Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dinner in Bogota

After a busy day in Soacha which included a visit with the Bishop of Soacha for tea that afternoon, I was tired. We were invited to go out with one of our CRS collegues and a friend of hers in a historical section of Bogota. Although Jim and I had to leave early the next day for a flight to Lima, we decided a break from work would do us good.

The area of town must have had a name but it escapes me now, the streets were cobblestone and brick and lined with trendy cafes and boutiques and retaurants. Late model luxury cars prowled the streets as well-heeled citizens entered charming restaurants in period architecture buildings lit by flickering gas jet lamps.

It was reminiscent of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. but even tonier. The mirage was dispelled when you noticed the soldiers in olive drab carrying automatic weapons on the corners of the main square.

The carefree evening was still overshadowed by a city on edge. The restaurant was popular we were told, it was brightly lit and decorated with large panels of gorgeous naturally stained wood. Small globes of glass filled with colored liquid seemed to float in the air above our heads.

The atmosphere was trendy but family friendly and the food proved to be delicious. Although I was really getting a serious "jones" for a huge crisp salad heaped with sliced tomatoes, I abstained, afraid to pick up a bug. So far I had been lucky and I wanted to keep it that way. I always asked for my drinks without ice (sin hielo) for the same reason. I did indulge in an ice cream sundae (helado) for dessert.

After our dinner, one of the best I'd had while in Colombia, we walked up the street to have coffee at the Juan Valdez cafe. Yes, that Juan Valdez, the coffee was smooth, strong and rich, the best coffee ever!

Our hosts were very good company and humored me as I wandered into a boutique that sold nothing but gorgeous glass art pieces. The quality was stunning, this was not cutesy tourist-targeted glass, this was museum quality fine glass. I was charmed by Bogota's elegance, the flip side of the poverty I had seen in the few days I had been there. The disparity was so evident and the security forces were everywhere to assure the rich, I was conflicted.

Tomorrow I was travelling to Peru and another panorama of the human condition through the lens of social justice would reveal itself.


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