Bogotá. 2600 meters above sea level and very close to the equator. Now that changes a few things.
1. First, there is 30% less oxygen in the air. People who live in lower area’s of the world have too little red blood cells in their body for this diminished oxygen level. As result climbing stairs or hiking in the mountains don’t go as easily on your body as usual. This effect disappears if you let your body adjust for some days. Besides you feeling like an abuelito or abuelita, this 30% causes fuel not to burn completely. Therefor a smell of gasoline covers the Colombian capital. Air-pollution forms a big problem over here. Frequently you see locals walking around with air masks to protect their lungs.
2. Because of the combination of Bogotá’s altitude and closeness to the equator, the level of ultraviolet is extra powerful. To give you an idea: during the Belgian summers the ultraviolet level is about 8. In Bogotá it reaches level 17 almost every day. Nevertheless the average temperature in the capital is 18°C due to it’s altitude.
3. And ultimately, don’t forget to let your pasta cook slightly longer than usual. Because of the altitude, the air pressure is low. Therefor water boils already at a temperature of 90°C. Accordingly boiling water is less hot, so you’ll have to let your pasta cook that little bit longer, to make sure it is not too al dente.
Anyway, we weren’t too excited about our first Latin American capital. Besides decent food and nice beverages, and great graffiti art the city couldn’t really please us like Medellin did for example. Grim, I would call it. The streets are dirty, there is a lot of chaos and the people seem less friendly then elsewhere in the country.
We really gave it a shot and went on a free walking tour to discover a bit of the city’s history. Afterwards we visited Monserrate, from where there is a magnificent view over the metropolis. This was also the highest we would get in Colombia, and as the tradition says, we made our typical ‘Jan-carries-Nina-on-the-highest-point picture’.
The next day we visited the Botero museum, where I triggered the alarm when I came a tiny bit to close to one of the paintings, trying to make a picture of it. Besides this embarrassing moment, we enjoyed the museum very much and recommend it most definitely. There is no entrance fee and you get a cool souvenir at the end too.
In the Bella Vista Hostel we met a friendly Scottish couple, Megan and Adam. We discovered they would be traveling to Leticia, a little town in the Amazones, on the borders of Colombia, Peru and Brazil as well and we would be staying in the same hostel there. We decided to share a cab towards the airport the next morning and called it an early night, since we would have to get up at 6:30 am (oh lord) to catch our flight to the new chapter of our travels: the mighty green long of mother earth.