cementario central

Yesterday afternoon, Seth and I took the Transmilenio to Calle 26, the location of the Cementario Central de Bogotá. It opened its doors in 1832 and has since housed Colombians off all classes and persuasions: rich and poor, citizens and presidents, guerillas and generals, revolutionaries and dictators.

The cemetery is little-known among Bogotanos and as result of this is in a bittersweet state of disrepair. Unlike the exceptionally public Père Lachaise cemetery of Paris or the meticulously maintained graveyards of the rural Czech Republic, the Cementario Central feels intimate and spiritual in a comfortable, lived-in sort of way.

Next door to the cemetery, in the Parque El Renacimiento (Renaissance Park), Seth and I spotted a beautiful blooming tree. Surrounded by various shades of gray, it seemed to signify hope and light in even the darkest of places.

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v de verde + paloquemao

On Friday evening after work, Seth and I met Juancho and his friend (girlfriend?) Alexandra for dinner at V de Verde. Located on a quieter street in the posh Zona Rosa neighborhood, the restaurant offers menu items that align perfectly with a Mediterranean diet: fresh fish, crisp vegetables, zingy citrus, and, most importantly, red wine and olive oil. I thoroughly enjoyed their salmón cocción unilateral, which consisted of a generous, lightly seared salmon filet topped with finely sliced leeks and bacon. On the side, I had a red onion and organic tomato salad with a lemon vinaigrette. Meanwhile, Seth ordered their lomo, cognac, y puré de papa al carbon (gently grilled beef tenderloin with a cognac sauce and mashed potatoes), which was served with stuffed portabellas, tomatoes confit, and asparagus. To round out the meal, the four of us shared a bottle of intensely purple Spanish Tempranillo. The food was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but, although extremely well-priced for its quality and quantity (COL$30000 or US$15 at most), it was still a bit of a wallet buster. I am trying to keep in mind that this was our first complete dining-out experience in Bogotá and that I shouldn’t feel too guilty about it. That said, we certainly will not be dining out again any time soon. I mean this jokingly, but thank goodness Juancho will be busy with his studies! (It is difficult to maintain an extravagant social life while trying to live on an architect’s salary.)

After dinner, Juancho invited us out to Pravda for martinis. Juancho and Alexandra ordered girly mandarin and lulo martinis, respectively, while Seth and I drank like the Americans we are. I sipped their Sapphire Martini, which was a stirred mixture of Bombay Sapphire gin, vermouth, and Blue Curacao. (So you see, it was “sapphire” on two levels!) Seth nursed their Smoky Martini—an oh-so-smooth combination of gin, vermouth, and scotch. One martini had the strength of three, so by the end of the night we were all speaking broken Spanish and English. Seth and I made it home around two-thirty. (Thank goodness he understands the bus system! I, on the other hand, am still having some trouble with it.) Looking back, it probably wasn’t our finest decision because we had already promised my coworker Erika that we would meet her at Paloquemao, one of Bogotá’s largest and most important food markets, four hours later. Then again, after a couple of glasses of wine and a knock-you-on-your-ass martini, almost anything sounds sensible.

On Saturday morning, we awoke from our three-hour nap, flagged down a bus, and arrived at Erika’s apartment. She drove us to the market, where we searched through boxes of vegetables and tropical fruits and counters of meats and cheeses. (To be honest, the counters of cheese are kind of laughable. They offer only two kinds: queso fresco and mozzarella.) We bought a strange amalgamation of things, including green beans, red bell peppers, beets, a yet-to-be-identified green vegetable, Andean blackberries, Latundan bananas, a guanábana, duck eggs, chicken eggs, and chicken breast. When we returned home, we promptly fell back asleep.

This evening, we have to figure out what to make with our finds. (We fried the duck eggs for breakfast, so at least we won’t have to worry about those.) I already found a promising recipe for a beet and berry smoothie, but I am a bit hesitant to prepare it since we already have so much guanábana juice in the fridge. Lately, I have been subsisting almost exclusively on carbohydrates—potatoes, fruit juices, and breads. Oh, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. I lead a tough life, I know.

[V de Verde: Calle 93 # 11A-11 Local 104, Bogotá-Colombia]

[Pravda: Calle 83 # 20-26, Bogotá-Colombia]

[photos courtesy of V de Verde]