|Friends and Food! (and wine)|
|The boys in the centre|
On the way, a homeless guy overheard us speaking in English, and he came up and introduced himself as a New Yorker who had come to Colombia for love and later fallen on hard times. He was apparently well known by some of the doormen around, one of whom he addressed by name. After chatting us up for a while, he eventually asked for money, but we honestly did not have any on us, which is why we were looking for an Über instead of a regular taxi (because you use your phone account and credit card rather than cash). We told him as much, and I think one of us found a 2,000-peso note for him, and he went on his way, enjoining us to stop and say hi any time.
|Oxford alumni watching the Tabs get thrashed on the Tideway|
That evening we took Phil out to Usaquen to see the shops and restaurants there, and then went to La Cesta to meet up with Juan Pablo and his mom, who was in town to support JuanPa while he was having some tests done. We enjoyed their delicious cappuccinos and pains au chocolat, and then it was time to take Phil home so he could pack for the airport. He promised to visit us again, perhaps after he has purchased his own plane and learned how to fly it overseas—and he was serious.
|Friends visiting Villa de Leyva|
In mid-May we had another visitor: Geralyn, a friend of Maurizio’s from his time in Canterbury, though she now lives in Eugene, Oregon. She had been extremely helpful to us when we were purchasing a speed coach for our boats, which happened to be offered secondhand for a great price from someone in Eugene. Geralyn went to pick it up for us, and she not only brought us that, but also some delicious cheddar cheeses, which are hard to find here.
Geralyn stayed for a week, and I had to work for much of that time, but Maurizio showed her many of the sights in Bogotá. One one of the weekdays, I had a scary run-in with one of the locals on my walk home from the bus, and I arrived a bit shaken up. Geralyn gave me a fantastic massage which helped me to relax, and she was really comforting and supportive. I will always remember her kindness, because she hardly knew me at that point, but she knew exactly what to say and do.
At the weekend we went to the Catedral de Sal, which is a cathedral carved into a former salt mine, with large, cavernous rooms, stone angels, and eerie blue lighting complemented by looped recordings of “Ave Maria”. Even though it is clearly a tourist destination, it still has a sort of reverent stillness and awe to it, if only by virtue of its immensity. We also took Geralyn out to the lake so she could see the rowing boats—of course, the poor thing decided to stay inside reading while we went out in the singles, but it is a lovely venue in which to do that!
|The church and the square...in the rain|
After the row, we made our way to Villa de Leyva, a popular destination and a national monument because it still looks very colonial with its cobblestone roads and pretty, whitewashed buildings. It is supposed to have really good museums, but unfortunately our journey there on the twisty mountain roads had taken us nearly 3 hours, and we got there too late in the day to get into museums. We did wander around a pretty little park, look at all the art in the church in the main square, visit some of the shops, purchase a hand-woven rug for our flat and a new mug for Maurizio, and eat a nice Italian meal at an outdoor restaurant that had live music. We had also bought peaches by the side of the road on our way there, and the next day Geralyn baked us a peach cobbler which was absolutely mouthwatering!
We spent the rest of her visit talking, sharing thoughts and ideas, and eating way too much at various restaurants, and we sent Geralyn back to Eugene with promises of coming to visit some day, because her descriptions of her own peaceful little town on the edge of a wood made us eager to see it, ourselves.
Soon to come...June and July!