This week, we have with us Inshra and Omar who will be talking to us about their travels in Bogotá, Colombia! Inshra is a freelance filmmaker and photographer who hails from Dhaka, Bangladesh and resides in London. Omar is half Bangladesh and half English, and has lived most of his life in London. He has been working in broadcasting for the last 12 years and has an affinity for music from around the world. Their work and travels have taken them to many parts of the world!
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your travels
We got married really suddenly, and we didn’t know each other very well. But as soon as we got engaged, we went on a boat trip to the Sundarbans by ourselves. After spending three days and nights on a boat together, we realised that it’s going to be okay, we were compatible to travel. While Omar likes to travel for “Great music, great views and great food”, I like to collect things like colour combinations, pictures of balconies, soup recipes and earth or soil from wherever we go, which go into little plastic bottles and get labelled the date and place of where it was picked up. We have a massive world map on our kitchen wall with coloured pins highlighting places we’ve been together, separately, and places we have called home.
What made you choose to go to Bogotá?
In 2011, my mother in law Bibi Russell,an internationally renowned fashion designer, was invited by the Colombian government to work with the local artisans using local materials and crafts. She invited us to visit her while she was there and it was the perfect opportunity so we jumped to it!
Where did you stay?
We stayed at the apartment that was given to Bibi for the duration of her stay. It was in uptown Bogotá, near the craziest most indulgent hair salon (Norberto) we had ever seen. It was Christmas time and the entire building was decorated with life size Disney princes and princesses. It was amazing!
What were your favourite bits of this trip?
Through Bibi we met some really amazing people, a lot of whom were part of the cultural sector and really knew how to party. Cumbia was everywhere and as soon as a song came on, everyone no matter what age or shape would get up and dance. Those Columbians really know how to move!
Going to the old part of any city is always fun because the architecture, the people, everything has a warmer vibe. A friend of a friend invited us to his flat for Ajiaco, which is a very popular soup dish in Bogotá and it was incredible because it was homemade. His then boyfriend was the national Vaulting champion (Vaulting- acrobatics on the back of a moving horse) and took us to the country club where he trains. We got to ride on his horse, and it was the biggest and most athletic horse I’d ever seen!
Walking the streets of Villa Le Deyva
A car journey of a few short hours from Bogotá, are the two towns Ráquira and Villa de Leyva where you can get beautiful terracotta pots and colourful woven hammocks of all sizes. One intriguing piece of architecture was the Casa Teracotta in Villa De Leyva designed by Colombian Architect Octavio Mendoza Morales. The house has sharp corners and is made
entirely out of terracotta. It’s beautiful and uses natural resources from the surrounding area.
Casa Terracotta in Villa De Leyva, Colombia
Clay pots of Ráquira
Natelie’s grandmother’s lodging just outside Villa De Leyva
In the corner of the hallway at Natalie’s grandmother’s lodging outside Villa De Leyva
At the time we were in Colombia, there was a lot of upheaval with student protestors and the change of university fees regulations and such. We saw many peaceful demonstrations, people dressed up in all sorts of costumes, throwing little paint pellets onto white buildings and singing loud. All around them were fruit vendor s selling fresh sliced raw mangoes, watermelons and fresh mixed fruit juice.
Hammocks in Ráquira
On the streets of Ráquira
What were some of your favourite dishes/food there?
I love soup, and the taste of the popular soup dish Ajiaco in Colombia has permanently fixed itself into my memory banks. There is a type of baby potato called papa criolla (translates to baby potato), which can only be found in Colombia.
The broth of the Ajiaco has three types of potatoes, one of them being papa crioliia. A spice herb called Guascas, also specific to that part of the world is the secret ingredient to Ajiaco. Okay, not secret, but you can’t get it in London so the taste will always differ. If you love soup and want to have good Ajiaco, you need to go to Bogotá!
Inside Casa Terracotta
Inside Casa Terracotta
Would you recommend Bogotá to others as must do travel destination?
After a few days in Colombia, we almost decided to move there. Everything is cheap, the weather is amazing, there are so many wonderful places around South America to visit, the food is so healthy and tasty, and the people are friendly. I suppose it’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly a must-visit place…but then again, where isn’t?
What’s next on the horizon for your travels?
Africa and Japan are two places we would both love to go to. We have a lot of family and friends in Canada, another place we haven’t visited yet and is on next year’s list, as is Mexico – for the Day of the Dead festival!
Inshra and Omar – We wish you the best of luck in your upcoming travel adventures and look forward to watching your short film The Singing Teacher once it’s released!