The Last Day of Unleavened Bread in Bogota

Trip Start Apr 06, 2017
Trip End Apr 24, 2017

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, April 17, 2017

We were awakened very early again as the thin window curtain in the room blocks the view, but it does not block the light. We showered and got dressed for church and decided to go down to the restaurant to eat breakfast which was included in the room rate.  The last time we stayed here a couple years ago, the waiter could never understand what we said, nor could we understand him, so we were anxious as to what to expect this morning. We had thought it was our Spanish, but decided it was simply his education level. He barely understood his coworkers as well.

We entered the restaurant and the waitress approached us somewhat robotically with her note pad.  She was not overly friendly. She stated they had pineapple and papaya for fruit.  I said I would like both.  Scott mentioned, "I cannot have fruit, and I need special food for breakfast as I have many allergies.  Could I have a portion of vegetables, and if possible, a chicken breast? I will pay the cost that is extra."  She quickly said, “No that is impossible.”  Scott motioned to the menu board near our table which said that vegetables were available for lunch.  She said that it was not possible for breakfast.  We asked to speak to her manager, and she said we could talk to the receptionist.

We went back upstairs to the receptionist and told her our story.  She called down to the kitchen and asked what vegetables they had.  She asked them to make us a lunch salad or sautéed vegetables for us when we returned to the restaurant.  Scott went back to the room to get a packet of tuna before going to the restaurant, and I went back to the restaurant to manage the order of the vegetables.  I ordered scrambled eggs for me and denied the bread as it was still the Days of Unleavened Bread.

I asked for black coffee with a little milk—emphasis on wanting it dark, mostly coffee.  We know here in Colombia they generally like a little coffee with their milk. Eventually the eggs came and they were OK.  Scott's vegetables came, too.  He received sautéed tomatoes, onions, and celery; and lettuce and spinach that was cut up fine and looked like Easter basket grass.  My coffee arrived and it looked like milk with a little coffee.  I nicely requested again that I wanted it dark.  She took it back and it returned a little darker but was definitely not even half coffee.  I took a sip, and it was very sweet.  I took it back to her and said that I really did not care for sweetened coffee.  She said they only had sweet coffee; no plain coffee.  I said, “No thanks, then,” and would she please bring me some hot water.  I would make a Starbuck’s Instant coffee.

We finished eating and we were both still very hungry.  We had talked while eating about what we should do.  We decided that we would check out a couple nearby hotels to see what they offered.  This was not only for us, but before the Feast, sometimes we have American’s that stay in Bogota and need to attend church or want a recommendation for a hotel.  We could definitely not recommend this hotel without several qualifiers.

We went to one hotel across the street which was also in the same price range.  They had breakfast, but were even more inflexible than the hotel we were staying in.  We went to another one, and they did not have breakfast.  We looked but did not see any more options close by except the expensive hotel.  Then we saw the Red Angus Grill and Beer House.  There was a waitress standing out front and she saw us and waved us over.  We thought that maybe they were open for breakfast.  We crossed the street, and they were open for breakfast, and we were cheerfully welcomed to the restaurant. What a pleasant change in approach.

We looked at the menu and there were some very good and reasonable options.  Since we were still hungry, we decided to share something here.  We chose Steak a Caballo which is beef steak covered with sautéed tomatoes and onions, and a fried egg, an order of patacon and a coffee for each.  Our food came fairly quickly and we enjoyed it.  We told the waitress that we would be back the next day for breakfast. Scott gave me the egg, since he cannot eat them due to food allergies.

Now, we had a good place for breakfast tomorrow, plus we had a place that we could recommend for breakfast to anyone who happens to stay in this area for breakfast. 

We returned to the hotel and I collected my church bag with my flute.  I went up to the salon to practice for Offertory Music.  Oscar M. arrived about the same time that I did and we chatted for a few minutes.  Janet and Jaime arrived soon afterwards.  Since they were already in the salon, I decided to practice in a small room next door to the salon so as to not bother them.

David, one of our young men, led songs and he did a wonderful job.  His brother, Leo, operates the sound system in Bogota.  It is nice to see these young men taking ownership of their beliefs and becoming involved in the church.  I did Offertory Music in the morning, and Jaime gave the sermon on being humble and having a transparent attitude.  What we believe and do should be transparent and clear like an aquarium.

After services, the ladies prepared lunch.  We had diced grilled chicken, sliced turkey, a rice and pasta mix, patacon, and tossed salad.  Coke and Mandarina soda was also offered, but we drank our bottled water.  After lunch, I served coffee to those that wanted it.  We sat and chatted around the table, and listened to various types of traditional Colombian music from Scott’s iPhone.  It was educational for us, as they were able to tell us what the different types were and their significance—dance music, music for an afternoon in the hammock, and music for a party were some of the examples.

David played the guitar and sang a song for Special Music in the afternoon.  Scott gave the afternoon sermon titled, “Y…¿Qué Hacemos Ahora?”-- “So…What Do We DO Now?” He gave us direction on what we all should be working on in our lives after the Days of Unleavened Bread have completed.

After church we decided to take our bags to our rooms before we went out to eat with the group.  We had to go down one elevator from the seventh floor to the first floor; walk to the other side of the hotel and take a different elevator to the fifth floor to our room.  When we got to the second elevator, it wasn’t working.  That meant we had to take the stairs to the fifth floor and then back down again.  Bogota has an elevation of 8675 feet.  We both were feeling the effects of recently coming into this high elevation; Scott was especially suffering as he had a terrible headache.  The last thing he wanted to do was to exert himself with doing five flights of stairs, but there was no way around it.

After coming back down, we waited in the lobby until everyone else finished in the salon and came down stairs.  We all headed across the street to Araoz’ to eat.  We had told everyone of the Sabbath before the Holy days that we would take them out to eat on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread.  No one was in the restaurant when we arrived, and no one arrived while we were there. If we hadn’t shown up, they would have not had any business. Scott went in first to talk to them for a bit.

There was only one chef and one waiter, so it took quite a while for all of us to receive our food.  Fortunately, we all had a fun time talking.  Scott and Jorge ordered the fried mojarra (fish).  When they each took a bite of it, they both said it was extremely salty! They both tried to eat it, but had to give up.  The waiter was told about this, but he acted like, “well there is nothing I can do about it.”  Scott gave his fish to Nora, and she said she would take it home and try to make some soup out of it.  I had Ajiaco soup (three potato soup) and it was good.

Eventually it was time for most to head home as some had one hour bus rides to make.  Jaime said he had driving restriction for another half hour, so we invited him and Janet to have something to drink with us at the Red Angus Restaurant. We chatted there for about an hour, and then we walked back to the hotel and said good bye.

Scott and I were extremely tired.  It had been a long day with two services and about 10 hours of constant Spanish conversation.  I took a shower and we both went to bed. We would need to be up early to travel by plane to Cartagena for our next few days of work. Another busy day.
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ailsabraun on

Enjoyed this account of your busy, tiring, but fellowship-filled Last Day of Unleavened Bread. It is truly heartwarming to see David and Leo step up to the plate and serve in ways that are needed. Prayers for the rest of your trip to go well.

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