually tasted like pizza not an overload of cheese! It is very hard to find vegetarian food here, and I am craving real vegetables so when the waiter brought me my food I was so excited!
Maybe this picture can show how excited I was to see my boy!
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I have now spent the last 24 hours recovering from too much aguardiente, a terrible stomach reaction to eating chicken (never again), and just all round different food and things here. But I have about 5 hours to improve before I meet Paddy for Gringo Tuesday for yet another night of Kate and Paddy craziness – bring it on! We both leave Bogota on the 4th – he is going back to Switzerland, and I to Santa Marta which is the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Bring on aqua coloured sea, white sand, perfect tanning weather, and fresh lobster from the sea!

Posted by chasingsummer 13:21 Archived in Colombia Tagged mountains deserts bogota fossils san_gil los_partidos

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