To keep the boys busy and the parents sane, I enrolled Max and Ben in another Spanish school – Nueva Lengua – again just up the street. They were very professional and the
boys slipped into a small class with a Dutch woman studying for an internship and a German engineer studying for work. I think our boys enjoyed being more advanced than a couple of adults. The child-free morning gave me time to do a little Spanish self-study, but most morning hours went into managing our home exchanges and planning for upcoming travels… it seems to take a day to plan a day of travel… I guess that’s why travel agents exist.
I walked the boys home from school and Sue made lunch before we hired a taxi to drive us 2 hours north to Zipaquira and its locally famous Salt Cathedral, a funky, subterranean human
habitrail of catholic carvings and the world’s largest underground cross. For centuries here mining has been respected but dangerous work, hence the tradition of building underground altars and places to pray. The locals got pretty good at this; over time the altars got bigger and more plentiful, one thing led to another and viola – underground cathedral. There are three in the world… this one claims the largest cross.
This site is well developed – likely because the town of Zipaquira is lovely and it’s one of few worthwhile day trips for 8-million Rolos. We arrived between tours so explored the entrance for a bit… the boys weren’t game for the climbing wall or zipline, but we enjoyed the small maze and entry sites. Eventually we linked up with a guide who walked us down into the cavern and explained each of the many carvings. The big cross is certainly a highlight; the underground shopping mall, light show and 3-D video not so much…
After the long smoggy slog home we left the boys to their own devices and put Bogota’s culinary prowess to the test once again. The food here is fantastic – we found fine hummus, falafel, quinoa and a bottle of Chilean at Baita, a simple mediterranean spot.
Wednesday after school we continued our foodie tour with a delicious lunch between Nueva Lengua and our apartment, then we took Uber over to Colombia’s most famous museum, the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum). It’s indeed an impressive exhibit of pre-colombian gold jewelry, carvings and figurines; the power of gold provides a good context for sneaking a history lesson in. Sue snapped a few worthwhile shots. Afterwards we braved a walk through downtown up pedestrian Calle 7; it seemed a pleasant paseo, but we did have to keep our guard up as the neighborhood had some rough edges. I parked Sue and the boys at nostalgic Pasteleria de Florida for hot chocolate and pastries while I scouted a local Tejo spot, but the boys were tired and the neighborhood was edgy, so we opted for a taxi home.
Thursday was lazy – after school we got haircuts (we were quite a novelty at the Rolo Peluquería) then took the afternoon to study and plan our Ecuador travels. The family wanted to sneak in another movie… it’s all good as the cinema is
located in swanky El Retiro district, which provides another excuse to explore. While they watched Beauty and the Best, I grabbed a beer and watched Colombia vs. Bolivia (the World Cup qualifying round grips Latin America these days), then I slipped out to explore Bogotan nightlife. Bars? Check. Casinos? Check. Malls? Check. Street food? Check. My impression is that Latin Americans put more energy into partying than into working… Thursday night is as lively as a Friday night back home. Now familiar with Bogota’s nocturnal wins and sins, I navigated Sue and the boys from the cinema away from the latter and through the former to a small pizza joint to finish off a satisfying evening.
Friday was a short day – after class we had time for only a quick walk about town in search of airport food and our Bogotan snack favorite Chokies (like malt balls)… then we taxied off to the airport for an unnecessarily long flight to Quito via Panama.