monserrate

On Sunday afternoon, Seth and I—okay, just Seth—decided to climb the Monserrate, a mountain that dominates the city center of Bogotá. (I tried but failed to climb it last week. Seth was disappointed in my less-than-stellar hiking skills, so I let him climb alone this time. Meanwhile, I rode the Funicular.) At 3152 meters above sea level—and 527 meters above Bogotá—the mountain top is home to a seventeenth century church and shrine. Pilgrims often choose to scale the mountain with pebbles or uncooked frijoles in their shoes, while tourists ride the train or cable car to the summit. Besides the church, the mountaintop offers generous views of the city on one side and of the forest on the other. There are also two upscale restaurants, where couples can spend a romantic afternoon gazing at their city, and a small marketplace, where climbers can grab a bite and refuel.

After snapping a few photos and catching up with Seth, we stopped at a market stall to sample their salchicha, papas criollas, y plátano (pork sausage, potatoes, and plantains). Our waiter, who was possibly the most efficient fourteen year-old hustler I have ever seen, even supplied us with a sample of chunchullo (fried pig intestines) and, to wash it all down, a Colombiana (the national apple-flavored soda). I wish I could say we stopped there, but we actually ended up cruising by another stall for a small dessert: a chunk of fresh, curd-like cheese with arequipe (also known as dulce de leche, a sauce very similar to caramel) and mora (a blackberry-esque berry) sauce. Rico!

I hope to one day return to the mountain so I can prove to myself that I can successfully climb it. (I am still thoroughly embarrassed at my previous attempt. Seth completed the climb in a mere forty-five minutes!) I would also love to eat at one of the restaurants, which, according to my coworkers, are both very delicious and very expensive. Maybe Seth and I will go for our anniversary, or for one of our birthdays, or for no reason at all…

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