|In the depths of the Salt Cathedral|
I visited the Catedral de Sal (yes--salt!) in Zipaquirá, a 40 minute bus ride north of Bogotá. The town is kind of a smaller version of Villa de Leyva with a nice main plaza. Salt has been mined here since the 5th century BC and early miners had carved out a sanctuary as a place to pray before starting work. That developed into a larger "cathedral" in the latter half of the 20th century which ultimately was closed for structural reasons in 1990. A new "cathedral" (it is a functioning church but not an official cathedral) was built 200 feet below the old one, is 200 meters underground, and opened in 1995.
|TransMilenio buses bypassing traffic!|
To get to the bus station for the bus to Zipaquirá and to get around Bogotá (on the rare occasion I wasn't walking!), I took the TransMilenio, a bus system that opened in 2000 with dedicated lanes allowing buses to zoom by the traffic-packed roads. Even with these dedicated lanes, it can take 45 minutes to go from northern Bogotá to the old part downtown, so you can imagine what it's like in a taxi or car to get around with traffic.
|Bogota's Plaza de Bolivar with Montserrate in the background|
|Top of Montserrate with Nativity lights & view of the city.|
|Bogotá: Jorge, from Madrid, & I met in NYC in 1990!|
Now getting ready for Christmas with family...I'll be returning to Colombia to celebrate New Year's with friends in the "Coffee Triangle" (an area in the middle of the country where--guess what? they grow coffee!--and which has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site) where we'll be for a week. Then I'll be heading back to Cartagena--I've been offered an English teaching job at the "Centro Colombo Americano" & will start observing classes in early January before teaching my own starting in early February. Stay tuned for those adventures!