On Top of the World
Trip Start Sep 02, 2011
10Trip End Sep 19, 2011
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Today was a very long day, specifically because for me it still is Wednesday since Miguel and I both stayed up all night. There was method to our madness however...our friend John was arriving at the airport at 4:50 AM and given that we had to pick him up there was just no point going to bed for 3 hours. In truth I didn't need to be there to get John, but I am also on my own airpot quest: a free Yellow Fever vaccination. This vaccine is normally $120 here in the States, but for some reason they give it at the airport clinic for free. Who am I to complain? While I don't need it for where I'll be here in Colombia I know I'll need it for future trips (specifically Africa) and the shot provides lifetime protection, so I am all about it!
Miguel, the Colonel and I all pile into a small cab and make our way to the airport
At about 5:15 John comes walking through customs with his casual composure, his luggage is swept away to a cab only to have the cab driver tell him that his suitcase is leaking! The truth of the matter was that John had three bottles of alcohol in his bags that made it all the way to South America only to break when the driver dropped his suitcase hard into the trunk of the vehicle. Even more lovely was the smell of the honey-infused whiskey all over his luggage and clothes. This smell remained with us all the way to the apartment and lingered in our shared room for the next 48 hours despite a thorough cleaning.
Once that debacle was dealt with I sneaked in a two hour nap before we were off again to get John and a few more recent arrivals fitted for their tuxes. Our group has now more than doubled in size with the arrival of John, Sue & Ed (Kim's mom and stepdad) and Kirk & Diane (Miguel's US host family.) Because of this logistics were becoming much more difficult, especially when we could only drive one car at a time due to license plate restrictions and being limited to seven seats max
Monserrate is a dormant volcano that sits 10341' overlooking Bogota. On top of the mountain there is a church & former monastery that was built in 1640 and since has become the city's most recognizable landmark. The church can be reached by tram, cliff railway or by a climbing trail and is a pilgrimage destination for many who climb the mountain. Unfortunately the day we came to Monserrate it was clouded over and rainy, thus limiting it's amazing view, but even so it was a sight to be seen and not to be missed. From the tram ride up we were all enthralled by the view as well as the beautiful gardened grounds. This was certainly an amazing introduction to Bogota for those of us who just arrived and John mentioned that it alone was worth the trip. Definitely check out the tram ride video and see for yourself. (After all I did spent over an hour uploading it!) We also spent some time hanging out at the marketplace up there, drinking shots of herb-infused aguardiente and purchasing a few trinkets. I myself wasn't ready to leave, but there was one more destination we wanted to check off our list: The Museo de Oro, or Gold Museum.
After a foiled earlier attempt we did finally make it to the Gold Museum in downtown Bogota. The downtown area is much different then where I'm staying...more like Times Square in New York or the area surrounding Union Square in San Francisco, with all the foot traffic, shops small and large and the hustle and bustle of a city of 8 million people. The Gold Museum is smack dab in the middle of it. Upon entering we were wanded for weapons, and to my surprise the Colonel and our bodyguard Jose had no trouble getting their weapons in with just a few words. I found it rather humorous that I went to the trouble of hiding my knife for entry, only to be followed by Jose who didn't even get checked. I looked at him and rolled my eyes as he returned to me a grin akin to a cat having just eaten the canary! The museum itself was an amazing collection of Pre-Columbian metallurgy, with hundreds of individual pieces displaying the immense range and intricate skill of these artisans, and for 3000 pesos (about $1.75) it also is one hell of a bargain! I wanted to check out every piece intricately but the rest of the group didn't share my attention to detail as people were getting hungry and tired. Being on the tail end of the group Jose followed me around, even when I would go back and check out a few pieces I missed. According to Miguel he made a complaint that I has difficult to corral and lacked "discipline", a word not used quite the same way we would in English (at least in this case), but the reputation followed me later as anytime I would be slightly behind schedule Miguel would tease me about my discipline
By the time we all had seen the first level of four everyone other than me was done and ready for a meal. Despite my desire to finish the exhibit my bus was leaving, so I boarded and we spent the next hour in rainy rush hour traffic....the perfect time to catch a few Zs. By the time we got to the house take out chicken dinner had been ordered and was on the way. Most everyone other than me went to bed fairly early as tomorrow would be a busy day...just one more day left of planning for the wedding and getting all the Ts crossed and Is dotted, for in less than 48 hours this wedding train was coming into the station whether we were ready or not!