Monday, August 30, 2010

Bogota Part 2

When we told friends that we were going to Colombia they sort of gave us a half crooked WTF smile as if we had some sort of death wish, like we were going to end up bound and gagged in a FARC camp for the next dozen years or so. I can sort of see where they were coming from; in the past Colombia has had a crime ridden reputation for drugs, kidnappings, and murders. Those thoughts did minimally cross my mind like when we made a left turn instead of a right one when we wandered out of the Candelalria district. Let’s face it, crime happens everywhere and I would say Bogota is just about as dangerous as any other big city in the States.

Overall Bogota is pleasant and the consensus between Ana and I is that Colombia needed further exploration. We did take a half-day trip out of the city to the touristic pueblo of Zipaquirá known for their salt mines and the underground Salt Cathedral. The drive there was educational. Here is what we learned. August is the kite season and there were many roadside vendors selling them. The offerings ranged from simplistic flat constructions to elaborate multi-level 3D shapes. The Ninja College (literal translation) is also on the way to Zipaquirá. Something my brother explained to us about the motorcycle riders is that by law they are required to wear a reflective vest and helmet with their license plate number visible. This is to curb any would be assassins. Apparently many assassinations were carried out on a bike as to maneuver through traffic rapidly and make a quick getaway. As a gesture of goodwill and support giving "thumbs up" to the soldiers at army check points along any given road will earn you brownie points and a thumbs up in reply.

Around almost every corner in Zipaquirá were speared meats cooking over an open flame. And for the record I have to state that the best steak I've ever had was on this trip. I'm not just saying that because I was caught up in the moment, we had it on 3 occasions and it was a grand slam every time.In Zipaquirá there is a street called Calle Inferno ("the road to hell" mind you).

More Zipaquirá

The Virgin and Jesus overlooking Zipaquirá.

Sister Joanne, Brother Tom, and Wifey Ana

A one-legged solider metal sculpture made from recycled parts.

The cathedral in the main square. Later when we went to the Zipaquirá museum, there was an older photograph taken during the mid-late 80's of the square with its' lush plants and trees juxtaposed to a recent one. What a contrast. I made a faux pas statement. Instead of asking the girl at the museum (as Tom suggested) "que piensas sobre la plaza nueva?" (What do you think about the new square), I said pointing to the older picture "antes, la plaza muy bonita, ahora esta fea!" (before, the square was very beautiful, now it is ugly!") Thankfully she agreed.

From grass to bricks. Que fea!

A funeral had just ended as we tried to enter and just as we stepped through the door we were kindly asked to leave.

I wanted to ride the horsey, but Ana said I was too big for them.

The Colombian precursor to Kin Casali's Love Is... comic strip.

Love is...Gag me with a spoon!

The afternoon would come to a screeching halt in the town of Chia at Andres Carne de Res
You might be asking what is Andres Carne de Res? Think of it as a visionary environment akin to Howard Finster's Paradise Garden or Tressa Prisbrey's Bottle Village if food and drink were involved. However you wish to describe it, the food is delicious and Tom said this IS a destination spot.

An article by Tracey Eaton from the Dallas Morning News sums up Andres Carne de Res pretty well. To read it click here.

Corked cow.

The inside doesn't fare much better as items are clumped together with some sort of a controlled chaos element involved in it. There were performances, singers, and magicians. Your bill came in a metal box with a bag of assorted candy. If you were lucky enough you made it out of there alive. The trick is to arrive early and claim your table. The word is that most people are committed to making a day out of it.

For some reason my brother wanted me to take a photo underneath the sign, good thing it came out dark.

The menu comes in a metal box on a scroll. The extensive offering provides a nice workout for the biceps.

I want one in my yard too!

Ciclovia. Every Sunday in Bogota certain lanes and/or streets are closed to automobiles and are made as designated bike paths. This last from the hours of 7 or 8 am until 2 pm. Joanne even said that there are aerobics outside the Santa Barbara Mall, though she suggested that some appropriate attire should be mandatory. This seems to be a progressive idea in making the city healthy and active. I know I was wishing for my bike.

Calentado-traditional Colombian breakfast (a friend egg, beans, rice, chorizo, and hoago. Most breakfast places we ate at started off with a basket of assorted breads.

Sunday is also known as a flea market day. Joanne hyped about the one downtown. Ana and I rode a cab there prior to attending the bullfights to see what the hype was. It's a good thing we don't live in Bogota; I can see a good portion of my paycheck being spent there. Why the above painting was made is much of a mystery to me as it is to you. Maybe she is looking for her friend who fell off the bed?

Need an old telephone paperweight/weapon? If you had one in each hand you could do some serious curls.

A luxurious pinhole camera. We had a photo made and it took about 15 minutes, just enough time to enjoy some local ice cream. Ana had the coconut and mine tasted like sweet goat cheese on a stick.

Plaza de Toros Santa Maria. There was one line for the men and one for the women to enter the plaza. Most people brought their own snacks and drinks. Leaflets were distributed asking people to keep the art alive in Colombia warning not to take the path like in Northern Spain (Catalonia) where it will be outlawed beginning in 2012.

Presenting the 5 novilleros (amateur/novice matadors). The professional Bullfight season in Bogota is Jan-Feb

There was rain, and the audience was well prepared.

We left after the disastrous 4th bull. Novillo Santiago Sanchez Mejia first brought on his mother and brother into the arena. The bull was released and he took the first two passes lying down then it was all show from there. It is one thing to show off if you can produce the goods, but when the bull snags your capote a couple of times, rejects your swords for ten minutes, you are going to get a rather civilized audience angry and bottles thrown at you. Sadly this was Santiago's fate. There were some promising future matadors, the third one Manolo Castaneda, proved ready for the big league as he earned himself an oreja (ear) that afternoon.

Be looking for me on the Antiques Road Show in the near future. One of the booths at the flea market had some poorly pulled Picasso etchings on weathered paper. On the backs of them are museum certificates and stamps. There is even a stamped and a signed Christie’s authentication. The guy before me bought 5 and I picked-up 3. For less than $10 each, why the hell not.


  1. nice pics - was that van gogh on the menu? were they serving ear? are you teaching this fall? i took some hiroshige prints to the antiques roadshow in birmingham al and they authenticated them. they weren't extremely valuable, but still pretty cool to know they were the real deal. good find, mr.bob

  2. Perhaps you could work out a trade.....the "Calle del Borracho" sign for Dad's Hamm's sign......