Thursday, January 7, 2010

one of life's lessons

I am painfully aware of how outrageously this blog could benefit from pictures.

I am also ashamed by how few pictures I am taking.

I am also cringing at how all those pictures don't have people in them.

I am a number one advocate of people in pictures. People in pictures make them VASTLY more interesting and enjoyable to look at years later. Who wants to look at landscapes 5 years down the road? Unfortunately, a lot of my time on this trip has been exploring and viewing landscapes. And a lot of my time has been traveling alone, when I would have to do that awkward arms-length picture of myself thing. And alright, I'll be honest, I don't really like how I look right now.

And I love my SLR (I LOVE my SLR!) but it is a huge pain to pull out of my backpack and it makes me paranoid having that nice-looking camera out.

But today I had my camera out. And today my wonderful camera, with a newly-filled memory card, was STOLEN!

The day started with my arrival via bus into Bogota, Colombia's capital city, at 5 in the morning. I finally got to a hostel and slept on the couch for a few hours before arising and heading out to the streets which were surprisingly charming. As always, I had no idea what to expect from this new place. But La Candelaria is the tourist center of the city, and apparently an artistic center? As almost every building is decorated or brightly painted. There are some beautiful churches here, and the background of mountains is stunning.

After wandering around downtown for awhile I headed into another art museum, Donacion Botero. Filled with, you guessed it, more of Botero's fat people. I'm pretty tired of Botero, I like his statues more than his paintings, and I kind of feel like once I've seen 5 of them I've seen them all. But there were other works as well. The museum didn't have as good of a collection as Museo de Antioquia, but the building and space itself was really lovely. And it was free.

It had a couple of courtyards, and I was feeling very comfortable there. I usually do in art museums. I sat down on a bench in a sunny courtyard to read for a little bit with my camera on the left side of me, bag on the other. A man approached from the right and started asking me things in Spanish, something about coffee or lunch. As always I didn't get it the first or second time, so I was excusing myself in Spanish for my lack of Spanish skills when I out of nowhere got a funny feeling, looked to my left to discover my camera had disappeared, looked up to see a retreating back of a man a few yards away en route to the street exit. I yelled "Oy!", at which the man turned around with my camera in his hands. He tried to make some excuse, which I didn't understand, I merely gave him a death glare as I took my camera back. He quickly turned and exited while I turned to the first man with the same death glare. He tried to act like he wasn't connected with the stealing man, but of course he was and I said a really nasty "Ciao." I was really frustrated that I couldn't come up with the Spanish to alert the guards to these men's behavior before they had booked it to the street. But at least I got my camera back!

I don't know where my lightening-quick instinct came from, but I am so thankful for it. Even though I got my camera back I sat there, slack-jawed, for a good 5 minutes afterward. I know it was nothing personal, but it's hard not to take it that way when I know they were looking at me, planning how to rob me, before any of this happened. I think I look like a very nice person. A nice, considerate, intelligent person. It disgusts me that I can be someone's target. I know, maybe I can't imagine the hardship these two men go through every day. But to be honest, their clothing was nice enough. It didn't look like they were malnourished in any way.

I still can't believe I was robbed today. I knew it would happen. I came on this trip absolutely knowing I would be robbed at some point. But I've gotten a little too comfortable. I never would have left my camera sitting out like that when I arrived in Central America. Well, I've learned my lesson now, no worse for wear.

They would not have robbed me today if I wasn't alone.

After the museum I did one of my favorite things ever. I went to a cafe. Cafe Puerto Falsa to be exact, recommended by a friend. I had something new and local, agua de panela con queso. Agua de panela is a sweet hot drink, and it was definitely tasty. I don't know why it's served with queso on the side, but it was good queso, and good bread. Good lunch over all.

I then headed up to Museo del Oro, or Museum of Gold. I have no real interest in gold, but this museum comes HIGHLY recommended by my guide book and a couple of friends. And it was only $1.50. So in I go and I'm glad I did. It was essentially a museum of artifacts from the indigenous people of Latin America. A lot of it, obviously, was made with precious metal. But there was also pottery and carvings, etc. Super interesting, though too many people.

Tomorrow: Museo de Arte Moderno, Montserrate, and then maybe on to Salento already? I'm not feeling much like a city mouse lately, I think I'm ready to be in some mountains...


Anonymous said...

I didn't get the chocolate cheese either! And then I was told that the cheese goes in the chocolate. I didn't find out until it was too late for me - but now you have an excuse to try it again!


Anonymous said...

Nothing makes you feel more violated than being robbed, in my experience.

That said, no one looks for someone who isn't "nice" or "a good person" to rob; they look for foreigners who are disoriented and without communication skills. It is sometimes easier to rob people in pairs because they are more comfortable and distract each other.

Rebecca said...

Hey! Great job foiling the thieves! That's completely awesome, and a GREAT story to tell.

Amy-Alisa said...

Phew. I that would have been so sad to lose your pictures! And I almost felt violated just reading the account.