Colombia 4: Bogotá

Previously on the Amazing Exclusive Race, one team of two raced from the busy city of Medellín to the small rural town of Salento.  There they embarked on a series of challenges that included a three hour hike, photographing hummingbirds and drinking sugar water.  Then all teams received clues and commenced the journey to Botogá.

Racing from Salento, Simon and Ang made their way back to Armenia.  There they purchased more empanadas and bus tickets, and they were soon onboard what Ang would call “a really stinky bus”.  Leaving Armenia, the team settled in for what they were informed would be a seven hour bus ride.  Within moments of leaving Armenia to cross the Andes, the team’s bus stopped at the back of an enormous traffic jam.  There they would stay for four hours while they waited along with hundreds of trucks, buses and cars for their turn to cross the mountains.

Waiting for traffic to move

While they waited, Ang and Simon chatted with the friendly Colombians, including one on his own exclusive race to Bogotá.  The team enjoyed the carnival atmosphere as the usual vendors arrived to sell snacks, but disliked the long wait.  Eventually traffic began flowing and after two false alarms, the traffic began moving and the bus drove off as the sunset.  Team Australia chatted with Team Colombia in Spanish and English to pass the time and joked that if the bus travelled any slower they probably could walk faster to Bogotá.

That night there were two more stops for traffic jams and a free sandwich before the team fell asleep.  Waking four hours later, their bus drove into Bogotá station, arriving ten hours late.  There they had a quick breakfast and took the first bus after dawn to their hostel in La Candeleria.

Paved street in Bogotá
Panorama of the plaza Simón Bolívar
University bar hub in La Candeleria

They had a quick nap, lunch then went out to see the cool funky town.  Walking around Ang noticed the strong police presence.  As night fell, the team completed the walk along Carrera 7 challenge and took in the sights of the weekly Friday night event where the main street in town is partly closed to traffic with people coming out busk, sell their wares, stroll, eat street food and socialise.

Carrera 7 packed with people
Panorama of Plaza Simón Bolívar by night
Barney the dinosaur Star Wars themed busking
A soft, limp, burger anyone?

Simon and Ang enjoyed this considerably, and strolled the entire length of the closed section of street checking out the wide array of buskers.  On this walk, the team completed Jo and Alex’s pat a Guinea pig challenge by Simon patting one they saw.  They then placed bets on which numbered upturned bowl the guinea pig would run into, but lost.

Patting a guinea pig

With this challenge completed, the team received their next clue and continued down Carrera 7 stopping at a nice paradilla, where they completed the eat a huge plate of delicious tender meats challenge.  With these challenges completed, the team continued racing along to the end of the closed section and received their next clue.

Mmmm meat

The next morning, after relocating to new accommodation, was spent trying to locate a travel gear shop.  Unfortunately the team forgot to write down previously Googled addresses, so set off to the suggested major shopping complex, Gran Estacion.  Once there, after surveying three shops, they were unable to locate the required items (a new waterproof jacket, waterproof hiking pants and a pack cover).  Asking some friendly information people, they were given a trio of commercial centres to try.  The team raced out of Gran Estacion , bought some empanadas, and then jumped in a taxi for the short drive through the heavy rain to the nearest of the trio of commercial centres.

Bogotá. Home of the bog. Instant bog, just add water

Each centre was checked bar one, and without any luck the team used google translator at the security desk to receive directions to a nearby camping and hiking store. This store was checked and despite the staff’s enthusiasm for their products, only a pack cover and rain jacket were purchased.  With only two of the three items purchased, the team received a small time penalty that was sat out while they rode the bus back to the centre of town.

Why do ducks need raincoats? Raincoat in bag

The team raced to plazoleta dell Chorro de Quevedo, the oldest in all of Bogotá.  Their next clue sent them to a funky bar in the laneway connected to the square.  There they tried Chicha a drink made from fermented maize and chatted with some friendly Colombian civil engineering students.  Simon thought this was odd as “they should have been drinking beer.  Still it was interesting to hear their thoughts on Andean road construction and differences in español across South America”.

Plazoleta del Chorro de Quevedo Art on a wall in the Plazoleta

The next day at 7.30pm in a well lit street in La Candeleria, heading in the direction of a stir-fry and sushi restaurant, the team was approached by three to four youths.  Quickly realising this was an attempted mugging, Ang ran, but Simon, who was slower to notice the danger, had his jumper grabbed by one of the kids.  After inhaling on glue or paint, the kid said “mi gustaria money (I would like money)”.  “As I turned to break free from his grip, I noticed the sniffer fumbling with a flick knife.  It was pretty scary” said Simon.   At this point the Amazing Exclusive Race’s security protocols kicked in and the team engaged their evasion plan, successfully avoiding personal injury or loss of property.  Team Australia ran as fast as their legs could take them back to the hostel. After calming down from the shock and getting the courage to venture out, the team set out for dinner.

The mean streets of La Candeleria

Due to the attempted mugging, Ang lost sleep that night and Simon was glad they only had one more day in Bogotá. The next day the team were on constant alert and nerves were high as they walked the streets dodging shifty characters who followed them.  But the race had to go on, so the team set about completing the final challenges of this leg of the race.

Another La Candeleria streetscape

Their first destination for their last day in Bogotá was the Muesu de Oro (Gold Museum).  They were joined by Team Colombia, who they had previously met on the Salento to Bogotá bus, and walked around the museum, marvelling at the sheer quantity of gold.  With this museum completed, the team walked to the Muesu de Botero.  Similar to the art they saw in Medellín, Botero’s work was on display for free.  Both teams enjoyed the comical paintings and sculptures.  With these challenges complete, both teams received their final clues and made their ways to their respective pit stops.

Gold inka pin Museum vault
The two teams stop for coffee
Feliz Navidad parade Botero horse
Another La Candeleria street

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