Rooster 1: How to shop a rooster

Rooster 1

Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

At the Sunday market we bought this elegant, one-year-old 5 kg rooster.

The old lady selling it originally demanded 35.000 pesos, some 13 euros. However, the negotiator in our shopping team was able to press the price considerably, and we got a true bargain: 25.000 pesos, a little less than 10 euros.

Happy about that we could shop the veggies, and then go home starting dinner preparations…


Second Term Likely for Colombia’s President Uribe

President Uribe

Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

The big news from Colombia this week is that the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that a congressionally approved amendment to permit re-election was constitutional.

Hence president Álvaro Uribe will probably be able to run for a second term, something previously not possible in Colombia. With his approval ratings approaching 80 percent, Mr. Uribe seems likely to win the elections in May of 2006.

New York Times writes: ”In three years as president, Mr. Uribe, a 53-year-old lawyer and technocrat, has been credited with lowering Colombia’s relentless violence by aggressively pushing the country’s once-beleaguered military into taking back territory from two guerrilla organizations.

Colombians have rewarded him with high approval rates, while Wall Street has approved of Mr. Uribe’s fiscal management.”


Chiquinquirá: Two gentlemen and a bicycle

The bus trip from Villa de Leyva to Bogota offered many ”Kodak moments”. Here’s one of them.

Two men in a Monday afternoon conversation in down-town Chiquinquirá, a town of some 50.000 inhabitants north of Bogotá.

The low motor capacity of the bus, oftentimes resulting in slow speed, was an immense help when taking photos on-the-go. Chiquinquirá, by the way, is the religious capital of Colombia. It’s here that the image of the Virgin of Chiquinquirá, Colombia’s patron saint, is being kept.


Break-down buses and lots of cows

Colombia is a country with lots of food production.

Going back to Bogota from last weekend’s trip to Villa de Leyva, I shot some pics from the bus window. The mountaneous landscape provided gorgeous views with lots of black-and-white Holstein cows – giving the Colombians plenty of milk.

Colombians eat a lot of meat, and in the Colombian plains a lot of cattle is being held for that purpose. The meat is of very high quality, but still it can’t compete with the beef from Argentina. Maybe the subtropical climate is the problem?

The combination of mountaneous roads, lack of money for building tunnels and old buses makes sure that bus trips always end up taking longer than you had thought… And just like when going back from Melgar a few weeks ago, the bus broke down in the middle of the road also this time. But after a ”quick fix” we were back on the track within 15 minutes.


Colombia: Five bodyguards for your personal protection

It’s easy to forget about the problems that Colombia has to deal with. But sometimes you run into a serious reminder.

Staying in the better parts of Bogotá, and doing excursions to some touristy places, you do not have to worry too much about guerilleros and criminals. But it’s important to be aware of the political situation.

Villa de Leyva probably is one of the calmest places in Colombia. Therefore I was more than surprised when a European citizen that I met there, told me about his five bodyguards!

And yes indeed – outside the building they were strategically placed, five well-built men with earphones and whatever you need to protect a high ranking person working for a big company.

I hope that they made me high-ranking European fellow feel safer. Personally, I took it as a reminder of being precautious. The conclusion, as far as I can understand, is that important people need bodyguards, but that there isn’t any reason for the ordinary tourist to worry as long as one keeps out of troubled areas. Villa de Leyva isn’t one of those.

At last, I offer you this final picture from my Villa de Leyva excursion: one of the many old trucks you see in Colombia. However, this is the only sample of International Harvester that I’ve seen this far. Did they ever sell that truck brand in Europe?


Sutamarchán: Fritanga time

Going back to Villa de Leyva from Ráquira, we made a stop to eat some fritanga, aiming especially for the famous longanisa.

Sutamarchán, a small village, and the surrounding area is known for its delicious longanisa – a sausage made of pork tenderloin. We ordered a fritanga for six people – the taxi driver included.

Fritanga is a popular mix of food, usually sold in road side restaurants and markets as a good-value-for-money dish. It may include chorizo, longanisa, bacon, potatoes, fried banana, corn on the cob, guacamole and more. It’s being served on a tray or big plate, and in this case with toothpicks to eat with.


Ráquira: Restaurant with wood stove

My great food interest couldn’t keep me from entering this restaurant kitchen in Ráquira.

The restaurant is located next to the village square. The tables are found at the courtyard, and in connection with the courtyard you find the kitchen. The local nenas were happy to pose, one of them in front of the wood stove.

The food being cooked is all local style: pork, corn on the cob, soups etc.


Ráquira: Loaded village donkey and Bogotá horses

Raquira: Loaded donkey

Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

The mix of old fashinoned means of transportation and the modern variety of cars and aircrafts is striking in Colombia.

This one photo is from Ráquira, a very rural place. I’d guess that the young lady bought some potatoes at the Sunday market and is now on her way home with the cargo, loaded upon the donkey.

But even in Bogota’s better-off northern parts, you see the occasional horse carriage. In fact, I hear the horses walking by the house where I stay almost every day. In Bogota, horse-based transportation is being used for trash, moving and more.

But just as horses are getting out of fashion in Poland, the same thing is happening here – at least in Bogota and the other big cities.


Ráquira: At the village square

Last Sunday my friends and I rented a cab for half a day and went to Ráquira, the Colombian capital of pottery.

We left the hotel in Villa de Leyva in the morning hours, then driving thru a dry landscape. First stop was ”El Fósil”, a tiny museum built up around the fossil of a kronosaurus, originally 12 meters of length.

After a drive of somewhat less than one hour and 25 kilometers, we arrived in Ráquira, a village of a little more than 1.000 inhabitants. A rural but very lively place, and the ultimate mix of local peasantry and tourism.

The main village street is crowded with shops, most of them selling fine pottery – anything from typical souvenirs to sets of plates and cups. The village square, caught on this photo, is complete with restaurants, the church and chatting locals. Just a block behind the square, the scenery was the Sunday market.

Tourists probably bring quite a bit of money in, but in many ways the economy gave the impression of being very local.