Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hotel del Parque, Bogota, Colombia

From Northern Colombia before the year 1,000, a flying fish. Measuring about three inches in length, this was my favorite piece in the Museo del Oro, Bogota, Colombia.

8:00 p.m.

I awoke in a very strange state. Like a "fish out of water", I felt disoriented and disconnected. But, I had a good sleep, which I needed. Feeling a bit grubby, since I've been wearing (and sleeping in) the same clothes since Friday morning. No toiletries either (not that I use them.)

Nothing to do but get out and see a bit of the city. The hotel manager tried to explain the locations of various points of interest, but my brain was slow to comprehend and stepping outside, I had no sense of direction. "It will get better." With that, I just turned and walked down the street.

A few blocks away is Carrera 7, which on Sundays and holidays is closed to motor vehicles from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The street becomes a "Ciclovia". Thousands of people of all ages riding their bicycles. There is a refreshing absence of day-glo advertisement-covered lycra riding gear. (There is also an absence, for the most part, of helmets.)

Along this boulevard are weathered office buildings and shops, flea markets, parks, hundreds of beggars, street performers, vendors, fatigue-clad police and thousands of strollers. Outside shops, salesmen use loud speakers to draw customers into stores. Others, without the technology, just use their voices. The hucksters' din is just part of the atmosphere.

I wandered through a couple flea markets, with their strange mix of new merchandise and stuff that had clearly been salvaged from the garbage heap.

Less than a mile away, a steep mountain rampart forms a dramatic backdrop to this downtown area.

In the Parque Santander, an Ecuadorian band was playing. In addition to traditional instruments, they had electric base, keyboards and full drum set. The young woman playing drums was especially fun to watch. Full of energy.

Around the corner, is the “Museo del Oro”, which features a wealth of golden objects from the pre-Colombian era. On Sundays, entry to the museum is free. All the displays are in Spanish, so I could only try to appreciate the objects without really understanding what I was looking at.

Regarding the mask's symbolism, Cathie says: "This mask represents the cat goddess T'marak, sacred to the Cuma tribe of southern Colombia. A Zorcal bird is perched on the cat's nose. Little is known about the cult of T'marak, but it is certain that whoever was chosen to wear this mask occupied the "catbird seat" in the ritual celebrations." (Thanks, Cathie!)

A small mask from the first millennium. Museo del Oro, Bogota

This figure is only a couple inches across

Another from the first millennium

From first century Colombia

A bit reluctantly, since it felt so elitist, I went to the "Café de Museo del Oro" for some lunch. I have to admit enjoying the elegant interior, the crisp uniforms and Bach Violin Concerti playing in the background. I was about to order a “Cobb Salad”, when I stopped and asked the server what she would recommend. She steered me to the lomo, which I had seen on menus, but didn’t know what it was. (It’s beef loin.) It was outstanding.

Emerged from the restaurant as thunderstorms gathered over the city in late afternoon. Walking the sidewalks, I noticed most of the water main valve covers are missing. David George had mentioned that in El Salvador, his motorcycle got stuck in an open manhole. He said people steal the manhole covers for their scrap metal value. Got fairly drenched in the seven- or eight-block walk to the hotel.

Tried to work on the blog, using the hotel's wireless service, but just couldn't get it to respond (though my computer consistently showed good connections.) Found that using the hotel’s Ethernet cable, I was able to get a solid link.


Drew Kampion said...

Tim, my good man. You blog is my favorite thing to read in the whole world. It's really great what you're doing. You descriptions are so sturdy and on the mark, thanks so much for letting me see what you see, something that our father's 1941 diary did not. This is great. Go safe, and glad you're having fun. -- Drew

timtraveler said...

You make me blush...