Our first taste of Colombia
21.02.2011 - 26.02.2011 14 °C
Our boat dropped us at the tri-border zone where Peru borders Columbia and Brazil. The border office was closed so we were unable to get our Peruvian exit stamps, a little investigation indicated that the immigration officer was off work sick and of course there was no replacement.
It seemed the only thing to do was to come back to the immigration office first thing the following morning and hope that it would be open. The only saving grace was the lack of border control within the tri-border area meant we were able to hire a local to take us across the river to Leticia in Columbia to spend the night there, rather than staying in Santa Rosa which consists of little more than a few huts beside the river.
The next morning we headed back to Santa Rosa, the immigration officer was still sick but luckily his wife was filling in and she stamped us out of Peru. With the formalities complete it was cinch to get admitted into Colombia and book our flights to Bogota.
The Christchurch earthquake hit soon after we arrived in Bogota. Obviously that was a bit of a shock and the next 24 hours were a bit tense while we ascertained that Jess's friends and family were safe, which thankfully they all were!
Bogota was our first real experience of Colombia as Leticia was basically the jungle equivalent of the classic, dusty, one horse, border town. The city was pretty cool, with a nice old central area and a pretty sophisticated vibe. It was quite different from the indigenous cultures we had found in Bolivia and Peru and as a result pretty refreshing. Surprisingly, at least to Jess and I, it was also pretty cold and we missed the warm clothes that we had posted home in Lima.
We went into a couple of nice churches, a good free art museum showcasing Botero, a Spanish painter with a fetish for overweight people, and the Museum of Gold, which had a huge number of South America artifacts all made of gold.
Still there are not really any “must see” tourist attractions and so ignoring the bars you can probably see most of the other sites of interest in 1 – 2 days. We did a day trip out of Bogota to visit a cathedral that had been built inside an old salt mine. Nice enough, and definitely unique, but it was a little touristy and contrived for our taste and probably not worth the entry fee.
Next stop is when the endless summer element of our trip really begins as we head to the Caribbean coast and the beaches!