A Day Downtown

Saw from 3200 meters above sea level a pleasant sunset over the hazy vale of Bacatá. We were up on what can be described as the central hill of Bogotá. You can see it for miles from all over the savannah, and it does help that the church is white and has no thin steeple. You ascend on the old funicular rail or by Swiss cable car, or–and here is why they sell one way tickets on the two other modes–do what many do: walk or run the 500 meter ascent, or descent. There are restaurants there, built on the side of the hill so that more tables can be placed at the windows facing the glory of the sunset. If you were up there last night having supper (which we did not) it would have been a fine thing when the sun reached a point below the scattered clouds above the city.

We were in the dungeons of the national museum where artefacts of considerable antiquity are displayed. Too damp for such things, really, but they broke down recently and purchased a few de-humidifiers to plug in. Must have been terrible in there with all the damp weather recently. They need some hot, strong days of sunlight. It is a good building, the former jail, for guarding these treasures from the past–too bad they don’t have more.

Met an Argentinian running an Argentinian restaurant. Mate breath? Yes. Garrulous? Yes. Knows how to push things without being pushy? Yes. Big on telling you all about his life? Yes. They didn’t have Argentinian beef, but he managed some pretty decent Colombian stuff. Big on ageing it, and I suppose if that’s how it ought to be done, then that’s how you do it. Tango was played and the poster of Carlos Gardel was displayed.

There is a little section of restaurants near the bull ring from which our present mayor has banned bull fights. A section of restaurants from which eating has not yet been banned by our mayor, most of which have to do with Latin American cuisine waiting to see what events will bring customers: Peruvian, Mexican, Argentinian. Then there is the Spanish one. Not that the American ones aren’t present; you can always get a hamburger.

We did. They have two chains that do hamburgers: El Corral and Rodeo. The former is better, the latter more native. You get your hot dog at Rodeo and it will include the obligatory ham and cheese, potato chips and quail’s egg all on the hot dog. Also the condiments at Rodeo are of inferior quality, as they are here expected to be. You know the best place for getting decent ketchup in Colombia is MacDonald’s? They import it from Chile.

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