OUR 3 DAYS AT HOBU HOSTEL IN BOGOTÁ
When we arrived at Hobu Hostel we rang the bell at the front gate. We were greeted by Juan Manuel, one of the hosts from the hostel, who came out to unlock the gate and let us in. Hobu hostel is an old house that was recently renovated and converted into a very beautiful hostel. The hostel has many rooms, some of which were private while others were dorm style rooms for several guests.
Juan Manuel was extremely friendly and very knowledgeable about Bogotá. He was ready to answer all of our questions and even offered us advice about using the public buses (Transmilenio), tipping, safety of the water and general navigation tips for getting around the city. Juan Manuel also mentioned that Colombia was in the process of adopting new paper currency and he showed us some examples of the new bills versus the older ones. He also warned us to beware of counterfeit currency. After we had squared away our reservations and payment, Juan Manuel showed us to our fantastic private room named “La Esperanza”, meaning ‘hope’.
Our room was definitely more than we had hoped for, as it was clean and extremely comfortable. We were lucky enough to have a beautiful stained-glass window that led out to an amazing private balcony which allowed us a great view of the street below as well as the mountains to the east of the city.
Here is a brief video (inadvertently split into two parts) giving a brief tour of Hobu Hostel:
After absorbing our wonderful surroundings we realized that we were absolutely famished. We decided to set out for a walk around the city in search of a delicious meal to cure the hunger we had acquired during our long travels. We immediately noticed the state of the local sidewalks. They were in a state of disrepair and every few meters there was some kind of obstacle, whether it be broken tiles, crumbling concrete, piles of excrement (possibly canine), tree roots, garbage, stumps from what once were street signs, and the occasional deep chasm. Also of note were some of the curbs that approached two feet in height. Bogotá is definitely a city where you need to carefully watch your step. We will try to post some photos of some of these incredible obstacles.
After wandering around for about 15 minutes we came to a little restaurant, named “La Tragata”, that looked like it could possibly solve our food dilemma. At this point we were still of the mindset that we had to maintain our vegetarianism, so the kind young man at the restaurant suggested to us the only non-meat offering that they served. This happened to be a dish called ‘Mazorca Desgranada Sencilla’, which consisted of mazorca (a type of corn with very large kernels that is very common in the region), cheese, potatoes, crispy potato strips, and a creamy sauce called ‘salsa tartara’ (some type of variation on tartar sauce). It also came topped with a sauce that was very similar to barbecue sauce. They seem to put this sauce on many different food items without warning. Either our Mazorca Desgranada Sencilla was incredibly delicious, or we were just completely starving. At any rate, we immensely enjoyed the meal. We shared the dish and we both left satisfied for only 8,500 Colombian pesos (just less than 3 US dollars).
During our stay at the hostel, we met several travelers from different parts of the world. They were all very friendly and we all enjoyed sharing our traveling experiences. During our first breakfast, which consisted of a delicious bowl of fresh fruit (banana, papaya and pineapple), a fresh-squeezed glass of orange juice, fresh Colombian coffee, and a small roll of bread, we met Pierre and Julia. They were a European couple on an extended honeymoon. He was from France and she was from Germany. We chatted about their experiences so far in Bogotá and they offered a bit of advice of their own about things to do in the city and the use of the Transmilenio bus.
The remaining days spent at the hostel were filled with exploration of the Chapinero neighborhood where the hostel and our Airbnb are located. We walked many streets, tried many foods, dodged many holes in the sidewalk, climbed many curbs, and got a general feel for our new surroundings.
Here is a video of us trying a snack we pick up while wandering around Bogotá:
At the hostel we met some other travelers and shared our stories. First we met a couple from Washington, D.C., Avner and Kate. Both of them are artists and he specifically is a traveling photographer. They were on a 3-month working vacation in Colombia, where Avner was to shoot photographs of many of the natural and cultural wonders that Colombia has to offer. They were a wealth of information and were extremely enjoyable to talk with.
One funny thing that we saw while we were lounging around the common living room at the hostel was the choice of food and entertainment of our hosts Juan Manuel and Daniela. They lounged on a sofa in front of a television watching Big Bang Theory and scarfing down McDonald’s take-out, complete with yogurt parfaits for dessert. You can’t get much more ‘American’ than that.
We only stayed 3 days at the hostel before heading less than 2 km away to the Airbnb we had reserved. Right before we left the hostel, while we were waiting for our Uber ride, we met a sweet young lady from Brazil. We neglected to get her name, but she shared her amazing travels with us. She had been traveling around South America for the past 8 months, visiting Bolivia, Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, and was soon heading north to Panama. Her end goal was to reach Mexico. At the point we had met her she had only spent roughly $2000 USD. She did a lot of volunteer work at restaurants and hostels in order to acquire food and lodging. Her experiences really encouraged us to work hard so that we can continue traveling as long as possible. Unfortunately, our time with her was cut short by the arrival of our Uber ride.
Our Uber driver’s name was Juan, and he was somehow able to fit us and all of our luggage in his very tiny red Kia Picante. A short 10-minute walked turned into a 20-minute long Uber ride because of traffic and how the streets of Bogotá are laid out. The last ten minutes of the ride consisted of Juan trying to get us from one side of the street to the other. When all was said and done, the Uber ride had cost us less than $3 USD. We had finally arrived at the Airbnb apartment of Luisa, Guillermo, and their four kitties, where we would call home for the next 30 days.