|Our new apartment building in an older residential neighborhood|
|Small but comfortable living room and bedroom|
|Typical view from the living room: Rain clouds overhead and surrounded by city|
We had four full days in Armenia. What to do?
The first day, Tuesday, March 21, was essentially a waste. The one positive thing we did was walk north on Calle 14 to find the little ice cream shop that Kylie's husband Ivan has opened. Ivan wasn't there, and the ice cream, while good, didn't seem as though it will make their fortune. We got laundry done too.
Our second full day was much, much better. We took buses to the Jardin Botanico de Quindio. It was wonderful. A guide (mandatory) led us through a rich maze of flowers, plants, and trees. Birds were everywhere.
|Left, Heliconia; right, a so-called "Walking Palm" that doesn't really walk|
The climax of our tour was the butterfly enclosure, unlike anything we've ever experienced.
|Butterfly enclosure seen from a mirador in the gardens|
Our third full day may have been the best, or even the worst, but it was certainly the most memorable. First, we took a bus to the popular tourist town of Salento.
From Salento, we rode a "Willy," an older Jeep, to the Cocora Valley. This is the place in Colombia which is best known for its wax palms -- remarkable trees that we'd already seen near Salamina.
|Road to Cocora Valley|
We intended to go for a walk in the Cocora Valley that was supposed to take about 45 minutes. Somehow we found ourselves on a route that takes four or five hours! The upside of the experience was literally an upside: walking for almost two hours, up and up, with many stunning views of the valley and the trees.
|Near the beginning of hike|
|Palmas de Cera, Wax Palms|
|The Cocora Valley|
|Getting higher, out of the wax palms, with still a tiny patch of blue|
|Clouds have closed in; only close-up views possible|
|Rest stop at highest point on this trail|
|Entering rain forest (or cloud forest, not sure which, we had both rain and clouds) it gets darker.|
|Rushing streams for beauty...|
|Slippery streambeds for walking ...|
|... and several rickety bridges for crossing streams|
|Sign of return to inhabited area|
|Almost back to Cocora|
The total walk, somewhere between 4 and 5 hours, was more than we bargained for, but probably worth it. At least as a good memory!
Perhaps the nicest surprise of the day occurred when we finally returned to the little settlement of Cocora. We needed a Willy to take us back to Salento, but none were to be seen. And the rain was pouring down. (We learned later that Colombia was playing Bolivia in a qualifying match for the World Cup, so the Willy drivers had apparently decided to take the afternoon off and watch TV.)
We had no idea what to do, and it was like a miracle when a sleek new car of some luxurious sort pulled up beside us. The woman driver asked if we needed a ride to Salento. Did we ever! We could hardly believe that she welcomed two such wet and muddy gringos into her immaculate car. But she drove us the half hour into Salento, where we soon caught a bus back to town, a damp, chilly, and not very pleasant ride. When we reached the terminal, it was dark, and we happily splurged on a taxi back to the apartment.
On our last day in Armenia, we were uncertain if we'd be up to doing anything at all! It was raining some of the time. Eventually, we dragged ourselves out for a visit to the Parque del Museo Oro Quimbaya.
|Parque del Museo Oro Quimbaya|
|In the grounds of the museum/park|
The following photos are from the Parque del Museo Oro Quimbaya.
|The children in this large photo banner at the museum are holding signs that say "Paz" (Peace)|
Finally, on the same day, we went to downtown Armenia. We visited Plaza Bolivar and a number of pedestrian blocks with shops, street performers, and many strollers.
|Modern cathedral at Armenia's Plaza Boliver; the original was destroyed in an earthquake.|
|The quotation from Rousseau on this wall art says "There is one book open to all eyes -- Nature"|
|On a pedestrian street in Armenia|
|Shade not needed today on the plaza|
At last we'd recovered enough from the previous day's long hike to have appetites, and we both gorged at some sort of steak and burger place.
On Saturday morning, the 25th, we had to start early for the long taxi ride to the airport and flight back to Bogota. By 10 a.m. we were back in Kylie's apartment, ready to pack and get ready for the long trip home.
We still had one full day in Bogota before our flight to Mexico on the 27th, and we used it for a visit to the Museo Botero, which is actually part of a museum complex in downtown Bogota. Some of Botero's sculptures are displayed in the museum, but also many of his equally bizarre paintings. Perhaps even more remarkable was Botero's collection of paintings by other artists.
|Inner court at the Museo Botero|
|Botero's paintings of people, like his sculptures, often feature distorted, fat people and (we think) a certain humor.|
|We saw young people posing for photos in imitation of the sculpture's poses.|
|We preferred Botero's paintings of architectural subjects; this is an earthquake at Popayan|
Botero donated his art collection to the city about 16 years ago. There were paintings by Degas, Matisse, Chagall, Rousseau, Lautrec, Renoir, and Picasso (among others) a Dali sculpture, and a Calder mobile. All are in the museum.
We also wandered for quite a while in downtown Bogota, having little idea where we were much of the time, but it was enjoyable. I began to see how some people might actually get to like this city.
|Seen on the streets of Bogota|
|Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota|
|The quotation from Santander. a 19th century revolutionary, says, "Colombians: arms have given you independence: laws will give you liberty."|