Saturday, 8 January 2011

At home in Bogotá

Once upon a time, there was a small prince named Sohrab born to the giver of life, Vida. The prince lived with his lovely mother and father in a cold, fairly crazy place, high up in the mountains in the capital of the people of Columbus, Bogotá.
Having lived for less than a month, this beautiful little prince had his kingdom invaded by a couple of bizarre travellers that found themselves far, far away from home, and who, after months of travelling, had almost forgotten how to behave among civilised people and especially how to behave with a small fragile prince who needed only the best of care.

Luckily, the two savages quickly remembered their manners, and within a day or two, and a lot of reeducational care such as hot showers, real food, wine and great civilised company and discussions,they got close enough to their old selves to be able to pick up the little prince for a bit of a cuddle.
Yes, you have guessed right. Arriving in Bogotá to visit with our dear friend Vida and her little family was a well-needed break from our travel. After months of sleeping in hostels in different levels of cleanliness and very rarely quiet, after hundreds of cold showers, after loads of new faces, new acquaintances and shallow talk (such as is usually in the beginning with strangers/new friends), after lots of greasy restaurant food, and having just finished a 5-day trek in the wilderness of northern Colombia – this was indeed a welcome change!
 
It was wonderful to see Vida again as she left Geneva about a year before I started this trip, and we had not seen her since. It was lovely, just so lovely, to meet her little baby boy for the first time and hold this beautiful prince in my arms. And to see his small smiles – and yes, they were smiles, even if he was officially too young to smile consciously. And it was great to meet Vida's husband again and for the first time really get a chance to get to know him better and to hear about the interesting work he is doing in Colombia with the ICRC.

It was the first time since I started my trip more than three months before, that I got to see a friend's face again and talk with a her about deeper things, not just shallow 'where have you been', 'where are you going', 'how long are you travelling for' etc conversations. And we felt so welcome! We had our own nice room, got treated to lovely home-cooked meals, and were free to come and go as we wished. As is normal, Vida was a bit 'stuck' in the house due to the little prince and Guilou was at work during the days, so we met up with them in the evenings and used the days to explore the city of Bogotá by bus.
As it was nearing to Christmas, the city was full of people doing their shopping, meeting friends, enjoying the huge Christmas tree and the big ice rink at Plaza Bolivar – this is supposedly the biggest ice rink in the whole of South America and people were cuing up in the hundreds to try their best to break some bones in time for the holidays ;)

We joined the masses of people and spent the first day in La Candelaria walking around the quaint small streets and spending a few hours in the Botero museum admiring the work of Botero and some other famous painters and sculptors. As it started raining crocodiles while we were in there, we decided to make a visit to the museum of numismatica (coins and bills) as well.


Our second day started off as a very sunny and warm day, so we decided to take advantage of this beautiful day and took the teleferic up to the top of Monserrate. It was a great way to start the day as we had beautiful views of the whole city from up there and could sit lapping up the sunshine as two cold kitties (yes, we had only been to the capital for less than two days by now and already we were missing the heat of the north). There was a Christmas mess in the church on the summit of the hill and this gave a nice background to our explorations around the hill top.

On the way back down, we stopped at the Quinta de Bolívar – and old house that was donated to Bolívar and where he spent a full few months during his lifetime. Now dedicated as a museum of the man, it is a fairly interesting place to visit if one is passing by. It was, however, not worth breaking my camera for as I regretfully did, as I for some very strange reason fell off the pavement outside of the house and landed with my camera as the first thing hitting the ground. A very sad moment for me as I have had that camera for 7 years after receiving it as a gift from my mother in preparation for this year-long trip, and it was still working well until that moment. Luckily Nuno has a camera as well, a better one actually, but it is not the same having to rely on his camera and not having my own. So a very sad moment indeed.

After a visit to the Museo del Oro, where we were very impressed and started trying to figure out how to organise a break-in, we returned home to celebrate the 'solstice' as it was 21 December, the year's shortest day, and to celebrate the 1st month anniversary of the little prince a day in advance. I baked one of my famous chocolate cakes and although a bit burned, it was really nice to cook something again and to eat something tasting so much of home.
A lovely, albeit short stay in Bogotá. Made so much nicer by the presence of Vida and her family (thank you!!!). A nice break from travelling, hotels and new people. A feeling of the 'old' self. And a wonderful time seeing them all again, or for the first time. Love.

And then they lived happily ever after... THE END.

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