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BOGOTA, COLOMBIA

Things to do in Bogota or Close by:

Salt Cathedral

Monserrate

Gold Museum

Botero Museum

Typs:

Gold museum is free on Sundays and Cerro de Monserrate is much cheaper on Sundays as well.

Bogotá, Distrito Capital, from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital city of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district and no longer belongs administratively to that department. Bogotá is the most populous city in the country, with an estimated 7,304,384 inhabitants as of 2009. Bogotá and its metropolitan area, which includes municipalities such as Chía, Cota, Soacha, Cajicá and La Calera, had an estimated population of 8,566,926 in 2009.

In terms of land area, Bogotá is the largest city in Colombia, one of the biggest of Latin America. It figures amongst the thirty largest cities of the world and it is the third-highest capital city in the world (after La Paz and Quito) at 2,625 metres (8,612 ft) above sea level. With its many universities and libraries, Bogotá has become known as "The Athens of South America". Bogotá owns the largest moorland of the world, which is located in the Sumapaz Locality. The city ranked 54th in the 2010 Global Cities Index and is listed as global city of the Beta+ kind by the GaWC.

The History of Bogotá refers to the history of the area surrounding the Colombian capital city of Bogotá. The area of modern Bogotá was first populated by groups of indigenous people that migrated from mesoamerica. Among these groups were the Muiscas that settled in what is now mainly Cundinamarca and Boyacá. With the arrival of the Spanish colonizers the area became a major settlement, founded by Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada and later capital of the Spanish provinces and the seat of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. With independence Bogotá became capital of the Gran Colombia and later the capital of the Republic of Colombia.
The first populations inhabiting Bogotá were the Muiscas, members of the Chibcha language family. At the arrival of the conquerors, the group is estimated to be half a million indigenous people. They occupied the highland and mild climate flanks between the Sumapaz mountains to the southwest and Cocuy's snowy peak to the northeast, covering an approximate area of 25,000 km², comprising Bogotá's high plain, the current Boyacá department portion and a small Santander region. Most fertile lands were ancient Pleistocene lake beds and regions irrigated by high Bogotá, Suárez, Chicamocha and some Meta affluent river beds.

In this area the population was organized in two large federations, each commanded by a chief: the southwest area dominated by the Zipa with the center located in Bacatá, currently Bogotá. He was the strongest leader occupying two fifths of the territory. The northeast zone was the Zaque domain and the center was Hunza region, currently Tunja. Muisca population however, contrasting with Tairona population, did not develop large cities. Muisca, eminently farmers formed a disperse population occupying numerous small villages and hut settlements. Besides, some free isolated tribes also existed: Iraca or Sugamuxi, Tundama and Guanentá. Their inhabitants main occupation was agriculture complemented by hunting and fishing. They basically cultivated corn and potatoes, beans, squash, tomatoes, “cubios” yucca, tobacco, “arracacha”, sweet potatoes and diverse fruit and vegetables. In the mining field, salt and emeralds extraction was fundamental for their own use and to trade with other tribes from which they obtained gold and cotton.
Chía was Zipa’s territory ceremonial centre, a place destined to worship the Moon, while the Zaque’s ceremonial centre was Sogamoso, where the Sun temple was located. Apparently, major Muisca priests function was astronomic observation. Numerous archeological monuments in the form of stone columns witness the relation, such as «Cojines del Diablo» (Devil’s Cushions) two large discs carved high up in the rock within Tunja urban perimeter, which were probably moon observation sites. At Saquenzipa, ceremonial centre near Villa de Leyva, some 25 large cylindrical columns aligned in the east-west direction stand: from this place, on summer solstice day the sun rises exactly over Iguaque lake from where Bachué goddess emerged as the legend tells.

Bochica, the civilizing God thought them manual arts, gave them moral standards and subsequently saved them from deluge and sabana flood by breaking the rock and letting the water flow to form Tequendama falls. Chia goddess was the moon, Zuhé the sun. They worshiped other astral gods. For Muiscas, lakes were sacred places where they had their ceremonies. Their most important myths and legends mention Guatavita, Siecha, Tota, Fúquene and Iguaque lakes, where gold and ceramic gifts have been found. They also worshipped the dead, nobles and chiefs were mummified and buried with all their belongings.
Although Muisca had no gold, they obtained it from trading with other tribes. They manufactured diverse pieces, the most outstanding are tunjos, small anthropomorphic or zoomorphic figures they offered their gods. Among diverse techniques they used to manufacture those pieces are lost wax, hammering and repouseé. Gold objects served for funerary and sacred gifts. They also made necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pectorals, nose rings and other pieces they used for adorning themselves. The Gold Museum and other private collection museums still preserves some of those pieces. They were excellent at weaving and outstanding potters.
Following conquerors motto to found and to populate, Quesada decided to build an urban settlement to live in good order and under stable government. To the east on the foothills they found an Indian village named Teusaquillo near the Zipa’s recreation residence, supplied with water, wood and planting land and protected from winds by Monserrate and Guadalupe hills.

Although no document recording city foundation has been found, August 6, 1538 is accepted as foundation date. According to tradition, that day Priest Fray Domingo de las Casas said the first mass in a straw hut built near the current cathedral or near Santander park. It is said that the region was named New Kingdom of Granada that day and the village was named Santa Fe.

Urban design consisted in squares and from that time the one hundred meters per lienzo de cuadra prevails. Traverse streets – east-west – were 0.1 meters wide and current carreras 10000 meters wide. In 1553 the Main Plaza —now Bolívar Plaza— was moved to its current site and the first cathedral construction on the eastern side began. On the other sides the Chapter and the Royal Hearing were located. The street joining the Major Plaza and Herbs Plaza —currently Santander park — was named «Calle Real» (Royal Street) now Carrera Seventh.

Formed by Whites, Mestizos, Indians, and slaves; from the second half of the 16th century the population began rapidly growing. 1789 census recorded 18,161 inhabitants and by 1819 the city population amounted to 30,000 inhabitants distributed in 195 blocks. Importance grew when the diocese was created. Up to 1585 the only parish was the Cathedral, later on Las Nieves to the north and Santa Bárbara south of the Main Plaza were created.

City Mayor and the Chapter formed by two Council men assisted by the Constable and the Police Chief governed the city. For better administering these domains in April 1550 the Audience of Santafé de Bogotá was organized, for Hearers to act. From that time the city became the capital and the home of New Kingdom of Granada government. Fourteen years later in 1564, the Spanish Crown designated the first Royal Audience Chairman, Andrés Díaz Venero de Leyva. The New Granada became Viceroy-ship in 1739 and kept that condition until Liberator Simón Bolívar achieved independence in 1819.

After dominating indigenous populations by war, conquest by religion began assisted by religious communities established in the entire Colombian territory from the 16th century, Churches and convents were built for the Franciscan, Dominican, Augustine communities and later on in 1604, Jesuits, Capuchin monks and Clarisse, Dominican and Barefooted Carmelite nuns. Such communities marked the spirit and uses of Santafereños, since they exercised ideology, political and cultural domination only slightly reduced when in 1767, Carlos III ordered Jesuit expulsion from Spanish colonies in America.

As for the rest of Spanish America, religious communities were fundamental in the field of education, which by order of the Crown took place in churches and convents. The first two universities are the deed of Dominican monks (1563 and 1573). In 1592 San Bartolomé seminar school was founded to provide higher education to Spanish children; Jesuits ruled the school, and in 1605 they founded the Maximum School located in one of the Major Plaza corners.

In 1580 Dominicans founded Pontificia Univesidad of Santo Tomás de Aquino Arts and Philosophy school, and in 1621 Jesuits started San Francisco Javier or Javeriana University courses. In 1653 Fray Cristóbal de Torres founded Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario. In 1783 the first educational community and the first school for woman education were founded in New Granada: La Enseñanza school ruled by the community of María. From that time school lessons for women started, a right up to then reserved to men.

During colonial centuries two trends were clear, which common source was formed by religious topics: culta, highly influenced by metropolitan 17th century painting counted in the Santa Fe school with outstanding individuals, for instance Baltasar de Figueroa, the head of a painters dynasty, who created and maintained the school where Gregorio Vázquez de Arce y Ceballos (1638–1711), was formed, perhaps the most outstanding person of the time; and popular, formed by more ingenuous painters free from influences of the time, who did not belong to any school. They interpreted biblical scenes, the life of saints and Christ and the Virgin life episodes in carved wood or painted but in a more free style.

Wood carving is highly positioned within plastic production of the time and the maximum expression is found in retable adorning most Colombian churches, for instance San Francisco church main alter retable, mostly carved by Ignacio García de Ascucha.

Pedro Laboria, Spaniard formed in Seville art schools who came to Bogotá, very young and lived here the rest of his life is one of the outstanding sculptors.

French influence dominating Spain during the 18th century when the Borbon dynasty took the throne, also characterized American colonies artistic trends. By mid century painting and decoration secularized in American colonies and French style marked government, high Creole burgess-ship and higher church hierarchy taste. Religious themes gave space to personal portraits. The best known painter of the time was Joaquín Gutiérrez, Viceroys portraitist.

The most important contribution of the time to scientific American nature knowledge was the Botanic Expedition, for the objective of studying native flora. Started by order to Archbishop-Viceroy Caballero y Góngora under the direction of José Celestino Mutis and contributions from scientists as renowned as Francisco José de Caldas, Jorge Tadeo Lozano and Francisco Antonio Zea. Originally sited in Mariquita in 1791 and subsequently transferred to Santa Fe were it worked until 1816.

Painters who cooperated with the work left a series of carefully drawn precious illustrations in witness of research conducted. They were Francisco Javier Matiz and Pablo Antonio García.

Political uneasiness felt all over Spaniard colonies in America was expressed in New Granada in many different ways accelerating independence process. One of the most transcendent was the Revolution of Comuneros, a population riot started in Villa del Socorro —current Department of Santander— in March 1781. Spanish authorities refrained the riot and José Antonio Galán, the leader was executed. He however left an imprint followed in 1794 by Antonio Nariño, precursor of independence by translating and publishing in Santafé, the Rights or Men and the Citizen, and by July 20 movement leaders in 1810. Independence outcry originated in an apparently slight dispute between Creole and Spaniards over the loan of a flowerpot but became popular upraise.

The period comprised between 1810 and 1815 is known as “Patria Boba” (Silly Homeland), because during those years Creole fought among themselves seeking ideal government forms, initial ideological struggles began and the first two republican political parties —federalists and centralists— were formed.
In 1815 Pacifying Expedition commanded by Pablo Morillo arrived in New Granada, pretending to conquer the rebel colony. Repression times started then and extending until 1819. New Granada lived the Independence War period when egregious personalities lost their life but ended by triumphal liberator campaign commanded by Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander who fought Vargas Swamp Battle and Battle of Boyacá (1819) to seal independence.

In 1819 the Liberator created Gran Colombia, a national state formed by Venezuela, Nueva Granada and Quito, dissolved later in 1830, the same year Simón Bolívar died in Santa Marta.

Between 1819 and 1849 no fundamental structures inherited from the colonial phase change had been seen. It was by mid 19th century when a series of fundamental reforms took place, some of the most important being slavery abolition and religious, teaching, print and speech industry and trade freedom, among other. During the decade of the 70s Radicalism accentuated reforms and State, society and institutions perception was substantially modified. However during the second half of the century the country faced permanent «pronouncements», fights between States and fractions and civil wars: the last and bloodier was the One Thousand Days War from 1899 to 1902.

Independence achieved Bogotá continued enjoying the privilege of being the main educational and cultural center of the new nation.

In 1823, a few years after Great Colombia organization, the Public Library, now National Library extended and modernized with new volumes and better facilities. The National Museum was founded. Those institutions were of great importance to new republic cultural development. From half century education secularization and expansion widened formation possibilities. The Central University was the first State school, precursor of current National University. Founded in 1867 and domiciled in Bogotá.

Between 1850 and 1859 the first effort to research different regions history, geography, cartography, economy, society and cultures in the country was made by the Geographic Commission directed by Italian Agustín Codazzi. Graphic and documentary experience achieved by the Commission was greatly transcendent and complemented Botanic Expedition work. Commission sketchers were miniaturists, portraitists and landscapers who traveled all over the country and portrayed human types, labors, working forms, technical resources, garments, uses and geographic aspects. Commission documents are kept at the General Archive of the Nation.

During the first half of the Nineteenth century the first republican travelers and other visitors fascinated by nature, people and uses left large aquarelle drawing collections witnessing works, garments, uses and costumes, transportation ways, festivities and forms of life observed around them. Around the same time, other travelers and literates illustrated the same topics under written text such as «Los bogas del río Magdalena» (Magdalena River paddlers) by Rufino José Cuervo in 1840, and many diaries and travel books.

Best known travelers were Walhous Mark (1817–1895) whose excellent aquarelles constitute valuable testimony of Colombia at that time, Alfredo J. Gustin, César Sighinolfi, León Gautier, Luis Ramelli and many other. Some remained in the country and founded schools and academies of art to communicate their technical and artistic knowledge. Mexican Santiago Felipe Gutiérrez was the foreign artist of greater influence at the time. In 1881 he founded Gutiérrez Academy which became National University School of Beaux Arts.

Early in the new century, Colombia had to face devastating consequences from the One Thousand Days War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902, and the loss of Panama. Between 1904 and 1909 liberal party legality was reestablished and President Rafael Reyes endeavored to implement a national government. Peace and State reorganization generated economic activities increase. Bogotá started deep architectural and urban transformation with significant industrial and artisan production increase. In 1910 the Industrial Exposition of the Century took place at Park of Independence. Stands built evidenced industrial, artisan work, beaux arts electricity and machinery progress achieved. The period from 1910 to 1930 is designated conservative hegemony. Between 1924 and 1928 hard union struggle began with oil fields and banana zone workers strikes, leaving numerous people killed.

Bogotá had practically no industry. Production was basically artisan work grouped in specific places same as commercial sectors. Plaza de Bolívar and surroundings lodged hat stores, at Calle del Comercio –current Carrera Seventh– and Calle Florián –now Carrera Eight– luxurious stores selling imported products opened their doors; at Pasaje Hernández tailor’s shops provided their services, and between 1870 and 1883 four main banks opened their doors: Bogotá, Colombia, Popular and Mortgage Credit banks.

Bavaria brewery, established in 1889, was of one the major industries. In 1923 the United States paid the Colombian government the first installment associated to agreed 25 million indemnification for their intervention in Panama separation, bringing bonanza reflected by exports increase, higher foreign investment and development infrastructure; roads were built, industry increased, public expense grew and urban economy expanded.


Get around

The city of Bogota is built on a grid system. Carreras (streets) are abbreviated as Cr., Kra., and Cra. and run parallel to the mountains from South to North. Carreras are numbered by ordinal numbers, for example Cr.3 is read Carrera tercera and not Carrera tres.

The calles (also streets) cross the Carreras and run from East to West. Calles are abbreviated as Cll. and Cl.

Avenidas, abbreviated as Av, are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the Avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida Jimenez. Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Calle 16 # 2-43 which indicates that the building is located on street 16 (Calle 16) 43 meters ahead from the intersection with street 2 (Carrera 2).

By taxi
Taxi cabs are ubiquitous and affordable yet if travelling to the heart of the city, can be very slow due to the infamous Bogota traffic. They can be flagged down anywhere, but it may be dangerous. They can also be reached by phone, which is highly recommended for security reasons, at 599-9999, 311-1111 or 411-1111. If calling for a taxi, the driver will want to confirm that it is you who called by asking for a "clave" (key), which is always the last two digits of the phone from which you called to request the taxi. Each taxi has a meter which should increment one tick every 1/10 kilometer or 30 seconds and starts at 25 ticks. The rate chart is printed on a card in the taxi. Nearly all taxi drivers will try to take advantage of you in one way or another; be sure the taxi meter is started when you begin your trip. Tipping is never necessary - be sure to count your change and be on the lookout for both counterfeit coins and notes. There are surcharges for the airport, holidays, and nights (after 8PM). Surcharge details are printed on the fare card. Surcharge for ordering a taxi arriving at your house is currently 600 pesos, surcharge after 8PM is 1.600 pesos, even if you are starting your trip before that time. Holidays and Sundays are also surcharged 1.600 pesos. Lock the doors of the taxi, especially after dark. If you experience a problem in a taxi or with the driver, dial 123 to report a complaint with the police. You should also call the company with which the taxi is registered.

By Transmilenio
Bogota's new rapid bus service is extremely affordable, clean and efficient. It carries commuters to numerous corners of the city in exclusive lanes, bypassing the notorious city traffic; however, there are some main routes that are not yet reached by Transmilenio. Tickets cost 1,600 COP. The vehicles used in that systems are articulated buses; they are fast and safe, but could be full during the afternoon times. The system also uses different kinds of stations: the simples offers bus services at the right and left sides (north-south;east-west) and the intermediates are usually located in middle points and have complete services, such as elevators, station libraries, bikes parks, restrooms. Alimentadores services (buses that reach zones the articulated buses do not) and the portals, the 7 arrival and departure places of the buses, are located near the entrances to the city. Service ends averagely at 10 or 11p.m.. Additionally, intercity buses from the metropolitan area also arrive at these stations.

By bus
Privately owned buses cruise all the main thorough fares and many side streets, and are the principal form of transport for the working class and student class. Though they do follow specific routes, they do not have bus "stops"; you merely call to them like taxis and they will stop for you where you are standing. Placards in the large front windows list destinations, either neighborhoods or main street names. Upon entering you will be asked for the fare; if you are not traveling alone you may be asked "Para ambos?", for example, meaning "For both?", to see if you are paying for just yourself or for your companion. Then you pass through a turnstile to the seating areas. The buses come in three sizes, usually, long (like a school bus), medium and small (called busetas). All have turnstiles. To exit these buses, you go to the back door and either push a button located usually on one of the hand rails or next to the exit, or simply call out "Aqui, por favor!" or "Pare!" (Stop!). Passengers are often expected to embark and disembark even from the middle of the street.

Sometimes vendors are allowed to enter the buses to sell candy or small gift items (occasionally donating one to the driver for the privilege). Or, you may find entertainers such as singers or guitar players, and even the more creative of the street beggars who will regale you with a long, poetic story of their sad situation before asking for donations. Even in the smallest buses, cramped full of people standing and sitting, it is a common sight. Interestingly, a recent Grammy-nominated singer named Ilona got her start performing on buses around Bogota.

The cost for riding on a private bus normally costs 1300 COP during the day and 1350 COP during the night.

By colectivo
Colectivos cover practically every major route of the city, and can generally be flagged down at any point on a main road. Watch these small buses for lists of destinations displayed on their windshields, or ask the driver (in Spanish) if he passes the neighborhood or intersection you are going to. Not very comfortable, but they are faster than a common bus and it's also used as a shuttle for routes that don't have so much affluence, it can take you almost anywhere.

See

La Candelaria:
Many landmark events in the history of Colombian and South American independence took place in the La Candelaria, district including the near killing and escape of Simon Bolivar, the execution of revolutionary heroine Policarpa Salavarrieta, known as 'La Pola,' and the Grito de Libertad, known as the beginning of the region's revolution. And the district is indeed teeming with history, and there are a lot of interesting museums and old churches in what is the oldest Bogotá neighborhood. Some streets are reserved to pedestrians. The most important places are La Catedral, Plaza de Bolivar, Palacio de Nariño, Iglesia del Carmen, Biblioteca Luis A Arango (blaa), the Colonial Art Museum and the old architecture of the houses and buildings, almost all of the museums charge no admission. La Candelaria also contains numerous Catholic Churches, many of them centuries-old. The Colombian-American and Colombian-French cultural centers are located in La Candelaria, and a Colombian-Spanish cultural center is under construction.

Casa de Moneda, Calle 11 No. 4-21 (Next to Museo Botero), ☎ 343-1223. M-F : 10 am to 8 pm , Tu : closed / Sa : 10 am to 7 pm / Su : 10 am to 4 pm. Has a collection of Colombian coins and the history of moneymaking. Free entrance. edit
Cultural Heritage Museum. edit
Donación Botero, Calle 11 No. 4-41, ☎ ''+57 1'' 343-1331. W-Fr 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-7PM and Su 10AM-4PM. Collection of paintings donated by Botero to Bogota. Besides work of Botero the collection contains work from Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Dali and others. Free entrance.

Gold Museum (El Museo del Oro), Calle 16 No. 5-41 (On one side of the Parque Santander), ☎ ''+57 1'' 284-7450 (fax: ''+57 1'' 343-2222). Tu-Sa : 9 to 6 / Su : 10 to 4. Impressive collection of gold and pre-Colombian artifacts from Colombia and surrounding nations. Don't miss this museum. The Gold Museum is unique and you won't find a better place to see the pre-Spanish artwork on gold. La Casa del Florero was the site of an 1810 protest by Colombians considered to be the initiation of the revolt against Spain. The Botero Museum contains both works by Fernando Botero, Colombia's most famous artist, and the contents of his private collection, including works by Picasso, Renoir, Dali and others. The museum was under renovation, up until October 2008 and as of then its open to the public once more so don't miss it out. 2,800 COP.

Banco de la Republica Art Collection (Museo Botero), Calle 11 No. 4-41. Tue to Sat:10AM-7PM, Sun and holidays 10AM-4PM Closed on Mon, including holiday Mondays. Exhibits Permanent Banco de la República Art Collection consisting of nearly 3,000 paintings, sculptures and assembly of Colombian and Latin American masters from the XVI century to our days. Visitors may appreciate a selection of Colombian painters works, for instance Gregorio Vázquez de Arce y Ceballos, the most important Colony painter, Alejandro Obregón, Enrique Grau, Latin American as Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and many other globally renowned.

Catedral Primada Museum of Colonial Art, Carrera 6 No. 9-77, ☎ 341 6017 (museocolonial@mincultura.gov.co). Tu-Sa 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. / Su from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. Under Eduardo Santos administration on August 6, 1942 the Colonial Museum containing Viceroy-ship art, silver plates, the Virgin of the Light and the most characteristic Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos collection, among other valuable Colombian culture treasures opened its doors. Declared National Monument National in 1975, Las Aulas Cloister is one of the oldest buildings in Bogotá. edit
Museum Francisco José de Caldas, Carrera 8 #6-87, ☎ 289-6275 (museocaldas@yahoo.com). M-F : 8am to 5pm / Sa : 8am to 2pm. Centered around the life of the revolution martyr. Showcases his mapping expedition of Colombia and how he contributed to the revolution by building a fort and a riffle factory in Antioquia. Free entrance.

Museum of Regional Costumes.
Museum of Religious Art.
National Police Historical Museum, Calle 9 No. 9-27, ☎ 233 5911 – 281 3284. Mo-Fr : 8 am to 12pm and 1 pm to 5 pm / Sa : 8 am to 2 pm. Its main interest resides in the rooms dedicated to the hunt of Pablo Escobar. Guided tours in Spanish and English. Free entrance.

Cerro de Monserrate. A true beautiful panoramic view of the city is only a funicular or transferico ride away. You can take the Funicular up and Transferico down, or vice versa. You have the option to buying one way tickets, too. You will have the most amazing views and also enjoy Colombian or French food in the two full-service restaurants at the top. There are also souvenir stalls on the weekends. Remember to bring a warm coat, because it is chilly up there. On Sunday is a very crowded place, so be ready to get into a long line. It is very important to also wear sunscreen and hat because at such a high altitude, you will burn very easily even if it is "cloudy". This is especially true if you are going around noon. You can also hike up the stone-set path up Monserrate like the locals do. It takes approximately 1-1.5 hours up and approximately 45 minutes down. Remember to allot more time if you are not accustomed to being 2 miles above sea level. April 2010 update: the hiking trail is closed, but hardcore travellers can find a way - but take care of mugging while entering the walking path! 14,000 COP round trip (8,000 COP on Sundays).

1 comment:

Josefina said...

Excellent post! Colombia is such a great country. We have a very rich and diverse culture. It is a modern city where you can find everything you would in any other touristic spot. Bogota tours has lots of museums, parks, and universities, thus it is called “The Athens of South America”. And at the same time you can visit the wild part of Colmbia with a rich natural environment and lovely beaches. ¿My advice? Everyone is so welcome to come! :)


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