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[Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.]

For somebody who likes to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, to discover new, more tranquil settings, having not left the greater environs of Bogotá for over 15 months has been far from ideal.

A collage of images of Bogotá, viewed from the north-east and north-west of the city.

Beautiful Bogotá: At least from these vantage points!

Indeed, how I haven’t completely cracked up is perhaps puzzling (although some will say I have, at least on occasions).

Blissful Bogotá
Part of the secret in keeping me relatively sane — outside of moving house regularly — has been my making the most of the spots of serenity Bogotá does have available.

Most will find that statement a paradox: spots of serenity in Bogotá? Well, they do exist.

The first of those that became my retreat in the middle of 2020 is the area behind the rough-and-ready barrio of El Codito.

While many would advise against a non-resident walking up through El Codito, I haven’t had any issues traversing its many steep, narrow steps. This is part of the attraction, the pumping of the legs needed to get beyond the bustling barrio and into loftier, quieter territory. I’m not fully certain of the altitude at the higher points but I’d wager they reach about 3000 metres-above-sea-level, 400 metres above the Bogotá mean.

That settlement behind El Codito, taking the 185th Street to the turn-off for La Capilla and beyond — actually officially leaving Bogotá and crossing into the municipality of La Calera — gives you a sense of being in the countryside yet with a sprawling metropolis in full view.

It’s not completely serene. There’s always the chance of an aggressive dog or two spoiling the walk but at least the air feels fresher with more greenery about than in the grey, uninspiring concrete jungle below.

There is also a pleasant trek from La Capilla, along the mountain ridge, to Santa Cecilia, the hillside barrio with brightly painted houses that, when viewed from a distance, collectively resemble a butterfly.

‘There’s even a generously branched tree or two enticing one to climb. I felt like a child again!’

I only walked that route once, on a relatively busy Sunday. Why I haven’t returned is largely down to the fact that I’ve been told it’s a “popular” spot for thieves. A lone wanderer would be a bit exposed and isolated in the event of an unwanted encounter. Oh well, nothing’s perfect.

“Cerro” distraction
There are no such concerns on the direct opposite side to El Codito and Santa Cecilia, namely Cerro de la Conejera on Bogotá’s north-western limits.

This is the hill that meets you when you take the partially closed-to-traffic 183rd Street to its conclusion. The fact that it’s home to the Antares Naval Club probably plays a part in keeping it free from “undesirables”.

The gentle climb up the road to the club’s entrance is popular with cyclists, offering a nice workout as it does. I’m guessing it’s at least a 200-metre ascent.

The best bit, though, about this hill is going off-road, where the cyclists can’t really go. About 100 metres before the club gates, there’s a path into the woods. This breaks up into various interconnected trails. A ten-to-fifteen-minute wander in and you’ll get views of the flat land leading to the town of Cota further west, tucked away in the foothills of another mountain range. To the north, you can see Chía.

There’s even a generously branched tree or two enticing one to climb. I felt like a child again! When the sun shines, there are a few uncovered spots that catch the rays, allowing for some tanning/burning should one be that way inclined.

I’ve done this walk on two occasions thus far and each time I met nobody — I was completely on my own. Not even a canine — crazy or otherwise — in sight, a rarity for Colombia.

Both times were Fridays, so it might be different at weekends, perhaps there are more people about then. I must wander up some Sunday to see what it’s like — Sunday being the day when practically all of Bogotá tends to get out to do some form of exercise or activity.

Whatever the case, I’m more than happy to have it to myself midweek. These little spots of serenity together with the never-dull barrio living help to keep one ‘in the game’, so to put it, in these strange, troubling times.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.

Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan — The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz”.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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    • beforechrist

      Respondí a la misma pregunta de ti antes. El Tiempo me pidió escribir en inglés. Además, hay artículos en español en varios periódicos en los EEUU, por ejemplo, pero el idioma allá es oficialmente el inglés.
      Tal vez no sabes, pero existe una demanda acá en Colombia para hablar inglés, el idioma de negocios en el mundo.
      Además, ¿por qué ustedes escriban y hablan en español, un idioma de europa? ¿Por qué no hablan más las lenguas indígenas?
      Podría ser que Colombia en 100 años va estar hablando inglés igual que el español, como varios países en el oriente. Entonces, esta es un poco de preparación.
      ¡Buena suerte!

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