During a weekend in February we swapped our village life in Medellín with the big city-life of Bogotá. For me it was the first encounter with the grand capital of Colombia. However, through Andrea, Diana and Adelaida, I had learned quite a bit about the city before arriving. The transportation system for example, the infamous ‘Transmilenio’, is always crowded they said. And the (to me) gigantic city of Medellín will be nothing compared to the enourmous size of the capital.

The reason for our trip was the annual National Meeting of CISV Colombia which took place during the Saturday and Sunday. We presented ourself and our project to all the participants and at the same time we got a chance to take a closer look at CISV Colombia and the way the organisation works. However, our Bogotá-trip was a lot more than just a CISV meeting.

Friday morning we took the Transmilenio to the University of the Andes to listen to a presentation about Human Rights and Internal Displacement in Colombia. The university is located in a neighbourhood called La Candelaria which is very picturesque and colourful. So, after the presentation we walked around looking at all the buildings and small shops.

My first impression of the city was that it had a more European feel to it than Medellín. Bogotá was less tropic, the buildings taller and the streets wider. The climate too added to my impression, with the more comfortable (for a warm-blooded Norwegian) 15-18 degrees as an average temperature.

Later the same day we had an amazing lunch together with Diana’s boss. We ate at a place called ‘Wok’, a restaurant that serves stupendous amounts of delicious Asian dishes.

Saturday morning our coordinator Juanma picked us up and took us to Catedral de Sal, the Salt Cathedral, only a short drive out of Bogotá. The Cathedral is built inside a salt mine, 200 meters underground and receives up to 3.000 visitors on Sundays. We had a great time. Andrea got to both lick salt and gather rocks from the mine to bring back to Norway. As the guided tour was held in Spanish, Juanma gave me simultaneous translation in English and we all learned a lot about salt, mining and religious symbols. On our way back to Bogotá we were supplied with road food, a very strange dish indeed. Potatoes, sausages of different types, various pieces of some sorts of meat, accompanied by salsa and guacamole. i really do not know what we ate, but we all got full and happy by the time we arrived back in Bogotá for the national CISV meeting.

Saturday evening was party time. Together with many of the meeting-participants we went to a place with a huge door on its patio. As always in Colombia, party-time means dancing-time, which for me is still quite a challenge. Anyway, we had a great time and got new friends, even one from the US who was certain that Andrea was from Minnesota.

Sunday went by very quickly with the day mostly consisting of part 2 of the national meeting. In the afternoon, Andrea and I did however find time for some window-shopping and cake-eating before calling it a day.

On Monday I was invited to Andrea’s cousin Juliana for a traditional lunch. We had an amazingly delicious ‘ajiaco’ – a traditional Colombian soup – with a lot of tasty ingredients. After lunch Juliana took us both downtown where we visited the Botero-museum and walked around Plaza Bolívar where we witnessed the shooting of a Colombian telenovela as well as a crazy amount of doves.

With our Bogotá-stay close to an end I managed to squeeze in a visit to El Museo de Oro – the Gold Museum – on Tuesday morning. With the biggest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work in the world, the bling factor was certainly high. More than only displaying gold work, the museum also gives a thorough history lesson on the place of gold in Colombian and Latin-American culture and society. After an educational morning it was time to leave the grand capital of Colombia and with golden experiences and memories the four musketeers returned to their tropical life in Medellín.

PS: The idea was for me to sleep at several places while in Bogotá, however I was so comfortable at my first destination that I stayed there the whole time. A thousand thank you’s to Diana and her family for hosting me, you were great!