Exploring a new continent

Travel time: March - June 2010  |  by Dominik Weber

4-5 April Two last days in Bogota

Despite taking a travel sickness pill (Natalia) and a sleeping pill (me), we arrived early morning (this time, we traveled with Omega) but we were tired most of the day. We actually only got out of the flat in the evening, to see the last big event of the bi-annual Festival internacional de Teatro de Bogota. We had a look at the programme, but unfortunately, we couldn't go to any show. We only saw the final event on the last evening and it was really worth it. We expected a fire work in the Parque Simon Bolivar, but instead we got a theatric fire show by a French group of artists, called Group F. They were playing "instruments" that created sounds but at the same time created fire effects. Two men were covered with little lights and were hanging on a crane - it looks like they were flying. And of course, a lot of rockets and firework as we know it. I do remember that I saw this group already once - in 2001, they opened the Lucerne Festival with a similar show. Don't know which one was better, both were great.
Initially I wanted to leave on Monday to the South of Colombia, but since the price for the flight skyrocket, I decided to stay one more day in Bogota. Since Natalia had to work, I decided to go to Zipaquirá, a town with 71 000 inhabitants that is famous for its salt mountain. Indeed, there are only four mountains in the entire world. So, I took the TransMilenio to Portal Norte and from there, I had to take a regional bus. I had no idea where they are starting, but one more time, this wasn´t a problem at all. Every bus has a driver and a second person that collects the money and advertises the bus to potential passangers (the busses are usually owned by the driver, so it is a small company). I didn´t even have to look for a bus, because I was asked immediately if I want to got to Zipa. The bus ride is about 50 minutes long and it was great to get out of Bogota and to see other landscapes.

Zipaquirá is not a big or interesting town. It has a nice main plaza with a big church (as most of the cities has) and the main tourist attraction are the salt mines. One part is still active (they told us until 2030), but an elder part is now open to the public. It is a former mine which in honor of the patron of the miner, Virgen del Rosario de Guasá, has been modified into a somekind of Via Delorosa and at the end a huge cathedral with could give place to 8 000 people (but only a smaller chapell is now used once a week for mass). You can access the mine only with a guide and when I asked for an English guide, they said that I should use the Audioguide instead. Lucky me, I heard four Americans buying ticket right before me and for five, they were prepared to give a tour. Our tour guide this time was a former pianist who studied even in Düsseldorf and spoke some German. But due to an accident, he can´t move a finger of his left hand any longer and is now guide in this mine. It was really amazing and huge. Sometimes it was smelling strange (can´t remember which gas we could smell there), and it was almost like a labyrinth. After our tour, you are allowed to walk alone through the mine, I decided to take the additional tour of the miners. Well, that wasn´t worth it at all. It was a guide of a few minutes, everything in Spanish and the attraction was an explosion that came through loudspeakers.
I have not yet said anything about prices. Usually, prices are rather low in Colombia, but the entrance fee for this mine was pretty high. Anyway, it was very interesting and a nice short trip.
That was Bogota and Natalia and I finished the last evening with a drink in town. I have to thank her again for being a wonderful host, for everything I have learned about Colombia and for the inside look into Colombian culture and life. I will continue traveling, but I fear that from now on, I will see everything mainly from a tourist point of view.
And before I finally left, Isabel came with a little note to me: She wanted to say good bye, how nice it was and that I am always welcome to come back. But since her English is basic, she and her assistant were together translating it into English and wrote it down. How nice was that.
Thank you, Natalia, and your entire family for an unforgettable experience!

The cross in the back looks rather small. But it is actually 16m high and 1m deep!

The cross in the back looks rather small. But it is actually 16m high and 1m deep!

No, I didn't have to work in order to get in or out of the salt mine...

No, I didn't have to work in order to get in or out of the salt mine...

Traffic as usual in Bogota.

Traffic as usual in Bogota.

© Dominik Weber, 2010
You are here : Overview The Americas Colombia 4-5 April Two last days in Bogota
The trip
 
Description:
After working for too long without a real break, I decided to go on a long planned backpack trip. After changing the departure date and the destination several times, I decided to go to South America. Starting in Colombia, then Peru and finishing in Bolivia. At least, this was the plan but once on tour, you never know what to expect. This report is for all people asking how I am doing, but also for those who are thinking about doing something similar. I hope I can inspire them.
Details:
Start of journey: Mar 19, 2010
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Jun 15, 2010
Travelled countries: Colombia
Peru
Bolivia
The Author
 
Dominik Weber is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 11 years.
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