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First stop, Bogota, Colombia.

Landing in Bogota, Colombia and getting my passport stamped officially brought me to my sixth continent. I can also now claim that I have been to all of the “habitable continents” in the world. This just leaves Antarctica…but that is for another story.

Like I mentioned, this was the first stop in my four-country South American adventure. Bogota also turns out to be the homeland of two of my co-workers. Prior to leaving Toronto, they gave a handful of useful tips for my short stay there. However, even before the journey started, a little problem became fully realized. I could not communicate with locals! Out of all the places I have been to in the world, this was the first time where neither I nor the people I went with spoke the native language. The first hurdle came just right out of the airport trying to get a taxi. Luckily, with enough hand gestures and some makeshift Spanglish going on, I was able to find a kind airport staff woman who spoke Spanish, English and Russian and helped translate with the taxis.

With that out of the way, we headed towards La Candelaria. This city is rustic, colorful and charming. It has this old colonial Spanish architecture that is absolutely stunning. I quickly found out that it is really hard to not take any good photographs here. One building would have deep red walls, another would have a bright yellow roof, a little house would have bold blue doors and hundreds of beautiful graffiti art are scatted around the city everywhere.

The Museo Botero (or Botero Museum) is well, a museum featuring the art works of Fernando Botero. He is a famous and world-renowned for his paintings and sculptures of “chubby” people and animals. Best of all, it is an exhibit that is free to the public.

Another great thing about Colombia is their food and more notably, their coffee. I got my much needed caffeine fix from Juan Valdez, which is pretty much the county’s most iconic international figure. On the street, I picked up a bag of the most delicious fried plantain chips I ever had. It had a salty crunch to die for.

Photographing people was one of the major goals for this trip. Things are very different in South America than somewhere like New York City, where some would probably try to sue you for snapping shots of them. The people are very friendly and quite photogenic. As with anyone in a public area, I always hold my camera up to make sure that it gets acknowledged. If I see them really try to shoo me away, then I just won’t got for it. However, I didn’t get any of that because I remained respectful to them and their space.

Even though this first stop was just a long layover, I really enjoyed the vibe I received. The locals were friendly and I felt relatively safe regardless of what others had told me before. Like any new place one visits, you should always be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Bogota was a great place for me to break into the South American mentality and Colombia is definitely a location I want to revisit again for a longer amount of time in the future.

If you would like to see the full photo gallery of Bogota, Colombia, please feel free to visit my archive.