Thursday, 29 December 2016

A bit of a weird trip

I'm planning a big trip to the coffee-growing area; that last trip when I hired a car got a bit expensive, so I thought I'd do a bit of a dummy run and see if I could do the journey by public transport. To that end, set off to visit the little town of Subachoque, which Lonely Planet describes as a quaint, unspoilt town - which usually means 'no tourist facilities'.
Not a comfortable bus
 First I had to get a taxi to the bus station, half an hour in the urban crawl that is Bogota's traffic. Half-way there it started raining, I mean God opened all the taps, there was a river running down the middle of the road. This kept up all day! Anyway, got the bus which was so crowded I had to sit up front with the driver, a blessing in disguise as it kept me away from inquisitive eyes, although I had a panoramic view of all the vehicles we just missed crashing into, and the potholes big enough to swallow a car whole!

 Arrived at Subachoque after a hair-raising ride; sure enough it was a quiet little town, big church in the plaza and not much else. after 10 mins strolling around I'd seen it all, but luckily found a vegetarian restaurant so went in for a bowl of soup while I waited for the next bus back to town. Inside was this mad bear of a man with a huge flowing beard, Daniel decided there and then to educate me in all things pertaining to saving the planet, some of which I actually understood when he slowed down. Then I spotted a picture of a Sikh master called Sawan Singh on the wall, I mentioned that I knew this person (back from those long-ago days when I was exploring spirituality), man what a mistake! Followed long one-sided conversation about spirituality.

Made another friend
Daniel then insisted on taking me for a long walk (in the rain) to the Ashram where he and his fellow-disciples meditated. It was a big complex, must have been 5 acres. Showed me the meditation hall and insisted we sit a while. Eventually, it was getting dark, we set off back to town (in the rain) accompanied by 3 huge dogs, the white one now my latest new friend. Back to the restaurant (where I was still the only customer) and had an excellent meal of beans and rice and scrambled eggs (tofu) & fried plantains.

When finished I said I had to go, catch the bus. "Theres no bus in the evening" says Daniel, "you need to get down to the motorway and pick up a through bus". "You need a lift" he says, "I can drop you down there if you pay for the petrol" So we get in 'the warrior', his ancient Lada Niva held together with duct tape & bungee cords. Luckily I didn't have to listen to Daniel's chat as the noise from the transmission drowned out all other noises!After an interminable journey at walking speed, he dropped me at the motorway toll booth, soon after a bus came through that dropped me at the bus station, I then caught a taxi back to the flat.

When I totted-up all I'd spent, it would have been cheaper to hire a car, so thats my decision made, next trip out of town will be by hire car and damn the cost!

 Yesterday by contrast it was bright and sunny, so I decided to go visit the church of Monserate, which sits high above Bogota on the West Mountain range. Caught the cable-car up, magnificent views back across the city.

 Spent some time in the church just resting, the church is at 3150 metres elevation so I spent some time catching my breath!
In the church

The black virgin of Monseratte
Spent a nice half-day up there, then came down to find a nice little vegan restaurant in the Chapinero district (mostly students and sex shops!) where I had my best meal yet.

So, the next couple of days I'm going to rest here in Bogota, welcome in the New Year with ...more vegan empanadas (!) then off next week to the zona cafetera. Oh and its my birthday today so I'm going out for a treat - you guessed it - vegan empanadas!

Hope you all Have a great New Year. Cheers!!


  1. Happy Birthday, John. Using public transit in a foreign country is a special adventure to begin with. I had also preferred the car.
    I am not much of a spiritual person myself, but I find it quite interesting that you found the image of your Sikh master in the middle of nowhere in Colombia.
    Wishing you a wonderful 2017!

  2. Thanks Sonja. The very best thing about travel for me is the unexpected meetings and experiences. Bus travel is particularly difficult to get used to if one is used to car or bike. Hire car for me from now on!
    Happy 2017 to you and Roland.

  3. Happy belated birthday.

    Some people feel the need to talk because the air is passing their vocal chords anyway. It sounds as though Daniel was one of those people.

    The view of Bogota from high up sure is pretty. I didn't realize the town was that large.

  4. Trobairitz, Bogota is massive, but there's a large part that gringos can't go to - the working class barrios are just too dangerous. I think there's about 12 million people here.

    Yeah I'm not too good with talkative people, like a bit of peace & quiet myself.