I road the bus to the Poral del Norte station and then hopped on the firt minibus with a sign that read ZIPA on it, as i was headed to Zipaquira - a town about an hour and a half away where underground in a salt mine is carved the world's largest cathedral. That is something i had to see.
I was the last person on the bus when the driver pulled over next to a a bung of guys burning garbage next to an old shack with two horses and carts standing watch and told me to get off. I was not convinced that this was the quaint Zipaquira i had read about. There is something exhillarating about findign oneself somewhere, not knowing quite where or where to go, and not havign a map or being able to speak the language. So i started walking. Slowly the streets improved and i eventually found myself at a large square presided over by a lovely, and quite old looking church. I saw a sign: Zipaquira. I was in the right place. I walked around there for a bit and had a cigar before setting off again to find the salt mine. It is a small town and this is its biggest attraction so it did not take long.
|Me, heading into the salt mine, Zipaquira|
After the cathedral tour i took the mining tour, which was pretty great and terrifying. We were outfitted with hard hats with lights and led into one of the many tunnels. The tour guide gave a bunch of instructions in spanish (i had lost my Floridian friends, so i do not know what he said) and then he asked my name. I, being a fast walker, was at the front of the group. We were told to turn off our head lamps, put of harns on the shoulder of the person in front of us and i was to keep my left hand along the wall, as i was the leader and we walked into the pitch black darkness along rocky floors. Those who know me know i am afraid of the dark, so leading a group of people into a black mine was not easy - especially as the path twisted and the ceilings grew lower. I did not think i could do it at one point, but i did. For another part of thr journey, i was replaced as leader by a german guy and i was behind him. Again we were in the darkness, but this time as we walked, the ceiling grew lower and lower until we were crawling. It was fairly terrifying. I've seen enough mine-based horror films to know what happens underground (I'm looking at you My Bloody Valentine and The Descent). We also got to take pick axes and chip off large chunks of salt from the walls.
It was all very interesting and frightening.
After that i had a bite to eat with the German guy and we caught a bus back to Bogota (this is easy to do as they have signs and you can just flag them down anywhere).
|bus to Bogota|
On my way back to the hostel around 10pm, i was stopped by some police on motorcycles who appeared to be concerned that i was out alone. At that point i was one block from the hostel though and i assured them iw ould be alright.
That was a long post. If you are still reading, thank you.
Today, i am off to market.