Mountain Madness Arrival in Bogota, Colombia
Mark Gunlogson writes in from Bogotà, Colombia before the recon trip to the El Cocuy National Park begins!
“After a long day of travel yesterday to Bogotà and today finalizing arrangements for our exploratory trip into El Cocuy National Park, I’ve settled into lunch near the Plaza de Bolivar. Getting to the hotel last night, however, was not so settling and had the makings of an inauspicious start to this expedition. Going through the motions of getting a pre-paid transfer from the airport with an authorized taxi seemed a no-brainer, but maybe not so much.
“In a sprawling city of over 7 million souls, a taxi driver cannot be expected to know all the hotels, so with the google map that I brought in hand, the driver would pull off on deserted streets to read the map. The first time was OK, second time gave me more than just pause, but the third time things got weird as we drove in to what can only be described as a late-night, drug-taking hangout with certain sordid behavior. As we drove past piles of garbage burning and dodging rubble in the streets that had fallen off the decrepit buildings, it seemed things were clearly not happening the way they should.
“Tired, just past midnight, and sort of lost in this surreal part of the city was not the intro to Colombia I had in mind – a quick shift into reverse and a couple of turns and we were back on track though.
“As we drove towards the city center, we passed several groups of police on late night duty, which was both unnerving and reassuring. But, each block closer to the hotel brought the charm for which Bogotà is known seemed plausible. Clean parks, narrow interesting streets, and colonial buildings contrasted the modern Bogotà skyscrapers.
“What happened last night could have happened in any big city of the world – a couple of wrong turns and you never know…. Today, though, I find my first brush with this bustling city what I expected: a big Latin American city steeped in interesting history, a vibrant culture, and friendly people.
“The rest of the group arrives on Saturday — let the adventure begin!”
~ Mountain Madness President, Mark Gunlogson
Preparations for the trip. Mark Gunlogson photo
Streets of Bogotà. Mark Gunlogson photo
Plaza de Bolivar. Mark Gunlogson photo
Delicious local food. Mark Gunlogson photo
Local restaurant. Mark Gunlogson photo