BootsnAll Travel Network

Day 119 Tunga, Colombia: A backpackers average day

I am currently in a town about three hours north east of Bogota. I wanted to explore around a bit so will travel for about five days as I cant leave Bogota until I get my new Passport.

I will write something up about this trip when I get back as my laptop is back at the hotel. I am traveling with just my book bag and I like it a lot. Carrying all that electronic stuff is a pain in the ass.

After a very disappointing climb yesterday, there was only one thing on my mind. Climb that bastard again. My body usually recovers pretty quickly and gets into shape after a very short time. That climb was a good kick in the ass to let it know that we were no longer in the Amazon where naps were a requirement.

The other challenge was to see if I would get robbed assurredly noted in the guidebook. Well, I climbed really well with only a few stops for the view and felt very good. No robbery or mugging however, there were a couple sketchy looking dogs staring at me like their next meal. Overall, a confidence boosting morning.

With some slight over cast weather, I decided it was time to move on. When you lay some roots somewhere it gets very hard to gain the momentum to get traveling again. Bogota was that. Very easy with enough sights to keep you busy for months. I needed to get out while I had some time to do some exploring so that I wasnt cramped on time to get back.

This is where the title comes in. A Backpackers Average Day. Usually the night before you make a decision on which direction you want to go. The guidebook gives good descriptions of activities to do in other locations so you use that info or sometimes guidance from other travelers. Dominic the French guy from the Amazon suggested that I go north to some of the cities about three hours away. They were some very colonial towns with a lot of good hiking and such. The guide book had the info so the places were selected. Next was the how to get there. The guide book gave some basic directions, but I used the manager to give me more current/accurate info. With that all worked out, I decided to leave my big pack and only take a few pieces of clothing since I would only be gone for 4-5 days. I exchanged my stuff and locked my laptop and expensive stuff in the Pacsafe which I then shoved into my pack. I had two shirts, a pair of pants, a pair of shorts, and three pairs of socks plus the clothes that I was wearing including my jacket. I also packed the guidebook, my spanish dictionary, and basic toiletries. All the stuff fit nicely in my small pack and weighed hardly anything. I bought a rice sack to keep my big pack in to keep wandering eyes off of it and gave the pack to the manager who put it into storage. Most hotels will do this just as if you had a late flight or something. From there it was a quick walk to the Trans Milenio that I finally figured out the night before. After the TBus, I transferred to a mini-bus that would take me the three hours to Tunja.

The ride was anti-climatic with the exception of the view. It had been sometime since I had been in rolling hills where everything was lush and green. The landscape changed more to a desert mountain when we got to the city. Tunja is the capital of the state and has about a half a million people. More about it later though.

Once off the bus, you kind of stagger around trying to get your bearings. Once you are somewhat grounded you can pull out a map or ask someone. Most every South American city has a main plaza. The larger cities will all be named Plaza Bolivar. This one was no different. After a quick walk there you are in the center. From there it is to the page in the guide book with the listings of hotel. I personally look for the word ĘcleanĘ as part of the description. In this case it was the first listing which also meant that it was cheap. Off I went to the hotel and checked in. Luckily the price was the same as the guide book. After dropping off my pack its off to get familiarized with the town. Usually, I start from the square and work my way around in a circle. While you are doing this you are memorizing where the cheap internet cafes are, where the restaurants are and type of food serving, and then the street with all the bars. On my tour I noticed one thing that really stood out. This place was spotless. The buildings, the streets, the people, even the bums. Everybody was dressed up and hardly a jean and t’shirt combo could be seen. Even the dogs were good natured and sat patiently around. There was absolutely no trash and you just got a good vibe from it.

After the walk, it was time to eat. I had enough pizza in Bogota so I had the urge for my old staple, Chicken, rice, pasta, and salad. I went back to the place that had the rotisserie chicken and ordered the full plate. Once dinner was over it was out to take some pictures before it got dark. Hit a few churches, some colonial street shots, and finally some good city overview pics. With that covered its off to an internet cafe to catch up on some things and to waste some time. Its usually late evening so you get to decide on what to do for the night. A night cap of food definately, but the main two options are to find a bar or to go back to the hotel. While you are on the backpacker trail and staying in busy hostel type places, there usually isnt a night that someone will want to go out which means everybody has to go out. That is why the solo option of calling it a night and going back to the hotel is more of a luxury than a cop out. Since leaving Manaus I had not had a private night so that was my choice. Back to the hotel to update some info on my following days plans as well as to make a quick route for when I leave Bogota.

Well, thats an average day. Figure out how to get there, a place to stay, a place to eat, and then if you have any energy left what to do for the night. To be honest, I think the majority of long term travelers would take the rest night over a party night almost every time. Being on the road is tough work even though from the outside it looks like a big vacation.


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