Last Month in Colombia

Arriving in Bogotá after four months in Santa Marta was a breath of fresh hair. Quite literally. Unlike the intense heat I’d experienced on the Caribbean coast, the temperatures in the capital were much cooler. Thankfully, I had brought warm clothes so that was not going to be much of an issue. And to be honest, I was excited about it. I also missed rain (for some reason) and was hoping Bogotá delivered on that front. Ironic, seeing how I’d ran away to the Caribe precisely to escape the cold and rain.

My Airbnb was located in an area called La Soledad, which translates roughly as ‘Solitude’ – fitting, I guess. It was a renovated apartment, small but cosy. It had fast Internet and one of the absolute worst showers I’ve ever used. A pressureless nightmare. The plan for the month was simple: work, work, work. And that’s what I did. The goal was to settle into a routine free of distractions and finish another chapter which, after nearly driving me crazy, would turn out to be the longest in the book.

Working hard or hardly working? Life in La Soledad!

The weather was just about fine (cool but dry) for the first couple of weeks, which was OK. But then it started raining and didn’t stop for two weeks straight. This would not have been an issue under normal circumstances but I did want to visit La Candelaria one more time before I left and the torrential rain sure wasn’t helping. A few days before my flight to Brazil I eventually headed downtown to run some errands and see the sights, rain or otherwise. Unluckily, there were some protests planned for that day so I got to see the city pretty much wrapped up. It was unexpected, to put it mildly.

Plaza de Bolívar, the heart of La Candelaria.
Wrapped up buildings and monuments before the protests.

Luckily, since this was my third time in the Colombian capital I already knew my around. I wasn’t really going to see anything I hadn’t seen before. The museums were closed but I’d already visited the ones I wanted. I walked to the main square via Carrera Séptima – the busiest in the centre – and spent some time exploring the narrow streets of La Candelaria. If it weren’t for the wrapping and heavy police presence I would never know a protest was due, it seemed like business as usual. One thing that left me gutted was that the Colpatria Tower was closed. You can get an excellent view of Bogotá from the 49th-floor observatory and I was quite excited to check it out. Maybe next time!

La Séptima, the street that never sleeps.
Colonial charm across all of La Candelaria.
Exploring every nook and cranny on a gloomy day.

During my stay in Bogotá I had plenty of time to reflect on the five months I’d spent in Colombia. The whole purpose of this adventure was to shrug off the pandemic blues and recover my mojo. When I arrived my plan was to leave with THREE published books, but soon realised that wasn’t going to happen. Editing a book, as I quickly learned, is a time-consuming process. So much so I ended up leaving with only four out of seven chapters of the first book completed. It wasn’t all bad, though: I finally created a website and started a regular newsletter, which is something I’d been wanting to do for a while. In that sense, I more than accomplished what I’d come to Colombia for.

So, would I do it again? Probably not. Not in a hostel for the same amount of time, at least. While I did meet some really nice people and made a bunch of new friends, I also came across many weirdos and unsavoury people I honestly hope to never see again in my life. That and being constantly interrupted. I knew that was a possibility but, as always, it’s not until you experience something that you actually know what it’s like. I don’t regret it, mind you. I just wouldn’t stay as long in the same place as I feel like that ended up being detrimental to my overall productivity.

‘Music is Life’ – one of my favourite murals in Bogotá.

While for the most part I’d had a good time in Colombia, I was looking forward to go to Brazil. For me, travelling is first and foremost about seeing new places and experiencing new things. I don’t find sticking around exciting at all. I was in Colombia to work, for the most part. That’s one of the things a lot of the people who saw me staring at the screen all day didn’t understand. I wasn’t in Colombia as a traveller! Now, however, it was time to get back on the road. Brazil awaited, as did a return to one of my favourite cities in the world: Rio de Janeiro. And that’s all I could think of on a rainy Uber ride to the airport.