In this post, I’m going to come out with an outrageous claim. The Colombian department, Boyaca, is not the Colombian capital city, Bogota.
OK OK, guys, calm down. Let me just explain a moment. I know this is a pretty crazy statement to just come out and say, but I do have my reasons. Although, as we have hinted before, there are superficial similarities between people from Boyaca and those in bustling Bogota, there is one crucial difference between the two.
People in Boyaca don’t catch the Transmilenio every day.
This is actually huge. Despite their shared roots, and their rather similar accents and speech patterns, life in Boyaca is radically different from that in the Bog. Sure, you may not have nearly as many world-class theatres, museums, not to mention hipsters out Boyaca way, but this also means that you can take things a bit slower. Sometimes, very minor differences like this make all the difference. Let me explain:
Rolos (referring to the good people of Bogota) probably walk just as slowly as those in Boyaca. The big difference regarding this, though, is that people in Bogota probably should walk faster. You’ll often find that your noble Rolo is actually late for an important work appointment or something, and is freaking out about it. This, somehow, doesn’t increase the average walking speed, however. It just increases the level of stress. On the other foot, I hope I’m not being too myopic in saying that Boyacenses are much more relaxed about getting where they need to go. And as Boyaca is rather bicycle mad, they’ll probably be pedalling anywhere they need to go, anyway.
Bogota is absolutely blessed for food: its ajiaco is amazing; you can find a restaurant from pretty much every region of the country; and, of course, a growing and excellent variety of world cuisine. Its arepas, however, have nothing on those from Boyaca. Sure, you can get arepas boyacenses in Bogota, but they’re, quite frankly, terrible. That’s why heading to Boyaca can be a revelation. Fresh, sweet, fluffy, toasted to perfection, and oozing with deliciously inoffensive cheese, the local arepa is actually a delight – and not at all a chore – to eat. Finally, an arepa worth writing home about.
Bogotanos, being Colombians, are helpful souls. If you need anything when the seemingly-helpful street numbering system fails for you, you’ll find that most people you stop to ask will be only too happy to help you out. But, Gentle and Slightly Lost Traveller, this is exactly the difference. If you look slightly lost at all whilst enjoying the serenity and beauty of Boyaca’s spectacular backdrops, you won’t need to ask. People will come up to you to find out what you’re looking for. They’ll probably also inform you of secret local places you will be over the moon to discover, tell you what local food product you need to try (it seems like every town has its own speciality), and then get you to talk to their cousin who spent some time in your own country on the phone, just in case you wanted to speak English with them. It’s all part of the Boyaca service, su merced.
Dramatically backdropped by the magical Monserrate and its cousin mountains, Bogota can be quite the show-off on a sunny afternoon – for example, both La Candelaria and Usaquen are gorgeously colonial. At the risk of offending all our Rolo readers, however, I’d have to say that Bogota’s views are trumped by those of Boyaca. Monserrate is beautiful, but it’s really no snow-capped El Cocuy. Usaquen might be time-trapped, but it’s definitely no whitewashed Villa de Leyva. Maybe I’m being a bit unfair, as Boyaca is a fairly large department, with climates ranging from the ultra-hot; perfectly, Medellin-rivalling mild; to actual snow in El Cocuy, but Boyaca is quite the stunner. You guys should know Villa de Leyva by now, but that’s just the start. On your bike, son!!