Brick, concrete, graffiti, fresh coffee and mountain views all come to mind when I think of Bogota, Colombia. It’s a city of danger with a side of excellent cuisine made fresh by Colombians who have traveled enough to know… What most visitors don’t consider is green spaces, farmers markets and meditation. Come along and discover a Holistic Experience in Bogota.
A Holistic Experience in Bogota
One of the benefits of being the capital, is the variety. Bogota is a city of art, excellent coffee, gourmet food and an international scene which is unrivaled in Colombia. Previously I wrote about how to do Bogota in 3 days, which you can read here. This time around I wanted to get in touch with my hippy side with a holistic Experience in Bogota.
Tai Chi in Bogota
A few months ago, I started practicing Tai Chi. I needed a softer meditation practice to complement the “hard” karate practice I participate in 2 times a week. Especially with the pressures which come from being a mother of a two year old – Tai Chi has had a big impact on my energy, recuperation from sparring, emotional stability and balance.
And, of course, no one is teaching it here, except a creepy old guy with these dead eyes that will suck out your soul as he gathers energy from everyone around him. And so, my tutelage has been Professor YouTube. Of all the online Tai Chi videos, I found that I liked Jake Mace the best.
In this fashion I have created a basic working knowledge of the movements of Yang Family Tai Chi. It wasn’t enough though, because I also greatly respect the importance of seeking out a qualified professional to help me on my journey.
As part of my holistic travel experience, I took a class from Circulo del Dragon in Bogota. It was a great experience. I was impressed by the instructors professionalism and knowledge. He had studied in Beijing, and is very traditional in the nature of his practice.
The class taught me how to set up my stance and learn to “feel,” and worry less about the movements. I discovered I was rolling my knees in – when I needed to be rolling them out. My stance was too wide and long – which was taking away from the original intent of this meditation in motion.
I also made it my mission to visit the mercado agroecologia de Bogota, or the Bogota Farmers Market. Held every Sunday in the plaza of Cafe Cultur in Chapinero, it’s a lovely place to relax and buy wholesome products.
The biggest surprise for me, was how small it was. Pereira has double the number of producers in their monthly farmers market at the University. On the other hand, Bogota had a much better variety of fruits and vegetables than what we see. It was a trade-off. Here are some of the products which I really liked:
- Multiusos Ecologic by Biogar whose motto is “Por ti y el planeta,” or for you and the planet. To date this is the best multipurpose cleaning solution I have been able to find in Colombia. I’m not even kidding. It is “eucalipto y yerbabuena” or eucalyptus and mint. When I used it at home it left my bathroom sink, walls and toilet clean, shiny and smelling like heaven. I know it is a bit weird for me to talk so much about this one product – but I’m not exaggerating! facebook.com/Biogarco/
- Flora Herbolario is another product by which I was really impressed. Its a line of natural skin butter, face creams and even a tonic water. The ingredients are all-natural – no petrochemicals or toxic additives. I felt my skin waking up and smiling as I put on the skin butter. The scents were also very well curated and actually smell like the natural essences, not the fake chemically smell of commercial products. I encourage you to check them out. facebook.com/floraherbolario/
- Thea Gaea Bienestar Natural was offering carefully prepared dried herb and spice mixes, nut butters, cashew milk, coconut milk and an almond chai milk. If you live in Bogota and you are lactose intolerant – but bored with the watery commercial nut milks. Prepare yourself. I think the almond chai could have been a bit sweeter, but if you prefer to taste the almond – chai combo without as much sweet then you will like it. facebook.com/theagaea/
- Juan Açaí made the best smoothie ever! I haven’t had this exotic fruit since I left Brazil, and it tasted every bit as good as some of the açaí sherbert I ate there. The girl who waited on me was very sweet and she even gave me lagniappe, or a little bit more. facebook.com/JuanAcaiCol/
- Other Products: For some reason only half of the pictures (which I thought I took) didn’t come out. I’m really bummed. There was a guy selling Brie style cheese that tasted creamy and rich. One girl who I met – and again another picture I am really bummed didn’t turn out, was selling coconut oil which was made using traditional ancestral methods of extraction. Go see it!
There are two farmers market associations which are hosting farmers markets in different parts of the city including Candelaria and Chapinero. Here are their Facebook Pages: facebook.com/MercadoTierraViva/ and facebook.com/MercadoAgroEcologicoCampesino/
Bogota Botanical Garden
The biggest botanical garden in Colombia. I was really sad that I simply didn’t have the time to do this activity. A few years ago I had met one of the caretakers at an orchid show in Medellin. This garden is famous for its orchids, palm trees, coniferous trees, medicinal plants, water plants and more. They are open Saturday through Monday from 9 am to 5 pm and Tuesday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Be sure to arrive prior to 3 pm if you plan to take a guided tour. The address is Avenida Calle 63 No. 68-95. facebook.com/pages/Bogotá-Botanical-Garden/
Bogota Bloggers Association
This one may not be as “holistic” but it was very much so for me because it brought me out of my writing bubble. My second annual visit to one of their meetings, it was a great opportunity to share best practices and experiences as a blogger/writer in Colombia. It was a fun gathering of new friends and old plus a little self-help thrown in! To learn more about other bloggers in Colombia and their stories, check out their page on Facebook!
Just in case you thought it was only a beer party, we did have some serious moments too!
Travel to Bogota from Pereira
This was a super fast trip to Bogota. I left Friday on the last bus out of Pereira and arrived in Bogota at 6 am. The night bus isn’t too bad because you can sleep at least half of the journey. The day bus is hell. I would advise other travelers to go by night bus or fly. The return trip was 9 1/2 grueling hours which left me totally exhausted. The media naranja, or sunny side of the story – is that the cost was a very cheap 40,000 COP ($12 USD), each way due to it being the off-season for tourism. And, it was for a comfy bus with WiFi and action flicks.
Here’s the downside of traveling by bus: Climage change has wrought havoc on Colombia these past few years by bringing an excessive amount of rain. Already, La Linea has been closed down many times by landslides which, along this road can be deadly. Visitors should go ahead and pay the extra $5-10 to fly with VivaColombia. But, if you have a taste for adventure, take the bus for 40,000 – 70,000 COP from Pereira to Bogota. It was freaky seeing all the clean up areas that had been affected by landslides.
The trip was a success! My tai chi posture has improved. I brought some fresh veggies, rye bread for my mother, and multi-use spray home. While the bus trip was a bit painful and my time way too short – it was a very Holistic Experience in Bogota. A city like this is a bit of a multi-faceted diamond. If you are open minded enough, you will discover something new each time.
Yes, it is freaky dangerous and mega huge, but it is also full of innovation, a melting pot of culture and Gringolandia. If I need an import product and can’t find it anywhere else, I probably can in Bogota. If I want to meet with like-minded blogger/writer junkies, I can find that too. I know I didn’t really get to talk much about the food, but that is a separate story that I am going to tell where I will introduce you to Customer Service a la Colombia style.