Most people had warned us about travelling on night buses in Colombia, even the guy on the information desk at the terminal. Despite the warnings we still gave it a go, they had said the same in Asia and we were fine there. The bus had pretty much zero leg room and it was quite pricey at 47,000 Colombian Pesos but what it did have was the one thing we craved on a bus since our first trip in South America - a plug socket. In fact it had four due to an extension cable. Earl could have his phone on charge, I could have my laptop on the go it was just what we wanted apart from the fact I wouldn't have minded sleeping, still you can't pass up an opportunity of a plug socket on a bus, this was the first time we had one in forty-five attempts. The novelty of having a plug only lasted three friends episodes though as the excitement of our coffee tasting expedition earlier that day caught up with me and I decided to have a sleep. The problem with sleeping on buses in Colombia though is the roads are very windy so your head gets thrown from pillar to post. What with that and the women in front of me pretty much on my knee I didn't get much sleep at all. We arrived in Colombia's capital at 4am and my thoughts turned to our hostel I was just hoping that they would be able to check us in, or at the very least have some hammocks or a dark TV room we could get some sleep in. When we got to Casa Bellavista we were unable to check in but there was a sofa and a hammock we could make use of until our beds were ready later that afternoon. My initial delight at having somewhere to lay my head soon dwindled as I realised I was in a restless night much like the bus. The room we were in had a glass roof, so when the sun rose it not only made the room very bright it also made it like a green house. The hammock I was, must not have been tight enough as I had to keep changing positions to stop my legs from getting pins and needles. And then there was the moment when other guests in the hostel woke up and would walk by inadvertently waking us up with their noise.
We arose around 11am from our respective sleeping positions on the sofa and hammock, I was particularly groggy after yet more restless sleep, I was also starving so we decided to walk around the bohemian neighbourhood of La Candelaria in search of some cuisine. After several minutes of walking around the area we decided on a hamburger, fastly becoming my most ate food in South America mainly due to the factor of me wanting grease after a night on the ale and also because they tend to be the cheapest things on offer. After our breakfast / lunch we were finally able to check-in, we were in separate rooms Earl got the dorm with en-suite bathroom, where I was located outside the hostel in a little small apartment type room, the only downside was it didn't have a bathroom so I had to go the main building every time I needed the toilet or shower which was quite often things to the continuing dripping in the corner of the room. It semt like the room was slightly still under construction but I didn't mind, it was the first time I'd had a private room to myself for as long as I could remember. We were freshened up and ready to see the sights of Bogota, the female receptionist recommended that we get the cable carts to the top of Monserrate, a hill which offers sensational views of the huge Colombian city. Also at the top is a church, food stalls and souvenir shops. It was very pleasant and much better than when we took the carts up Quito as we could see much more than just cloud. We also met three Scottish girls from our hostel; one had a weird similarity to The Incredible Hulk. They had recognised us from when we were asleep in the common area and we were given the apt nicknames of 'Hammock Man' and 'Couch Man.' We sounded like the worse superheroes ever, even Taps Man in Burnt Face Man would be better. My restless nights had then caught up with me so I headed back to the hostel for a nap. On the way bak to the hostel I spotted a empanada shop and decided to treat myself. I'm glad I did as I had the best empananda I've ever had. The filling was pepperoni and cheese in a tomato sauce. It was the closest thing I've had to a cheese, baked bean and sausage pastry that Greggs sell back in England, which I am a massive fan of. I made it a rule that every time I passed the empanada stall I would have one of the delicious treats.
Suitably rested it was time to see what Bogota offered at night. We started off with a few beers in the hostel with some Aussie fellas and the Scottish birds. Then we headed out to a club called La Villa for their Gringo Tuesday night. The club was quite far from the La Candelaria we were situated and it turned out to be quite eventful getting to the club with our crazy cab driver Carlos shooting red lights and just in general being rather mental. Maybe I'm just getting old or I wasn't drunk enough or a bit of both but when we got to the club we were both a little disappointed, drinks were pricey, the music not great and to say it was gringo night they were lacking. So after a solitary drink because that's all we could afford because of the prices we decided to cut our losses and head back to the hostel. We also found out that Crazy Carlos must have ripped us off taking us round the houses getting to the club as the less crazy taxi driver got us home for half the cost of getting there.
It wasn't a bad thing we came back from the club early as we were fresher for the walking graffiti tour that started at 10am. So after checking out, storing our bags and having the scrambled eggs and croissant breakfast we headed to the plaza to meet the guide. Graffiti is massive in Bogota especially the La Candelaria we were stopping in, you could not walk down a street without seeing a tag, stencil or some sort of street art. The main reason that is so popular in Bogota is that graffiti is technically not a crime so artists have a free reign to be as expressive as they please, well apart from a bribe here and there to the very corrupt Colombian police officials. The tour was brilliant, I put it down to the guide having many short stops that kept you interested rather than blabbing on for ages. We also got to see some great street art by local artists and also artists famous across the world, these included: - Stinkfish's stencilled faces which included elaborate and intricate designs through them. We also got to see pieces by Stinkfish's collective the APC - Animal Power Cult who are apparently the largest collective in Latin America. We saw many pieces by DJ LU and his thought-provoking, socio-political glyphs I particularly liked his War bugs, where bus such as mosquito's and wasps had their wings replaced by machine guns. b******illa is a female graffiti artist who draws from poverty, feminism, pain, the effects of violence and nature and then there was Toxicomano's work who use to be a punk rock band and their anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist works cover the streets of Colombia. My favourite of all the artists though had to be Pez, his paintings tend to be bright, big and bold. His aim is apparently to make people smile from a 2 year old to a night year old and one of his most popular drawings is a fish with a big eye and massive toothy smile. It also turned out our tour guide was a street artist himself going by the name of CRISP, he had done a very interesting piece on the wiki leaks saga. The tour was really good and insightful into not only Colombian Street art but through the art we also got to find out about Colombian history and politics through what the artist was trying to portray.
The tour took around two and a half hours so by the time we had finished we were pretty hungry despite me passing my favourite empanada stand a couple of times on the tour and treating myself to the pepperoni and cheese empanada. For lunch we decided to find a place where we could eat a native dish called Ajiaco. Ajiaco is a earty soup consisting of shredded chicken, potatoes, a chunk of corn on the cob, cream, capers, and avocado. It is also served with a side of rice and avocado. Our search took us to a restaurant called Antugua Santafe who claimed to have the best Ajicao in the world. It was quite a pricey dish compared to the cheap hamburgers and empanadas we were used to getting but it was also really nice, personally I would have done without the capers but it was still good none the less and a lot more filling than expected. In fact due to my empanadas whilst on tour I had to give my side dish of rice to Earl. We thought about going to the gold museum that afternoon but the food had wrote us off and put us in a food coma so the only place we were going was back to the hostel to resume our positions as 'Hammock Man' and 'Couch Man'
The food coma lasted a while as I napped, read and chilled in my hammock cocoon. It was quite the effort to get up and head to the supermarket for snacks for the bus but I glad I was as on the way back eagle-eyed Earl spotted a cheesecake in a bakery window. I was elated even giving my amigo a hug. I tried to savour the strawberry cheesecake after not having it for so long but it was to no avail and I'm sure I must have been the fastest customer in the shop ever wolfing down the delicious desert in seconds. There was one last thing I had to do before leaving Bogota, stack up on empanadas, my plan was to have one for breakfast on the night bus, but in truth I knew the few that I bought would never get out of Bogota in fact Earl was even surprised one even made it to the bus terminal. It didn't get much further than that though as I scoffed it down as we waited for our bus to our next destination - San Gil.
So until next time stay safe and take care