Now that the Spirit Airlines fiasco is behind us (still hoping on a refund or voucher though my gut says they won´t), we can fully take in the Colombia we set out to see. Our first two nights we spent at the apartment of Juan in northern Bogota. We found Juan on Couchsurfing.org a website devoted to finding like-minded travelers who will host other travelers in their homes for free instead of them paying for hostels and hotels. Juan was a very gracious host, telling us how to get around Bogota and helping us make sure our bags were delivered to his apartment on Wednesday evening. Juan´s family owns a construction company in Colombia focused on apartment complexes. What´s amazing about their company is that they put 15% of their profits to a foundation his grandfather started which provides almost free housing to university students who come from the poor provinces of Colombia. Without the help of the foundation these students who have overcome the odds of making it to the university grade-wise wouldn´t be able to afford living in Bogota. We spent much of our time waiting for our bags chatting with and getting to know another couchsurfer staying at Juan´s named Alice, from Malaysia, who quit her job as a computer engineer to travel the world West-East. Japan, Mexico, Guatamala, El Salvador, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, South Africa, India, and southeast Asia back home. She was truly an inspiration, someone who has a dream and instead of saying maybe when I retire is doing it, here and now.
Once we got our bags we heading out of Juan´s gracious and thankful and made our way into the heart of historic Bogota. We found a fairly cheap hostel called Musicology Hostel where we used as a home base for a day to see some of historic Bogota. The Museo de Oro (Gold Museum), the Museo de Botero (Fernando Botero) and some historic landmarks all situated within walking distance of the hostel. We heard from a friend that there was a free music festival this weekend in Medellin, a 10 hour bus ride north of Bogota, and decided to check it out. After our first night in Musicology we packed up and took an overnight bus for $30 (much more expensive than we had anticipated) to Medellin. To be fair, the bus was VERY nice with reclining seats that nearly become beds. I was blessed to have a teenager in front of me who didn´t recline his all the way (they can actually pin the person behind which probably isn´t the safest but oh well). We slept the whole time to awaken to a city tucked in a valley of the Andes mountains. Medellin has the only metro in Colombia, cheap, clean, and efficient, it puts our public transport in some US cities to shame. One portion of the metro is the metrocable, a cable car that takes you steeply up the slope of the eastern mountain above the poor slums of Medellin to a beautiful parc where you can ride horses, rent bikes, see flora and fauna all over the place, all things we weren't able to do at the time, either too expensive or we had to get back to skype with some fam.
Tuesday, we'll be heading to a small village a hour bus ride from Medellin called Guatape. We found a hostel (Lakeviewhostel.com) where we can volunteer and stay for free. So we're planning on holing up there for a week or so to save some money and practice our spanish while using the mountain bikes and kayaks for free. Can't see this not going good for us.