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EL ESPECTADOR

Open Air, Open Bar: High-End Teepee Getaway Near Bogota

A quirky hostel in Colombia offers guests bucolic surroundings, Indian tents to sleep in and a generously stocked bar.

El Monte Teepee Hostel was designed to give you a taste of nature, without the hardships.
El Monte Teepee Hostel was designed to give you a taste of nature, without the hardships.
Michelle Arévalo Zuleta

BOGOTÁ — Living in traffic-choked Bogotá means stress and anxiety, and locals are always looking for a rural refuge outside the Colombian capital. I recently found one particularly charming and unusual guesthouse that felt far away even if it was only a 45-minute drive to get there.

This is El Monte Teepee Hostel on the Bogotá to Guasca road, designed to give you a taste of nature without subjecting you to hardships. The name Teepee — meaning "For living" — recalls the buffalo-skin tents of Native Americans. Indeed, the hostel has five conical, synthetic tents brought in from the state of Oregon in the northwestern United States. They sleep three, though the hostel also has cabins for up to six.

When I arrived, I was welcomed by our host Mateo Páez, a young photographer who found in Guasca not just an interesting enterprise, but the opportunity to live quietly while entertaining others looking to spend some alone time with nature.

Inside a teepee — Photo: El MØNTE teepee hostel.

The hostel's dining room serves both local dishes and foreign fare, like an exquisite pizza made on site. They bake bread here, and particularly a Nutella bread, which I must warn may become many a visitor's favorite dessert. The hotel is committed to using local ingredients and promoting local farming. You can buy some of the produce and handicrafts to take back home. Monte Teepee has also contributed to reforesting the surrounding land with native plants.

This is, however, no rigorous retreat: there is a drinks bar inside, and an open-air bar I noted on arriving, the Venado de Oro. Customers on this visit were a mix of foreigners, locals, and one family with a dog lapping up the Arcadian surroundings.

Perhaps the only possible imperfection was the lack of en-suite bathrooms. You must walk a little, both to shower and to answer nature's call.

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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