Bogota: Days 3-5

26 Sep

It’s raining in Bogota like it always does.  Only today it doesn’t stop.  I look down at my feet and curse the flip flops I chose to wear.  Dirt sits between the cobblestone streets and the umbrella that William is holding is barely covering me.

“Estoy estupida,” I say and he tells me that one never knows when the seasons are going to change, or something like that.  Truthfully, I don’t understand William most of the time, and when he speaks English I am bored.

I met him on Couchsurfing.com, and while his messages seemed questionable, he was the only person who offered to take me exactly where I wanted to go – The Museo del Oro.

Per usual, I am running late, which is how I end up wearing the flip-flops, and I feel even more ashamed when I see William’s khakis and button-down shirt.  His formal greeting puts me at ease, but I don’t exhale until his wife calls.

On the way to the museum William tells me that he has, “three cats,” and shows me photos of them.  I feign interest and exclaim, “how adorable!”

The Museo is more than I thought it would be.  Gold (oro) doesn’t really interest me, but everyone kept telling me that it was a, “must-see.”

Each object is incredibly detailed and has a cosmological meaning.  It is impossible not to stand before the exhibits and wonder at not only the meaning, but how each item was made with few tools and such care.  Though I get my true lesson when I exclaim, “oh look at the canoes!”

“Those aren’t canoes, but coffins.  The Indians were much smaller than us, even you.”

Soon after William tells me that we have to go.  There are restrictions on cars because Bogota is so overcrowded.  He can’t drive his past 3pm.  He then tells me he’s picking me up at 9am tomorrow to go to a town outside of Bogota called Zipaqueria.  It’s there we will tour The Salt Cathedral, a Cathedral that sits 180 meters underground in a salt mine

While it bothers me that he doesn’t ask if I want to go, I can’t deny the opportunity.

Hours later,  I find myself at a brand-new hotel in a posh area of Bogota with (Damian’s friends) Roy & Deanna.  For once, I’m dressed right – my shoes are causing conversation. I meet a Medellin Chef, a Bogotan student and an actress who just arrived back from the Toronto film festival.  Everyone switches between English & Spanish, sips Cumber Gin & Tonics and pretends that they’re not having fun.

As promised, William picks me up the next day at 9a.m. The drive to Zipaqueria is about an hour and William has us stop to have sandwiches for breakfast.  He orders mine with three different types of unrecognizable meat, and I take a moment to ask God to make sure I never know what was in that sandwich.

We sign up for The Salt Cathedral tour, which is entirely in Spanish.  Quickly, I realize that William has his own tour in mind as he offers to translate.  He repeatedly has us wait until the entire group has moved on and then begins to ask me questions.

“Are you Catholic?” he asks.

“No.”

“Do you know Jesus?” and I want to say not personally.

“Have you heard of Mary and Joseph?”

“Yes, of course.”

“How can you know Mary and Joseph when you’re not Catholic?”

I try to tell him it’s near impossible not to know the story, but my Spanish is limited.

“Jesus is very popular all over the world and are Mary and Joseph.  They are very popular.  Everyone in the world knows them because they know they are popular.  Hard not to know, impossible.  I can’t live, no one in the world can live, and they can’t know”

He pretends to understand and then he leads me to the tourist area where he encourages me to buy emeralds.  I tell him they’re not really in my budget.

William again needs to drop off his car, though this time I go with him because lunch is next.  This is how I get to see his apartment.

Not only does he have three cats, but his entire apartment is covered in cats: pictures, figures, stuffed animals.  He begins to tell me the origin of each figurine.  It is soon obvious that William has collected Cat memorabilia from all over the world.  It is then I decide that I am really hungry.

We go to a small restaurant where I have the most filling and amazing tamale in my life.  It comes in a banana leaf and within the maize sits large chunks of chicken and chickpeas.

As nice and friendly as William has been, I begin to lose my patience when he insists that I must learn how to take the bus, “I will show you!” and so I enjoy 40 more minutes of William.

Finally we say goodbye, and I begin to prepare for my first Friday night in South America.

It is filled with amazing conversation, Indian food and the best Rum & Cokes I’ve ever had.

Though it’s the dancing that makes me regret booking my departure flight.  Once it starts it never stops, to sit would be to miss out.  Suddenly, I am up, buzzed and dancing salsa in Colombia.  My only problem is Damian’s feet keep getting in my way, though I do apologize for stepping on them.

Then the room stops and 12 couples form a circle and perform a dance like I have never seen before.  It reminds me of a 17th century courtly dance – only salsa style.  Partners continue to salsa, clap hands and spin onto the next one at varying speeds.  I ache to join.

The next day Damian shows me how Colombians make and drink hot chocolate.  I am shocked when he gives me a slice of cheese and tells me to dump it in my mug.  I eat it as it melts.

Too soon it is time for me to board my plane, and so I finish my glass of wine, say goodbye and depart for Medellin.

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One Response to “Bogota: Days 3-5”

  1. Barbara Rubenstein September 30, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    how wonderful

    ________________________________

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