About a dozen volunteers in yellow-and-grey uniforms marked “Bogotá” are holding the gate against a crowd of several hundred demanding to be let in. It is not a riot, but the usual weekend procedure at the slopes of Mt. Monserat in Bogota. The Colombian holidaymakers are cheerful. The have brought their children, water bottles, snacks and votive candles. All the latter can also be purchased along the steep path up Mt. Monserrat once the gate is opened for a brief period to let in the next batch of people. “…completely full…,” we hear a loudspeaker murmur, and indeed, after half an hour walking in merry atmosphere the stream of Sunday pilgrims comes to a standstill. There are juice stalls and chicken roasters, but no way up. About 400 m above Bogotá we have stunning views over the city, but there’s an uphill queue of thousands between us and the summit with its pilgrim church.
The Bogota Gold Museum
A few hours later, the Bogotá Gold Museum doesn’t quite have to close its doors, but there’s a steady stream of visitors both international and domestic as entry is free on Sundays.
Three floors of exhibitions explain the techniques of gold-smithery, the style of all the pre-Columbian tribes of Colombia and the myths and symbols associated with the artefacts. Only the most beautiful and interesting pieces of a collection of 50,000 are exhibited. So many ancient gold artefacts does the museum possess that one installation consists of a room densely hung with “second rate” gold amulets, jewellery, breast plates and ornaments that any European museum could be proud of.
We have travelled on to Medellin in the meanwhile and are now in the Zona Cafetera, Colombia’s main coffee growing area.