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Monday, February 18, 2013

Arriving in Bogota, Colombia - staying at Fatima Hostel

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We have had a complete stuff-up of a day.

We have been up since 4.30 a.m.

We were blessed to get a free ride the airport with another group.
So it was a good saving to go early.

We arrive just after 7 a.m.
Having been sick the past few days I really struggled in the wait line.
I thought I would throw up at one stage.
We discover the Travel Agent has neglected to include our departure tax in our ticket.
This is pretty much always included and threw her into a complete spin.

She questioned how long we had been in Panama.
Why was it not paid?
"Good question I say".
This is why I have a Travel Agent.
And $80 is $80 when you travel.
I have a fund with the agent this could have come out of.

The mess continues as they change the gate.
We race from 15 to what I thought she says is 28.
But it is her accent - she says 20A.
So we race back and there is our plane leaving.

The airline and I have many words.
The man is rude.
We end up getting to $10 food vouchers.
I tell my son I need to calm down and fix my attitude.
I am also still not well.
So I drink a few sips of beer to relax.
After all it is free.
But it makes me feel ill.

So we wait.
We are supposed to be collected from the flight.
But I have no way of letting them know we won't be on the flight.  
They are coming from the hills outside Bogota.
I daresay they will turn around and go back.
So we probably have no-where to stay?
My son is also upset - where are our bags?

I decide not to stress.
I am super nice to the lady at the airline.
She tells me to complain on-line.
Hmmmm - we all know that is usually a waste of time.

So we arrive at 5 pm.
I have thankfully googled a couple of hostels.

Customs is professional. Fast and nice.
I have read too many bad stories about Colombia, and I am nervous.
Especially having a child with me.

I find a policeman, and he tells me the area in the hills is not a good area, 
but gives me the price for a taxi.
He then gives me a price for a hostel.

We manage to get a small van and I try to negotiate the fare.
The drive refuses.
He is going to charge me too much.
He holds his ground.
He tells me the hills area he will not drive to at night.
So we agree to go to the hostel area - even if I have no booking.

The taxi driver has his certificate displayed.
I pretend to take a photo of a building but I take a photo of his certificate first.

He ends up driving us to 3 hostels.
In the end he tells us he can recommend a good one.

I take my son and handbag and race in and out of these.
My luggage is in his van.
"Quick" says the hostel lady - "not safe".
But he is out there and waits and we bring the bags in.
He turned out to be so nice and helpful.
The trouble is - we have gone from USD/Balboa which is the same.
Now we have pesos - $1 is $1750 - so hard to calculate.
The $ stands for pesos.
Super confusing!
But we are here.
The Fatima hostel is great.
TV - hey great!

The atrium is cute.
The kitchen is clean.
It includes breakfast of home-made muesli with fresh cut mixed fruits including banana and papaya.
It comes with gourmet scrambled eggs if you want them
 - I am no egg fan but I have to say they look good.  
Then there is croissants and coffee.
If we share a bed it is $10 a night.

The dorm is empty and she says she will try to keep it that way.
The blankets are heavy like a wool floor rug.
We have 3 on the bed.
It is cold!
I look at the beds.

We wander next door to a cafe that gives discount to hostel guests. 
I order dinner but my stomach is still unwell.
We end up getting it to take back to the hostel.
Tomorrow we will shop for food.

Next day we have a slow start.
I am feeling really ill.
I have not gotten over being sick this past week.
So I lay on my heat bag and try to teach my son.
We get there in the end, but he is not a happy boy.
I think he is tired.
So we meet a nice lady here who has been robbed at the border,
and has no $$ til her money is transferred.
She says she can massage my pains for $15 US.
I think this is great and so we head to the room.
She REALLY helps my pain, and at least we help her.
She gives us some advice on places too.

I decide we need to go get some food and start to keep our costs down.
We wander around the old town.
My son always memorises where we stay.
He has his ID bracelet on.
He also has a business card from the hostel in his pocket.
And a map.

As we wander down the streets we find the square.
I love the mix of motorbikes, cars, buses, fruit barrows and donkey carts.

I enjoy seeing all the businessmen sit and get their shoes polished.

 I love the mix of tradition and new in Colombia.

 We visit the San Francisco Cathedral.
There is so much gold.
I am not Catholic, but I try to explain the history of this building to my son.

We end up going through the market.
My son breaks something and runs away.
He had already flipped his lunch on the floor.
He had fallen down the steps and hurt his knee.
Now he was just not caring about this ladies or what he had done.
He was just having a bad day.

So he runs and hides in this building.
I sit him down and tr to relax him.
The centre of the tables are pictures made with coffee beans.

We sit and have a hot chocolate and I get to talk to him about caring for others.
In the end he sees what I mean.
We look up how to say sorry in Spanish.
We change the money and head back to find her.
He apologises and he pays her.
She gives him the other half of what he broke.
I am proud of him and what he has learnt today.

We get back and the lady who gave us a massage comes in.
She has a disk drive of the latest movies.
So we start to watch one of the latest kids shows "Hotel Transylvania".
We end up with Doctor Dolittle - the old classic.
We copy over bout 20 for her.
We get some of hers on our drive.
It turns out to be a great night.
We have gained 20 odd movies to watch.
And we have learnt some good lessons.

We recommend Fatima Hostel.
It is economical at $10 a night US for a dorm bed including breakfast.
We stayed here several times, and the staff are wonderful.

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