Life in Bogota
The most interesting thing about Bogota is the weather. I’ve never lived in a city where the weather drastically changes, consistently, every day.
The mornings always start out hot and sunny (so I put on shorts), but the afternoon sees torrential rain showers (I come home drenched) and the evenings are freezing (need to buy a hoodie).
I know they say ‘dress in layers’ but really?! I’d need to carry around my entire suitcase to be prepared!
My apartment is modern with white leather couches and a fully stocked kitchen (yippee for blenders and morning smoothies again!) But the best thing about it is the location.
It’s only a block away from Parque El Virrey – a huge park with walking, running and biking paths, exercise equipment and children’s playgrounds. A small creek runs through the middle and large trees provide shade.
It’s become my favourite place to hang out – to go for walks every morning, to sit and journal or read, and to star gaze at night. Being in nature relaxes me and I’m so grateful to live close by.
Feeling the draw of nature at the start of a new year, I eagerly signed up for an event called “Chilland” – which promised relaxation, chill time and sunshine.
Only three of us signed up so we piled into Juan’s car and headed out for a proper road trip. Our destination was Chivor, a small kite-surfing retreat about three hours outside Bogota.
We laughed and sang and ate snacks as we drove through small towns, open fields and past mountains.
After a long, bumpy ride, we arrived at a lake where a boat was waiting to take us across. We were warmly greeted by Niko, the owner, and instantly felt relaxed as we took in the scenery.
Stunning mountains, endless water, sunshine, blue skies and hammocks. We were set!
We changed into our bathing suits and headed down to the beach to watch the kite surfers. After being so cold in Bogota, it was a welcome feeling to have the sun on my skin.
The afternoon involved more lazing around between hammocks, bean bag chairs and the beach. Eventually we got a game of volleyball going, until we kept losing the ball over the edge.
Juan invited us to play Tejo – a local game that basically involves throwing rocks at fireworks!
It’s a bit like horseshoes where you’re throwing a metal object (the tejo) at a target (clay box) and trying to get it closest to the pin (inside a circle of fireworks). Closest to the circle gets a point but actually setting off the fireworks is the goal and receives the most points!
The tejo court was at a neighbor’s house (aka 20-minute hike up the mountain). They warmly welcomed us and challenged us to a game.
These guys were good! They kicked our butt and we had so much fun losing to them.
We laughed and joked and did the charade-thing when we didn’t know the Spanish words for what we wanted to say. Overall, a wonderful evening and we left arm-in-arm into pitch black darkness back down the hill, where an amazing ceviche dinner awaited.
The next day we were treated with a boat ride around the lake looking at waterfalls and hearing stories about the fairies who lived there and how they protected their emeralds from miners. (Colombia is the largest producer of emeralds in the world.)
All too soon it was time to head back to the city and we reluctantly packed our bags. The weekend lived up to its promise of chill and relax.
Later that week we decided to do the morning walking tour and headed downtown. Fortunately, many people were still on holidays so traffic wasn’t as bad as we’d been warned about.
The tour took us throughout downtown, viewing churches and monuments, museums and street art. I’m not sure if we’ve just done too many walking tours and we’re tired or if there wasn’t as much to see but all of us left somewhat unimpressed. (It’s likely that 11 months of travel is catching up to us…)
We had another opportunity to join a food tour so I thought – why not?! It was like the walking tour, but in reverse and with snacks!
We had real hot chocolate with cheese (yup, you dip your cheese in it!), coca leaf tea, customized obleas and empanadas.
I even bravely tried roasted ants! It took me a few minutes and finally I closed my eyes and threw them in my mouth. Not too bad…tastes like beef jerky.
But my favourite event so far has been laughter yoga. I’ve done it a few times before and always love it. (For those who know me well, you know how much I love to laugh!)
We had a great teacher who lead us in discussion about mindfulness, especially when travelling for this long and some of the stress we’re going through as we start to think about it ending.
We learned to hug with our hearts (which always brings me to tears – there is so much power in our hearts when we stay open and share).
And wrapped up the evening with rounds of guided laughter yoga. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend.
It’s been an interesting month, with about one quarter of the group opting out to explore other countries, having our first mugging (he’s okay), two people needing surgery (both doing fine now), and others feeling uneasy.
For me, it’s been fine – but then I’ve spent most of the month hanging out in the park, enjoying the morning sunshine and napping in the afternoon rainstorms!