Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

It’s a bread and cheese day


This morning, Michael and I opted to have a European style breakfast and enjoyed bread with butter, sliced cheese and fruit…..the first of my “bread and cheese meals”.

Michael headed off to the University for his second day of classes and I walked across the street to the Museo Nacional de Colombia (the National Museum of Colombia).IMG_0757

As I walked in, I glanced at a list of rules and thought that it said that I couldn’t take photos…..boo!!!   Then I started watching other people taking photos and the guards weren’t yelling at them so I decided that I could take photos, but just couldn’t use the flash……Much better!!!

I had read that there was an English guide somewhere, but I couldn’t find it and couldn’t find anyone who spoke enough English to ask for it, so I did what I always do in this situation….I started looking at the exhibits with an eye for designs and lines and color that I liked.

I don’t know why, but I liked this little guy…..


….and these three sort of reminded me of the 3 Evil monkeys…..


One of the first exhibits that I entered was housed in this large room and was devoted to Memories.  It was an impressive display using digital technologies mixed in with historical works.


The wall at the end of the hall is called the “Wall of Diversity”.  It contained many oil paintings, but then there were digital “photos” interspersed as well.  The digital photos changed every few minutes.  It was interesting to stand and watch it although I felt like I was looking at the portraits in Hogwarts!!


After the wall, I (of course) noticed this applique work of art.   I really don’t have any idea what it was or when it was made, but it seemed to show various aspects of Colombian history. IMG_0665

There was a video showing many different people working on the piece and it was captivating to look at all of the different figures represented…..



There was another well-done use of technology where a printing press was on display, and a video was playing on the wall behind it showing someone using the press, however it was all done in silhouette……very effective.

There were several groups of high school students being guided thru the museum.  It was fun to listen to the interactions even though I wasn’t sure exactly what they were saying.   At one point the guide asked a question and one boy responded with an obvious stupid answer.  Everyone laughed and tittered.  Then the guide answered the question and everyone said “ooooohhhh”.  I guess that they were impressed with the answer….to whatever the question had been!!!!

These masks caught my attention….mostly because of the bead work.  I love the mixture of shells, beads and feathers….IMG_0689


I kept coming back to this statue.  The woman looks perfectly normal but the child and the way she is being held just seemed weird!!IMG_0692

Now I entered a gallery with lots of portraits of people that I didn’t know!! So naturally, I went into detail mode and started noticing interesting things….like this set of portraits, four to be exact, of Antonio Narina (one of the heroes of Colombia)  in exactly the same costume…..IMG_0703

If I was having my portrait painted more than once, I would certainly wear different clothes!!!

At the end of the long hall of portraits, I came to a set of glass doors with a sign reading “Reserva de  colecciones” (Reserve collection).  Inside this room were 6 walls, about 4 feet apart and each wall was filled with paintings.   Evidently this is where they keep the collection that is not currently on display.  I had never really thought about what went on behind the walls of the displays.


I would have loved to be able to get up-close-and-personal with the colorful painting at the very end!!

I spent a lot of time looking at this painting.  I read a bit about it and it was depicting the surrender of someone and the inauguration of someone else….obviously I didn’t read it too well!!!IMG_0705

But what I really enjoyed was looking at all of the detail in the painting.  I found it intriguing that these two women were dressed as soldiers and holding swords.  The note that I read said that they were sisters of one of the dignitaries….


This little boy appears to be blowing on the incense…..if you blow up this picture, you can actually see the embers glowing and smoke blowing outward….IMG_0708

This was a beautiful sculpture but what I will always remember is one of the teenage boys pointing and having a good laugh at her mostly bare bottom….


This piece, entitled “La Parca” is dedicated to all of my knitting friends….you know who you are!!!IMG_0732

And, at last, here is the much searched for English information…..


Unfortunately, I had already been to each of these galleries…..sigh.

I loved seeing a class of VERY young kids come thru the galleries.  When they walked, they each had to hold onto the shirt of the person in front of them….SO cute.  The Museum employee used puppets to tell them about the exhibits.  I was surprised that they were bringing children at such a young age but I think that it was wonderful!!!


I stepped into this gallery and wanted to take a photo of the architecture.  The guard dressed in blue quickly tried to get out of my way, but I wanted that little splash of color so was very glad that I was faster!!!   It was very nice of him to be so observant!!! IMG_0714

This photo was shown in one of the sculpture galleries.  From what I could read, it seems that this was a sculpture class for very young people.  Look at the talent that they are already displaying!!!  


This painting caught my eye….IMG_0730

Especially the look on the cows face…..IMG_0731

I entered into yet another gallery….this time of more modern art, and found many pieces by Fernando Botero. On the surface his paintings seem whimsical, depicting larger than life characters.


But, in reading more about him many of his paintings are political criticisms as well.  Apparently this style is called “Boterismo” and I learned to recognize it immediately!!

Every aspect of his work is larger-than-life…..IMG_0742

Especially this wall sized orange entitled “Naranja”…..IMG_0744

However, if you look closely, you see a small worm emerging from the fruit…IMG_0745

As I left the museum, I gave the Juan Valdez café a miss and headed out onto the street to see what I could find to eat for lunch…..

I was drawn to a street vendor who sold pizza but decided to watch him for a while before I bought anything. DSC04773 As I watched he pulled out a cardboard circle and dusted it with flour.  Then he pulled out a bag of dough and and proceeded to stretch and twirl it to the proper size.   Out came a bottle of thin tomato sauce which was sprinkled on the crust.  He added chicken, mushrooms, pineapple and lots of cheese, being VERY careful that the cheese was properly apportioned across the pizza.

Then he cut it into slices and set it aside.   At this point I was confused as I expected him to slide it into one of the two small ovens at the top of his cart. 

My confusion was removed when someone went up to buy a slice and he took the uncooked slice off of the cardboard and set it into the oven by itself.  About 5 minutes later the pizza was cooked.

OK….now I know what I am doing so I boldly approached and purchased a slice.  When I held out my money to pay, he opened the pocket of his apron and motioned for me to put the money in there so that he wouldn’t touch it.   All in all, I was very impressed with his attention to cleanliness!!

The slice was wonderful…..



….and I enjoyed sitting on the Museum steps and watching the world as I ate.

Speaking of food vendors, I finally took a good look at some of the carts and found that they were actually strollers that had been crafted into a cart or grocery carts that had been re-designed.


Speaking of strollers, I have noticed that most people do not use strollers for their very young children (maybe it is because all of the strollers are being used for street vendors???).  Instead, they wrap them up in multiple blankets and carry them in their arms.  Having said this, I have never actually SEEN a baby in the layers of blankets but that is my assumption!!

One of my tasks for the day was to buy some washrags since the hotel doesn’t have them.  We had foreseen this problem and had brought two rags, but felt like we could use a few more. 

I found a store that sold clothes and bath items and picked up four washrags to purchase.  The process of actually buying these items was very different…..one worker calls out the item, number purchased and price, another writes a handwritten receipt and takes your money.  Then a copy of the receipt is stapled to the bag and you have to show it to leave the store!!!

This afternoon I was meeting Michael at the University at 4:00 so didn’t have a lot of plans for my two hours out, so mostly I just walked around and did some people watching.

Crossing the streets can be troublesome but fortunately most of the streets are one way so at least I only have to worry about traffic coming from one direction.   There are MANY motorcycles who zip around and lots of small buses that move at full tilt as well.   If you happen to step out in front of someone, they happily toot their horns to tell you to move and even if you simply  appear to be stepping out, they will sound off to let you know of potential danger.

I was trying to head to the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) but had trouble finding it.  Once I did finally find it I realized that I didn’t have time to look so just kept on walking, after writing copious notes about how to find it next time!!!

There are a huge number of people on the street selling minutes for pre-paid cell phones but I passed one vendor who had a pole set up with several cell phones attached to it with cords.  I had wondered if he also sold phones but that idea was crushed when I passed him again with three people standing around him and making calls on his cell phones.  I guess that this is the modern version of a pay phone…..


There is one thing that I have seen several days now and I am very confused by it.   On one particular corner, there is always a huge group of men standing around.  I cant see anything special about the corner or the stores that inhabit that area but it is interesting!!

As I was wandering around I started seeing  lots of shops that sold religious icons so I excitedly figured that I was close to another big church.  Unfortunately it was one that I had already seen so I kept on walking.

It was now time for me to make my way to the University and I knew that I needed to go in a diagonal direction so I started down one street, would turn left at the next cross street, right at the next cross street….etc….until I found the University and Edificio Robert Franco which is the building that Michael is in.  The plan worked perfectly and I got to see some cross streets that I hadn’t been down before. 

I loved this house with an entire garden of flowers growing out of the roof…..



Henry and Juliana had a special treat planned for us this afternoon…..we were allowed to tour the Teatro Colon (Colon Theater) which is currently being renovated.  Juliana’s aunt (Claudia) works at the theater and she arranged for us to be allowed inside.  She was not able to be there but her friend, Monica, acted as our tour guide.

This theater was built in 1885 and is the oldest theater in Colombia.  The outside is inauspicious….


but the interior is breath taking…..IMG_0773




It was hard to get a good photo, but the dome ceiling is a fresco of six of the nine muses.  The plan had been to include all of  them but it was soon realized that the space would not hold them all.IMG_0777

The attention to detail was evident, and everywhere I looked there was some cherub, angel or animal looking down on me…..IMG_0765IMG_0766


The theater boxes (which I learned from crossword puzzles are called loges) are opulent…..


They have done a marvelous job of renovating this beautiful theater which is supposed to open in two weeks.

We said goodbye to Monica and headed out to find something “small” to eat.  Often the students get something small around 5:00 and then eat their big meal later in the evening….WAY too much food for me!!

We passed one beautiful garden and Henry pointed out that there was a hummingbird flitting around one of the yellow bushes.  He was much larger than the ones in our yard….maybe 1-1/2 to 2 times bigger.  He was a gorgeous green and blended well into the foliage.

I tried desperately to capture him on film and finally got a somewhat blurry shot of him.


As we walked along, we were followed by a colorful rainbow….


…that was even more stunning when viewed behind these historical buildings….


This photo is in the Plaza de Bolivar…..


We continued on to a small restaurant where we enjoyed our “small” meal of the evening.   Michael devoured this Tamal, which is a form of tamale.  In this case it was a  mixture of ground corn, meat and other spices, steamed in a Plantain leaf.   The white cake on top was a plain AreapaDSC04805

Since I am female and love chocolate, it was suggested that I order the “Chacolate Plato” and this is what I received….


….a steaming mug of hot chocolate made with water instead of milk.  It was not as rich but was an excellent accompaniment to the buttered bread and cheese.  They told me that people often put the cheese into the chocolate and let it melt there.  I was given a small spoon (barely visible at the back of the plate) to dip the molten cheese out.  I chose not to do this, but did enjoy dipping the round pastry into the chocolate and luxuriate in the deep chocolate flavor.

Michael and I chose to walk back to the hotel (about 1-1/2 miles) and crashed for the rest of the evening.  I went to sleep remembering my THREE meals of  tasty bread and cheese!!

5 thoughts on “It’s a bread and cheese day

  1. Frances- I am thoroughly enjoying your travel diary- it is like being on vacation with you! How fun that you are getting to eat all sorts of wonderful food.I love that applique piece, especially the 3D effects of the woman's belly and the bedroll 🙂

  2. Now I know why my DD and son in law carried all their babies in there arms. I thought it wonderful anyway as I was not of the generation that had all these fancy carrying seats. Great and informative tour. Oh and I have asked for a few culinary delights to be added to my visits. ;^) thanks

  3. I am doing a quick catch up and reading your last 4 posts in one go. Loving following your travels and enjoying all the photos.

  4. Really enjoying reading your posts. I may not always have the time to comment but know that I will have been following you.

  5. Really enjoying reading your posts. I may not always have the time to comment but know that I will have been following you.

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