Bogotá is the capital and largest city in Colombia. A melting pot of people from around the country, it is diverse and multicultural, with a blend of modern and colonial architecture. The predominant colors in Bogotá are the green of the city’s many parks and the eastern mountains overlooking the sanctuaries of Monserrate and Guadalupe, and the rich red of its many brick buildings. It is also at an altitude of 8660 feet. Yikes!!!!
I had been lucky with my health all through the trip but Bogota was to be the place where I got a little sideways knock. A cold juice with dinner upon arrival made with tap water was the cue to an opening that you would prefer me not to describe in any more detail. This would continue for a few days and combined with my body’s response to being up in thinner air left me feeling pretty listless. I listened to my body and rested as much as I could whilst taking short and measured walks to the local bakery for my morning coffee and pastry. It was frustrating because I only had a short 5 day window to be here but with Romany’s amazing support and wisdom I was able to get out and about and still do some amazing things with the time I had available in this fantastic City.
We were staying in a very cool shared space with the crew who had visited us and hung out in Santa Marta. A very artistic community and a lovely bunch of people who made me most welcome. My first days were spent mooching about locally and jumping on the tram that went into the City centre…with camera in hand of course. First morning in the City we ran into a cool street Samba crew.
The City is a mixture of old and new and on subsequent visits during the next week I got to experience both….a smorgasbord of tastes, sounds and colours. I am so happy with my wee Olympus. Portable and powerful it has enabled me to capture so many sights and sounds…way too much for the blog ( 3000 + photos and counting) but memories for me for eternity. Here is a Bogota City selection ( I am not including Street Art as I will add a separate Blog post just to cover that. So much Art all over my Colombia travels.)
One impromptu moment I was able to catch was when a street Salsa dancer noticed Romany moving her feet at the edge of his performance space. He pulled her into the circle for a few moves.
During my stay in India, Vasundhara had mentioned a musician friend with whom she had collaborated and suggested we try and hook up with him when we were in Bogota.
His name was Urián Sarmiento and meeting him was a highlight of the trip for me. Urián is not just an accomplished drummer and musician. He runs a record label called Sonidos Enraizados which promotes music from the Latin American Diaspora. He spends a lot of time with traditional folkloric musicians making field recordings and setting up tours to help promote them and their cultural offerings. We met him atop of a Bogota building where he was playing a dj set. All vinyl. All incredible. That same evening we were heading for a concert at a cool venue in Bogota. Turned out Urián’s wife was part of the ensemble. This was an off the scale amazing gig. Here’s just a snippet.
Serendipity would bring us back together with Urián the next day when we met an old friend of Rom’s who was heading to the house of a well known Bogota musician called Teto OCampo. There was to be a musical fundraiser for an Arawak village that had been destroyed by fire. The Arawak live on the other side of the mountain to the Kogi.
Urian was at the house with his drums and his lovely son. During the concert which was traditional Arawak flute, his son wandered amongst the musicians trying out all the sounds he could. No one batted an eyelid and here was the most pure invitation to explore. Music Medicine in action.
At the end of the concert it was jammin time. Yup. Couldn’t resist.
My Happy Place ❤
Whilst Bogota is the most incredible City it is a City and I was hankering for some Wildness. Romany had just the plan. We set off early in the morning to head for the Parque Ecológico Matarredonda which is a Paramo.
Paramo is one of the world’s most important eco-systems, nestled in mountains between the treeline and glaciers and one of the fastest evolving eco-systems on Earth. Colombia is one of only three countries in the world to be home to Paramo and more than 60% of these moorlands are found on its soil.
We took the tram to a central bus station where we sat for 2 hours awaiting the bus only to be told that maybe it wasn’t running anymore!!!! (Colombia and Buses!!!)
There was another bus station which hosted a private bus company which ran the route we wanted, which we eventually found ( Thank goodness Romany was with me. Fluent in Spanish she was my rock all through the trip. Gracias Mi Amiga)
The Paramo was incredible. Just the most pure ecosystem to be present in.
At the end of the trail I took a moment to send a prayer. Music Medicine for the land. The wind was high and affected the flute but here is Romany’s recording.
My time in Bogota was coming to it’s natural close. I am Blessed to do the work I do and to travel and connect with folk all across our beautiful planet. Alongside those Blessings are those which are brought to me by all 3 of my children. Spending time with Rom in Columbia will live with me always. She is a beautiful soul and I love her very much.
Next stop Los Angeles and The Joshua Tree Music Medicine Experience.