Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Me voy a mudar = I am moving = chaos

The nice thing about LaLoma was the proliferation of birds....
By the time you read this, I hope the move will be done and all will be settled without incident. My new landlord, a retired history professor, has done a lot to make my new little space more appealing, and if I have to move again into anything smaller, it will probably be a coffin! My friends here don't like my sense of humor about that, but seriously, folks, in two years....
The nice thing about the center of town location was being
able to hear the church bells every time they rang...
which is about every hour in this village. It was like being
IN the bell tower.... very energizing.

Move # 1 - one year in a three-bedroom house out in the country (LaLoma) - it doesn't matter that I could only use two of the three bedrooms because of the serious mold issue in #3, or that the swimming pool was a breeding ground for mosquitoes, or that the brother-in-law refused to share the costs of the electricity and water even though he was living there in a small cottage with his dog (and sometimes a girlfriend).
What I will miss most about the small casita is the many
surprises of animals that have been tied to a variety of
things - lampposts, cartons, bicycles, motos, etc. while
their owners have a 'quick one' at the bar on the corner.

Move # 2 - supposed to be one year in the oldest (or nearly oldest) house in Barichara right on the park, central to everything. Huge space, but only two tiny bedrooms with 18-ft ceilings and peculiar bathrooms. But clearly the landlady was unwilling to address the serious roof problems and after four months of damaging leaks, I gave notice and found something else right away. Must have been a move during a Mercury Retrograde because...
Sombrita (little shadow) is in and out of all the boxes.

Ultimo is a real cool cat; nothing gets him worked up.
Move # 3 - was also supposed to be for a year, to a cute (smaller) three-bedroom 'cottage' really, but adorable... and I loved being there/here, but while I was away helping with the arrival of the twins, the landlady was telling everyone in Barichara she was hoping I would find something else so she could have her house back. I will miss the grape arbor... made my first batch of grape jam here.

Legally she could have been obligated to me for two months rent, but since I was persuaded that my 'last move' was a good financial deal, I got her to end the contract with no cost to her and I am now - on Wednesday morning/Halloween day - onto

Move # 4 - into two bedrooms (one of which is normal size), two tiny bathrooms, a kitchenette and an open space for dining and sitting around looking at the 180-degree view, up a narrow flight of stairs... should be interesting tomorrow. I have no idea how the cats are going to take all of this... because now we are re-introducing a - dawg. Stay tuned.
Sombrita gets into the middle of all the packing materials, naps there,
and any sound right now sends her scampering... very hyper!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm not THAT Sandy...

At first I was excited to learn on Twitter that there was a tropical storm named "Sandy" and it initially appeared it was going to do the right thing and head out to sea, causing as few problems as possible.
 This 'snapshot' of the Other Sandy was off the wunderground.com site courtesy of NASA.
But the latest possibilities are considerably more sinister since it has been classified as a hurricane, and I just want to go on the record and say, "I am NOT that Sandy!" The worst possible scenario is a repeat of the Halloween storm of 1991, causing the loss of lives in a 'perfect storm' which was the basis for the book and then the movie of the same name (link is to the extensive Wikipedia report on that storm). I do recall exactly where I was that weekend - in Scituate, Massachusetts, watching my (thankfully) heavy duty sailboat wrenching and tugging at the anchor lines and praying she would be able to stay connected.

We had done all the right things to avoid chafing and splitting of the lines, set out anchors in two directions knowing that after the eye passed, the sudden shift in wind direction could pull up an anchor and set her free. She stayed in place. But plenty of other boats did not. As the eye was passing, we managed to drive down to the harbor and saw a pretty little red boat dashing herself to death on the rocks. The wind turned suddenly and caught my son off-guard, (he wasn't 6'3" then) and billowed out his raincoat like a sail, lifting him a foot up in the air before I grabbed him and pulled him into the lee of the wind behind a building.

Me at the helm some years ago...
There was a lot of chatter around the marina about the "May Day!!" calls for help from the fishing boats and others caught in an almost unbelievable and catastrophic event; three systems coming together. It could happen again, according to the meteorologists. Recreational sailors don't understand the drive for commercial fishermen (and women) and the risks they take daily to bring home the catch. But I had a cousin who spent some time on a fishing boat in the Pacific and got a much better appreciation for what it is all about. Sadly, the drive to stay out a little longer to bring home a full boat of fish may have been partly the cause of the sinking of the Andrea Gail.

I certainly hope that mariners of all kinds take the weather warnings seriously and stay in port until this storm passes. There will be a full moon on the 28th, so tidal rise will be higher and the potential for storm surge flooding increases. I  miss sailing, but I don't miss the anxiety of trying to find a safe harbor!

NOTE: as of 10/28, this storm was measured to be 900 (!!) miles across, so when it makes landfall, wherever it is, people who live inland will feel the effects. Looks like Sandy will be a record-maker. And at least 10 flights from Colombia have been suspended due to the storm. None of these affected me this time, but it goes to show how a Sandy in New England could possibly affect a Sandy in Colombia....

New York, N.Y.
Flooded marina from storm surge of Hurricane Sandy on North River
 near Scituate, MA. Photo by Greg M. Cooper, U.S. PRESSWIRE.


Monday, October 22, 2012

What I Saw This Morning

The fog/low clouds this morning made it necessary for
this vulture to take time out to dry its wings.
I am so lucky to be able to wake up and see clearly.... when I was little, I would wake up to a hazy world and I thought that was what everyone saw. Then when I went to first grade I got my first set of glasses and realized there was a whole lot I'd been missing... no wonder everyone thought I was a 'cotton-head,' a 'lay-about,' a dithering ditzy little girl. I could not imagine how the world moved so quickly in such a fog.
Closer view of the vulture drying out its wings.

As I grew, so did my eyes and the focal point stretched farther and farther away from the back of the eye, making me more and more near-sighted so that by the time I was 16 I was, without correction, legally blind. Fortunately for me, I was able to wear the 'new' contact lenses and that was the first time I saw my feet as they really were - rather large!

During my teens, the contact lens product changed and evolved so that I went from wearing something impermeable to those that were the beginnings of tiny plastic lenses that you could wear all day. But in my 60's, after wearing contacts lenses of all types and varieties for more than 40 years, my eyes were beginning to rebel, and I was not as confident of my driving as I had been. I felt as if something was off.  I went to a wonderful opthamologist, a fellow who was teaching eye surgery at a university in Florida, and he determined that along with the dry eyes of contact wearers, I was also losing vision because of cataracts. Surgery..... scary.... eyesight.... gasp.
Colombian sparrow checking out the gutter for water.

Colombian sparrow shaking off the water from a gutter bath.
I was warned of the risks, but the risks of not doing anything were greater. I am sure Dr. B. likes a challenge, but he also is careful. He let me sit in to watch one of his surgeries, and feeling confident of his skills, I was ready to proceed. So we both forged ahead and at the age of 62 with a couple of months between surgeries, I was given new eyesight that, for the first time, allowed me to see at 20/20 in one eye and 20/30 in the other - without contacts!!! I continue to be amazed as I wake up and SEE the world and now when it is foggy, I know it is because I am up in the Andes clouds, not because I am 6 years old and near-sighted.
How wonderful to have a toy that really moves!
So today I am once again giving thanks for my eyesight, and especially was reminded of this gift when I sat with a blind friend last night. The photo of the motorcycle's license plate may or may not be a sign to anyone else, but I interpreted it this way.

2:4 Corinthians? "My message and my preaching were
not with wise and persuasive words,
but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power
WHAT I READ THIS MORNING... This is an important posting from Deludia about medical thefts which we have to make sure we work to divert - at all costs! Please take time to click on this link and be aware...Deludia's posting about medical theft

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fotos of Feria XXXV - Day Three

This fellow is operating a cotton candy
machine that reminded me of the ones
we had at fairs when I was small.
Today will all be about color.... colors that people are wearing, colors of the floats, colors all around. I have noticed in the past that Colombians are very particular about what they wear and whether or not it all 'matches.' If a woman or girl is wearing pink shoes, you can be sure she also has pink in her shirt and in her hair or the purse she carries.

The floats are traditionally quite colorful and show off the products from each vereda as well as what Santander as a whole has to offer... coffee, corn, tobacco, chickens, beans, yucca, mandarins, oranges, mangos, pineapples, and more.

Girl in pink with pink ballon.

This is also the day of the parade - at 2 p.m. - so if a float is not yet finished, you can bet there are teams of people at work on it in the morning. No vereda (shire) would want to be ridiculed for being lazy or shirking their responsibility of being ready for their candidate's display. Remembering back to the representative we sponsored, this is a day of excitement for the families of the girls being presented. The girls are treated like princesses at home, allowed certain privileges not normally permitted, and reminded by their brothers or sisters that after the parade, they will have to return their 'golden slippers and crown' and be normal again. There is a sense that this is a huge joke, but one to be enjoyed to the fullest.

UPDATE: Because the Mayor did not put up roadblocks to prevent people from parking their cars around the park, the parade started very late, and of course ended late as well. There were announcements that people should move their cars, but that certainly didn't happen.

There were a lot of wonderfully creative floats, and I want to post a lot of the photos, but because of all the people here tonight, I cannot get modem speed to upload them. I will post as soon as I have some speed. It turns out that I knew one of the princesses because she was in our Radio/Theatre group and I also do not have the news of who the winners were at this time. More to come...

This was a school entry... Wow!

Casa di Cultura's Flower Float - it
was hard from where I was standing
to get a good shot of the whole thing.

These dancers are not Colombian, but were a lively addition to the event.

This is a giant chicken made from corn cobs and
papier mache... really impressive!
The Casa di Cultura float.
The Casa di Cultura float was indeed among the prettiest, but I don't think we won any awards. The dress worn by our princess was a perfect color for her and for the float.

There were 34 floats in the parade and it took almost two hours for all of them to make their way into the  central plaza for judging. When I find out who were the leaders (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and who was voted into Queenship, I will post an addendum here. There were too many floats to publish them all, so I will set up a Photobucket file and link it for your entertainment.

UPDATE: The young lady voted Queen of Barichara was in fact the only one I knew - Angie! She was also the tallest, and as it happens, is the daughter of one of my ceramic class members. She won a two-night stay in one of the top hotels in Santa Marta since the Mayor's office cannot award something like a scholarship. From what I understand it would be using public funds for a private reward. Perhaps I will work to create a scholarship fund so that the desire to be a princess will be enhanced by the desire to continue their education, too.
This is "Angie" on her float looking like the mariposa she is... lovely!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fotos of Feria XXXV- Day Two

Cathedral de Barichara
Day Two started earlier (!!!) than 5 a.m. when someone set off fireworks that sounded like cannons. This was followed by the band marching past my house on toward the central park. Groan.... I had slept through most of the downpour and heard very little of the music from the fairgrounds. No going back to sleep now.

This fellow is selling all  he can carry.
I love the bright colors in the serape.
The schedule for today includes going to help again with the float, probably about 3 p.m. And I am definitely going to go up and hear the music for awhile tonight.

An acquaintance, Patty, someone I met while taking art lessons from Shayo, has a wonderfully calm and very large yellow Labrador called Lucas. On most days, it is likely you will see Patty, her mother and Lucas there. It is one of his favorite outings to be allowed off leash to wander around the city's central park smelling all the 'messages' left by friends - the somewhat mangy black and tan mix, the tiny tawny terrier, and the aggressive Chihuahua-Pinscher mix to name a few - and then, after checking almost all of the trees, he comes and collapses underneath the bench where Patty is sitting. I think Lucas is smiling most of the time; it certainly seems so in this photo. Whatever the stories are, he doesn't seem to find anything upsetting.

Lucas - front and center
Lucas - tucked  under the bench
Looks good enough to eat, don't you think?
Today I tried to find the animal exhibition hall, but the only animals there were the Chino Santanderiano vacas, which you can see here. The baby is really cute, but his 'aunties' didn't seem to like him much and he was getting head-butted by everyone. The owner said the meat from these cows is really delicious and when I asked him how I could buy some, he misunderstood and was ready to sell me the whole cow. I said I lived in an apartment and I wanted the cow in pieces... he looked shocked at first, and then realized what I was asking. He said there is a place in VillaNueva - the next village over - where he sells the meat. Apparently I have to call him first and then he lets me know when a cow has been butchered and I then have to hightail it over to VillaNueva to buy it, before everyone else does. Sounds like a lot of work for me right now.

About 100 children with parents, older siblings or grandparents (or all of
them!) arrived at the Parque Cemetario to do some painting. (Note to E:
Two of the four girls sitting at the first table are the twins who said hi!)
After the cow exchange I went over to the Parque Cemetario to watch about 100 kids painting - and competing for prizes - until someone started playing reggae music which caused most of the kids to quite painting and start dancing. I wonder which of the 100 will take their art skills on to make it their business thinking that a bucket of candy is a great reward for one's creativity.
This is "Ventana" (2010) taken from my view in La Loma.

It didn't take me long to realize that I had forgotten to go to the art exhibition in the Casa di Cultura so I headed there next. It is a display of art by local artists, of which I am happily considered to be one. And there in a corner was my canvas "Ventana" (window) hanging for all to see along with some of my classmates' work. This makes exhibition #2 for this painting - and me - so I feel as if I can truly say, when asked, "What do you do?" that "I am a painter, an artist."

Kids were asked to wear hats and were given the horse and
the 'ruana' (shawl). A nice memory for some to have.
Since I had missed the Cabelgata with the grown-ups, I determined that I wasn't going to miss the one for the children. About 1:45 p.m. the kids and their parents began lining up and it looked to me like several stables of horses were going to be required, and even at that, it was going to take hours for each child to have his or her walk on the pony. Who else, besides me, was disappointed when they began  handing out nicely made horse's heads on sticks? I wanted the real thing... and from conversations I overheard, there were several youngster who agreed with me.

Pedro (#21) looks like he's frustrated at this point. It was
getting dark, and the concept was not coming together.
I headed home for a cup of tea after that huge let-down... still have to do the float and gear myself up for a night of music. From where I am sitting right now - about 3:30 p.m. - I can hear the highly magnified music from the fairgrounds, as well as someone's car radio at max volume, a smaller band in the city park, and a Andean flute wafting its notes like a ribbon through clouds, making such a wierd jumble of 'music' that I want to turn it all oFF!

The daughter of one of the adults
 working on the float got right in the
 middle of it and helped a lot!

Got the call to come and help with the float and at first I wondered how much good I could do, but I went along and did a few things. Then the Organizer decided to change things and everything I had done was really wasted, except the learning experience.

One of the things I learned is that these women here in Barichara know how to make something out of nothing and make it look lovely! Wait until you see the float tomorrow!

So I came home and made myself some dinner and ended up walking back into town with a neighbor to listen to the ‘Serenade’ concert. Colombians and the Spaniards have long traditions of serenading - for love, for disappointment, for fun. And tonight’s concert was very special with a variety of guitarists, including Tiple, performing for the 14 candidates on balconies all around the city park.

As I sat on a curb I could smell the sweet night air, perfumed with the night flowers, mixed with the freshness of a village washed clean from the rain the night before. And I appreciated this rare event, where people gathered and listened to the music, wandered around with dogs and children and all combinations of family. I told my neighbor that this probably could not ever happen in the U.S. because of the culture, because of the lack of a village like this where the park is central to everything, and because of course, it isn’t Barichara.
Serenading some of the Queen candidates at Feria XXXV in Barichara.

(NOTE: I wanted to post this last night, but because everyone was  using their cellphones, there was no bandwidth for my modem to operate... sorry for the delay.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fotos of Feria XXXV - Day One

It's a sunny and bright day here in the Andes.
As expected, the firecrackers started going off before 5 a.m. and the world started waking up. But I was surprised to see so few people around this morning. And I misread the program so the Cabelgata STARTED at 10 a.m., but not here; it was at some place not too far away (by horse) called El Chorro and they will be arriving here about lunchtime... gotta run. Be back with photos I hope.

Not sure where he was headed. But
he was the only rider I saw this
Doctora in the yellow, I have my head down to make leaves,
and Norma made the most of anyone. We will be ready.
UPDATE: I have photos of the band competition, but the horses and their riders arrived long after the expected time, while I was working with the Casa de Cultura float team, making leaves to put on a tree with dead leaves already on it. It was a bit challenging, but we made some good progress. When I asked how a giant watering can, a large branch with dead leaves and six wire baskets with false flowers in them were going to be assembled, I was told to stop asking questions and just make more leaves. I can tell you I have gotten very good at taking two shades of green crepe paper and wire and making them look like leaves now.

Pedro Gomez-Montanez, 6,  (wearing
the helmet)was the winner in his division
in the Barichara youth biking races.
The Giant Watering Pot
I don't think the scheduling of events this year has gone as well as last year. They have changed the timing for the candidates from 7 to 6 p.m. and I have only just gotten home from spending three hours on the float, so I don't think I will make it to that part.

Also, it turns out that one of my acquaintances here, who lives right across the street from the night-time hot spot, The Mirador, is desperate for a good night's sleep. She is willing to put up with two cats and have a sleeping bag on an inflatable mat if it will give her some distance from the booming music that practically shakes the dirt out of the rafters.

So I think my night may be an early one, meaning I won't make it up to the fairgrounds to see the dancing tonight. Shucks.

The 13 candidates being trucked past the Parque today.

It sounds like a Karioke event from the several blocks away where I am. Whoever is singing is doing it off-key although the background music appears to be OK. Perhaps they have turned a simple walk down the aisle to a talent show, where 14 teen-aged Colombian rural girls have their go at the limelight.

I know this is an important night for some of these young women, and some will go on from here to other opportunities to take advantage of their loveliness. Others will, just as in talent and beauty contests in other countries, feel they were disregarded or worse. I personally think contests about ‘looks’ are sending a very wrong message to young people. That’s what I’ve always thought, so being a grandmother hasn’t changed that opinion.
One of the bands going past the judge's viewpoint.

I can stand loud music if it is on-key, on beat... but listening to this is torturesome.

The main park is to the left, the judges are on the second floor of the
building to the right. You can see a bus waiting to take people to San Gil
just beyond the band group. Not much stops the busses.
The lluvia (pronounced Yoo-bee-ah) started just as the presentation ended and I was walking past the park with my friend, who may not have many issues with the music if it’s raining after all. Although they have rigged up a huge cover for the orchestra/bands and a dance floor, the rain will dampen the sound’s movement through the night air. If anything keeps us awake, it is quite likely to be the thunder which is really loud right now.

Everything smells earthy tonight. I saw a fellow who was on the trip in May to Chinquinqira in the park tonight. He says he wants to learn English but he never takes the step to call me to set up a time to sit and talk in the park as a beginning. Perhaps his girlfriend doesn’t want him to learn... this is an interesting dynamic with Colombians - if one half of the partnership wants to learn English and the other is against it (for whatever reason) the one who wants that opportunity decides to forget about it. My son saw the same thing in the group he was teaching last year even though the group was older. He said that half the class dropped out once their spouses learned they were taking the class.

It is no surprise that the advertisements for learning English on local TV are directed at the 30-somethings who are single.
The Andes were getting rain this afternoon and it arrived later tonight in
the village. I love these colors, but it is unstable earth, even if there are
rocks in it. That is why trees are so critical in Colombia.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Countdown to the Feria (Fair) XXXV !

In 48 hours, starting at 5 a.m. (before the flipping sun has even come up, for heaven's sake!) the Feria begins, and today there were people all over the village posting the schedules on doors, just in case you were not one of the impatient ones and got your schedule a week ago when the printer dropped them off.... like me. And by the way, Feria starts every day this way... and ends sometime after 1 a.m.
I love this view of the village, taken from La Loma about 9 a.m.
There is a palpable thrumming of energy throughout the village and since this is also a sort of 'homecoming' period, a lot of guests are beginning to arrive. I met an older woman who lives on my street this morning as I was sweeping it (this is another story I have to tell...) and she introduced me to her sister. This afternoon I met someone's cousin, and tomorrow an entire family will be coming to my house to collect the things they have been buying for the past two weeks. (Not exactly a garage sale, but productive nonetheless.) The trucks bringing beer and soft drinks have been unloading beverages at every little tienda all week long. It would not do to run out of beer! Tomorrow the military will arrive to begin setting up the check points coming into the city and also going into various venues where lots of people will be. They do check for guns and knives.

My art teacher said today when only one child showed up for class (usually there are six or seven), "Everyone is thinking only about the Feria and practicing for the parade and not about learning art." And in the distance I could hear the sounds of bands practicing, a sure sign that Feria is near. What is called the Battle of the Bands in the U.S. is called "Ecuentro de Bandas de Marcha" and it's at 4 p.m. on Friday, the 12th.

But my favorite, and the one I wish I could participate in, is the Cabalgata or horse ride...at 10 a.m. on Friday. I  adore watching all the riders on their high stepping, gleaming-coated Paso Finos and other breeds. I find it less appealing to see the drunks astride some spavined, underfed and mistreated creature they have nearly drug into town for the event. Yes, it's a mix, but that is Feria. Here's a photo from last year's event before the ride got under way.

The undisputed high point of the day for the women is the presentation of the young women who are vying to be Queen of Barichara. They are candidates from all the vedetas (equivalent to 'shires' or regions in this area) and they represent Barichara at various events throughout the state of Santander and sometimes beyond. Two years ago I sewed the dress for the representative from Salitre, the vedeta where Corasoma (the finca I was affiliated with) was located. She did not win, but came in third. This event is at 7 p.m. and is attended by all the girl's families and other relatives and friends, so it is a huge, huge gathering. I enjoy watching the girls make their 'walk' down the aisle, escorted by a young man who is usually part of the group of the military presence here during the festival.

There will be a dance every night up on the fairgrounds, where people can drink and eat and laugh and joke and have four days of carousing with family and friends. The new mayor of Barichara is quite firm about keeping the drinking up there and not all over the city, but we will see how well he manages.

Sabado/Saturday is about expositions and animals and presentations (more fiesta!) of traditional dances and foods, so it will be somewhat subdued after Friday's grand opening with all those intense activities.

Some very creative designs and use of materials last year.
It is on Domingo/Sunday when the Queen candidates are installed on their floats, something that takes several hours, after Mass of course. Floats are lined up all over the village, girls are either sitting or standing on them, braced to wave and throw candy for about two hours as they wend their way through the streets and past the judges. The parade starts at 2 p.m. and the judges' decision is announced at 7:30 p.m. up at the fairgrounds. Then the dancing will begin and those not chosen will wander about with tight groups of friends mingling and giggling until their feet are too sore to take another step and they finally head home.

After all of these days of getting up before 5 a.m., finally reason prevails and nothing happens on Monday until 8 a.m. And the day is scheduled to unfold somewhat sedately with parades of cows, festivals of chickens, gatherings of camposinos and acknowledgement of Guane, the nearest and oldest village in the state (I think) and finally another dance at 8:30 p.m. to close out Feria XXXV, "Ferias and Fiestas Culturales de la solidaridad y el retourno de Barichara" for 2012.

I'm charging up my camera batteries for the Feria, but I'm nearly worn out writing about it!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

1742 and all that...

Columbus Day is not really celebrated in Colombia, but in recognition of that fellow's efforts, I suppose something other than a Huge! Car! Sale! is in order. How about a history lesson?
My recently completed oil painting of Barichara.
This village, now called the City of Barichara, according to local history was established in 1742 by a catholic priest, Father Joseph Martin Padrilla and his son, Ayerbe. If any of you have watched the newest TV series of tales of perfidy, murder and mayhem, "The Borgias," then you will have learned that priests, cardinals and even popes of the early Catholic Church were producing children with or without papal consent. Perhaps once the world was more fully populated the Church decided to try and limit what their administrators were contributing.

Here is some of what else was going on in 1742: Charles Albert VII of Bavaria was elected Holy Roman Emperor in January. (For those of you who are little weak on history, this title was an elected one for the monarch who was ruling the central European union.) In April, Handel's 'Messiah' was presented in Dublin, Ireland for the first time, Frederick the Great (another emperor) of Prussia beat the Austrians in May (assuming this was some kind of a battle and not a soccer game), there was a fierce battle in June on Simon's Island in Georgia (USA) called "Battle of Bloody Marsh" when the Spaniards attacked the British to gain control of the areas north of St. Augustine, Florida (USA). Benjamin Franklin was busy inventing the Franklin Stove up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), and then in July, Prussia and Austria signed a peace treaty. Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) opened up to the public, and in November Empress Elisabeth of Russia proclaimed her nephew, Peter of Holstein-Gottlorp her heir. Poor Peter would eventually become Emperor in 1762, but would only survive for six months when his wife Catharine succeeded him. (That's a story for another day.)

It turned out that an earlier Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the first king of Spain, back in the mid-1500's, was busy utilizing his explorers to find and conquest much of the Americas, from what is now Florida south through Central America and South America. He was proud of his Spanish territorial dominance, continuing what would become a four-century effort to colonize much of the world - starting in 1492 with Christoforo Colombus and ending in 1898 with the Spanish-American War.

Those early Spanish explorers came up the Magdalena River from the Caribbean and invaded the ancient Chibchas whose tribes had, according to many historians, lived here for at least 14,000 years. The combination of diseases brought by the Spaniards, along with their brutal assaults, resulted in the obliteration of many of the indigenous tribes, including the Guane. By 1586 they were either assimilated into Spanish colonies or decimated. There is a little village about 16 kilometers from Barichara by this name. Their early cultivation of cotton, pineapples and creation of pottery is still going on today.
Santa Barbara Capella is at the top of the pueblo.

Barichara was operational 454 years ago, after someone claimed to have seen an image of the Virgin in a stone and the chapel of Santa Barbara was built on the site where that vision occurred, completed in 1698.

The purported image is on display in the first left-hand alcove of the Cathedral. I think this is because the Cathedral can be more securely attended than the capella can. Thirty-five years later, in 1733, there was a request made by the Padrilla de la Parra family to have Barichara designated a parish.
Interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Conception of Barichara.
The establishment of a parish meant people would come and have both the rituals and protection of the church. Finally in 1751, the Archbishop of Santa Fe, Don Pedro Azua, issued the title of parish under the name "Our Lady of Conception of Barichara and the Martyr San Lorenzo." The main cathedral at the top of the plaza bears this name. Construction was started in 1760 and finished about 20 years later and then consecrated in 1785. The cupola above the altar bears both structural and visual similarities to that of St. Peter's in the Vatican.
Doctora Isabel stirring up the native soup, mute (mooty).
As we slide down this next week to the Festivals and Ferias, Oct. 12-15, locals are madly finishing up their floats, stocking up on guarapo (pronounced good-ah-poh and made from fermented panela/sugar cane), chicha (a fermented corn-based, syrupy drink) and another drink based on corn and rice called masato. I had my first taste of guarapo last week and immediately had a GI problem. My doctor friend insisted that a small sip was not enough to be the cause, but given that this stuff is often made from pond water with any number of parasites and other things, I am not convinced. But I am certain that that was my last 'sip' of that stuff.