One factor that can set the tone on how you feel about a new destination is the weather. Arrive during an overcast day with a chill in the air and you have a bad first impression. Arrive with the sun shining brightly and you’ll swear that every bus driver and hotel receptionist is the friendliest person in the world. Bogotá, at the end of July was presenting the former, a misty rainy and grey atmosphere challenging even the most determined of travelers to venture out and explore all that this capital city has to offer.
I began exploring the Candelaria neighborhood, but perhaps was still feeling bitter because I can’t say I looked upon it favorably. I felt the same way about other neighborhoods and it wasn’t until I actually did specific activities like go to the National Museum or to Theatron, the lively gay club, that I started developing a soft spot for Bogotá.
A few other backpackers tried to lure me up to Montserrat for yet another sweeping view of a city in a valley, but I tried my best to politely decline. I’ve really had my fill of breathtaking vistas upon mountaintops during this trip and I can no longer summon up the motivation to want to see another.
I settled on going to the National Museum for a day of culture and by myself for that matter. I was also getting the nervous tic to have “alone time”, a concept that is really lost on a lot travelers. I was greeted with a nice surprise when I entered the museum – their 181st or 180-something birthday celebration. This meant big crowds but it also meant free treats and balloons,
Once inside the museum, I glazed over the history part and lingered a little longer in the art section. As I turned from the staircase on the second floor, straight ahead of me was a beautiful grandiose mural of painted and textured tiles. It struck me and before I knew it, I was having forbidden thoughts as a committed nomad – I wanted to buy a house. where I’d spend hours flipping through Architectural Digest and similar magazines conjuring up my dream house. that one could treat as both a base and a personal piece of evolving artwork.
Life Gets a Little More Fabulous
I was invited to join a few of the other hostel people to Theatron, Bogotá’s largest gay club, which also turned out to be a must-see sites. When you first enter, the club is about as cliché as it gets for a dance club, large underground space with a huge bar in the center, glowing strobe lights and a facade of more important than thou hostesses and bouncers. The real treat appears in the maze-like structure on the second level that guides you from a rainbow-patterned courtyard to several quaint dance rooms, one catering to beer drinkers and providing a more toned down atmosphere while the next one strikes a cross between a 50’s diner and a trippy space café with baby blue hues and a healthy dose of fog. One is quickly confused with their surroundings once enthusiastic dancers take to “It’s Raining Men”.
The study room and the beer garden
The Police Museum
I can’t say I recall there being an abundance of museums dedicated to the career of law enforcement in many cities I’ve visited so it’s worth noting The National Police Museum in Bogotá as an off beat spot.
I was told there was a very interesting space dedicated to the manhunt for Pablo Escobar that was worth seeing.
When I entered the museum, it hit me all of a sudden that I really could care less about Pablo Escobar. This was a police museum and all of the attendants and tour guides were police officers decked in all kinds of formal uniforms it seemed that these ones were all handpicked from a GQ photo spread. I was starting to wonder if I had perhaps unwittingly stepped into a male dance revue. The first tour guide came up to me and smiled the most charming of smiles while flashing iridescent green eyes my way. He merely made a brief introduction and inquired as to which language I would prefer to have my tour in. I should have said “English”, but wanting to not appear to be a standard Gringa, I opted for a challenge and said, “Español, por favor.” He then led me to another group. Damn, wrong choice! However, the tour guide in the Spanish group was equally charming.
I was intent on trying to understand every word the tour guide was saying for about 10 minutes and then language fatigue set in. I also didn’t exactly find the history of their police force to be all that titillating. I regained interest again once we got sent to a small theatre room where there appear to be a stage. I thought this was going to be the showstopper – dancing policemen and a Channing Tatum lookalike. I waited through several dioramas rotating through to get to the finale but alas, no Tatum whatsoever.
We continued on to the room of guns and handcuffs – a few interesting pieces, one being a gun that looked exactly like Will Smith’s noisy cricket in Men in Black and the old school handcuffs that I couldn’t figure out. I decided to pose this question to the tour guide as it seemed like the perfect opportunity to stare at him with purpose as well as to gain clever information that I could later use to impress one of my male friends.