Category Archives: gap year

Museum of Gold!

Located in downtown Bogotá, this museum is a must-see for anyone coming to Columbia and/or South America.

Mike and Sarah in Front of the Museum of Gold
Sarah and I in our 90’s

Following seven weeks in Columbia with almost zero information on how indigenous peoples lived, our thirst to learn was high!

Soldier frogs

This museum houses the largest collection of South and Central American gold artifacts in the world, with over 55,000 pieces. Not just a bling palace, this museum provides a comprehensive history of the evolution of the use of gold, copper, platinum, and silver, plus pottery dating back to 4,000 B.C.  And the source of this technology was the Bogota plateau, here in Colombia.

Nightmare before Christmas-y?

Comparing technologies between Native American civilizations in the Southwestern United States to those in South America was personally fascinating. First created in at least 4,000 B.C., pottery in Columbia evolved almost 5,000 years before pottery in the areas now labled the Southwest, USA (A.D. 750 and A.D. 800).

A very basic knowledge of metallurgy was in place by around 1,000 B.C., mostly consisted of melting ores, heating and cooling them to temper the metal, and hammering the metals into the desired shape. Other metals such as copper, platinum, and silver. were incorporated with gold to produce more desireable properties, such as durability, flexability, shininess, etc.

Mischevious mouse: The personality of the artist came through loud and clear with some of these pieces.
Pottery in Columbia was first produced in 4,000 B.C. (a.C. = antes de Cristo, or before Christ), almost 5 millenia before potery in the Southwestern United States.

So why go here? With the price of admission coming in at a staggering $0.86, the people-watching and the overpriced roasted chile corn out front more than paid the price. Given that we stayed for over two hours and never made it past the 2nd of 4 floors should give you an indication that there is something for everyone. Do not pass this one up!

See the Museo del Oro website: https://www.banrepcultural.org/bogota/museo-del-oro

More of our favorite pieces with character:

Old man pottery
South American Golumn from The Hobbit?
Big Foot Frog

Tembici: public bikes in Bogota

A travelers guide to the Bogota Tembici system.
Tembici bikes to ride Bogota! Biking to Simon Bolivar Parque (bigger than Central Park, New York…)

The public transportation system in Bogota, Columbia has grown to include a large bike lane network and a community rental bike system. Check out a bike using the app “Tembici” and rent an hour at a time up to 4 times a day: daily, monthly or yearly. From start to finish of registration and checking out a bike took ~10 minutes.

Compared to the Medellin bike system “Encicla,” which we were never able to figure out in part because engagement depends on a confirmation email, Tembici was super-easy. Several Bogota people stopped us and asked us how it worked, it’s that new.

Example station
  1. Download Tembici: https://tembici.com.co/en/
  2. Follow the registration instructions. Some will translate to English, some not.
  3. At this point, you will need a debit or credit card.
  4. We selected to pay the 9,900 COP to allow for multiple trips in a day, up 4 times a day an hour at a time. This is approximately $2 U.S. in October, 2022. We went overtime on one ride and were charged $4,400 COP (~$1 USD).
  5. Find a nearby station on the app’s map that has bikes and walk to it. See photos below.
  6. Unlock a bike by using your phone to scan the QR code on the handlebar
  7. Lift the bike out of the magnet lock near the top of the fork.
  8. If it doesn’t unlock, try again. Each bike took a couple tries. Some bikes are not available for some reason even though they are docked in front of you.
  9. Ride your bike around and pay attention to the running time on your app, find a station along your route to return your bike or dock and release your bike again to extend your time.
  10. Check your bike back in when done and review your ride. There is a red wrench on the handlebar, if the bike is in poor repair, press to indicate that the bike needs service.
  11. Hack: there is a handle on the back of the seat that helps to lift the bike’s front magnet into the docking magnet lock.
  12. Helmets are not provided in this system, so either bring your own or do without.
Find the station with bikes close to you. Note that the stations are not throughout Bogota. The map indicates the barrios currently served by the system. I wasn’t sure if it will be expanding in the future. I bet the article attached at the bottom will illuminate.
Docked bike, ready for you!
Open app, click on the station where you are, scan QR code on the bike you want. Check brakes, seat and tires before you select your bike.
Watch for the sound and green light on right under the “✔️” showing the bike is unlocked after scanning.
This live map on the Tembici app shows open slots where you can dock your bike after your ride.

See even more detail of the Tembici system including adaptive bikes for rent in this El Espectador review of the system in Spanish: https://blogs.elespectador.com/actualidad/bike-the-way/lo-sabemos-nuevo-sistema-bicicletas-compartidas-bogota

Thanks for reading our post. We are traveling through South America in 2022-2023 with our family and dog. We are posting information on systems and places we discover to document not only for ourselves but other travellers as well. Please comment with helpful hints or updates you learn about Tembici. Ciao!

Dance Battle in Comuna 13, Medellin

We went again to Comuna 13, Medellin, Columbia to catch the dance event Topo invited us to.

The crowd gathers to watch the Hip Hop competition. We went to the crowded spot and climbed up on a wall to see the Danvers.
The format was one or two dancers giving it their best twice and then the judge gives a score. The rain kept people way, when the rain stopped even more people came to watch.