Sunday, March 25, 2012

American Diner Featured in Barichara

De Tin Marin offers two levels of dining in a 1950's
American diner atmosphere near Parque Cementerio.
The fascination with the American early Rock n' Roll scene has caused some enterprising Colombians to re-create an American diner here in Barichara, complete with hamburgers, french fries and the real Coca-cola in bottles, not cans.

Just up from the cathedral, near the Parque Cementerioat Carrera 6a No. 2-50, you are in for a surprise.

Tonight on my walk I discovered a new and fun restaurant, "De Tin Marin," (roughly translated, I believe, from the child's game of 'eeney, meeney, miney, moe' used when you are trying to pick/choose something or someone) is now open for business but not enough people know about it so no one was eating just then. The staff was pleased to have me come and take pictures and if I had planned properly I would have also had something to eat - it smelled wonderful inside!

Superman, hand-wringing washers, barber chairs, jukeboxes and so
much more will catch your eyes and memories (if you are old enough) at
De Tin Marin in Barichara, Santander, Colombia.
With two levels, there is seating for about 60 or so people with a red, white and black decor and the wonderful metallic round stools and tall tables, plus comfortable booth dining harking back to the mid-50's.  It is not easy to find the American gas pumps, barber chairs and other fun items of that period here, so I can only guess that some of these items came from someone's collection.

A basic hamburger is $5,000 COPs (about $2.75 USD) and a 'perro sencillo' (hot dog) is about the same. There will be shrimp cocktail for $10,000 ($5.75 USD) and arepas and patacon as well in the same price range as the burgers and dogs. Drinks range from $1,500 (one mil cinco) for a 'pop' (gaseosa in Spanish) to $40,000 for a flacon of red wine (merlot or cabernet). For the heavy hitters, there will be Chivas Regal whiskey in 375 cc glasses at $60,000 COPs, a little over $36 USD, I'd guess, if the exchange rate stays about where it is now. Not exactly what you'd find in an American diner then or now, but this is supposed to be entertainment after all.

"The Flying Horse" from Mobilgas was a
hit on my memory from the '50's in another
place far from Colombia.
This week is the precursor to the week of Semana Santa, so Barichara will be filling up with plenty of people from outside visiting and I am sure this will turn out to be a hot spot with a jukebox playing some of the "Oldies" and goodies from 5 -10 p.m. Monday night through Thursday and from 5-12 on the weekends. Don't know if there will be anyone dancing the jitterbug, but perhaps I could go and give lessons.

It crossed my mind that perhaps they will get so busy they'd like to have an authentic 'be-bopper' chewing gum, in bobby sox and a poodle skirt running around taking orders in English... it was just an idea - but an ancient teenager? Probably would be better if I just go and sit and quietly have one of the hamburguesas and remember what it was like all those decades ago when the Peterborough Diner was still in operation, the movie theatre was next to the Mobil gas station that 'Jeep' ran and a Coke was a different drink than it is today.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Harleys in Colombia? Si!

All around the central square and on many of the side streets, there were
bikes and there were Bikes... Harley Davidson to be precise. About 200
one of the organizers estimated, but I didn't count and it looked like more.
And in Venezuela and Brazil and... now Barichara. It was a sort of “Bike Day” instead of a whole week, but well over 200 Harley Davidson motorcycles of all vintages and styles, from all over Colombia and other places, came roaring into this normally quiet village in north-central Colombia, 5000 feet up in the Andes mountains. Staged from their gathering spot in San Gil, (the extreme sports capital of Colombia) apparently a large number of bikers enjoyed a lunch out in the country before arriving at the central square about 2:30 p.m.
Yesterday I heard four of them arriving as those throaty pipe sounds reverberated off the stone streets and rammed earth walls. I had to go out and see, of course, and sure enough the riders were just getting off as a crowd gathered to take pictures and ask questions. One young boy was clearly eager to get much closer, but his father held him back and if I was a betting woman, I am sure that 25 years from now he will have found a way to realize his dream to be really close.
There was a huge speaker system playing Colombian music as the “vroom-vroom” and rumbling, chest-vibrating motors assembled all around the park, making an interesting kind of modern rhythm. I managed to grab a photo of what I thought was the HD Motors team from Colombia posing, although I later learned one of the guys in the shot was from Venezuela. And apparently not ALL the big bikes were HDs as I spotted several hefty BMWs, Hondas and Yamahas.
A fellow from Bogota spoke English very well and told me he had been to the U.S. and had ridden a Harley thousands of miles, exploring much of the country. He said, “There is no better way to experience a country than by riding through it on a motorcycle, seeing and hearing and smelling the land around you.” I partially agree as a former 'biker', but now instead of 1200 horses, I would be quite happy on just one.
This looks like a vintage Harley with a sidecar. But I was
also looking at the flag... it does say FLORIDA on it!
This visit to Barichara is just one of several events that Harley Davidson of Colombia organizes and while some folks might complain about the noise, I found it entertaining for the short time they were all here and I am sure some of the shopkeepers were glad for the business.
So all you Harley riders in the U.S., it’s time to experience 129 turns in 25 kilometers (that’s coming from San Gil to Barichara) or come and see some other parts of this amazing country of Colombia by bike, and I’ll bet Harley Davidson in the U.S. can help you make that happen through their contacts in Colombia.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Fascination with Japan

One year later, after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan proves its capabilities in rebuilding, at least on the construction level. I cannot imagine the horrific loss of family members and friends from such an event. Over this past year periodically I have watched videos and listened to audios of the disaster, as it was too much to do earlier. And now, a year later, rubble and reminders are washing up on the western shores of the U.S. (Ghost ship drifts toward Canada)

I think my fascination with Japan has its roots in my relationship with my grandmother who had a flair for exotic fabrics and clothes which she draped around her or which she had made into interesting things to wear. As a child I was allowed to go into her attic and walk over the creaky boards to the far corner where she had a huge wooden and metal trunk, the kind you see in old movies that people used for shipping their goods to foriegn lands.

When I opened it, the smells of oldness and adventure would rush up to my nose and I would lift up the ancient silk kimono carefully, just as my grandmother would appear behind me to caution me to do just that. I both dreaded her appearance and welcomed it because there were always stories about how these items came into her trunk, but partly I dreaded her invasion of my imagination.

There were tiny little silk cloth slippers with delicate flowers and leaves embroidered on them having a place for a big toe separated from the rest of the foot which was a matter of great curiosity to me. My feet were already too large to try them on, but I delighted in hearing from my grandmother how the ladies walked in little mincing steps on wooden platforms with their silk kimonos tightly wound around their petite frames.

My grandmother Elsa was not one to 'play' with her grandchildren. Instead she would offer up tales of her travels and punctuate these revelations with her unassailable philosophy that war of any kind was both horrible and unnecessary. After her beloved husband, Alain, was killed in World War I in a car accident in France, she worked as a nurse over there for some time before returning home to their four children.

Her diaries show her personal objective to strive toward world peace, as do her poems and essays. And she did travel many times around the world to seek audiences with various world leaders, including a trip to Japan. Her stories were always replete with descriptions of the regalia of the local country she was visiting, so it was like having Rudyard Kipling at my beck and call.

It is distressing to think of Japan as being "off-limits" because of the radiation or more serious disasters like the one a year ago. It is one of my goals to go to visit that country, providing all aspects are supported - my health, my wealth, and the condition of Japan's environment. Intending the peoples of Japan continue to heal from their trials and this one-year noting brings encouragement to all the world.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Blue was new.... at least to me

I didn't know it when I took the photo that this man is the
father of twin girls who would be seated with the rest of
the family (boy 3, and girl 5, and Mama) across the aisle
from me and who I would later help disembark in Bogota.

This is the first time I’ve flown on jetBlue, but they offer a direct flight from Orlando, FL to Bogota and back. No stopping in the MIami crazzzzziness, no layovers waiting to get another flight on to Bogota or from Miami to someplace else. Yippee!
Look at all that legroom!
And the leather seats!
And their promise about the seats is all they say it is!
When I was trying to decide how to go back to Colombia, I looked at all the options. Because it is harder and harder to redeem air miles, it hardly matters whether I fly on one airline or another, they all seem to arrive in Bogota after 9 p.m. (even from MIami) and so I began looking for flights from Orlando. American Airlines, Spirit and Continental all have flights, but they have at least one stop. 
Then I needed to determine how to get to the airport. MCO (Orlando International) is about 2.5 hours from Lake City and while JAX (Jacksonville International) is only a little more than an hour away, the cost is huge to fly out of there and connections are awkward. I found a shuttle service operating from Ocala (Florida’s horse country if you are not familiar with the name) which is also about an hour from the house. Last time I drove to Orlando, I parked the car for two weeks and drove home again for the same cost as a one-way bus fare to Orlando. But as I am going to be gone longer this time, parking the car was not the best choice this time.
Once I took a bus to Ft. Lauderdale to get on Spirit which flies direct from there to Bogota. I had to pay for everything except using the loo... turned out not to be such a bargain after all. And the bus ride was horrendously long. After flying out of Orlando, it will be my first choice most of the time and apparently I’m not alone with that idea... the TSA lines are 30 minutes long during the week - the only drawback.
The shuttle turned out to be a great idea. I got a ride to my pick-up spot and then was dropped off about an hour and half later right at my airline. They will pick me up and take me back to the same spot, and if I have to wait for a ride home, there is a fancy restaurant and even hotel accomodations if I have to wait too long!
The full moon was rising (you can see it just above
the wingtip) and as night fell, the moonlight danced
on the silver wings of the jet - a lovely sight.
What else do I now love about jetBlue? Free entertainment, seats with plenty of room, free snacks, mileage points, cheerful flight attendants and a flight that gets me to and from Bogota directly!! The price was very reasonable, too.... so if you are thinking about coming to visit me in Colombia, maybe the Blue is for you.
(No, they are not paying me to say all this, but I hope they will check in and find out they have a very satisfied customer.)

NOTE: I found a 'boutique' hotel in Bogota for a really decent rate and will take some pictures tomorrow in the daylight. Then it's back to Barichara and my project list. And certain special people will understand the fascination with twins - more on that later.