When was the last time you experienced something new? More than just a new flavor of your already favorite Starbucks drink, but something completely different from your normal, every day life?
I recently discovered www.48hourpowerjaunt.com and the concept of a carefully curated cultural immersion to a new and foreign country captivated my imagination. Gabriella took care of everything and all I had to do was grab my passport, my carry-on and my trusted SCOTTeVEST travel jacket and board my flight to Bogota.
My itinerary said that I’d meet my guide at the airport so as I exited customs I looked for my name on one of those signs that drivers hold up. I was a bit anxious at this point since I’ve had this not go smoothly before. When I was 19 I arrived to South Africa to find that word of my arrival had not made it to the people who should pick me up. This time, however, Carmen was there to fetch me and take me to my hotel.
The hotel breakfast buffet was my first real dive into Colombian food. I noticed one thing right away. They love breads and cheese. I was pretty sure at this point I was going to love my entire trip.
Sitting at roughly 8,428ft above sea level the elevation of Bogota was felt a bit as we moved around the city. First thing, we hit the local markets to sample local fruits, pan relleno de bocadillo which was delicious. Not everybody thought the pics of the local fruit were appetizing but they were quite good.
We walked through the historic center of La Candelaria and the Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo.
One of the many things Colombia is famous for is their emeralds. I was treated to a behind the scenes tour of how the emerald trade works. From mining, to cutting, sales via middlemen ‘commissionistas’ and retail.
Bolivar square was nearly empty the first day due to a small amount of rain. This made for some great pictures and served as a stark contrast to when we visited the following day and the square was full of protesters.
The jaunt took us to Museo Botero next where I was able to learn a bit about this interesting artist. My favorite part was seeing the little kids on their field trip sit and eagerly answer questions and interact with their tour guide.
Off we shot to Zipaquira which luckily for me was a little over an hour away. Carmen let me know this would be a good time to take a siesta and I promptly fell asleep in the back of the car.
Before touring the salt cathedral we had lunch at a local restaurant where I tried the local soup called Ajiaco. It’s made with no less than three types of potato some chicken and served with half of a ginormous Avocado. Add in some salted potato and it was a party. Some local lulo juice to wash everything down and my love affair with the food of Colombia only deepened.
La Catedral de Sal was an old salt mine turned into a religious tourist attraction. Carmen was able to share with me not only the history of the mines but also the region and the history of the indigenous people from the area.
We drove through Zipaquira and visited La Plaza Principal y Iglesia Zipaquira before returning back to Bogota. I was dropped off at the hotel to freshen up before dinner (read: take another nap). We walked to the famous Andres D.C. for another amazing meal. I’m pretty sure the Colombians add cheese to everything and that is fine by me. Watch the video below to see me do a bit of a dance.
Somehow this was only the end of the first 24 hours. I’ve more than acclimated to the culture and vibe of Colombia at this point. I can feel the fabric of my soul changing and grafting in a small piece of Colombia.
Why not try a quick CrossFit workout at the first CrossFit gym in Bogota? The altitude mixed with my general lack of conditioning about as one would expect but I fought through a nice workout before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.
My tour team picked me up and we headed back to La Candelaria to meet Danny who would take us around Bogota to tour the street art. There’s a lot to learn about why this is all significant but just know that Justin Bieber got involved at one point and it didn’t help the situation.
We navigated our way through quite a few protests. Seems the teachers are fighting for higher pay and the government isn’t fulfilling on promises. I just pretended the whole thing was a parade and they’d run out of candy to throw out to me.
Carmen showed me around the Gold Museum and taught me about the history of gold in the region. I was saddened by how much culture and history was washed away during the times of the Spanish Monarchy.
I’m not a coffee drinker but our next stop was to Catación Pública where Jaime Duque is treating the science of fine coffee with the care of a sommelier.
The last main stop was to play a local game called Tejo. Just combine horseshoes, bocce and fireworks and you get a general idea of how this game works. Juan Paulo, William and Paulino taught me how to play. Paulino has been playing for over 30 years and is teaching his son. They teased Juan Paulo quite a bit when the first timer American beat him twice.
And then off to the airport we went. 48 hours of amazing experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.
These are videos from my Instagram Stories during the trip:
And here are some photos. Mostly in order.
Learn more about 48 Hour Power Jaunts: www.48hourpowerjaunt.com