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Rejuvenation and Appreciation in South America

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

There are some things in life you don't truly appreciate until they are gone, and while I understand that may be a gross generalization, I think the Covid-19 pandemic reminded us all just how much we took traveling for granted. If you know me or have kept up with my blog or @montevinoblogs IG page then you understand how important traveling is to me. Traveling is my way of relaxing, unplugging, and learning all while taking in the various culture, food, architecture, people, and sights that the world has to offer. I am a firm believer that the purest way to grow as an individual is through experiences and interactions, and both of those are always at the core of my travel itinerary.

It's been 3 years since I stepped foot out of North America for an international vacation and as excited as I was for my trip, I was equally appreciative that it was once again a possibility. From September 2nd - September 28th I will be traveling through 5 South American countries (Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina) with the sole intention of creating some much desired memories. I am fortunate and thankful that I have the ability to take such a vacation, especially in a year in which I close out my 20s and transition to my 30s. I know most of you are here for the pictures and content, so I will close out my philosophical rant with the following: Life is precious, unpredictable, and often times unfair but it can also be spontaneous, rewarding, and fufilling - so never waste an opportunity to embrace the things your life has to offer because you never know when that opportunity may be taken away.

Bogota, Colombia (September 2nd - September 6th)

I never really know what to expect when visiting a new country and Colombia was no different; however, despite my lack of expectations I was somehow still surprised?

An aesthetically modest and simplistic city (in the best way possible) 8600 feet in the air. The streets are extremely fast-paced and chaotic with vehicles creating their own lanes, and for the most part their own driving rules. Bikes, mopeds, taxis, and everything in between drive through what feels like 24/7 chaos making Ubers and walking all the more interesting. The foot traffic throughout the city isn't shy either. Let's just say the street and crosswalk lights are merely a suggestion. It definitely feels like a city of 8 million packed into a condensed area. The buildings are stacked tightly side by side and the majority of them are no higher than 3-4 stories tall. Brown, grey, and tan dominate the color pallet of the majority of the buildings throughout the city. The occasional white or multi-colored building will catch your eye and brighten up your view of the city. I think the true beauty of the city can be seen at night from an aerial viewpoint.

Despite the gloomy colors of brown, grey, and tan Bogota has a consistent amount of greenery throughout. The road medians are packed full of trees of different sizes and shades, which often draw your attention to the middle of the road as opposed to the surrounding buildings. The greenery on the road creates a unique viewpoint particulary when the road opens up to the high elevation mountains. The intersection of road-side greenery in your immediate vision with the mountain greenery out ahead might be the most aesthetically pleasing view in the city.

I stayed at an AC Marriott property in an area of Bogota known as Zona T, which was several miles long, and was a good representation of hotels, food, bars, and entertainment. The rooftop bar at my hotel provided the best view of my entire stay in Bogota. Visually stunning, to the point where it was therapeutic, the vibrant city lights bumped up against the dark sky creating the perfect visual of light vs dark. There were a couple other areas of interest, such as Zona G and Chapinero, where a few of the friends I had made were staying. Ironically, I traveled all the way to Colombia to meet a married couple (Rajiv and Natasha) from Austin who are also consultants (can't make this stuff up). They were staying in Zona T and we met up the next day for some hookah and drinks, which if you ask me, is the perfect way to travel. Go with the flow and meet people along the way.

Gastronomically, Colombia is unique in that their cuisine is influenced by both the Pacific and Atlantic coast. The Atlantic coast cuisine is rooted in African American and Caribbean influence, with staples like plantains, fried dough, and cheese. Pacific coast cuisine highlights a vast amount of fresh seafood in ceviches, soups, and fried applications. This is a wine blog, so what I am about to say should be interpreted as topical and not an all an indication of my infatuation with alcohol - The cocktail experience in Bogota was one of my favorite things! They make the ordering of a standard cocktail a five-star experience and you would be lying to yourself if you said you didn't enjoy it. First off, they bring the punch-bowl style cocktail glass filled with cylindrical and bulky ice cubes (the ones with the straw like hold in the middle) to your table and you witness them construct the cocktail and mix it right in front of you. Drinks are thoughtful but simple and not over the top. They prioritize aromatics and presentation through the use of slices of fresh citrus, herbs, colors and the occasional liquid nitrogen.

There isn't anything about Bogota's architecture that is going to wow you except maybe the view from Montserrate (which was unfortunately to cloudy to get a good picture, but Google has our back) or the view I described from my hotel lobby. Nevertheless, the beauty of Bogota can be summarized by its simplicity, grittiness, disorganization, friendliness, and livelihood.

Montserrate (shout out Google)

One country down, four to go, and yet I am already feeling rejuvenated and appreciative. At the risk of turning this blog into a interactive therapy session, I would like to just mention that as complex as life can be I think it boils down to two things I mentioned earlier: experiences and interactions. At its core, life is all about experiences and interactions. Who you choose to be and how you choose to act during those experiences and interactions, well that is where the complexity lies. Traveling is my outlet, what is yours?

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Manuela Perez
Manuela Perez
Sep 19, 2022

Love this! I'm so glad you were able to enjoy a bit of the food and culture that Colombia has to offer. I have never gone to Bogota myself (even though I'm from Colombia) but I need to check out some of the places you've mentioned whenever I have the chance to visit. Next time you should visit Medellin, maybe I'm biased because I'm from there but it has some beautiful spots, nice weather year round, and also delicious food. I'm sure you wont regret it.

Matthew A Montes
Matthew A Montes
Sep 19, 2022
Replying to

Yes, looking back I should have done more than just Bogota. A lot of the local recommended Medellin and Cartagena over Bogota. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the culture and people and felt like I got a good glimpse of Columbian cuisine. Next time I will have to check out the other cities. Thanks for reading! I should be sending out another blog for Peru soon. Cheers,

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