The plan for today, our fourth day of orientation, was for all the volunteers to take a trip to the Cancillería (immigration office) to register for our cédulas (a Colombian identification document that would make us eligible to teach and use the Colombian national health insurance). We hopped on a bus in pouring rain at 6:30 am and were on our way.
This trip was my first experience with Bogotá traffic, and it was not pretty. It took us 40 minutes to get to the immigration office, a trip which would have taken us 30 minutes on foot. Nevertheless, it was nice to relax and see more of the city.
We had been hearing dire warnings about how slow and disorganized the immigration office would be, and had been told to prepare to wait all day. I was lucky enough to be in the first group of 20 to enter, and to my surprise and amazement all of us were in an out within an hour. It was incredible – and incredibly awesome.
Once we were out, a group of us decided to take advantage of our unexpected free time to walk around Bogotá and to visit Monserrate, a church and park high up in the mountains overlooking the city.
We started our walk by the Cancillería:
And saw some street art:
And some cool apartment buildings on a hillside:
As you can see from the pictures, the weather here is crazy. It will be pouring rain, and then two minutes later the sun will be out and blazing – and it feels extra strong here because of the altitude. When I was growing up in New England people would always say “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” In Bogotá I think they must say “if you don’t like the weather, wait a second.”
Anyway, our walk ended up in a pretty little park:
Next, we hopped in a cab and headed to Monserrate. The taxi dropped us off at the base of the mountain, where you can catch a train or cable car to the top. While we were there we met this guy:
And then we boarded the cool slanted train that goes up the mountain:
And up we went!
The views from the top were absolutely amazing, with the whole sprawling city of Bogotá laid out below us on one side and lush, green forests shrouded in mist on the other. If you ever visit Bogotá I highly, highly recommend taking a trip to Monserrate. Here are a few pictures from the top: