It is also an artsy neighborhood in Bogota, and one I walked to today from the Candelaria district, with one of my new friends, Jose. Before that we had lunch and I had another very Colombian dish, something crazy heavy called a Bandeja paisa (see pic below). And in some of the places today and yesterday, I have been seeing and learning about the work of a famous local architect, Rogelio Salmona. We also walked through a bunch of neighborhoods in between, some shabby, some nicer, and then made our way to the Parque Nacional, which was interesting to see if a bit run down. Later in the evening I was invited by Jaime to a small gathering at his friend’s house in one of the most expensive parts of the city. This guy’s place was beautiful and the view over Bogota unparalleled (like I needed more altitude, but this was totally worth it). I finally made my way back to my hotel, where I will checkout tomorrow morning fairly early to catch my plane to Caracas, where I will stay only a short while before catching my next flight out on Monday. Wish me luck.
Wow, I feel like I did a lot of stuff today. While not feeling 100%, I am feeling way better than yesterday when I could barely breath and felt totally weak. Altitude sickness is no fun y’all, but I do have a couple small tips. One: do NOT overexert yourself when arriving for the first time at a high altitude place, and two: take ibuprofen, it seems to help (at least it did me).
This morning I got up early and decided to go see the famous Museo del Oro (gold museum), which was quite a treat, especially the part that delved into the cosmology and symbolism associated with gold in the various cultures. It is also a very beautifully designed place. After that I came back to my hotel to rest for about an hour before heading off to meet my new friend Jaime for lunch in the north of Bogota (something called Zona T I think). We met at some super swank mall and had lunch at this sort of fancy food court. Jaime got the Sancocho and I ordered a traditional Columbian Ajiaco, and a mashed plantain thingy with cheese that I think is called Aborrajado. It was all pretty yummy, if a bit bland. The Columbians aren’t much for spicy, I will tell you that.
After lunch we took a walk in the super posh neighborhoods of northern Bogota, and I was surprised by how eerily quiet the streets were once off the main roads. Really you could have heard a pin drop, or in the case of these neighborhoods, some very high denomination peso bill. Around 5 or so the day was starting to take a small toll on my energy level, and I tried to get a cab, but to no avail. So we walked around a bit and then went back to Jaime’s nearby to wait until I could get one back to my hotel. One thing to note that is super useful if you should come to Bogota — download an app to your phone called “Tappsi“, it will allow you to get a cab, and safely too. When the cab arrives at your location, you have a code to give the driver that he needs to set the meter. You can then share to email or facebook (or other places) your ride’s info, making the whole system quite secure and easy to use. And cabs are not exactly expensive here, I spent about 6 dollars for a 40 min cab ride.
And that’s it, I am beat and heading to bed.
From Gold and North
Well, this kinda sucks. I set out this morning walking around with Jaime to see the neighborhood. We went to get the famous hot chocolate with bread and cheese, then walked around the neighborhood I am in (Candelaria) for a bit, but we honestly didn’t get too far. After about 2 hours I was really feeling shitty and went back to my hotel where I have been since. I have all the classic symptoms of altitude sickness, the slight headache, labored breathing at times, general malaise and foggy-headedness. So I have been taking it extra easy, trying not to exert myself in any way, and drinking coca tea, which really tastes blech btw. My plan is to stay in tonight, rest and rest, and hopefully I will be feeling better tomorrow and can hit the town running (or gently tap the town sauntering). I remember upon arriving in Mexico city and overdoing it the first day, I was feeling like this for about a week, and that is lower altitude than here. Let’s hope I recover more quickly this time. For what it is worth, here are the few pics I managed to snap today before the soroche was too much.
The flight was pretty bumpy but otherwise uneventful, and getting through passport control and customs was surprisingly easy. And the airport was pretty nice and very new looking (I think it is or has been renovated recently). Just outside customs, my ride was waiting to take me to Hotel de l’Opera where I am staying. In the van, the perky young travel guide started rattling off all the things to do and see in Bogota, and they all lined up exactly with the Lonely Planet guide I had read on the plane. I think the long day had taken its toll on me, though, because I was feeling a bit out of it and headachy. I checked in and went almost straight to bed but woke up at several points in the evening feeling kind of out of it and like I wasn’t able to breath as well as normal. And then it hit me, duh. I am at pretty high altitude here in Bogotá, something like 8700 ft (second highest capital in the world after Quito, Ecuador). I have been in a number of high altitude places in the past and it does take a couple of days to adjust. Today I am meeting a local, a friend of my friend Roberto (from Mexico), who has generously offered to show me around. Stay tuned.