Sunday, March 6, 2005 - Knoxville to Bogota
Tom's parents took us to the airport this morning. We left Knoxville at 12:50 p.m., laid over in Atlanta about an hour, as always, and arrived in Bogota, Colombia, at 8:30 p.m. We didn't particularly mean to be here, but our frequent flyer miles would only bring us this far, then we had to purchase the connecting flight to Quito. Consequently, we ended up with a 25-hour layover in Bogota before continuing to Ecuador.
The Atlanta airport currency exchange didn't have any Colombian pesos, so our first order of business after clearing customs and immigration was to change money. I traded $100 U.S. for 213,000 pesos. I wish we were staying long enough to justify changing $500, because then I'd be a millionaire! Even changing cash, I had to show my passport, give our hotel name and address, sign a form, and give my right thumbprint.
Since our flight landed after dark, we had pre-booked accommodations. This was more difficult than you might think. Colombia apparently doesn't get a ton of tourists due to its dangerous reputation, so almost all the hotels we found online were upscale, expensive business hotels. So we turned to the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree for help, an online bulletin board frequented largely by backpacking hippies. There we found repeated recommendations of the Platypus Hostal. It was cheap enough, but I could have done without the giant slug sliming its way across our floor, and clean sheets would have been nice. Oh, well, it is what it is. We got our $16 worth. If you want, you can stay there for just $5 per person (13,000 pesos) in a dorm bed, but we scraped together $8 each for our own room with a private bathroom. It was also, astonishingly enough, infested with hippies, many of whom apparently hadn't done anything since arriving in Bogota days earlier.
Yippee! We're on vacation!