Yikes….. I am already 2 days behind on my blogging….I better quit sightseeing and start typing….not really!!!!
This morning (Thursday), I was planning to visit several places that were on the other side of Plaza de Bolivar which meant a 2 mile walk to start the morning. Instead of making that trek, I decided to get a taxi from the hotel and enjoyed a good but bumpy ride.
Once I got to the Plaza it took me a few minutes to get my bearings but then I started looking for Iglesia de Concepcion. I walked passed it the first time but finally went back and quit looking for massive entrances and yes, there it was….just a small door leading into a gorgeous church. The door was actually on the side of the sanctuary, opening right into the worship area.
The altar was gorgeous as was the geometric ceiling.
There was one altar that seemed to be most beloved. The figure of Jesus was behind glass and many people would walk up and place their hand on the glass. There were also piles of receipts that had been pushed into the altar between the cracks in the glass. In looking at them, I think that they were receipts for money that had been donated to the church.
As I left the church, I looked at my guide book and it said the following: ”Farther down the street beyond the Iglesia de la Concepcion is the historic labyrinthine artisans market know as the Pasaje Rivas”. “Artisans Market”……sounds right up my alley!!
This was not what I would call an artisan market, but it certainly seemed to be where the native Colombians shopped. There was everything imaginable along these few blocks and it was a maze to work thru.
The first row that I went down had women’s formal attire….everything from prom type dresses to the undergarments that you wore with them.
The shops seemed to be grouped by type, however there were always a few that were outliers.
In this particular area, children’s clothing, toys and supplies were on the second floor while women’s clothing was in the basement and kitchen supply stores were sprinkled throughout.
I came upon this outside row and had a magnificent time walking along and checking out all of the woven goods and other interesting things. If my suitcase wasn’t already so full, I would have certainly purchased some of the baskets!!!
My next planned stop was to be the Escuela de Artes y Officios de Santo Domingo, an art school that specializes in woodworking, embroidery, silversmithing and leatherwork. My guidebook said that you could walk around and that tours were available, but apparently they were wrong. I was not allowed any admittance and left a bit deflated!!
I had started out the morning looking for the Iglesia Museo Santa Clara but had come to a street that was blocked off so I thought that I couldn’t get there. I decided to try again and was happy to discover that the street was only closed to automobiles but pedestrians were allowed although you had to have your bag searched first. The reason for this is that many of the government buildings are in this area and all precautions are taken.
This building was originally a church but is now only a museum and my first view of the interior was breathtaking…..
The altar was resplendent with lots of gilding and statues…..
…..and the side walls contained portraits, both religious and secular….
…..with blue shoes and epaulets on the shelf next to it…..
…and there was a long dark hall that had pen and ink drawings of Nuns in risqué poses. It was all a bit much!!!
As I came out of the museo, I was met by this group of soldiers patrolling the area. Initially I couldn’t get my camera out and ready to photograph, so I followed them down the street until they turned again..
As I strolled around the government buildings, I observed that there were some very nice and very expensive restaurants and that they were all fully occupied!!!
My next stop was the Museo de la Policia Nacional (Police Museum) and I knew that I was on the right track when I started seeing store after store that sold nothing but military and police clothing and equipment…..
I didn’t expect a lot from a Police Museum and there wasn’t a whole lot to see, but I had some pleasant and memorable interactions with the men and women who were on duty in the Museum. The first one met me at the door and, after ascertaining that I spoke English, immediately greeted me in English. He placed a sticker on my jacket that signified that I was a tourist in the museum although he jokingly told me that “this shows everyone that you are a police officer…..not really!”.
The second officer told me about the museum and encouraged me to ask questions of anyone that I saw in the museum. The displays were located on three levels with the fourth level being an open air patio.
Most of the doors had quotes written over them and many had English translations as well. Two of my favorites were…..
”Glory means being great by being helpful”
“The police, of all men at the same time, the most needed but the least desirable.”
As I walked around, I got the impression that they wanted me to ask questions so that they could practice speaking to me in English. The result was that I now know more about the Colombian National Police that I ever thought possible.
As promised, the view from the roof was amazing, although the rain had set in so things were a bit hazy…..
By now I was getting hungry and started looking for a place to eat. I tried one small café, but there was absolutely no way that I could tell them what I wanted, so I smiled, said thank you and departed.
Next I found a café called Torrado and I decided to give it another try. A nice young man met me and I finally explained to him that I wanted a table. He quickly cleaned one off for me. Then I asked for a menu (men-oo) and he shook his head no. Now I was stuck as I was hoping for something that had photos that I could point to!!!!
He smiled at me and started trying to tell me about what they had to eat. At first he said “Soupa” which is soup and I shook my head no. Then I remembered the word for plate so I said “plato”. He shook his head yes. Finally, I just pointed to a woman sitting at a nearby table and said “that one”. He asked me a few other questions and I just answered “Si” to all of them. He motioned drinking and started to suggest a juice but then pointed to a sign with a bottle of Coke. I said “yes…coca cola lite”. He smiled and quickly brought me a bottle.
….and consisted of meat of some kind (probably pork ribs), a dab of BBQ sauce, French Fries, Plantain, Rice and Tomatoes and onions. Antonio came by several more times to see if I was ok!!!
I left the restaurant fully satisfied. I’m still not sure what I ate, but it was fried and delicious!!! AND, my interactions with Antonio and his willingness to help me find something to eat will stay with me for a long time!!!
Now that my stomach was full and my energy had returned, I decided to check out a department store that I passed. It was fascinating to see how the store was laid out. There were LONG aisles devoted to just one type of product….one for dog stuff, another to hair stuff, and this aisle was nothing but Bathroom mats……
By now it was raining again so I resolved to find another museum to hide in. The first one that I came across was the Museo de Trajes Regionales which showcased traditional costumes from the different regions of Colombia. As with all previous museums, it was built over several floors and around an open air courtyard.
There was a sunning display of bobbin lace……
There was a sizeable display of weaving and there were several large looms……
….along with this Back-Strap loom…..
This was my favorite loom and I loved how it was made so simply from a tree limb fork and two other pieces of tree branches…..
In the courtyard there was an engaging weaving in progress….
Now it was time for me to be heading to the University to meet Michael so I started walking that way. As I walked down one street, I saw the tell-tale outline of a church…..
As I have visited all of these churches and seen people inside praying or worshiping I have thought how nice it would be to have a local church were you could pop inside for a few minutes of quiet reflection!!!
I left the church and moved back onto the street….now which was was I walking!! I checked my map to see which streets went thru and wrote myself a note to walk down Carera 4 and turn right on Calle15. Oh look…...there is a sign to Universidad De Los Andes….I’ll go that way. Now I don’t know where I am so I will keep walking. OK, I recognize this from yesterday…..now if I can just keep from getting hit by the bus…
When I was walking here yesterday, several people were measuring and marking off this white wall that curves around the corner and I wondered if they were planning a mural. Obviously I was right and I love how it looks so far. Sure wish that I could see it finished!!!!
In the last block before Michael’s building I saw a little girl with an ice cream cone and I thought that it sounded really good. I never could find a place to buy a cone but went into a Photocopy store and bought a chocolate ice cream bar. I was very surprised when I hit something red…probably strawberry or raspberry and super tasty.
As I sat on the bench and waited for Michael to come out I ruminated on the fact that the weather website that we were using (Weather Underground) sucks. It had said that today would be sunny and in the 70’s but instead it rained off and on all day long and I cant believe that it got much higher than 60!!!!
….but his day wasn’t over yet. The students wanted to take us out for Empanada’s and Cheap Beer!!! So, we spent the next two hours with 14 students in a TINY bar/café called “Comidas Rapidas Henrry” (Henrry’s fast food) eating Empanada’s and drinking beer and watching a couple of the students salsa……
You can click here to see the video…..Video of Salsa Dancing
I did learn one new thing about buying and eating Empanadas. They are presented in a bowl with two small napkins….one under the Empanada and one over it. You are supposed to pick up the pastry with the top napkin and then return the bowl to the server. There was a small bowl of guacamole on the table that you could smear over the Empanada if you wanted to. The food was excellent and it was so much fun to meet some of the students that Michael has been working with this week!!!
All in all, another fantastic day!!!