Posted tagged ‘Bogotá’

“To travel is to possess the world”

July 28, 2012

Clouds have descended permanently. The day is damp and grey. Thunder showers are predicted for later. I hope so as it is really dry.

Today I’ll harvest a few tomatoes. Okay, I’ll harvest two. They are red and beautiful on the vines in the raised garden I had built this year. My cucumbers are also growing. I expect they’ll be ripe when I’m gone.

Birgit asked about my trip to South America. I guess I’ll give you a few highlights. I did all the planning from all sorts of books, and my roommate and I left for Venezuela toward the end of June in 1976. She spoke no Spanish, but I spoke enough to get us by. I joked and said if we played our cards right, I could sell her, and we could come home with more money than we left with-she was not amused. We stayed in Caracas a few days then took a bus to Merida, in the foothills of the Andes. Back then, there were few tourists in South America, and we were the only non-Venezuelans on the bus. On the way we saw a crashed bus which had missed a hairpin turn and gone over the mountain. I heard muerte when the driver stopped to talk to one of the police along the road. I didn’t translate for my friend. We stopped once in a small mountain town and were told to try the fish. It was the most amazing trout I’d ever tasted.

We went to Merida because we wanted to ride the world’s highest cable cars. The next morning we were in line and waiting for the car to come back down the mountain when the wind started. It was fierce enough that they stopped the cars from going up the mountain, and those already there were stranded. We walked around Merida and went to the market but ended up leaving a couple of days later. The cars still had not gone up the mountain. We took a bus to Colombia and ended up at a small town near the border. The hotel was disgusting. I swore I was dirtier after my shower than before it. We left the next morning for Bogota where we stayed in a relatively expensive hotel compared to what we had been paying for the other hotels, and that start our pattern. We’d stay in dumps for a few days then in really nice hotels for the next few days.

I’ll give you the highlights of each country as I remember them.

In Bogota we went to the Gold Museum. The most striking memory I have of visiting that museum is being closed into a dark vault with thick doors. Nobody moved in the dark. When they turned on the lights, we were surrounded by cases filled with Incan gold. Every one gasped.

Another stop was the cathedral in the salt mine in Zipaquíra, about an hour or two from Bogota. I was amazed that the salt was black and asked a guard how the salt got white. He went away then came back and said we had permission to tour the factory. Off we went in his official car. We donned hard hats and walked all over the factory. I remember two things: how awful I look in a hard hat and how my mouth was salty the whole time from the dust. He gave us a chunk of salt more black than white which I still have.

I found the English-bookstore in Bogota, and we ate some great local food in hole-in-the-wall restaurants. I don’t know other than carne what we ate. It was good, and that’s all that mattered.

We took another bus and were on our way to Ecuador. The travelog will continue another day.