Want to know what’s one of the best feelings ever? Try immersing yourself with nature. Try isolating yourself for a while from the boisterous fast paced city by trekking up a mountain. Try closing your eyes and feel the cool winds caressing your face. It costs nothing but time, and probably some wobbly legs by the end of the journey if you’re not that fit but who cares? It’s worth it.
Hiking and nature is something that I love (especially going on adventurous trips with UWI Health Fitness and Adventure Society 😉). So doing this was one of the first things on my mental list and Bogotá is the perfect place to enjoy this type of adventure because of its breathtakingly glorious and spectacular mountains. So far I’ve been on the Quebrada La Vieja mountain twice. Each time was different; Different in terms of the weather conditions and the feelings that I experienced. It is tourist friendly, safe and under surveillance by countless policemen between the hours of 5:00 am to 9:00 am on weekdays and on Sundays and holidays from 5:00 am to 1:00 pm. At first, I wondered how they would patrol that mountain quickly in case of an emergency but then I saw two beautiful policemen, wait, I meant two policemen on two beautiful horses at the gates. Not to mention the occasional poo on the ground. It’s not safe to hike outside of those hours alone; you’d be entering at your own risk.
I can’t even begin to describe the array of emotions I experienced up there. It’s such a queer feeling while going up. My hands were icy cold, my ears started to hurt because of the coldness and I was breathing very loud. Yet inside I was so warm like I wanted to sweat but I couldn’t. Bogotá is already 8,675 ft above sea level which makes it slightly more difficult to breathe if you’re not accustomed to the elevation so just imagine trekking up those mountains. It eventually began to rain but thank God for that not so insignificant blue sweater. Even though it was so cold the drizzle on my face was somewhat soothing and refreshing! Rain here in Bogotá is more like a drizzle for 5 minutes. I have not yet experienced a downpour like those that we have in Trinidad but I greatly appreciate the drizzles and I should since Colombia has actually been going through a drought for two years because of El Niño and is now experiencing some rainfall after so long.
The second time was even better. The weather conditions were more favourable to hike, in that it was sunny and dry. The most difficult part of the mountain is the beginning with continuous steep rocky ascents. However it gets easier afterwards closer to the summit, complemented by the view of very green pine trees, which were actually planted, carpeting the ground with its dried-up soft brown needle-shaped leaves. The best thing about hiking is reaching a satisfyingly sensational view of the landscape or being able to submerge yourself into a waterfall or river. I personally prefer the latter. And that’s the motivation to just keep going and never give up; the end result. The views from Quebrada La Vieja were just stunning. Seeing the tiny plane in the air from afar, the tiny buildings, the tiny cars and the tiny city, it just reminds you of how insignificant some things are in life. It allows you to look at the bigger picture in life, it allows you to appreciate you being you, it allows you to appreciate what you have and it allows you to forget about the biggest of your worries.
Catholicism still remains today as Colombia’s main religion as a result of the conquest and colonisation of the Spanish empire and the Roman Catholic religion in the 16th century. Therefore many churches dominate the region and great importance is placed on Virgin Mary. On this mountain are two Virgin Mary Statues. One embedded on the rocks halfway through the mountain, and another larger one located on the summit overlooking the city with a cross beside her.
My favourite feeling from being on the mountain was the experience and the opportunity of embracing the strong refreshing winds. It’s the kind of winds that make your pores raise not because it’s cold but because of how powerful they are, probably because of some spiritual calling or maybe because of what you can hear. It’s so loud and powerful it’s almost as if it’s shouting at you. It also reminded me of the sound of Trinidad’s downpours of rain on the galvanized rooftops. I was lucky enough that I wasn’t blown off the mountain. A truly divine moment began when my Colombian friend started singing as we settled on some rocks overlooking the other mountains. She sang indigenous songs about the sun and the mountains after which the sun came out and the winds started to scream again. Pure coincidence? Well everyone has their own beliefs which we must all respect and humbly observe right? That sun on those rocks though was one of the few things that made me feel like I was back in Trinidad. I felt like I was lying on the sand on a hot day in Maracas Bay. The sun was penetrating through my thick leggings and track pants, yet my hands were still cold. The weather was just too peculiar on that mountain. One minute it was scorching hot and the next minute it was freezing cold. And that’s a reflection of what the weather is like in Bogotá; sun now and then, drizzle now and then but all based with coldness.
So the next time you’re feeling stressed, want to escape the drama of everyday life, or simply want to immerse yourself in nature like myself, I’d say just take a hike up into the mountains. It really is good therapy for your soul and mental well-being. You will be amazed by how uplifting it can be. Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey and not just the destiny, something that my father always said to me 😉.