Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day Tres: Northward

Day Tres of La Gran Aventura Colombia Conmigo.  Three days in Bogotá, Colombia.  I have not yet been kidnapped for ransom.  I have not yet been shot at narco-terrorists.  I have even avoided re-igniting guerrilla warfare.  And, yet, despite all that is missing, I am having quite a good time.

Day tres was a trek north of Bogotá. Destination Uno: Lago de Guatavita. This is the epicenter of the Legend of El Dorado.  I hired a tour guide for this part of the trip.  It was worth it.  The drive northward was quite interesting.  For example, this castle:

I'm not in Europe, so this was never a real castle.  It was built to be the castle-shaped home of a wealthy Bogotano.  (I don't know if "Bogotano" is the real word for someone from Bogotá, but based on the "un poquito" of "espanol" that I "comprender." it seems like it would be.)  It's not used as a castle anymore.  Or even home.  It's rented out for parties.  DJ parties.  Raves.  In the castle.

We stopped next at the Alpina Dairy Store, just north of Bogotá. 
Alpina Dairy
Why stop at a dairy store in the Bogotá area?  The area north of Bogotá is lousy with dairy cattle.  Black and white Holsteins to be specific.  The Bogotá area is, basically, the Wisconsin of Latin America.  The dairy store sold all sorts of milk products and delicious-looking pastries and candies that were begging to be washed down with the deliciosa leche.  A large number of person-high ornamental product boxes were placed around the grounds.  I posed with the chocolate milk:
Me with the chocolate milk
Next stop was the new Village of Guatavita.  The old village of Guatavita is submerged under the waters of the Tominé Reservoir.  A new village was built nearby, wholly in an Andalusian style, with white stucco, red tile roofs and archways.  A very Spain-Spanish look:
Village of Guatavita
Such strict adherence to building codes would make the HOA board of planned community in Arizona or California jealous.
Ominous-looking sky in one direction
A pleasant-looking sky in the other
My time in the Village of Guatavita was brief.  El Dorado beckoned!  But there's always time to add to my modeling portfolio, no?
I pose in front of museum I did not enter

The drive from the Village of Guatavita to the Lake of Guatavita was, ummmm, "interesting."  The road was narrow, rutted, muddy, with traffic in both directions.  Holsteins lined the side of the road.  (I told you this area was lousy with Holsteins.)  Weirdly, many were on the roadside of the fences.  It was not a drive for the faint of heart.  I was not a drive where I would've wanted to be in the driver seat.

We arrived at the entrance to Lago de Guatavita. There was a strong police presence there.  La Policia are very friendly.  For those of you concerned about security in Colombia, this would be a welcome presence.
Entrance to Lago de Guatavita
The trek to the lake was exhausting, largely because they don't ut much oxygen in the air there.  The elevation is about 12,00 feet.  I had to stop to catch my breath, but the recovery would take little time.  It was about a mile walk to the lake.  Finally, we arrived:
Lago de Guatavita
This is the lake that birthed the legend of El Dorado.  The lake is almost perfectly round, but it is not a volcano caldera.  The lake was sacred to the pre-Columbian indigenous tribes, who wouls sail offerings of gold and emeralds to their gods.  The bottom of the lake should be a treasure trove of gold and emeralds.  (Emeralds are mined not too far away.)  The murky deep blue waters keep the treasures safe from scavengers:
Lago de Guatavita (alternate view)
The legend of El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold, involves a chieftain who covered his body in nothing but gold, and sailed to the center of the lake as a sacrificial offering to the gods.  Overlooking the lake, I did not contemplate re-enacting that scene.
High above Guatavita's waters
For one thing, it was too cold to be wearing nothing but gold.  For another, ritual sacrifice is not the career path I have chose.

Once we got to the lake, and started hiking back, the skies opened up.  Rain fell.  Hard.  It made the drive down the mountain even more of an adventure.  Spoiler alert:  I survived.

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