Ahh Colombia. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I was a little girl and watched Romancing the Stone—the romantic comedy with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of the movie, so in honor of the fictional character Joan Wilder—the woman who made me want to become a writer and swing from tree vines—I booked a last minute ticket. For less than six hundred dollars, I got myself from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Bogota, Colombia and the adventure began.
Meet Teyas (sounds like Tay-zhah) who was born in Colombia but has lived all over the world in places like India, Italy, Thailand, Germany and the USA. If I was nervous about landing in an unknown city—especially a city with a reputation like Bogota—those fears were quickly resolved when I saw Teyas’ smiling face holding a sign with my name on it. Teyas greets travelers at the airport along with her friend Gonzalo. Bogota is a good place to start your journey in Colombia because it’s smack in the middle of everything, and it’s rich in history. It’s also beautiful—8000-ft above sea level, with junglish-mountains encompassing the city.
Teyas lives in a cool neighborhood called "La Macarena” which is only 20 minutes from the airport and is right next to Bogota's International Commercial Center. Her apartment is located on the second floor of a beautiful house on a street with private security and many local residents nearby. Also nearby are a multitude of quaint restaurants, which are totally affordable. There is also expansive shopping complexes (where I went to get a Sim card for my phone), multiple museums, and artistic exhibitions all within walking distance.
From the moment I meet Teyas, I felt like I’d known her forever. As someone who doesn’t speak any Spanish, she was crucial to my stay in Bogota. My room at her house had a nice big desk and Wifi, so I could also get caught up on work, edit photos and write blog posts. Every morning, Teyas made a big breakfast of eggs and toast and in the evenings, we always sat down for homemade hot chocolate and fresh bread.
Things To Do
In addition to helping you land on your feet. I also hired Teyas to guide me on couple of excursions in the city.
Largely considered the city’s heart and soul, La Candelaria is a mix of cobblestone streets, colorful old colonial buildings, museums and restaurants. For three dollars, Teyas and I took cab from her house down to the center. Ahh, what a treat it was. We walked around for hours checking out museums like the Gold museum and the Botero Museum. Fernando Botero’s signature style, also known as "Boterismo", depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. One of the highlights of our afternoon was when we stopped for lunch and had traditional Colombian soup called, Ajiaco. It’s like chicken noodle soup, only ten times better. We also stopped for coffee and talked over a lemon cake pastry and then before we came home, made time to have a local Bogota brew. Overall, it was a great way to spend the day, and get acquainted with the city.
A Little Nightlife And Salsa
As soon as I arrived in Bogota, I wanted to go out for at least one night on the town. There is music pulsing everywhere, and I’d hear about all the good salsa. One of the things that bums me out about traveling solo as a woman, though, is that in some places, especially cities like Bogota, it’s not safe to go out alone at nighttime.
Luckily, Teyas was game to let me hire her as a guide and she accompanied me out for an evening on the town to one of her favorite local spots. Another Colombian woman named Andrea, who was also living in Teyas, came with us. Wow. Can I say it again—Wow. I felt like I dropped in a scene from Dirty Dancing. Everyone at the club looked like a professional salsa dancer.
“We learn it since we are little kids,” Teyas tells me, when I quickly discover I have two left feet. I was definitely the last one picked for the dance floor, but that was OK. Eventually, I picked up a few dance moves when Carlos “Swayze", as a liked to call him. took pity on me and gave me a few pointers. I loved everything about the evening—it was vibrant, organic and raw. While I was the only foreigner in the place, I didn’t even notice because I already had two new friends.
Hot Springs and Big City Lights
I didn’t have enough time to do this while I stayed with Teyas, but she raved about a hot spring excursion about two hours outside of town in the La Caleris area up in the mountains. The view is amazing, I hear, and you get to soak for hours. Expect to get a bit dirty, though, as you will be caked in mud when you get out. This is one of Teyas favorite things to do with her guests, so since I couldn’t do it, I suggest that you do!
For more information on how to get in touch with Teyas, or how to start off your She Guides trip to Colombia with Teyas, please contact us at: Nicole_dreon@yahoo.com