We had a week to kill in Bogota while we waited for our flight across the notorious Darién Gap.
Cycling culture in the capital
First impressions of the Colombian capital were that it was clean and spacious, with a respect for cyclists unlike anything we’d seen in South America. Cycling is engrained in Colombian culture, with riders having featured on the international pro circuit for decades. Nairo Quintana in particular has wakened the world to Colombia’s cycling talent. And the locals love the sport! Huge bike lanes crisscross Bogota, offering protection from the traffic that other South American cities would do well to emulate.
It was easy for us to find reliable bike shops to replace some of the other items that were stolen with Sophie’s bike: our helmets, a tool kit, a pump and plenty of patches for the inevitable punctures.
Exploring the city
And then, it was time to be tourists.
We took the famous cable car up to Monserrate to get a bird’s eye view of the city. The mountain looms over the city and is historically a destination of pilgrimage. We learned how the pious would crawl to the top of the mountain on hands and knees as an act of submission to God. Our journey to the church at the mountain’s summit was far more pleasant. The weather is famously unpredictable up there though, and it wasn’t long before the impressive view was blocked by thick rain clouds.
On another day we took a guided walking tour through the centre of the city. It was fascinating hearing about the often bloody history: about how a violent uprising burnt much of the city to the ground in the late 1940’s and how a political power struggle lead to the civil conflict that has characterised much of Colombia’s modern history.
It was interesting to be in Bogota at the time president Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. We were able to witness the peaceful protests from those who disagreed with the terms of the official government/FARC peace treaty: hundreds of protesters holding white flags and candles gathered in the main square on the Friday night after the Nobel Prize was announced.
Onto Central America
And then it was time for us to take a cab to the airport for the short flight into Panama. We would be back on the bikes in no time!
Vida! Saúde! Felicidade!
As ever, if you’ve enjoyed reading these posts, or if you see value and a challenge in this trip, or if you’d simply like to support a wonderful cause, it would be great if you drop a little sum towards my fundraising goal for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Head over to https://www.justgiving.com/Mike-Edmondstone/ to get involved. Thanks 🙂