Saturday, April 22, 2017
bolivar, we are here
We have returned to Bogota.
If I were a pessimist, I would say that means our trip was almost over. I am not, and it isn't. We still have two full days to explore the city.
Patty grew up in Bogota. So, we have a certain advantage in ferreting out the city's more interesting places. Not to mention its people.
When we flew in from Armenia (and how often can someone make a claim like that), a bonus welcomed us to Bogota. Sunshine. During our two stays here, we have seen the sun only one other day
We set out with a couple of destinations in mind. The first was the Teatro Colon de Bogota -- Colombia’s national theater named in honor of the Great Admiral.
The exterior of the theater belies its provenance. Neoclassical architecture was the rage in the late 1800s when this building was built.
We intended to take a tour through the building -- a place prized by Colombians as much as New Yorkers do Radio City Music Hall. I was looking forward to it. My dramatic side always loves a new stage to admire. And I had heard it was quite a nice theater.
Unfortunately, only two tickets were available. So, we trekked off to our second destination. When we were taking our governmental center tour with Elgar (rhyming time), he pointed out a church with a very distinctive architure. He called it the Florentine church.
It is not Florentine, at all. It is El Carmen church. A neogothic style, honoring one of Colombia’s most popular manifestations of Mary -- as the Virgen of Carmen. (Not the opera. You would have better luck finding that at the Colon Theater.)
The architecture has very little resemblance to the Renaissance Florentine facades that give the adjective meaning. By “very little,” I mean none. At best, the red and white stripes are distinctive. a quite pleasant church. And it is a quite pleasant church.
Having bagged our two quarry, we headed down Carrera 7 -- the pedestrian mall that stretches from Bolivar Plaza through a majority of Bogota’s older commercial center.
We had multiple goals. I wanted to get in as many steps as I could. Patty was on a mission to buy a leather backpack. Dan was enjoying the sights.
And sights there were. This was a Saturday -- a day that draws locals and tourists downtown, as well as an eccentric collection of street performers.
This older couple opened my tipping pocket. I suspect they were dancing a variation of the traditional folk dance called cumbia.
Whatever it was, it was amusing. Of course, the man’s comic glasses, mustache, and very threatening anaconda are what caught my attention. He could have been a reincarnation of Groucho Marx.
Not all of the performers were that funny. This string quartet (minus the viola) must have been students putting their talents to lucrative pursuits playing some rather predictable Mozart and Vivaldi, and learning the lesson that familiarity pays in the music world.
They were not expert musicians. But they were good. And worthy of the coins and bills they collected. They reminded me I need to get my reservations for San Miguel de Allende’s chamber music festival this August.
The Michael Jackson impersonator was about as good as most Michael Jackson impersonators. Which means not very.
What made this performance unusual was the little boy from the audience who volunteered his services, and did a rather good impersonation himself.
Considering some of the allegations that haunted Michael Jackson, there was a rather creepy feel to the boy grabbing his own crotch.
And then there was my favorite. As we walked by this group, Dan said: “I think they are from Peru.”
Said I: “Of course, they are. They're the Inca Spots.”
Patty found a perfect leather backpack, and Dan and I found amusement amongst the street performers. I also managed to get over 26,000 steps. The only thing I missed today was a Bach concert at the cathedral.
Due to a sudden rain storm, I could not have made it to the church on time. Instead, the three of us filled ourselves with a plate of traditional Colombian appetizers-- which I forgot to photograph because I was too busy eating.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I have enjoyed most everything Colombia has offered us. I still have plenty of new places to visit in the world. But I intend to return to Colombia before too long.