Sunday, April 24, 2011

Good Friday in Bogota

Almost everyone in Colombia is Catholic so as you can imagine it was a very holy weekend in Bogota. Starting on Holy Wednesday, it was a ghost town in the city. Most restaurants and stores were closed. On Good Friday, each neighborhood held a ceremony where the neighbors would go and pray at certain locations which represented one of the fourteen stations of the cross. Our apartment building was one of the fourteen stations so we were able to watch.

At the church near our apartment
At each location there is a table with flowers and a photo representing one of the stations. Our apartment was the eighth station; where Jesus meets the woman of Jerusalem.
Our neighbors approaching our apartment

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guatavita Colombia

Rachelle and I took a trip, about an hour north of Bogota, to visit the sacred Laguna de Guatavita. This is the site to the legend of El Dorado and led the Spanish Conquistadors to this land in the 16th century. The legend of El Dorado tells that the Muisca chief would arrive at the lake on a wooden raft with four of his priests. After being covered in gold, he would immerse himself in the water with treasures offered in adoration to Chie (goddess of the water). It was also believed that the lake had gold and emerald pieces at the bottom, based on some artifacts that were found, but no more artifacts have been recovered.

We first arrived into the town of Guatavita where we had some time to walk around till our tour guide arrived. The town was built in colonial style and is a weekend getaway for Bogotanos.
We then got back on the bus and headed to Laguna de Guatavita, just about 15 minutes away.
The guided hike to the top starts with a history of the Muisca people and their customs, religion and way of life from pre-Colombian times to the present. The hike is not overly strenuous if you are accustomed to the altitude.

Ceremonial House known as Cumsuy.
Beautiful landscapes as you walk to the lake, which is a little more than a 1/2 mile hike.
Some farmers gathering their potatoes
Laguna de Guatavita!
Some say that the lagoon was formed by a meteorite falling more than 2,000 years ago.
The path we took to get to the lake.
Had two security escorts with us.
We headed back to the town of Guatavita where we had lunch, got a tour of the town and went into a couple museums. The sun was finally shining and we had a nice meal.
Museo de Indigena
El Dorado tribute
Museo Religioso, relics from the old Guatavita church.
A lot of small shops around town selling anything from ponchos and baskets to jewelry.
Scenery on our way back to Bogota.
Lake Tomine is a large lake near Guatavita that is popular for watering skiing, jet skis and boating.
Welcome back to Bogota.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bienvenidos a Bogota!

The hotel hosted a cocktail party for all their guests to welcome us to Bogota. There was a very nice buffet with an array of Colombian food, complimentary drinks and live entertainment. It was also great getting to know the staff.
Some of the servers and bartenders. They are the best!!
Two great dancers performed three times during the party.
Jesus pouring me the drink special for the evening that consisted of rum, mango juice and triple sec. It was good but a bit too sweet.
Enjoying ourselves with Mike, Rachelle and Gene.

Saturday afternoon we went out with Carlos and Jesus, who work at our hotel, to play the game Rana. We had no idea what to expect but we were looking forward to learning the very popular Colombian game and hanging out with our new friends.

I learned that the pre-Columbian community thought frogs had magical powers and on holy days, people went to the lakes to throw gold coins. They believed that if a frog jumped out of the water and ate their gold coin, the frog would not only turn into gold, but it would also make their wish come true. Later, people constructed a big golden frog as a tribute to these cherished animals and played the game which today is known as Rana.

The object of the game is to drop heavy iron coins, from a distance, into the frog's mouth. Points are allotted per frog as well as the other others on the table.  The first team to reach 500 points wins.
Jesus showing us how it is done.
Jesus and Carlos adding up the points 
The gringos won! 
 The losers.
A great day!! 
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