Friday, October 19, 2018

The City of Gold

Well I hate to break it to you. In this edition there are no monstrous hills to pedal up, no blazing heat to endure, and no thieves to fend off. But there heaps of gold, foods, and crazy buses (if you just want a laugh skip down to the bit about the buses). To put it plainly I didn't do much pedaling since the last update. I just spent a few days hanging out in Bogotá.

I rolled into Bogotá and met up with a friend of a friend. She is the aunt of one of the girls I met while I stayed in Valledupar. She offered to let me stay at her place for a few days. The chance to stay for free in Bogotá and have a local guide. How could I say no?

One of the first things I did in Bogotá was visit the Museo del Oro. Or the Museum of the Gold. It is apparently a must visit in Bogotá. It is a collection of indeginas artifacts found over the years. It largely focuses on gold pieces, but it had a fair share of other metals and such on display. I soon found out that it houses the largest collection of gold anywhere in the world. That's a lot of gold. Well a lot of folks think visiting museums in person is boring, let alone READING about someone visiting a museum. So I'll leave it at that and move on.

Inca Gold

This piece was super detailed.

The chief's uniform.

This one is a bit creepy and distorted.

This would be a good Halloween mask.

Another piece with remarkable detail.

I don't know how 1000 years ago they perfected the shape of the shell.

This room was a full circle of gold.

Bogotá is a big city, and there are a ton of people here. It almost houses as many people as NYC. It is actually much larger in terms of size so I didn't find it to be nearly as cramped as NYC, I had room to move around. Shortly after getting out of the museum I got my first real taste of Bogotá. Off in the distance I heard faint high pitched whistles, and I felt the bass of a steady drum beat. It began getting louder ever so slightly. Suddenly, police started showing up in swathes. They had their riot shields, safety helmets, and night sticks. Some cruised around on their motorcycles. Within minutes the sounds had become louder and I was presented with a massive display.

This was in Bogotá's main square.

The protest and the man on stilts.

This was a portion of the army up against the protesters.

It started with heaps of Latino dancers as the drummers gave them a beat. Most everyone was singing or screaming this loud chant. I soon realised this was not a parade, but a massive protest. They brought paint bombs and spray paint. For the most part it was a peaceful protest. Most were just dancing, walking, and repeating the same robotic chant. I asked a local what it was for. They explained that it was a protest against Colombia's education system. The parade raged on and was at least three hours long. That's a ton of people! Things eventually got a bit rowdy when they began launching the paint bombs off building and the officers shields . The officers didn't retaliate and thankfully it never turned violent, at least not while I was there.

They even brought a drum line and can to project their chant.

I also hiked to the top of Monserrate a nearby mountain that offers a great view of the city. I got to hone my bargaining skills as I dealt with the hoardes of locals selling their homemade wears, and a particular sunglasses dealer. I broke him down and eventually got him to cut the price in half. Something I enjoyed far more than either of those two things was the food. The food in Bogotá is top notch. For the price and the quality of the food you receive, it is unmatched in any city I've ever been too. I was able to get a mouthwatering hamburger topped with shredded grilled chicken, thick bacon, dpicy sausage, grilled onions, pickles, lettuce, and a few different sauces for just over 2 US dollars. Hopefully I'm not making anyone hungry, although I'm making myself a bit hungry as I type this. I know I write a lot about the foods I eat, but I'm not gonna lie, when you're riding a bike for 8 to 10 hours some days, food becomes a highlight.

Straight ahead is Montserrate.

Inside the cathedral at the top of Monserrate.

Taking in the view after an hour hike to the top.

An overview of this city on an overcast day. The haze really limited how far I could see.

The street food is killer. You just walk up to a little stand and they provided you with some Latino delight. The only real drawback I can see is that most of the amazing things I ate were a tad unhealthy to say the least. There were plenty of healthy options, but I'm probably only going to be in Bogotá once. Might as well indulge in some on these Colombian specialties. I think I gained a few pounds in the three days I was here.

This bad boy was called the Michigan Dog. You can't see but there were actually two hot dogs crammed on there amongst other things.

This creamy delight was amazing.

A little sausage a kabob vendor.

This overloaded milkshake was also pretty good.

The Colombians certainly love their meat. This dish was about 90% carnivorous.

Arepas. They are good, nothing fantastic, but I think this is the most Colombian food there is. They are literally everywhere. Maize, cheese, and butter.

Definitely the most exotic food I had here. Hormigas Culonas. Or the big-butt ant. They were actually surprisingly good. They were lightly salted and had a nice crunch.

The last thing that really stood out to me about this city is the public transport. It's set up like a rail system, but it's run by buses instead. This whole system is crazy. The first day I made the mistake of attempting to ride back to my friend's place around 6. That is apparently rush hour here. First off, the terminal was packed to the brim. I felt like a salmon swinning upstream as a weaved between the clump of walkers. When a new bus pulls in and the doors open, there are about 50 people pushing and shoving to squeeze into those last 7 cubic inches on the bus. After six or seven people manage to force their way on the bus the doors forcefully close and a covalent bond is created between the passengers. The door closing process is feared throughout the land. Many times shrieks will be heard as an unsuspecting business woman in high heels gets her foot stuck inside the door.

Let the games begin.

Let's just say my mosh pit experience came in handy. It may take four or five incoming buses before you can even slither your way on one. Nobody is gonna hold your hand either. You have to want it. If not, the other heathans will just push you out of the way to get on. Once you're finally on, it gets even crazier. First there was a guy wearing a ripped up leather jacket that gave a lengthy 20 minute pitch to all the passengers on the bus. He was drunk and I could only make out every 10th word he was saying. When he finished his presentation, one guy gave him a few coins. The next pitch was from a short fellow that was trying to sell headwraps he had woven together with his own two hands. Everyone just pretends to be in their own world and ignore these characters. Most imporatantly they try to avoid eye contact at all costs. The last and most exciting event was the battle of the bands. The guy right next to me whipped out his tin whistle, (that was actually plastic) and he started going to town. This man also seemed drunk or maybe just hungover. For the next 20 minutes we all got to hear a few of his favorite pieces. The only recognizable hit was the Pink Panther theme song.

He was soon to be upstaged though. His whistling was rudely interrupted by a duo playing their own tunes. One of them pulled out a trumpet and began shattering eardrums as the sound echoed throughout the rafters on this sardine container. I'm not sure how he even accomplished this, but his sidekick somehow had enough space to strike up a full sized accordion. With every stretch of the acordion he inserted his hands into the beer bellies of the creatures beside him. The unlikely couple kept the bus rocking for the next half hour. The whole experience lasted about two hours until I pried through the hoard and jumped off. It was the cheapest and most unorthodox concert I've attended.

Hopefully that was enough to give you a pre-weekend laugh. Still in Bogotá now. I'll be leaving here in the next day or two and heading down the mountains towards Ecuador!

My digs just outside Bogotá.

A bit feminine, but I managed.

This hammocking quickly became my thinking chair.

My generous hostesses Yuranis, and Desireth.

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