While on our way back to the States for a very short visit, we stopped off in Bogota, Colombia. It was my daughter’s idea and well worth the time spent there. Bogota is a vibrant city, high up in the Andes at 8,500 ft. We were lucky the three days we spent there were mostly rain-free since this is the rainy season in Colombia. We stayed at a boutique hotel next to a park where we could watch dog-walkers, runners and skate-boarders from our balcony.
This is a rare shot where no one was in the park. Usually there was at least one person walking a golden retriever (golden were popular in Bogota – apparently they are descendants of the retrievers used in drug busts.) There were a lot of other big dogs, too. This is something we don’t see very much in Ecuador. Most if the Ecuadorian dogs are of the Heinz 57 variety and impossible to identify. (Except for a small minority, most have been or currently are “street dogs” with no home. In Bogota, we did not see one “street dog”.
While Jess and family took a two-hour guided walking tour of the amazing graffiti, Bob and I had a personal guide who showed us around La Candeleria, the old town section of Bogota. We saw some of the amazing graffiti, too.
We stopped at a small coffee shop to rest our weary bones. Bob tried out a local drink, I think it was called “Chi-chi” or something like that. It’s a warm home-made alcoholic beverage which is sipped from a small cup because of its potency. The locals enjoy it very much.
The street in La Candeleria with the “coffee shop” was very narrow.
We also saw the Museo Botero del Banco de la Republica. A famous Columbian artist/sculptor, Fernando Botero has a museum in Bogota. His works might be familiar to you (or not).
Along with his artwork, there were many sculptures.
Not us, the hand with the big middle finger is the sculpture.
In addition to the artists, there are many other museums in Bogota. We toured the “Gold Museum” (not it’s official name but I don’t remember what that is and my phone ran out of charge, so no pictures.) It was an amazing place, four floors filled with gold objects, many of them antiquities from Colombian history. One room was filled with artifacts pulled up from a lake within a volcano. According to the Colombian legend of El Dorado, (the actual legend as told to us by our guide, not the one on Wikipedia), when a Muisca tribal chief was too old to continue to rule, he was sent on a raft to the middle of Lake Guatavita with all his gold treasures and the raft was overturned taking the chief and his treasures to the bottom of the lake. Over time, many treasure hunters have pulled up these gold pieces. The Colombian government has purchased many of their findings and they fill a darkened room within the museum.
But the museum is not the only gold in Bogota. We saw a church that had everything built or covered with gold.
The pulpit for readings and sermons is covered in gold.
The altar is made of gold
Even the underside of the choir loft is lined in gold.
Besides the “gold” church, we saw a small building that once housed the first and only church in Bogota in a town square that was surrounded by the old buildings and a deteriorated wall that once surrounded the first settlement of Bogota — it turned out to be only a few square blocks.
The small square is now used as a tiny park-like area with a fountain in the middle. While we were there a group was practicing their stilt-walking. The video shows them. The pinkish wall behind them is what remains of the original wall.
The main town square now is much larger. They were getting ready for a visit from the Pope in six days and vendors were already selling “Pope” bling. One of the buildings surrounding the square was the Colombia Supreme Court and it was re-built after guerrillas purportedly paid a million dollars by Pablo Escobar burnt it down and killed several Supreme Court justices in 1985. Here’s some shots of the square where the Pope would be appearing:
Although our guide told us there are still parts of Bogota you would not want to walk around in at night due to the remaining guerrillas, (there are parts of US cities I wouldn’t want to walk around at night, too), the parts of Bogota that we toured were interesting, clean and peaceful… and not at all what I expected! I genuinely liked the city and hope go back for another visit. I also hope to visit some of the coastal towns in Colombia. An expat now living in Ecuador told me she lived on the Colombian coast for several years and loved it. Her husband at the time walked with a cane and they never once got on a Colombian bus where one of the locals didn’t get up and offer their seat — no matter how crowded the bus.
Well, that’s it for our few days in Bogota. Another update soon on life in Ecuador.