We paid our bill at the hotel in Villavieja. Nice friendly little town and we would have liked to have stayed longer if it hadn't been so darned hot!
The guy at the hotel flagged down a collectivo to take us back in to Neiva, and funny thing it turned out to be the same driver who had taken us in to Villavieja a couple of nights before. He tossed our bags onto the roof, and Ruth and I squeezed into the front seat with him. We picked up a few more passengers along the way and off we went.
It was about 45 minutes to get into the steaming hot city of Neiva. It's between 28C-34C (84F-94F) every day of the year here. Close to the equator and an altitude of only 441 meters (1,400 ft) the sun is very strong here.
We gathered our things and made our way to the long row of ticket windows. Lots of choices to get to Bogota, but we chose one that was a more direct route and on a bus that had air conditioning! We paid 35,000 pesos ($16.00 CAD) each for the five hour ride.
We wanted to get something to eat but the driver said we didn't have time and the bus was leaving shortly. We could have waited an hour or so for the next bus, but as it was we were going to be later than we wanted to get in to Bogota, and we didn't have any reservations anywhere...we were really winging it!
Sure enough, the bus left right away. At least it was reasonably comfortable for the long ride.
Bus window scenery.
Bogota is the fourth largest city in South America, with about 8 million people. It's also a high Andean city situated at an altitude of 2,600 meters (8,600 feet). That's why it's so much cooler here and as we rose we could feel the air conditioner working more efficiently.
The outskirts of the city are unimpressive. Tons of graffiti. Every building seemed to be covered in it.
As the bus made it's way to the central terminal, we did go through some nicer areas and in fact the terminal itself seems to be in a decent part of town.
Reading about the city in our Lonely Planet guidebook, there are areas that are still not safe, including the area I had checked out to stay in. During the day it's fine, with lots of police about, but you are told not to wander about in the evening.
It was after 5:00pm when we got off at the terminal and headed for the lineup to get an authorized taxi. There were a ton of people, but also a ton of taxis! I had read about a hostel called Explora Hostels right downtown and it had good reviews. But also expensive, for a hostel.
Took a taxi about 8 kms (5 miles) from the terminal to the hostel. Cost was 12,000 pesos ($5.46 CAD).
Arrived at Explora Hostels and fortunately they aren't that busy. Got a private room with our own private bathroom for 75,000 pesos ($34.00 CAD) per night. Cheaper than I had expected.
Now, we needed some food! We had bought some street food from one of the vendors who comes on to the bus during the ride, but it wasn't nearly enough and we were famished.
We're in a fairly busy part of downtown and it looked like there were a lot of restaurants around but they were almost all closed! There was some kind of Christmas celebration going on and lots of people. We made our way to a nearby plaza where it looked like some kind of event had just finished and people were starting to disperse.
Central plaza all lit up.
We finally found a greasy spoon diner type of place across the street from a police depot. Okay, should be safe there! We split a half roast chicken. Not bad, not great. The rice was cold. Including my beer, 13,000 pesos ($5.92 CAD).
Made our way back through the old narrow streets back to the hostel. Everything is covered in graffiti. We don't like it at all, it gives the area a real trashy feel. Pics tomorrow.
The hostel is quite nice though. In fact, we've booked in for two more nights. I had the best sleep of the last two weeks last night. Itching seems to have subsided quite a bit, as well as some of the swelling. Still, I've looked up a clinic that has good reviews and so we'll go see what they have to say.
Temperature is calling for a daytime high of 22C (71F)...perfect!
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