Rain, Bogotá, rain
Bogotá is situated at the foot of the Andes (I think). It is a huge town that rests on top of what used to be a lake. The elevation is about 2,600 meters above sea level - high enough to feel shortness of breath when exercising but not terrible if you are used to snowboarding big mountains. Because of the soft bedrock, the tallest building in town reaches only 46 stories. For perspective that's about the height of those obnoxious condos along Long Island City waterfront. There are about 8 million people here. A lot of them are refugees from various local conflicts. I'm not sure why they call local people refugees - might be a cultural language usage thing. Urban planning here is pretty neat. It is pretty easy to figure out where to go based on super short address. Calles runs perpendicular to carreras in a grid system. C 7 12-45 means the building is along Calle 7 between carrera 12 and 13, about 45 paces in from carrera 12. So much easier to orient yourself with this than the weird system in Japan. And if you are ever lost, the giant Andes along the east can always help you out. Turns out our hotel was in a ritzy business district Zona Rosa. We cabbed over to the old town part called La Candelaria for the day's tour. It was suppose to be a walking tour in the hood but the rain gimped the plan so we ended up sitting in various panaderias and visited an art museum. The museum houses the work of prominent Colombian artist Fernando Botero who paints a lot of really fat people with small boobies, and fruits. Lots of fruits. He's especially fond of citrus and watermelon. Not sure why. Supposedly his work reflects different political periods in Colombian history but it was hard to tease out which part. Most of the building structures in this area reminds me of every other Spanish colonized town. This one is much, much more run down and has a lot less tourists. You can tell that tourism is very new here in Colombia - a refreshing change to many other places I've been. Of course, it is also more dangerous for that same reason.After the rain died down a bit we trekked up this little road to get to Elsa's house for the cooking class. The house is a modest and curiously unlivable space, with lots of half broken roof common to other houses in the area. Given how much rain this town gets I wonder what it's like to live here. Her kitchen is her crown jewel and she knows how to be uber efficient. After meet-greet we all took off to go grocery shopping. Juan, our guide pepped us with this big speech about how dangerous this area is and how we should never try to take photos or wander off. It actually didn't look that dangerous but I guess tempting fate at this point isn't the smartest move.
Cooking was fun. Well, it was more like watching Elsa cook. I helped peeled a couple of things. We made a traditional dish called Bandeja paisa (in pic) and ate a bunch of very strange fruits, all of which were super good. (full list of names tbd). Not pictured: the amount of oil that went into making this dish. Oh god.By the time we said goodbye to Elsa and her wonderful hospitality the sun came out to greet us with a beautiful evening sky. It was the perfect time to visit Monserrat - the giant church that sits atop the mountain overlooking down at Bogotá. We raced up to the other side of the mountain base with great effort (at this altitude anyway) to try to catch sunset.
A cable car pulled us up to reveal the most spectacular viewpoint in the city. Big, flat, breathtaking. Didnt quite make the sunset, but this ain't bad.Dinnertime was spent mostly discussing the one fake $20,000 pesos Brianne got somehow. Turns out all the cabbies could spot it simply by feel. It wasn't a very well forged bill, but not too shabby either. She might keep it as souvenir.