Monday, May 20, 2013

Hungry Vegetarian seeks Sustenance on Mountaintop

My first fullday in Bogota started by a walk up Calle 7 to a sunday flea market that i had read about. The walk was great, as the sun was shining, i had a cup of fresh mango and papaya slices and everyone was out on their bikes. On every Sunday, the main streets in Candelaria are closed to vehicular traffic and are taken over by cylists, joggers and roller bladers. Every Sunday! (Take that, Portland.)

I stopped in to a couple of churches on the way, both of which were mid-mass. It is a bit like Portugal here in that every time i go into a cathedral there seems to be a mass underway. Seldom are they dormant.

The flea market was full of things that were not quite antiques, but junk that was fun to browse through. Lots of military accoutrment, old telephones, books, and toys. A man had a bucket of giant snails and was selling their snail slime as a skin care remedy. There i had a glass of lulo juice - lulo being a fruit native to the area. It is quite tart, but refreshing.

fruit vendor, Bogota
After the flea market i went to the Museo del Oro (free on sundays) and strolled through the impressive collection of gold artifacts and objects from Colombia history. It is a small museum, but impressive and worth a visit.

After the museum i walked for a ways up hill past vendors of grilled meats, blood sausage, corn and religious artifacts to the cable car station to go up to the top of the mountain to visit Monserrat, mountain with a white church perched atop. The church is visible from everywhere in the city and accessible by cable car, funicular, or a steep hike. The church, although very sacred is not that special, and wuite plain. What was great was the view of the city and mountains and the stroll through the market, which was selling various crafts and souveniers. (Nothing that i wanted to buy, mind you.) At that point it started to rain, so i ducked into a hall of food sellers, all cooking up the same dishes, rice and potatos or soup with chicken, blood sausage, pig intestines, and other identifiable mean bits. I was looking to see if there was anything vegetarian i could have when i was approached by the waitress who said something incomprhensible to me in spanish. I do not know what she said but i blurted out two phrases i know, liked togther: I am a vegetarian and i am hungry. She understood and made me a plate of rice, fired plantains, avocado slices, potatoes, beans, and hot peppers. It was huge and delicious and about $3.
my $3 lunch

view of mountains from Montserrat
After descending from Monserrat i continued to wander, through squares, and down a street of vendors aggressively selling (almost exclusively) pinata fillings, past particularly run down streets where the amount of garbage, dog feces and delapitated buildings increased, to an area called the Macarena. It is a quasi-bohemian, trendy neighborhood, about 25 blocks or so north, with lots of international eateries and pubs. More upscale by far than Candalaria. I had a cigar on a patio and then hailed a taxi to take me another 50 or so blocks north to the area called Zona Rosa.

graffiti in the Macarena area, Bogota
Zona Rosa is a fancy neighborhood. The streets are lined with large trees, it is clean and the sidewalks are not filled with dangerous holes. Here i found stores like Zara, Ferrigamo, and Hugo Boss, a movie theatre, a mall, a Hard Rock Cafe, and many fancy looking restaurants, bars and hotels. It feels a hundred years away from Caldelaria. It was pleasant to stroll around and has a couple of streets (Zona T) that are pedestrian and only lined with eateries. It was a little upsacle for my liking, but i sat down on the patio of a middle eastern restaurant and smoked a hookah and had hummus and turish coffee until it got too cold to sit outside at which point i hailed a taxi and went back to my hostel, where the kitchen was filled with guests cooking dinner. I was fairly tired after all my walking, so after a good lie down in the hammock i went to bed.

And let me take this opportunity too dispell another stupid warning i received from people and books before coming here. I was told to only take taxis after dark (which i have established as nonsense, as walking is fine), AND i was told never to hail them on the street but only to call for them. This posed a problem as i do not have a phone. But as it turns out everyone hails taxis on the street. They are yellow and licensed and use meters and have gps and are quite safe. So there, fear mongerers!

Ok, i am off for another day of exploring. Thanks for checking on me.
View from my Anandamayi Hostel, Candelaria, Bogota


Betty-Lou said...

Such diversity in the city: "From feces to Ferragamo" could have been the title of this post. As usual, when you are traveling, I wait with an ti ci pation for your next post. Love, Mum

Anonymous said...

that would have been a better title. your blogging assistance is missed. xo

Anonymous said...

You sure love adventures! and I love reading about them. You should write a book about your travels! ~norma c.