Monday, May 22, 2017

The High Life – Erich

I am currently living the high life, higher than I ever have before. But by this I don't mean that I am supremely wealthy, nor partying excessively, nor under the influence of any intoxicants. What I mean is that I am living at a higher elevation than I ever have before.

We are in Bogotá, Colombia. Bogotá has an elevation of 2,644 meters or 8,675 feet. And we are living on the third floor. So you can see we are way up there!

It took us awhile to realize that the reason we get so out of breath when we walk about is because of altitude sickness. But even with the lesser oxygen content, we love Bogotá. And there are many reasons.

How about fruit as a reason. Colombia is a land of delicious fruits. There are familiar fruits like bananas, but so much fresher and more flavorful than at home. (Though not necessarily any better than Kerala, India.) There are fruits we have enjoyed in other places, but more plentiful here. As an example, passion fruit. Previously, Carver figured out that granadilla and passion fruit are one and the same. Except now we know that they are not. Passion fruit, called maracuyá here, is the same genus as granadilla, but not the same species. But both are readily available.

And then there are a whole host of fruits we've never encountered: Uchuvas (size and shape of cherry tomatoes but orange in color and with a tart flavor), curuba (looks like a small finger sized cucumber, but has more of a passion fruit interior with a kiwi mixed with toothpaste flavor), tree tomato (also called tamarillo, red/orange in color, but with a mix of tomato, spicy cilantro, and mango flavor), small red plums (size of cherry tomatoes, round and red, but super sweet and juicy), and guanabana (like a giant custard apple, though we had never seen a custard apple until Vietnam).
Four of the many new fruits
And while on the topic of fruit in Colombia, fruit salad is a major treat here. They make it with thin slices of bananas, apples, papaya, melon, peach, mango, strawberry, and more. Then it is drenched in a cream, something like sweetened condensed milk. And they put shredded cheese on the top. Oh, and if you're lucky, you get one of those small red plums!
In high school, I was in a musical in which one of the songs was called "Fruit Salad"
You can get your fruit at the local grocery store and there is lots of selection. But if that's not enough for you, try out Paloquemao Market! It is this large market in downtown Bogotá, with both indoor and outdoor sections. You can find dozens of fruit stands in the fruit section.
You could get lost here! Luckily Carver didn't.
You can find dozens of vegetable stands in the vegetable section. Guess what you can find in the meat and milk sections?
Carnes (meats) and lacteos (dairy) together? That's not kosher!
Here's a hint. You can buy four different kinds of ham in one stand alone!
Cerdo = pork; Cordero = lamb; Pollo = chicken; Ahumado = smoked; and Jamon = ham
And then there is the flower section. Thousands of flowers in hundreds of colors and varieties everywhere. I am trying to imagine how they can sell that many flowers. We did see plenty of people buying flowers, but with the numbers they have, wouldn't every citizen of Bogotá need to buy one to sell them all?
Floral overload
Other foods are the same but different here. For example, squeeze bags of food are very popular. You can see jelly in this picture. But you find your mayonnaise, sour cream, and a variety of yogurt drinks in them.
Why dirty a knife when you can squeeze?
Tony the Tiger is advertising Zucaritas here, but that is pretty much a translation of Frosties, which is the name for Frosted Flakes in many parts of the world.
Son bu-u-u-u-ueno!
Perhaps best of all, the mathematician in me loves the bread! See here, white bread is pan blanco, but whole wheat bread is called pan integral. And what good mathematician wouldn't want calculus with every sandwich?
The derivative of pan integral is just the pan. (Ha! Fundamental Theorem of Calculus joke!)
We tried two typical Colombian dishes, both of which we enjoyed. The first was a soup called Ajiaco, sort of a thick, opaque soup made of potato, garlic, chicken, and herbs. On the side you receive rice and avocado. But the idea is that you cut up your avocado into chunks and put them into the soup. Same with the rice, except you don't have to cut that into chunks. It's rice.
I do so like green soup and rice! Thank you, thank you, Sam from Colombia!
The other was bandeja paisa. It included several different items together on one platter. There are a variety of seasoned meats included fried pork, ground beef, and a hot dog like sausage. There are thick dark beans. And there is rice. On the top is a piece of arepa, which is a small, round, fried corn bread. It's also served with a fried egg, a slice of avocado, and a fried plantain.
If you had to have a national food, this would be a good choice
We also went through a mall and saw a few things I've never seen before. Such as?

You know the men's room right?
Familiar
Right next to it is another bathroom with smaller sinks (which were orange) and toilets that is clearly labeled as the boy's room.
Not so familiar
It's not uncommon to see a McDonalds in a mall food court. But have you ever been to a food court which didn't have a full McDonalds, but only had a dessert section of McDonalds? All they sell are the desserts.
Who needs entrees?
We happened to be there on a Sunday morning. And there was a church service going on right outside the food court. Do you think it is weird to be praying while knowing behind you someone is buying McFlurries?
 
Personally, I was excited to see Mujer Maravilla just hanging out in the mall too. Complete with her lazo de la verdad. And that's the truth!
Mujer Maravilla! What more does anyone need to say?
I know! It's a lot to see and do. And being from much lower lands, we do get winded sometimes. But that's no problem. You can just find some artistic concrete benches on which to relax.
Doesn't Syarra look comfy?
Because sometimes you want to be low key, even when you're living on high!

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