Road to Cartagena

Our last day in Bogota

We spend the last day in Bogota driving to neighborhoods we haven’t been able to go to since we can’t walk that far. Driving in Bogota is scary as hell. The attitude of driving is mostly “I am going here, you deal with it”. All the cars and buses budge in where they feel like. In place of turn signals, they just move and then honk. Btw, they really like using their honks for everything. It’s their universal communication system on the road.

  • *HOOOOOONK* – “get out of the way”
  • *HONK*  – “the light just turned 1 second ago, why aren’t you moving”
  • *honk* – “thanks”
  • *honk honk* – “can’t you see I’m coming into your lane?”

Salvo Patria

For our last meal in Bogota, we head to Salvo Patria. This is a restaurant known for using local ingredients to highlight Colombian cuisine. They actually have a board written with where all of their daily ingredients come from (the farm, the ingredient, what region of Colombia etc). The restaurant is on the first floor of a converted house and it’s absolutely charming and beautiful (this is a house I would love to live in). I guess they are well popular with foreigner travelers because our waiter spoke perfect English – trust me, this is rare.

The food was delicious and seasonal. But the dessert was a start on its own. It was so good we ordered one more of the same dessert and coffee – I mean when in Bogota right?

To Cartagena

On October 4th, we finally pick up our rental car from a local company Localiza instead of AVIS because it was half the price and they seemed to have better reviews. The road to Cartagena isn’t nicely paved and instead of getting the cheapest option, we pay a little bit more for a sturdy 4×4 and SUV since we will be driving a lot of hours in it. Even though the journey is only 1,100km google maps say it will take just under 18 hours.

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Ok so, I didn’t think it would actually take that long to get to Cartagena. We aim to stop at Aguachica, a small town 600kms outside of Bogota. Guess what, it took us an hour to move 20km. It was going to be LOOOOOOONG drive. It takes that long because there are small patches every 20km with “small towns” where the speed limit is 30km. The “highways” are sometimes a single lane road with semis and buses passing cars in the opposite direction. It’s a sobering experience to see these small towns and makes you want to do something to help them.

We get to the hotel in Aguachia 9 hours and 9 toll booths later. There is a toll every 80kms or so and there is no way to avoid it. It costs anywhere between $2,800 COP – $12,800 COP (Now to put this in perspective with local dollars, a breakfast empanada or arepa costs about $2,000 COP. so it definitely adds up). It felt like we were paying our way to travel.

Does anyone remember that movie “In time” with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried? In the movie, people use time as a way of currency and each district is divided according to how poor or rich they are on time. By a fluke of chance, he gets a lot of time given to him by a stranger and he has enough time to fit in with those in district 1. He takes a hired car and every time he passes a district, he has to pay in time in order to even enter. The tolls on the highway reminded me of that scene where you have to pay just to travel from one area to another.

After 14 toll booths and $121,160 COP ($47 CAD) later, we finally arrive in Cartagena. Hello, Caribbean beach!

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