Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

No hablo Espanol!!

Before I start on today’s journey, let me say a thing or two about the weather in Bogota.  We were originally told that it was COLD, COLD, COLD, but when we checked it out, we found that the daytime temperatures were in the 60’s and lower 70’s.  Now that seems pleasant to me and not cold at all.

Each of the days I have started out in long pants and a short sleeve or sleeveless shirt with a jacket over it.  After I had walked for a while, I was hot and would take off my jacket.  However, the people around me have on down jackets, knit scarves and wooly hats. 

It is an interesting phenomenon to realize how our bodies seem to adapt to whatever we are used to.

This morning (Tuesday), we were to meet Juliana and Henry (Michael’s host) at the Universidad de Los Andes at 11:30.  We were told to meet at Las Banderas (the flags), so that is exactly what we did….


We walked across the street to a small café for lunch and they had a sandwich called the “Frances” so naturally I had to try it!!!  The filing included ham, blue cheese, mushrooms, onions, lettuce and mayonnaise, and while that may not sound appetizing, the flavors melded beautifully!!!


As the three scientists talked, I found my feet tapping and realized that I was itching to get out and start my first day of solo sight-seeing.  We said goodbye at the flags and I headed to my first destination….the Museo de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum).

Unfortunately it was off of the map that I had but I had written myself directions of how to get there and remember that the streets are all numbered so I felt fairly confident.  I confidently arrived at the street and block that I needed and walked down the street looking for the building.  But, when I reached the next cross street, I knew that I had missed it…..but WHERE?  I started to ask for directions but instead decided that I would find it myself!!!   I went back down the street and didn’t see anything that looked like a museum but finally found an entrance that didn’t have any markings.  It did, however, have three large trucks blocking the entrance…..


Yes, that was the Museum!!   I threaded my way between the trucks and entered the building.  There was only one exhibit  open to the public and it was of a Venezuelan artist named Oswaldo Vigas.  There were no English placards so I didn’t really know what I was looking at, but as I have googled his name today, I found that I was looking at a perspective of his 70 years of painting. 

That makes sense, because the paintings that I liked best were all created in certain time periods.    I really enjoyed his early works, particularly in the 1950’s, although I cant find a photo of any of the works that I saw. They were simple shapes and worked in a small color pallet.

There were also a series of three works from the 1970’s that I appreciated.  They were all done in earth tones with large designs.  This one was called Gayadora…..Gayadora, 1972. Oleo sobre tela. 97 x 130 cm

His newer pieces had lots of color, but there weren’t clearly defined spaces and I felt like I got lost in them.   Here is an example…….Busto V

Before leaving, I wanted to visit the Banyos and found several more pieces of art on that level.   In the bathroom, there were two stalls and a hefty roll of toilet paper and a sign that said to take the paper from this roll and put it in the trashcan after use rather than flushing….at least that is what I think it said!!!  This was very reminiscent of our days in China!!!

As I left the gallery, I watched as the workers unloaded the last few paintings…DSC04735

As you can see, they were very large works and from what I could see thru the protective covering, they were very minimalist in nature.

The final piece was a large sculpture that must have been VERY heavy.  They started with 4 men struggling to carry it and then quickly added two more….


As I left the gallery, a small vendor selling ice cream called to me so I made a quick stop.  I enjoyed watching a little boy (probably 2) holding a cone of bright green ice cream and smiling happily between licks!!

I thought that the process of ordering the ice cream would be easy since there was a sign that I could point to and then also point to the flavor that I wanted.  Unfortunately, there was another question asked and I looked blankly at her.  She picked up a squeeze bottle of a blue gel and started putting it on my ice cream.  I quickly motioned that it was plenty!!!DSC04741

All in all, it was quite tasty.  The ice cream was not super sweet and the gel had a citrus flavor to it.  The only issue that I had was that there was another napkin in the bottom of the cone (to keep it from dripping) and I was quite startled when I bit into it!!!

I had decided to head toward a church that was located on Carrera 7 so I found the pedestrian street and started walking.  I quickly learned that there is a lane marked for non-motorized vehicles…..ie bikes, skates and skateboards.  This bit of information came by almost being run over by a skateboarder!!!

Now this church wasn’t that far away, but I started looking in shops and it took me forever to walk about 1/2 a mile.   Now comes the explanation for the title of this post.   I walked into several “market” type of areas where lots of vendors had their stalls.  As I would walk past each one, the proprietor would say “Bueno Tardes” (good afternoon) and I would reply the same.   Then they would launch into their sales spiel and I would look at them blankly and say “No Hablo Espanol” (I don’t speak Spanish).   We would then move into “Smile & Point” mode, but several purchases were accomplished anyway!!!

I came to this beautiful church and went in for a look……DSC04757

There was a Mass in progress but it ended soon after I entered.  The interior of the church is awe inspiring….IMG_0625


I truly love the red and beige brick mixture!!

There were several apses along the sides, one containing this interesting sculpture of Jesus…..


It is very different from anything that I have ever seen before.

I have had a hard time finding out the name of this church, but finally decided that it is Templo Nuestra Senora de Las Nieves.

As I walked along the pedestrian street, my ears were bombarded with a cacophony of sounds, each coming from speakers attached to the street vendor carts.  They would say the same thing, over and over, in a VERY loud voice.  The problem is that there were so many of them and you couldn’t really understand any of them.   I do know that one man was selling American Chocolate bars and he kept saying “American Chocolate” over and over again!!

I enjoyed a few street artists and especially loved watching one man weave name bracelets.  You would write the name out and he would weave it in just a matter of a few minutes.   It was astounding to watch him work…..DSC04761

I continued walking down the street and ended up at the Plaza de Bolivar which is a huge blank area filed with pigeons….


As I stood watching them, I was reminded of Juliana’s statement that “city pigeons are aggressive!!!”.  They were certainly aggressive around this statue of Simon Bolivar, one of Colombia’s heroes…..


More about this plaza tomorrow, but today I visited the Church located on the Eastern edge of the Plaza…..


The interior was very simple but worshipful…..


….and the altar was beautiful….


There was an older couple standing here trying to take a selfie with the alter in the background and I asked if I could take it for them.   They smiled and said yes and then offered to take one of me.  Unfortunately, he didn’t hold down the button long enough for the photo to take but I didn’t know enough Spanish to tell him and he didn’t know that they didn’t work, so I just said Gracias and kept going!.

I also loved the organ with the keyboard on the first floor and a STEEP ladder leading up to the pipes on the second floor…..


But the thing that really caught my eye was this painting in the corner of the Cupola…IMG_0635

….yes, the woman’s leg is three dimensional and comes out of the painting!!   I am sure that I would never be able to worship in that church as I would spend all of my time looking that this phenomenon!!!

I slowly wandered my way back to the hotel and was joined by Michael about an hour later.  We needed food so I got onto Google Maps and found a restaurant that was just a few blocks away.  We found it easily and went in to order.  At this point I am so grateful that Michael knows a fair amount of Spanish because there were MANY questions asked in the ordering process.  We started out with wine and beer to drink….DSC04768

…and then the magnificent food arrived.   Michael had a chicken dish….


…while I opted for Pork…..


Those mushroom looking things were actually fried Plantains and were delicious, however they did need a little bit of salt!!

I ordered a brownie for dessert (actually Michael ordered it because our waiter spoke NO English), and a cup of Hot Tea….at least that is what he thought that he ordered!!   When the tea arrived it looked like this….


It was beautiful but it was NOT tea!!!  It had a sweet, fruity flavor to it.  When we got back home I looked up the menu and realized that it was called Aromatica, which is a fruit tea made with a sugar water infused with tea and fruit.   Oh well, the rest of the meal was fantastic!!!

We arrived in our room once again, exhausted but loving our day!!!

2 thoughts on “No hablo Espanol!!

  1. Frances, I particularly enjoy your travel posts. I'm literally just looking over your shoulder as my son in law is from Medellin and this is just so very fascinating. Our daughter met him while teaching in the Dominican Republic. They were in the same church fellowship but he was on his way back to Columbia. Could they correspond? Yes, but while she didn't quite need to say “no hablo Espanol!” her writing was better so they started with e-mails. After they married she brought him home to Canada which is so very different in every way. I'm beginning to understand. Now I need to say, no hablo Espanol to my three wonderful grand kiddies! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your journey. Mind you, I won't be quite so behind you as you trek over those high mountains later on! ;^)

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