We’ve been in Bogota for almost a week now. Our hostel is located in the north, and is kind of far from everything else, but we got easy access to the TransMilenio (their metro bus system) so that’s quite nice. So far, we’ve been busy pretty much everyday – we did a record hunt with our friend Miguel (whom had ordered an issue of Morbid Tales zine 5 years ago!), visited the Museo de Oro, the historical center, the Salt Cathedral and of course, we ate like dirty pigs.
Bogota is a very big city – about 3-4 times bigger than Medellin. With a population of 7 300 000 people, it is a very cultural place with tons of universities and libraries. It is also very modern – but the historical center is the most interesting of course:
The Archbishopric Cathedral of Bogotá in the center of the city
la Candelaria - the historic center. Seems like nothing has changed since the 1600's! Some streets were really narrow, and most are made with big stones.
The inside of the San Francisco cathedral. Really impressive golden wood sculptures! Y0u can't really see it too well, but the tall book holder's base is three serpents!
Close to the center are some record shops. So far, I counted 13 of them! They all are really small, and some are specialized in certain styles of metal (extreme metal, goregrind/brutal death). The prices were fairly reasonable, but there were alot of bootlegs (although not as many as in Mexico). There was even a record shop located in a …shoe store! Thanks to Miguel for bringing us around – without him, we would have not being able to find any of them:
Cosmos Zapat - a shoe/record shop! They had quite a limited used vinyl section, but they had Black Sabbath's Tyr LP... first time I see that! Calle 17 #8-51
An awesomely-titled store, Rocka Rolla! Centro Commercial Dia Libre, Calle 19 #4-79/97 Local #214 - They have a very good used vinyl section with the first Kraken (Colombian heavy metal), Helstar, Blood Feast… but unfortunately, with high ebay style prices.
Rolling Disc - With some canadian metal flyers of shows that are coming up! Centro Commercial Dia Libre, Calle 19 #4-79/97 Local #206
Black Store - A nice little metal-only shop, selling tons of t-shirts, CD’s, DVDs, mugs, caps, necklaces, etc. Centro Commercial Dia Libre, Calle 19 #4-79/97 Local #203
And there are many more, but I won’t bore you to death with ’em.
The best score I've done so far on this trip - Miguel helped me locate this jewel of Colombian heavy metal. Muchas gracias amigo!! He also traded us a totally mint copy of Saint Vitus' Die Healing (in exhange for the upcoming Cauchemar CD haha, that'll take a loooong time!)
Also located in the historical center is the Museo de Oro, the Museum of Gold. It’s the biggest pre-hispanic gold museum in the world, and it was absolutely fascinating – especially for someone that has grown up watching Les Mystérieuses Cités d’Or – The Mysterious Cities of Gold, the best cartoon show ever made! There were 4 floors, and it took us about three hours to visit the entire museum. The coolest part was the cosmology and the offering rooms, especially seeing the golden accessories the shamans used to wear to transform themselves into animals (under heavy drugs, of course!).
Not an accessory, but a statue of a shaman transformed into a bat. The ancestor of batman, peut-être?
A golden statue of an ancient ritual attire
The museum's most precious item, the Balsa Muisca (The golden raft of the Muiscas). It represents El Dorado, a Muisca tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust and, as an initiation rite, dove into the lake Guatavita (where locals would throw treasures down the lake). The statue represents him on his raft, offering some treasures to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the sacred lake. It has fascinated the Spanish Conquistadors - who thought there was an entire city made of gold... which of course, they never found and got killed in the jungle trying to find it!!
An example of what could be found at the bottom of the sacred lake...
A truly fascinating museum. I highly suggest it to anyone going to Colombia. It’s just insane how ancient prehispanic goldsmiths would create such detailed and fascinating pieces. In fact, some considered they had magic powers…
We, along with Miguel, then celebrated with a glass of Chicha de jora, an ancient drink made with fermented corn. It was prepared and consumed in communities throughout in the Andes for millennia, usually used for ritual purposes and consumed it in vast quantities during religious festivals. The taste was quite surprisingly weird, it tasted like creamy vinegar – which got a bit better at every sip.
Chicha and François' hand!
We also visited the Salt Cathedral, in the small town of Zipaquirá, about 50km of Bogota. It has been built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters in the belly of a mountain. It was quite expensive (10$ each, not including the bus to get there) and quite frankly, it wasn’t as cool as I thought it’d look… it was way too modern and too “preachy” for me. I still got a few photos for you guys:
Inside the salt mines
A tray collecting salty water. I tried tasting it, and probably had my dose of salt for the day in one drop... it made me cringe as hell haha
The center of the "cathedral" with cool lighting effects.
A funny translation! I laughed at this one for a while.
Bogota is also a real gem for culinary maniacs. They are especially good for making soups (with extremely reasonable prices):
Caldo de pollo with ribs and potatoes for breakfast - 1.25$!
Sopa de Arroz - Rice soup! A generous start to a 3$ meal taken in the market.
Sancocho de platano - A soup made with plantains and pork. That was orgasmic.
Bbq'ed arepas de queso. Only offered at night, these 1$ babies are to die for.
Check out the amount of cheese in 'em!
1$ BBQ'ed corn, smothered in butter and salted. Truly a satisfying treat...
And we also tried some new kinds of fruits, sold by street vendors:
Mamoncillos/spanish limes. They are called mamoncillos because you suck on them like on... you know what. These were sweet, and had a large seed in the middle.
Contaduro - Palm fruit. Aphrodisiac and with a chalky-texture, this fruit tastes really strange - it is not sweet and quite dry, so the vendors cover 'em with honey and salt. They are made of 50% fat (palm tree oil), and are highly nutritional (you could eat two as a meal!)
And we tried some coca tea, which gave us a little boost in the afternoon!
Té de coca, an ancient aboriginal drink used to combat soroche (altitude sickness) and fatigue!
And to finish the post, here is a mildly funny blood donation kiosk thing. Check out what’s written on it…
"Rivers of blood are flowing through your veins!" Yeah, that makes me want to give blood...