Saturday, May 1, 2010

Yes, We Are Totally Still Into Natural Salty Wonders....

The next day we headed to Zipaquira where lies the famous Salt Cathedral. This was the mother of all Lord Of The Ring sights, so get ready but first a funny Colombian story:
When we got to the mine we headed towards the entrance and a guard asked us if we had our tickets. Oops! We said, we haven´t. He told us to meet him near the stair case...Once there he told us that if we bought tickets at the ticket office they would be seventeen thousand a piece, but he had three in his pocket that he would be willing to sell us for less. Dani agreed to meet him in the bathroom in two minutes, and feeling like he´d just made a drug deal Dani headed to and back from the bathroom after a successful mission. So sketchy...I´m loving this...
So back to my other story..
Back in the day, like, way back in the day, there was a big salty sea over Bogota (sounds like Bolivia and the Salt Flats, right). When temperatures warmed the sea dried up probably leaving something like what we saw in Uyuni. Then..(drum roll)...the forces at be that push up giant slabs of earth did so and formed the mountains that make up the area around Bogota. In the process the salty earth was pushed under the mountains and great pressure was exerted on it. It resulted in a great underground deposit of salt rock.

The Natives figured out that when it rained the water that come from the mountain was salty. They would put this salt water over fire and in their clay pots they would be left with salt that they traded and used to create power and wealth. When the Colonists came they did what they do best and forced the Natives to mine the area. Later, safer more humane methods were used to mine the salt, and today we are left with a three level mine, and this cathedral I mentioned earlier. How did that happen? Well some Colombian miners got creative and while getting rid of the salt they decided to build a great momunent to God and create an amazing underground Cathedral. First you walk along a long salty corridor with a station for each of the passions. In each station is a cross and some places to kneel. There is this amazing circular room where blue lights light the ceiling. Obviously its the heaven room, representing where Jesus went after he arose from the dead and left his coffin while sleeping soldiers snoozed. Then there is this series of balconies where you can look out into the Cathedral below, and then you make it down to the Cathedral itself. There is a small chapel where mass is held every Sunday, a giant room where they have weddings, and then a smaller room that represents death. Some genius carved these immense columns into the walls of the Cathedral, and someone carved out an impressivly massive cross in the main part of the church that is supposedly the largest underground cross in the world. Remeber, this is all happening 800 or so meters below the ground...

the following photos are taken from the internet:

supposedly the biggest underground cross in the world...but really its an absence of cross as Josh pointed out...since its made of air and light...

the cieling of the 'heaven' room lit up all blue

one of the stations for the passion

a (rather tacky if you ask me) reproduction of Adam and God´s hands touching in the main Cathedral

The whole place was dramatically lit up and felt a little cheesy, but none the less I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of it all. The cavernous size of the rooms, the hight of the ceilings, the impossible perfection of the circular rooms and massive circular was impressive and magnificent.
After we were all salty (supposedly the air down there is really good for your lungs) we headed to lunch. We ate in what was basically some woman´s house, and she served us this big platter of meat and half a chicken (female). The meal is a typical Bogota delight that begins with F...Josh isn´t around to remind me of it! and is amazing. It consists of Colombian morcilla which is filled with rice and peas as well as blood stuff, papas criollas, chorizo, beef and fried plantains. Oh, and of course our half a female chicken that came complete with tasty lungs, and the eggs that had yet to leave her body (the yolk - very tasty as well).
We then drove to another town which was literally hidden away in the mountains (no help from the road signs here) where one of the biggest dairy factories in Colombia is located. They have a little supermarket filled with their products near by. This supermarket also has delectable desserts all lined up and ready to give me a lactaid attack like no other. So what did I do (obvioulsy I had forgotten my pills at home)? I forged ahead and tried it all!!! Josh´s passion fruit cheese cake was amazing, my mille ojas was delish, and everything else that had been picked out was amazing. I was especially intrigued and impressed by Adriana´s choice. It was a container with cheese that was kind of like a dry cottage cheese, arequipa (Colombian version of dulce de leche) and jam. Amazing to say the least.
At this point in the day the sun finally came out and of course stayed out, but early the next morning we hopped on a plane (yes!! you read it right!!) for Cartagena!
And hour later we were there and while I´m sure I´ll look back on our bus tour of South America with fond nostalgia, flying really is the way to go.

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