2018 Michelle checking in here: The electric shower is a scary occurrence in several areas of central/south America. One one hand, I’m grateful for hot, flowing water; on the other hand, I was seriously scared for my life. BUT figuring out how to work this calamity was one of my greater travel achievements. I don’t think there will be electric showers in Rwanda, but if there are, it’s OK. I’ve figured that out once before.
Either this was such a traumatic experience for me before that I’ve put it out of my memory or this is some Colombian designed torture device; this is what greeted me the morning after my arrival to Bogotá.
It’s a large electrical time bomb hanging above my head; luckily all the ends of the electrical wires were covered in electrical tape. I have since found out that this is not always true nor is this device confined to Colombia.
5 steps to surviving an electric shower
Is it high enough so that you will not hit your head? I’ve had problems with showers before that were mounted for people no taller than 5 feet tall. Luckily, all the electrical showers I’ve encountered are way up there out of the way of an errant splash.
Are there any bare wires that could come in contact with water? Did you bring electrical tape? If not, a wash cloth and the sink might be the best option.
Get naked. Do your thing, and get out. If you have rubber soled sandals, wear them. This is not the time to reminisce about the day. Chances are the water won’t be at optimum temperature anyway. The only way I’ve found to control the temperature of the water is to control the flow of the water. There’s a science-y explanation for this but essentially the water needs time to roll through the metal plumbing to heat it up before it before comes out. So you can have warm water flowing like maple syrup in winter or cold water flowing like a fire hydrant. But not both. Your choice.
If the pop off valve does indeed pop off– DO. NOT. SCREAM. Like I did the first time this happened to me. Uninvited visitors will show up and cause some slight embarrassment. It is supposed to keep water from spraying up into the wires which could save your life,. However, I have found that they just pop off whenever they feel like it.
Yay! You are clean, but also soaking wet. How to turn off the faucet? You will only reach for the metal knobs once before muscle memory kicks in and you will remember why you never want to do in again. Nobody in these parts have ever heard of grounding wires. My suggestion is to have a small towel–hand towel sized–that you use for turning off the knobs.
No need to fear the electrical, non-grounded shower. I, like several before me have survived; you can survive it too.
I’ll be the first to admit it: Bogotá was not high on my list of ‘places to visit’, but Colombia’s capital city is a study in contrasts. On one side there is the ultra-modern skyscrapers and modern architecture. On the other side, there are wide, colonial, pedestrian-only plazas dripping with sun and shade trees. Couples cuddle up on benches while kids chase birds on the pavement. If I didn’t know any better, I’d never associate what I’ve experienced in the last few days with the gritty, drug-infested crime haven. Instead Bogotá is as safe as any other city of nearly 10 million people. It’s leaders are forward-thinking and global adventurers definitely have the city on their radar.
If you only have 2 days in Bogotá, know that it’s not enough, but there are some sights need to experience.
Bogotá has a rich colonial history, but is focusing on the future; it is a fascinating place to be right now. And it’s much bigger than you might think! The city dwarfs most American and European cities.
Know before you go
Flights: Avianca Airlines provides some of the best direct flight options into Bogotá from the US and Europe.
Getting to Town: El Dorado Airport is about nine miles west of the city center. You can grab an official airport taxi (yellow and white) for the quickest ride into town– taking around 30 minutes and costing around 15,000 Colombian pesos (about $6 USD). The airport is also served by public transportation, but unless you know exactly where you are going, I’d save the public transport for the return
Language: The official language is Spanish.
Currency: 1 USD, = about 2500 COP
Credit Cards and Banks: Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Bogotá, but I’d recommend taking out cash from local ATM’s if you plan to so some shopping in the markets. For safety, be sure to use a secure ATM located inside a bank. This applies to just about anywhere.
Climate: March is the hottest month in Bogotá with an average temperature around 70°F and the coldest is December at 55°F. The climate is very warm and tropical, with a rainy season from May to November, and October wettest on average.
Day One in Bogotá
For your first day in Bogotá, I’d recommend sticking to one area in order to make the most of your time here and that area is La Candelaria–a neighborhood that has most of the museums and interesting architecture. La Canderlaria is what would be considered ‘old town’ in most other cities. Stay in this neighborhood the entire day [some think it’s sketchy at night, but I stayed in this neighborhood and had no problems. Of course, when I travel solo, I’m almost always in my room by 9p, and this was no expection]
The Gold Museum
Everyone knows that I am a history nerd and while I did my senior thesis on Mayan Art and Architecture, I studied a lot of Pre-Columbian art and architecture. So for my fellow history nerds out there, this museum is history come to life. It has been existence for 80+ years and is one of the better museums not focusing on art. The museum is probably Colombia’s most visited museum and has more than 55,000 gold artifacts from Pre-Columbian days. The guides do an excellent job of not only explaining the history and evolution, but where the artifacts were found and what they represent. Rather than focusing exclusively on gold [which I imagine could get quite boring], it focused on metallurgy as a component of mankind’s evolution. The detail to which the guides get in can be pretty intense, but even if you are here for the bling, there’s something for everyone. Oh, and it’s heavily guarded; it’s easily the safest place in Colombia.
Eat Lunch at La Puerta Falsa
One you’ve worked up an appetite, grab some traditional Colombian fare at La Puerta Falsa. The restaurant was established has in 1816 and is one of the most famous, authentic places to eat in Bogotá. The name of the restaurant translates to ‘the false door’ and it’s so-named because the church across the street once had fake exterior doors built to throw off any potential attacks on the city. The place is tiny and so is the menu, but it’s full of history and traditional charm. There are only two items on the lunch menu: tamales or ajiaco soup. I definitely recommend the ajiaco.
The Botero Museum
After lunch, head over to the Botero Museum which features the art of Colombia native, Fernando Botero. Even if you aren’t big on ‘fancy art’, you should still check out the Botero Museum. Botero’s art consist of paintings and sculpture, but the uniting theme of of all his subject is their size. You see, Botero is known for his, ummmm, shall we say, curvy models.
Take a free walking tour
After checking out the museums, it’s time to be outside [if the weather is cooperating]. Like many cities, Bogotá has free walking tours.[They even have themed tours: graffiti tours, coffee tours, historic tours, ect...] If you’re short on time or want an easy way to see the key attractions and important sites, a free walking tour is the answer. Sign up with a group, or create your own route and go alone. The main touristy spots are pretty safe during the day.
Going the independent route has some key advantages, mainly being able to stop where you want, when you want. Should a food vendor entice you, no worries, stop for a little snack. La Candelaria is easily the best neighborhood for exploring, either on your own or with a group. The ‘hood blends Spanish colonial, art deco and Baroque architecture and there’s a vendor on nearly every corner.
Plaza de Bolivar
La Plaza de Bolivar is one of Bogotá’s most iconic sites. It is surrounded by incredible architecture and is a favorite among nearly everyone. Including the birds. The 1000’s of birds that descend on the square looking for free handouts. Feed them or not, but it’s nearly impossible to avoid the birds.
On your second day, be sure to climb to the top of the city and mix with the locals for insight into life in Colombia’s capital!
No matter where you are in the city, you can see the iconic Monserrate Mountain. A Colombian spiritual and cultural symbol, this must-see attraction is something you’ll want to spend the morning taking in. Ride the funicular or the cable car up the mountain for a panoramic view of Bogotá and beyond.
Cerro de Monserrate rises majestically from Bogotá’s downtown area and dominates the city’s landscape at a height of over 3,000 metres. Going to the top for a view over the sprawling urban jungle below is one of the best things to do in Bogotá.
Depending on the time of day, you can either ride the funicular railway to the top or take the ‘teleférico’ (cable car), which is what I did. Apparently, the cable car offers better views.
The cable car operates from Monday to Sunday and costs up to 20,000 COP (£5) for a return journey – but it’s cheaper on Sundays.The funicular railway runs from Tuesday to Sunday and costs the same, and is open on holidays, unlike the cable car. Of course, you can also tackle the one-hour hike to the top if you’re feeling energetic (I wasn’t).
Look out for pilgrims crawling up on their knees!
Do you have 3 or 4 days? You can add on these amazing experiences. 4 days is still not enough time to experience Bogota, but it certainly is a good start
So I did a thing… well two things really if you count one of them as this blog. Well, three if you count having a milestone birthday… which I did today. The thing about milestone birthdays, at least for me, are indications that I should re-evaluate my life and see if I am on the path I want to be on. And while I love my job, it is not a job I want to be doing for the next 35 years. So here I am, re-evaluating my life’s plan.
Milestone birthdays–not just markers of time…
Adventure Adikt*, is my blog 2.0. I wasn’t really sure what to do with this re-incarnation of the blog. I started blogging way back in 2005 as a way to process my feelings about life and death, love and loss, endings and beginnings, and whatever else life was throwing at me. Back then, I’d just graduated college, moved to a new city, started my first job in healthcare working with teeny tiny babies and really sick children. I processed all those changes by writing. And traveling.
But I wasn’t ready to release those thoughts into the blog-o-sphere. So I blogged for me. It was essentially an on-line [but private] journal.
So here it is, a few years later. I’m still in healthcare. I have moved back to South Carolina. I want to buy a fixer-upper. Grad school is in my future although I still can’t decide between physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner, so until I do, I’m going to keep plugging along. And traveling. A lot. And writint to process my feelings.
In order to to avert my impending mid (?)-life crisis, I’ve decided to go public for the first time ever. I love my job. I love learning languages. I love history, the history of places, and the history of things. I love science–what it is now and what it used to be.
In a nutshell, my ‘new’, reformatted blog is a [very] vaguely chronological timeline of life events, travel, and mishaps along with some life lessons and musings thrown in for fun. Life is life. Adventure is still adventure, and wanderlust is still wanderlust; I’m trying to find new ways of having a bit of each in my every day.
The ‘other news’
While opening up the blog to the public is one attempt to stave off the potential mid life crisis, some may say I’m already in full blown crisis mode. Earlier today, as I am prone to do when I’m bored, I was surfing the ‘net for airline deals. And I came across a steal. Without truly thinking things all the way through, I jumped on it. I found a one-way flight from Charlotte to Caracas for $99. I bought it. Have I ever been to Venezuela? No. Have I ever even wanted to go to Venezuela? Not particularly. But I studied their history while in college. I speak the language. And I really do want to see Angel Falls. What else will I do? Who knows? Where will I stay? Not sure. Will I be kidnapped by narco-terrorists? I certainly hope not. And the big one– When will I come back? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll hate it and only be gone a week. Maybe I’ll love it and try to figure out a way to stay permanently. Who knows? But follow along and see how this little adventure plays out.
I turned 24 today. It’s a big milestone. I’ve always thought of mid 20’s as adults. I am nowhere near ready to be an adult. And truthfully, I’m freaking out just a bit.
*Why Adventure Adikt? I went through a lot of names [A Traveler Rests was one of them] before I decided on this one. Somehow, it just fit. And I like the word adikt better than the word junkie. I seek out adventure–in all ways, traveling to foreign countries to explore history and culture, hiking in my back yard and across the country, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, and life in general. My goal is to never stop learning and never stop adventuring… just never stop.