Week 1 - Our first week in Colombia
Updated: Feb 23, 2020
There has been an awful lot of preparation to get to this point including quite a bit of expenditure, both financially and emotionally. In fact I have never seen Kelvin so stressed in the five years that we have been together. It's been a whole year worth of planning, prep and hard work, especially over the last three months, but I am sure it will all be worth it.
Finally the day had come where we could get onto the aeroplane and take off to our starting destination; Bogota in Colombia, South America. The bikes took off on the 8th of April, and we collected them on the 12th after clearing them through customs on the 11th. You can read more about this in our blog about freighting.
Bogota is really lovely and so are the people. So far we have tried lots of different foods; Empanadas, Pinchos and Arepas...all widely available street food and REALLY tasty! On the plus side it was really cheap with two serves of pinchos with salted potatoes (see picture) and a coke costing 15000 COP: £4.20.
The first two nights in Bogota we were in a hotel, which was good, however like any hotel it was expensive for the added extras and not a great way to meet new people, but it did serve it's purpose and was literally 10 minutes walk from where the bikes were being held. The bed was also super comfy and the showers hot; we made the most of that! We also used the time to get our Sena headsets up and running so we could communicate with each other when on the road. I'm so glad we have them.
After two days, we headed to Pintos Hostal on the route to La Calera, which we found on booking.com, and their one double room was only about a quid more than two dorm beds...no brainer! It was so lovely there, or should I say it IS so lovely HERE as we are still at Pintos hostal!
We are awaiting a parcel Kelvin ordered from Venezuela...lesson one...if you can't buy it in a shop and it's not critical to the trip, don't buy it!!! It's been a right faff trying to sort it all out and that's through DHL. Anyway, it's not a hardship staying here longer as Paula (the Hostel owner) is lovely and is Bogota born and bred, but speaks great english, as do her friends, which is apparently quite rare in Colombia (or South America). Camil (French) and Tobias (German) volunteer at the hostel and are also lovely and speak great english. Tobias is trying to learn Spanish (Camil speaks great Spanish already) so we've been trying to learn a little together, as well as a guy from Florida (Logan) who was here for two days. The other chap was from Kazakhstan, so it's been quite a diverse group. It's great! Kelvin and Tobias have been talking computers so he's happy. Actually, to make it even more diverse there's a resident rabbit called Suave (it means soft). He's adorable despite the little pellets he leaves for you!
We got to spend a particularly great night at the Hostel on friday night with Paula and a big group of her friends, which was a holiday for the Colombians as it's 'Holy Week', similar to our Easter. We had a log fire going, pizza, beers, played the name game (not my forte) and just had a really great evening. We declined to go out 'partying' as we are being mindful that we really do need to keep to our £30 a day (between us) budget.
On Saturday, I had my first introduction to the 'Supermercado' or supermarket in english. It was quite good and I really admire their packaging as it's not fancy and really minimal...something that should be done everywhere I think, but unfortunately it's not as aesthetically pleasing and therefore unlikely to be adopted in our western society. The fruit was amazing and sooooo cheap, and their meat looked awesome! I found everything we needed but forgot to bring enough cash so I had to pay by credit card. Easy...or so you would think. What I didn't realise was that you can choose to pay over one month, or two, or three...etc. It took about fifteen minutes for me to give up trying to understand and in the end I just said 'uno' and it was done. Luckily, I chose right and it was paid for. The cashier then asked for 4 numbers...I thought these were four random numbers so I picked four numbers off the top of my head. I later learned that this should have been the last four digits of my card number!? Oopsy! Oh well, we paid, I have the receipt, so hopefully it won't matter.
One thing we discovered on our trip from the first hotel up to the hostel was the absolutely A..MAZ..ING view of Bogota from a couple of viewing points, with the mountains in the background. Beautiful. We saw it when we were on the bikes but once we settled at the hostel, we took a walk down the hill to really appreciate the view. Being the holidays, the place was packed and a really good vibe with people eating, talking, laughing and just being. The people seem really happy here.
Best buy so far: our Grayl water filter bottles - life saver. We used them on the first night (well stupid o'clock in the morning) using the tap water from the hotel sink. We have used them several times everyday, and it's saved us quite a bit so far as you have to buy bottled water, and although cheap it soon adds up. Also it reduces plastic waste pollution. I don't think it will take us long to get back the amount it cost to buy the Grayl's.
We can't wait to get exploring the rest of Colombia and it's likely we will head north through the Boyaca region and up to Cartagena for a warmer climate...once we manage to retrieve our parcel! Hasta luego!