This morning (May 7th), we went first to the fruit and flower market in Bogotá. Our trip leader, Ernesto, took us first to the curanderos’ stands so we could see all the herbal remedies which are popular in Colombia. Of particular interest to me was an essential oil called “Sigueme”, which means “follow me” in Spanish. I bought a small vial of this as Jim is forever charging off and leaving me in the dust on these tours, and I needed some extra help keeping him close to me so I could stop asking, “Donde está mi esposo?” Then he took us by a stand selling lechona, which is a whole roast pig where they’ve taken out the meat, combined it with rice, herbs, garlic and onions and finished baking it off. Members of our tour were almost fighting over the scraps of crisp pork skin. Then we went to a fruit vendero to sample the local fruits, half of which I can’t remember the names. Finally, we walked through the flower market portion, and it was CRAZY! Since Mother’s Day is Sunday, everyone was there selling and buying flowers in huge bunches. The colors were amazing!
Then we boarded the bus after the worst of the traffic had died down, and drove about an hour north of town to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. This is an active salt mine which has been mined for decades. However, in some of the areas where production has ended, the miners decided to create a cathedral complete with the 14 Stations of the Cross, all carved out of salt. This architectural wonder is one of Colombia’s most popular tourist attractions, and is located about an hour outside of Bogotá.
This has become one of the most popular churches in Colombia, and it takes years to get a reservation for a wedding ceremony here. Following our visit to the Salt Palace, we had a very traditional lunch of the chicken soup with potatoes called ajiaco, and some yummy cornmeal and cheese arepas, which ensured some big napping on the bus back to Bogotá. Ernesto finished up the day by offering an optional outing to go sample the local maize beer called chicha. I passed on this activity, but Jim was out the door at the word, “beer”!