4 reasons why I do not need to join a gym in Bogotá
We've all been there: you start a new job, move to a new place or get force-fed sweets by a well meaning relative, and before you get attached to your new food baby you need to find a gym. I was ready for this eventuality when I arrived in Bogotá. In my first week I smelled the fried cheese and was lured in by the empanadas. However, there are 4 reasons why I will not need to waste my pesos on a gym membership.
1. The city is an obstacle course.
Have you ever mindlessly wandered to your nearest bus stop, iPod blaring, wrapped up your own little world? If the answer is yes, then in the land of Bogotá pavements you would have fallen down a grid, trodden on a homeless person or tripped headfirst into oncoming traffic. Leaping, dodging and swerving are all valuable life skills you will learn on these pavements. Although, pavement is a generous term: it is cracked, uneven and full of bonus obstacles such as bricks and wet cement that you must cross to get to the next level – sorry, I mean street – although I've been told I do a mean Mario impression! Therefore, if you need a thigh or calf workout, the city planners of Bogotá have you in mind: ranging from 2 inches to 2 feet, the steps up to the kerb are the perfect leg work out.
2. Why pay a gym when you can get paid for a workout?
So, you have had a thorough warm-up and you have reached your means of public transport. At every red light you will see a group of enterprising individuals who have decided to take advantage of a captive audience and combine this with their daily workout routine. These people will perform acrobatics or juggling, getting both their daily exercise and a few pennies while you are frittering away your time standing stationary instead of working up a sweat for profit!
3. Get on your bike Sundays.
As you may have gathered, the traffic in Bogotá happily gives these opportunistic acrobats plenty of audience members. This is because of its love of being at a standstill. That is why, every Sunday, you will see streets and streets that are gloriously free of traffic and replaced with cyclists, rollerblades and families. Bogotá shuts off its roads and becomes a cyclist's paradise, equipped with many carts offering a variety of exotic fruit juices to refresh the weary health enthusiasts. Why pedal for hours in a gym going nowhere like a car in rush-hour when you could sightsee around the city for free?
4. Mystery fruit of the day.
Ever give yourself the treat of a tasty chocolate bar or a bag or three of crisps while promising yourself that you will work it off in the gym tomorrow? Well, I have a secret to share: there is another option if you live in Colombia! On the sly, Colombia has been hoarding all the tastiest food in the world and refusing to share it with the rest of civilisation. I would love to tell you the names of the glorious items so that you could pop to Tesco's tomorrow and revel in the glory, but it would only be an empty tease, since half of the fruit does not even have an English name. Both Erin and I have spent many a happy shopping trip pirouetting in the enormous fruit section as we exam alien fruits with prickles or extraterrestrial insides. Who wants a boring, everyday, calorific Mars Bar when you can explore the juicy mystery of Colombian fruit?