Monday, November 12, 2007

Monserrate Revisited . . . At Night

“On no account walk down in the dark. It is best not to go alone. On weekdays, it is not recommended to walk up and especially not down. You should also take a bus or taxi to the foot of the hill Monday-Friday and, at all times, from the bottom station into town.”
Footprint South American Handbook on climbing Monserrate

I have to admit it. I’m very stubborn, sometimes to a fault. I’m like the kid whose parents tell him not to touch the stove and then he goes and does it anyway and gets burned. Then again, if I listened to everyone, I probably wouldn’t be in Colombia right now.

But now here I am, yesterday morning, gazing up at a beautiful and rare cloudless sky. It’s the rainy season. I’m thinking to myself, wow, what a great day to go for a hike, only I’ve been up all night partying and have a tremendous urge to sleep. Go for a hike or sleep? Naturally, I did both, resting until early afternoon and then forcing myself to climb Monserrate, the most famous mountain-peak in Bogota located at the edge of downtown. There is a cable car or funicular railway to the top. Not my style.

On the hike up, the stone pathway was crowded with Colombian families, most of whom were headed downward. Because it was a holiday weekend, virtually every small shack or stand was open selling food or knit-knacks. The top is very serene and peaceful. It seems like a different world from the constant sound of buses shifting gears and cars honking that permeate throughout the city. It’s a great little hike too, about an hour and 20 minutes, and just strenuous enough for a good workout. I’ve wanted to go more often, but due to bad weather and a busy schedule I’ve only made the trek twice.

I waited until the sun set and it was dark before I began walking down, which everyone advises otherwise. However, it was a most enjoyable time going down the dark path and looking at millions of white lights below. I had the entire path to myself. The only people I saw were the half dozen or so families that lived in small shacks next to the mountain’s path. They greeted me with smiles and seemed happy that I passed by. It was silent except for the faint sound of Vallenato music in the distance and an occasional automobile honking. When I reached the bottom, I walked alone down the dark, desolate streets into town where I hopped on a bus and headed home.

I believe there’s something to be said for listening to the advice of others. There’s also something to be said for trusting your gut and enjoying the moment.

For more on Monserrate, please visit an old blog I wrote or view my photos.