AirBnB is no longer all about opportunist landlords pushing up house prices in tourist cities, turning neighbours houses and apartments into living hell as stag parties take over homes or enabling people like us to afford a second home, it is now also about experiences. The experiences enable enthusiastic amateurs to help you get to know their area through guided walks, cooking classes, wine tasting and many other things. They can be a bit hit or miss, but I think they are generally a good thing.
In Bogotá, we signed up to a horse riding experience on a small farm about 90 minutes north of the city, hosted by Danial and his family. The trip north took us out of the city and along the incredibly lush, green valley that the city sits on in the hills of the Andes. It was a holiday so there were hordes of cyclists out and a reasonable amount of police. The police are mostly there as a public relations exercise, trying to reinforce the message to locals that their country is now safe. On one bridge there is a protocol that’s the soldiers and police give you the thumbs up to say “all is ok” and you return the gesture.
The experience itself was fantastic. We took beautiful horses high into the hills for a couple of hours, accompanied by Daniel, his father, one of the stable workers and three lovely dogs.
We also got a tour of their hummingbird inhabited garden accompanied by their ancient Pug, to eat wonderful local food and play the national bar game; Tejo. This involves throwing heavy lumps of metal at a metal frame full of clay. Within the clay is a ring of metal on which a few small packages of explosives sit. If the lump of metal you throw hits the small package of explosives where it sits on the metal ring, it goes ‘bang!’and shoots out smoke and flame. All very exciting. J proved to be pretty good at this and if she wasn’t missing the target by a country mile, leading to a few prolonged searched for the projectiles, she was getting it bang on, beating everyone else hands down.
It felt like we were meeting a friends family rather than being on an experience and I genuinely had a aching face from smiling all day. Absolutely brilliant.