My first taxi ride in Bogota involved a lot of fearing for my personal safety. Can you blame me? After all, I had just stepped off the flight, during which I had carefully read LP`s in-depth warnings to women (and related horror stories) about taking a taxi alone after dark. But my flight was delayed, and I was to arrive after 9pm. What choice did I have?
So the entire ride from the airport I am clutching nervously at my bag, steadily holding down the broken lock on the door, and staying more alert than I have ever been in my life. At every stoplight, I hold my breath, just waiting for someone to reach in and hold me up at knifepoint.
Well, I arrived to the hostel just fine, and in less than two days of taxi-ing around Bogota, I pretty much have gotten over all that silly anxiety. But now, instead of fearing for my personal safety, I just fear for my life. Not much better, I know. But the taxi drivers here are maniacs! Certifiably insane. I wouldn´t be surprised to learn that the first road-racing video game was invented by a Colombian cab driver. In their tiny yellow cars, they weave in and out of traffic, changing lanes with an inch to spare, screeching around turns and slamming on the brakes. The words speed and limit are likely not used in the same sentence, ever. I lurch forward more than a few times, and wish at least one or two of these cabbies would install functioning seatbelts in the back seats.
But once again, as so far every time, I arrive to my destination in one piece: this time, the bus station. I have decided to save Bogota for later, and this afternoon I will make the 4 hour journey north to a town called Villa de Leyva. As a female traveling alone, I can`t help but be drawn to guidebook phrases like "the area is completely safe". Words like these, and the description of this quaint colonial town are exactly what I am after: a small pueblo best explored on foot, bike or horse (sans money belt); tons of safe hiking trails; waterfalls, canyoning, rappeling, rafting, and more. Even better, this town - whose name which, if slightly intoxicated, could look just like my own last name - is located in the direct path of Cartagena, my eventual destination. After a hectic couple of days in Bogota, the fresh air and vast, open skies in Villa de Leyva might just be paradise in the foothills. Stay tuned and I will report back soon.