Woke late and caught the bus to Central Bogota. I was determined to give it another go. It was bright and sunny, and everything seemed to look a lot nicer, a lot less threatening today. I was used to the pace of the city now, the smells, the noises, and the look of the people. I got off the book in Centro, and grabbed a bite to eat at a burger place. I walked around some of the sights, then wandered further, getting into the La Candelaria area of town. At last! Here was the charm, the hilly narrow cobbled streets, the little cafes, the slightly dilapidated 300-year-old houses. It was very much like San Telmo in Buenos Aires, but an even more colourful version. There was a lot going on here, music blaring from shops and restaurants, from the vibrantly coloured houses – it was great. Here was the colour, the vibrancy, the ‘South Americaness’ I’d missed in the Central area on the first day. With the mountains as a backdrops, and the sun beating down, Bogota was revealed to me in all it’s glory, and what a beautiful place it could be. What a difference a few days make. I strolled around, took some lovely pictures, then headed to a coffee shop for a couple of lattes outside the Gabriel Garcia Marquez cultural centre, sitting in the sun and thinking that Bogota is actually quite pleasant, and grows on you should you linger a while.
The streets were alive today – thronged with people going to and from work, housewives chatting away, beggars hustling the crowds, soldiers keeping an eye on things. Bogota has clearly cleaned up as of late, and is no longer the hotbed of crime it once was. I strolled the streets a while, then got caught in a rain shower and ducked into a bar in the city centre – the same one Vero and I had ducked into on our first foray into Bogota. I had an Aguila, michelada style. I sucked it back in 2 minutes as I had a mean thirst on, then ordered another, followed by an aguardiente chaser. Then it was time to bus it back up north.
Back in the comforts of the hotel I lost all desire to leave, so my last night in Bogota was spent relaxing with a room service meal and reflecting back on an amazing trip that had taken in Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia. I had seen amazing scenery in Merida, incredible wildlife in Galapagos, colonial splendor in Cartagena….what a trip. Tomorrow I would be flying back to Caracas to meet Vero and her family again, and the next day begin the long trip back to Singapore via Paris.