September 12th to 15th 2014
Round 2 at El Viajero Hostel in Cartagena put me into a room that had a balcony facing the street. Usually I get woken up by the morning sunlight streaming through non existent curtains or doors that don’t quite close properly. This morning I got the Colombian street version of the Lion King’s Circle of Life. One of the ladies selling fruit on the street had one of the most powerful voices I’ve ever heard, unfortunately it was at an inappropriate time of the morning. Imagine the opening vocals of the Circle of Life, and rather than whatever the normal lyrics are, replace them with the words of fruit: “Limoneeeees, Piñaaaa, manzanaaaaaa”. (lemons, pineapple, apple…)
Learnings & Observations:
– Regardless of what anyone says, consult a map before boarding a bus
– Don’t believe what anyone at the bus terminal tells you
– Buses will stop for no apparent reason and no one will tell you why or for how long
This time I though I was more prepared to move between cities: I had booked my accommodation for San Gill the night before leaving so surely nothing could go wrong!
The guys at the bus terminal said to get from Villa de Leyva to San Gill we had to change buses. We could do that at one of 2 towns, which going by his hand gestures, were both on the way to where we wanted to go. Originally I had thought we needed to back track slightly to get back on the main road but this wasn’t one of the options they presented us. So we went via Chiquinquira. Supposedly we would only have to wait there for 20 mins until the next bus; we waited over an hour (partly due to a delay).
In the hour, we finally had the sense to consult the map in the lonely planet. Hahaha, turns out we had just travelled sideways an hour and now the next leg of the bus ride would take even longer than it would have had we just gone back to the major town we were planning to. Oops.
Since we were paying more for the bus it was obviously a nicer bus – for the first time I could actually fit my legs in properly! Little wins. The only confusing thing was when the bus stopped for about 40 mins for no apparent reason and with no warning. I think it may have been a lunch stop for the driver, or an insanely long bathroom break.
All in all, a trip that was meant to take 3-4hrs, took us 7 hours and cost twice as much as the previous 3-4hr trip we had taken. Well, there goes my Friday.
This morning (Wed 13th) I woke up and decided I’d had enough of Bogota. There’s just so many people around all the time and the pollution is terrible. I think that if I died and my lungs were cut open, the surgeons would think I was a pack a day smoker.
I had been planning on going to Suesca but on reading my Lonely Planet again I realised its not a touristy place; more of a day trip for locals to go rock climbing on weekends. There weren’t even any hostels there to book. New plan: follow Guilia to Villa De Leyva.
Over breakfast I had a look for a place to stay. Being my luck, everywhere on hostel world was full. Everywhere. Then started Googling the town to find accommodation. Turns out, the name of the town is sometimes spelt with an ‘I’ instead of a ‘Y’. Why does it have to be so confusing?? Since I wasn’t 100% certain and didn’t want to accidentally book a place that might be in Argentina, it took a bit of extra time to look at maps for each place. Finally I found something on hotelbookers.com. I don’t know why it wasn’t on hostelworld but after all that researching I had to hurry up and pack. One day I’ll get this ‘planning ahead’ thing right.
Today is Monday. Many museums are not open on Monday so I decided to go to a nearby town to visit their famous Salt Cathedral. Unfortunately, since moving hostels, I wasn’t able to find any new friends to join me on my adventure. Was a little nervous at first given that it’d be my first day alone and it’d mean that I’d be forced to speak Spanish to get around, but since I’m now writing about it, safe to say I survived 🙂 One of the things about being alone is that you can appreciate what you see more, but at the same time, I had no one to share my thoughts with so now I get to pour them out into my blog:
Yesterday, for the first time since arriving, I felt the effects of altitude sickness. It’s not fun.
Since learning that Bogota doesn’t have seasons because the weather is always the same, I expected that all days would have reasonable weather. But yesterday, I looked at the weather forecast and found that the next 7 days expected rain. Not ideal weather for climbing the local mountain, but I decided to go anyways – weekends are the safest as there are more people and less chance of being robbed.
Learnings & Observations:
– Bogota does not have any seasons; the weather is pretty similar all year round.
– Normal sized people cannot fit on the city buses. 15cm is just not enough space to fit my legs into!
– Some Bogota nightclubs now have extended hours; they used to close at 3am, now they close at 5am. Because lets have more drunk people around.
Haven’t got much to say about my arrival day in Bogota except that I slept for about 16 hours after getting access to my room. Must have overslept because I still woke up tired the next day….nothing unusual there.
I realized 2 major things at breakfast the next morning: 1: the hostel serves CocoPops!! The fancy pants cereal. And 2: I forgot my tube of Vegemite. Devastated. Feeling un-Australian.