Friday/Saturday, October 10/11

Our flight was a red-eye which didn't leave until 11:30 PM, so I went to work that day as usual - only to find that the power was out in the building where I work, so I got a free day off! Which gave us plenty of time to get packed. We took Access to the airport, and got there way too early, and waited around for our flight. I changed my dollars for Colombian pesos - the exchange rate is ridiculous, almost 2,000 pesos to the dollar.

We were flying on Copa, a Colombian/Panamanian airline (Copa stands for COlombia and PAnama). Their hub is in Panama City, so we had a brief layover there. As we were flying in, I took a few pictures of Panama from the air:

Panama countryside from the air

Panama countryside from the air

Panama City from the air

Panama City from the air

(Actually, that last picture I took on the flight home, but never mind.)

I was hoping to get a view of the Canal from the plane, but I never did. Either I was on the wrong side of the plane, or the flight path didn't go over the Canal, or there was too much cloud cover, or some combination of all three. But I did notice a lot of cargo ships in the water, so the Canal must have been there somewhere. I also took this picture of a rainbow in the clouds:

Our connecting flight turned out to be clear at the other end of airport. On the walk over, I noticed that the airport, at least, is very Americanized - not surprising, considering the long occupation of the Canal Zone by the U.S. I was also amused to notice gift shops selling - what else? - Panama hats!

We landed at the Bogotá airport, cleared customs and immigration, and stopped off at the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario office (Colombian Agricultural Institute) to get Trooper cleared to enter the country. And then we finally got out of the airport and met up with Graciela and her boyfriend Piqui (pronounced "Peaky" - his real name is Hernando):

Me and Terry with Graciela and Piqui

Courtesy of Google Maps, let's take a look at where we were:

map of Bogota showing location of Graciela's apartment

You can see the airport in the upper left, and the red pin shows the location of Graciela's apartment. Quite a long drive. But we eventually got there:

Graciela's apartment building

Her apartment is on the fifth floor. And there's no elevator. There are 65 steps (I counted). And I was carrying two heavy suitcases. And Bogotá's elevation is 8,660 feet - about 1.6 miles. Oof. We didn't have too much trouble with the elevation, but I did find myself a little short of breath at times - particularly going up those stairs.

Here are some pictures of the apartment:

Our room


Living room


Take a close look at that shower head. Yes, those are electrical wires. Graciela's apartment doesn't have hot water, so she has a heating attachment built into her shower head. I must admit, when I first saw that, I was dubious. Let's face it, electricity and water is a dangerous combination. But the wires were properly insulated, and the installation was properly grounded, and no one got electrocuted.

We spent the afternoon relaxing and getting settled in. I went for a walk and took some pictures of the neighborhood. In these first several pictures, I think I was trying to imitate Google Street View:

I walked up the street and across a canal, which I later identified as Canal Rio Fucha:

Where the street crossed over the canal, I found this interesting painted rock:

the rock is painted green, with the eyes and beak of a bird, and a teardrop coming from one eye

...which presented a different aspect when I walked around to the other side:

the other side of the rock is painted with a single eye and an open mouth with several long, sharp teeth

Looking east, I took this picture of the hills overlooking the city:

Further up the street, I passed this church, which I later identified as Iglesia San Francisco Javier:

And I took a picture of this house, just because I thought it looked interesting:

the house is painted a light sky blue, and is sandwiched between two larger buildings

Back at Graciela's apartment, I took this picture from the living room window:

the view is of buildings on her street, beyond which are houses and buildings going up the hillside, beyond which are hills shrouded with mist

A couple of days later, I took this picture of the same view at night:

the buildings on the street are lit by streetlights, and the hills beyond are a forest of twinkling lights

Later in the evening, Terry and Graciela and I walked down to the local exito (supermarket) for some sodas:

...after which we went back home, got a pizza for dinner, and went to bed.

Back to the intro page - On to October 12
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