A very short tale about visiting Zipaquíra and the amazing Catedral de Sal; plus Colombia's passion for fresh juice and a gastronomic interrogation from curious students
04.02.2016 - 04.03.2016
Zipaquíra and Catedral de Sal
This was one of my most interesting stops in Colombia.
At some stage the salt mines in the mountains just outside of Bogotá were converted into an enormous church complex for Christian worship; Catedral de Sal.
For the religious and not-so, it is fascinating, immense... and beautiful.
From within Bogotá I took the infamously crowded Transmilenio to terminal del norte and changed over to a van bound for Zipaquíra; arriving in just under an hour.
I walked through the gorgeous town, finally arriving at the complex ticket office atop a hill with amazing views of the town
I then descended many metres into the depts of what was once a salt mine, and now a cathedral complex.
The halls are really impressive; huge, serene, spacious, complete with calming hymn like music echoing to every corner with stunning acoustics, plus gorgeous lighting fit for dedicated worship.
There are many paths, lined with impressive, calming displays.
Main halls, are truly awe inspiring!!
It is very difficult to describe the immense space, lighting and atmosphere.
You can opt for tours in English or Spanish, but I chose to wander in.... quiet contemplation.
Within the complex there are many shops and a couple of small theatres playing films about the history of the mine and cathedral.
Running between the cathedral and main town is a tourist bus.
The driver explained all of the main points of interest in the town as we passed them.
I got talking to a couple of students from San Augustin on the train.
They hadn't met any foreigners before, and were pretty intrigued.
They, like many Colombian's ask what I thought about their country, about Australia, plus the other two key topics... food and music.
They of course had no idea about AC/DC, Tame Impala or pavlova, so thanks to smartphones and 3G we were able to have something of a cultural exchange.
Unimpressed with the amount of traditional Colombian food that I had tried, my new friends invited me to lunch.
We went to a traditional restaurant for a full on almuerzo starting with soup, then a huuuuge main with steak, dried pork ribs, potatoes, beans, plantains, rice, chorizo... and more.
One thing that I love about Colombia is their passion for fresh juice!!!
Packaged, processed, concentrate juice is a sin in Colombia!!
They are very particular about it, and any eatery worth it's salt will offer freshly made mandarine, mango, passionfruit juice or limonada natural (homemade lemonade)
You cannot walk very far and without seeing juice or watermelon/mango vendors!
Roaming Zipaquíra Town
Zipaquíra is a really nice town to ramble through.
It is one of the nation's oldest settlements, and still as many buildings and remnants from Colombia's formative years.
It's certainly a nice reprieve from Bogotás chaos!
The long road back....
Patience is definitely required on buses in Colombia, particularly around Bogotá, and especially around peak hour(s!) when the population/traffic is so dense.
On the flipside it gives you time to chat with new friends...
Villa de Lleyva next...