I'm writing this blog from the airport here in Bogotá where supposedly there is free wireless but I can't get the password to work. I figured I'd type a bit then see if I can try again. As it turns out, it's very cheap to fly from city to city within Colombia, maybe $10 more expensive than the 8-12 hour bus rides, so I've opted to fly to Cali today and also booked a round-trip ticket to Medellin later next week.
Yesterday I returned to the tourist realm, though not in as much as Monserrate. Maria Ines, her friend Marta and I decided to take a day trip out of Bogotá to a small pueblo known as Tabio. Tabio is known for it's colonial vibe, artisanía, and it's therapeutic natural hot springs or “termales.” It took us about 2 hours to get there on the public transportation- we took the Transmilenio bus to the most northern point then hopped on a buseta for another hour. Totally worth the trip though. Upon arriving, we stopped and had some “té aromático” or herbal tea- complete with fresh fruit! Yum!
From there we walked down the quiet bucolic path toward the hot springs. It was such a nice change from the noise of the big city- we walked toward some mountains with cows and horses grazing peacefully at our sides.
Almost as soon as we arrived at the hotsprings, it began to rain, and would continue to do so off and on for the rest of the day with intermittent spurts of sunshine. The springs felt wonderful in the cool air, though not quite as hot as we would have liked with the rain pouring down our faces. We were in the medicinal pool, which supposedly was full of minerals to detox the body. It was the kind of situation where we didn't want to get out of the warm water.
Eventually our fingers and toes turned to prunes and we realized we were getting hungry. So we dragged ourselves out of the pool and headed back to town where we found a little Italian restaurant of all places. I might add here that Italian food in Colombia is far from authentic Italian or even Italian-American. Nonetheless, for 8,000 pesos (about $4), we had a full meal of tomato soup, pasta alfredo, some kind of roast beef concoction, mixed vegetables, a beverage and a dessert (figs with dulce de leche, known in Colombia as “Arequipe”). The food was actually quite delicious, though I still can't get used to the large lunch portions everyone seems to eat down here.
From there we walked around the town a bit, stopping in a few artisan shops where I found a pair of pretty earrings that exactly match my fleece and backpack. =)
Finally we headed back into town, whereby I had my first experience of an extremely crowded Transmilenio (normally we don't ride during rush our in our ventures to Soacha). I was sitting down with a man in tight jeans standing next to me and a little too close for comfort. I was ready with an elbow should he have decided to push any closer!
Last night I said my goodbyes to Maria Ines and her family. I had purchased a few small gifts for the family, including a salad spinner which I knew she would appreciate. We each had a slice of pizza and I shared how much the family's hospitality had meant to me. I am truly going to miss them.
I spent the night at Carol and Paul's and took a taxi to the airport this morning. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a far less than settled stomach- maybe due to some of the food or the termales in Tabio yesterday. Two Immodium later, I'm waiting here at the gate to board the bus that will take me out to the plane, hoping to keep in the tea and crackers I had for breakfast.
Why did I rush out of Bogotá? It wasn't because of the chilly weather, but rather because there's a huge music festival going on in Cali this weekend. The Petronio Alvarez festival brings in all kinds of music and dance from the pacific coast- I'm so excited! Lots more pictures to come!