Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feliz Anos!

The amazing sunset over the mountain top to the west.
Some sites from the summit of Monserrate, Bogota

Colorful cafe at the base of the mountain, around the corner from our hostal.

Greg's spanish has not seemed to have improved at all during this trip. He thought he had ordered a pita pocket when infact he received something along the lines of a cheese and ham soup served in a cast iron skillet. It was very tasty.

Herby the love bug. Found here in Colombia.

Bogota is a city that stretches as far as the eye can see from a mountain top. We wanted to venture up Monserrate to experience the sunset from the mountain top overlooking the city. All the guidebooks warned us against walking to the base of the mountain and advised us to take a taxi. We decided to ignore this advice and decided to walk from our hostal to the base of the mountain along a very pleasant street with many other men, women and children. We've discovered that our guide books warned against traveling where some local people might be present. On our journey we were greeted numerous times with, "hola, buenos dias!" We were not fearful at all despite the propaganda.
We boarded the tram and accended a further 2000 feet to an elevation of roughly 9000 feet. The temperature difference and wind was considerably chillier. At the summit there was a convent church where the statue of the "fallen christ" was on display. This spot is a very common and popular pilgramidge site for all people. We walked around the summit waiting for sunset. As the sun began to set behind the mountains, more and more people began to flood the mountain top. There were several attractions to see at the top. You could even buy coca tea or just a big bag of coca leaves. Greg read in his motorcycle diaries novel that Che Guevara had once chewed a bag of coca leaves while in the back of a pick up truck and that night in his once a blue moon comfortable bed, he suffered from insomnia and had a severe headache as a result. Thus we did not indulge and instead opted for an aromatic tea.
As the sun disappeared behind the mountain, the display of sun light was spectacular. Immediately the lights began to twinkle over the city. Main highways became apparent and we tried to scope our route out of town, only to discover we were on the wrong side of town and would have to navigate through the entire city southwest to Ecuador. But that will be tomorrow's adventure.
The temperature plummeted more with the absense of the sun and that was the deciding factor of when to leave. We rode the tram to the base and walked through the dark city back to our hostal without the slightest hint of malacious intent from the local people enjoying the evening in the many parks that dot this city. We stopped by our favorite pizza joint and picked up a couple of calzones to enjoy over beers in the hostal's bar. Here we met up with some fellow Canadians, Neil and Laura from Scotland Ontario. We enjoyed drinks and good converstation with these fine folks who are traveling for 3 weeks around Colombia. Neil and Greg talked motorcycle talk and we tried to convince them to bring their own bike down here to South America. I think Greg may have Neil convinced!
Tonight we ring in 2010 right here in Bogota Colombia. We're very excited to be here and we don't know quite what to expect, we hope it's fun.

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