When we arrive at the Colombian border post, the customs officer asks Francois for how many days we want our visa. “Sesenta” answers Francois. The customs stamps our passports. I check. He gave us a visa for fifteen days! We ask him why. “I asked you twice and you answered me twice ‘ocho dias'”. No way to change the buffer. We have to go to the immigration office in Bogota to make an extension.
We take the bus. The trip lasts twenty hours. Through the window, we see beautiful landscapes, deep cannons lined with lush vegetation. We arrive in Bogota the next morning and settle down at the international youth hostel in the city. This one is huge. There must be at least 100 beds. But we are the only ones here, a little sad as an atmosphere.
We go to the immigration office to extend our visa. To get there, we take the Transmilenio. It is an excellent transport system where long buses run in dedicated corridors on the main avenues of the city. They stop at sorts of metro stops with automatic sliding doors. Not easy to go to these funny stations and find his bus. It is considered stupid to look at pretty shemas and paintings on the walls with empty eyes. Finally no need to be an otists with superpowers to understand but at the beginning it challenges. It also transports a lot of people quickly and, as a result, the city has far fewer traffic problems than the other South American capitals we have crossed.
Arrive at the immigration office, we are told that we must pay to extend our visa. We raise a little voice. We must not abuse, it is still not our fault if we had only fifteen days. Finally, after trading as in Morocco the guy we deal with agrees to give us an extra fifteen days without being charged. Apparently everything is negotiable.
The next day, we move to another hostel in the neighborhood of Candelaria we had spotted the day before. This colorful student district is really nice, with lots of nice little bars and frescoes on the walls. It reminds a little Valparaíso. There is a good atmosphere in our hostal. In the evening everyone eats together and Baden Powel, a Colombian who is there with his Australian girlfriend, takes us all to a salsa bar.
The following days, we visit Bogota and its surroundings. We leave to visit the salt cathedral of Zipaquira, an hour bus ride from the city. This immense underground cathedral was erected in the abandoned corridors of a salt mine. The main hall is gigantic. We also visit the museum of gold in which, as the name suggests, you can see thousands of pre-Columbian objects all in gold.
One night we go out with the group of the hostal in a small bar to go to see a concert of a friend of two Irish women who live with us. The concert is nice. In the end, the others leave. We stay with Francois and sympathize with a couple, a Colombian and a Venezuelan, super nice. We take a few tequila tours together and invite us to follow them to a salsa bar where friends are waiting for them. Leaving at 3am at the other end of the city in a place we do not know with people we did not know a few hours ago … Are we not going to be stuck in an evening? galley without means of return, in addition I am even more about remembering our address and the girlfriend of the guy is really mechament drunk after all this tekila. We try it and we take a taxi together and arrive at a small bar where we meet their friends. We stay a little here with them but the atmosphere is a little quiet, it seems a disco Tourcoing in a Latin style. We just have enough to be polite and we go.
We also meet Nancy and Romain, for the fourth time since the beginning of our trip. For them Colombia has a very special role in their journey around the world. Nancy is of Colombian origin but it is only the second time she comes there. For her, it’s the discovery of her entire Colombian family. They live in Bogota At 2 big mothers of Nancy who are not really of his family but at the same time if still: a complicated history. They tell us that in the neighborhood where they live, a taxi driver was killed the day before. The area where we stay looks pretty safe, but apparently this is not the case throughout the city. We find him and two friends of their Colombian friends, in one of the main avenues of the city.
It’s Sunday and the big arteries in the center are closed to traffic. There are plenty of people on foot, by bike or rollerblading. It’s also a kind of sell-off where people sell all kinds of things on the streets. We even see a place where people make bets around a circle of plastic bowls pierced from doors. In the middle there is a guinea pig. If the animal enters the bowl on which we put his piece, we win the bet. We all leave together in a neighborhood that is an old village, since encompasses in the city. It’s so cute. There too, there is a kind of craft market in the streets and groups playing cumbia of the Caribbean coast or jazz-rock. There is really a good atmosphere.
We do not see the time passing here. It has been five days since we are here. We have to move if we do not want to miss the Baranquilla Carnival in a few days. We take a night bus to the Zona Cafetaria.