Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Vini, Vidi, Visa!

It should be THEY came, THEY saw, THEY dropped about a million Colombian pesos.
Yes, Henderson Tours, South America® (Very Ltd.) had its second group this past week, when my brother Mark, his wife Amy, and our old friend of 35+ years Winston Trice came to visit, just in time as we get ready to leave.  This being a 'larger' group, we up-fitted the maid's shower.
The curtain hadn't been quite long enough, so we improvised.
Winston, who's used to sleeping in porta-ledges, careening sailboats and hospital call rooms, insisted that the storage room was just right.
It was also most convenient.  Instead of having to wake us up for cookies, plaintain chips or boxed milk, he could just reach over and grab some.  
We introduced the group to the wonders of Paloquemao, the crazy big wholesale/retail market with it's mountains of comestibles.
Faced with major decisions, they maneuvered past the Colombian catfish pie and went for that perennial favorite, tamales!  And next time you're in Bogotá, the best banana leaves are at Paloquemao.
We took a chance and rented a car from the same place as last time (see "broken fan belts, Tunja, Colombia") and headed north.  
Any complete package from Henderson Tours® includes a (cheap) visit to the shrine of Colombian independence, the Bridge of Boyacá, where the decisive battle was fought between Bolívar's forces and those of the Spaniards, who at that point said, "Are you kidding me?  The traffic here is awful, they party all night long, and it takes about a million pesos to dry clean a uniform.  We're outta here."
It was nonetheless memorable, as we sat at the feet of history.  Or historia, or whatever.
We ended up in Villa de Leiva, the achingly picturesque town to the northwest of Bogotá.
OK, I know I come across as a cynic in this blog at times, but it honestly is an interesting, engaging place with nice folks.
Included in any Henderson Tour® is an excess of calories, and this was no exception.  The semi-crazed look on Amy's face is because she hasn't eaten anything in at least 45 minutes.
We were lucky to be able to stay at the same really nice little hotel.  And it really is achingly picturesque.
On the way back, Mark and Winston scouted possible sites for a kitesurfing shop on the windy lake.  Dave is laughing because he knows that a) they'll have to bribe someone to bring in the equipment, b) the Colombians will quickly undercut their prices, and c) the air at that altitude is probably too thin to keep the kite up anyway.
The Tier II level of Henderson Tours®, Colombia Package includes a visit to the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira on the way back to Bogotá.  After about an hour and a half, we had to rescue Winston from the maze.
The enterprising Colombians have turned a somewhat tourist-averse thing (a salt mine) into a world class, actually-amazing tourist-friendly attraction.
Winston has always been one of those who swam against the current.
Paula can make 3-D glasses look good.
Back in Bogotá, any tourist worthy of the name has to hit the Gold Museum.  There is room after room of (wait for it) gold.  After a while, one can get kind of golded-out.  As a physician, I was interested to note the evidence that severe gastroenteritis ("bad gut") was not only a malady of Mormon missionaries, but also of the ancient people of Meso-America.
These people were way ahead of their time.  Only problem was that you couldn't get much volume for the gold headphones out of the gold iPods available at the time.
Anyway, I digress.  There were also statues with which to shake hands,
And of course pigeons to kick on Bolívar Square.  Winston put this one right through the uprights of the Bogotá Cathedral.  GOOOOOOAALL!!
It was a beautiful afternoon, and walking up to the tram station to go up on Montserrate everyone got a little thirsty.
It was unusually clear up top, giving great views of the sprawling city, 2nd in the world for square area.
Off the back side of the cathedral-topped hill one can see the Andes surrounding Bogotá.
And of course...
The sun set and the lights of the city came on, just about the same time the appetizers came out.
On Sunday, everyone got to surf the colectivo bus on the way up to church in San Luis,
dodging the hundreds of cyclists on the way up.
Later on Sunday afternoon, we visited the beautiful Bogotá Temple and had a good chat with President and Sister Wakefield.
The last evening was spent laughing and packing up to head home.  And of course, doing what any intrepid adventurer would do in an exotic and edgy South American city - nerding out on MacBooks!
After all was said and done (and watched on YouTube), it was a great visit, both for us and them. We sincerely enjoyed having the gang in town, and seeing a lot of our favorite sights for what will be the last time.
We hope that your laptops are working well also, but that no one else is hogging your bandwidth like those guys did.
Dave & Paula

1 comment:

Patti said...

No one can cue a beautiful sunset like you guys can!