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Travel in South America


 Bogota, Colombia

The first time I heard of Colombia is in a book of Echo Chan– Long and Arduous Journey. Colombia in the book is a place “acting strangely”. The magnificent church on Monserrat Mountain, Gold Museum in the downtown of Bogota and even a series of hardship after landing have made the experienced woman very impressed.

“That is Colombia, a very special country.” This is Colombia described by Echo Chan in 1981, which is also my only impression of the country. Since I have such a first impression, go there or not, I have struggled with this problem for a long time.

I have been to many countries, either due to business trips or personal visits, but I never set foot on the continent of South America. This time, my old friend coincidently wanted to go there as well, I decided to go along after careful consideration and tried to explore the piece of land full of mystery.

Spanish is the official language of Colombia, but I do not know it at all. Since I didn’t have an interpreter along with me, ordering meals became a frustrated but funny time for me every day. It was the first time in my life that I felt body language is more useful than words. Gestures are the only way to have a full table of cuisines in a foreign country, but sometimes it is not a bad thing to have the language barrier, at least, you will not have such kind of fun experience in your motherland.

Bogota, capital city of Colombian, has time-honored history and humanities, which is dubbed as “Athens of South America”. It is also the center of local arts and culture. Because of this, a lot of culture seekers attracted by its reputation came here.

Travel in South America

May 24, 2014 Saturday Monserrat Mountain, Colombia

Most Columbia residents are Catholic, because of this, there are rows of the Catholic Churches and monasteries here. On the Monserrat Mountain, which is over 3,200 meters and not far away from Bogota, there is a Catholic church - Cerro de Monserrate. The church, which is located on the top of Monserrat Mountain with an altitude of over 3,200 meters, was built in the year 1650 and is a place for Catholic pilgrimage. There is only one sculpture in the church, depicting the suffering scene of Jesus Christ.

Montserrat Mountain is the most famous tourist spot in the local area, which is also dubbed as the patron saint of the locals in Bogota. It is a rare chance for us to escape from the noisy and disturbed life in China and get close to the nature in the wilderness of a foreign country. We gave up the cable cars and small trains going up to the mountain, and climbed the mountain along with the stone steps. The mountain road was steep and narrow, but the scenery was beautiful and impressive.

Arrived on the top of the mountain, the first thing we saw is a white church, which is solemn and respectful. Time was still early, 9:30 in the morning, but a large number of tourists and devout Catholics already gathered on the top of the mountain.

We entered the church along with the crowd and founded there were no empty seats. The devout Catholics were waiting for the prayer quietly, some even kneeling forward slowly. Standing in the quiet church with piety and awe, we could feel the deep charm of the religion. The magnificent dome of the church with ancient and solemn internal structure is full of beauty. The chanting voices of the choir lingered in the church as if time stopped.

After the ritual ended, we walled out of the church. Only at this moment, we really got the chance to overlook the mountain opposite the church. The sun was right above the mountain, and it seemed we could touch the blue sky and white clouds with our hands. A feeling welled up in my heart: the beauty of nature is simple and magnificent, wordless and moving.

Travel in South America

May 25, 2014 Sunday Bolivar Square, Colombia

There are century-old buildings as well as urban plaza with a strong regional style in the downtown of Bogota. As time goes by, the simplest and most mellow history, culture and religion have left over after being corroded by winds and rains. Staying in the downtown, we were bound to go to the Plaza Bolivar.

The pigeons on the plaza making the same leisure steps like pedestrians are not afraid of human beings. The architectural style of the plaza is similar as that of Athens, and the cathedral built in 1823 is the most magnificent classical architecture landmark at the Plaza Bolivar. The Congress Hall and mayor’s official residence are next to the cathedral, but their style is very divergent from that of the cathedral. However, they coexist with each other harmoniously. It seems all the buildings themselves are a demonstration of beauty and needs no rhetoric.

On the weekends, sometimes there are performances conducted by Indian teams, which are tranquil and calm, giving people a sense of spirituality as if they were from another time and space.

Coming to the other side of the world which is very distant to many Chinese people, we looked around with great interest. Actually to say, Columbia is already a far cry from the description of Echo Chan thirty years ago.

There are hospitable locals, world famous Colombian coffee and beautiful precious emeralds here; there are one of the top ten world’s forest coverage and world’s No.2 flower exports here; there are modern cities located at an altitude of 2,600 meters and Indian tribes settled in the primeval forest here; there are also enthralling sceneries at Caribbean coast and the hometown of the singer Shakira…With a short trip, we can not experience all the beautiful things of Colombia, but all we have experienced in Colombia has become one of the most beautiful sceneries in my memories.

Travel in South America

June 3, 2014 Tuesday Angel Falls, Venezuela

I think most Chinese people learned about the Angel Falls in Venezuela from an animation called Up. For me, who almost never watch animations, never heard about Up and of course know little about the world-renowned tourist spot in Venezuela.

During the trip in South America, my friends discussed the route in Venezuela with me. A local friend mentioned the Angel Falls and said all the people who had ever been there spoke highly of the scenery there, with no exception. Therefore, we set Angel Falls as our first site in Venezuela.

On the day of departure, we took airplane from the capital of Venezuela to Ciudad Bolivar.

After landing, we took a small aircraft to fly to the tourist spot. It was a very small propeller aircraft, swaying even after liftoff. After about less than one hour, our aircraft landed on a small airport. Actually to say, it is only an area of flat open land rather than an airport, and some large and small aircrafts parked here. Following the local tour guide, we bought the entrance tickets to the park and entered the campsite for that night.

Without electricity supply and equipped with simple facilities, the campsite was a bit shabby. It got dark earlier in Venezuela in this season. At six o’clock in the evening, the guide and boatman began to grill the chickens on the stand made of branches. After trekking a whole day in the primeval forest, even a simple meal seemed to be very precious, and every one enjoyed his or her meal very much.

It still rained at nine o’clock of that evening. We lay down in the simple hammocks and fell into sleep while wondering whether we could start the trip to Angel Falls tomorrow or not.

Travel in South America

We started a new day’s trip in the early morning of the next day. We took the boat to the opposite shore and went upstream. The river winds through the bushes along both shores, and we finally experienced the jungle style of the South American. Passing through the jungle and no man's land, the boat brought us to the falls area.

Angel Falls is a waterfall with the largest water drop in the world, which reaches about 979 meters. After we arrived, we began to climb the mountain to take a close look at the magnificent scenery of the Angel Falls.

After two hours of trekking, we finally arrived at our destination - viewing platform of the waterfalls. The so-called viewing platform is actually a ridge opposite the waterfalls which is not far from it. There are three flat large stones, enabling you to watch the Angel Falls in close range. After such a long arduous journey, we expected the moment to come and all the fatigue and hardships in the past days vanished in an instant.

The Angel Falls in close distance looked like a white Hada, a piece of silk used as a greeting gift of Tibetan nationality, dropping from steep palisades suddenly. The water mist created by the waterfalls whirled about in the wind like thin veil.

The sun rose gradually and shone on the palisades, and the rainbow could be seen from time to time. The water mist ascended higher and higher, merging into the clouds on the top of the waterfalls. This is the gift of nature and uncanny workmanship of the creator. The scenery was too amazing to describe it in words. What we could do only is to engrave the magnificent scenery in the heart and make it an eternity.

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