October 17, 2013
Despite little sleep for the last two nights, we woke up early and hit the ground running. We didn’t really know what to expect, and we were a little nervous because we had read several accounts of people being mugged and worse.
We headed off to the gold museum, but got a little lost and stopped in a park to look at the map. Immediately, a man approached us and asked if we wanted to go on a graffiti tour. Our guards were up and we immediately said no just trying to get rid of him. He must have realized that and spent about 10 minutes talking about himself, the tour and Bogotá while the other members of the tour gathered. We figured he was legitimate and decided to tag along. Best idea ever.
Bogotá is covered with incredible street art and Crisp, our guide and an artist, knew the artists, their stories and the best locations. We walked for about 3 hours around town. It was a great introduction to the city and its issues. We were also able to get oriented and realized that Bogotá was not as scary as we expected.
We learned that street art is not just spray cans. Many artists use stencils or regular brushes and rollers. Some of the art was beautiful and realistic, while other pieces were wacky or political. There are a lot of truly talented people making art in Bogotá. The level of skill was amazing and the vibrant murals everywhere really gave the city a personality.
After the tour and lunch, we continued onto our original goal, the museum of gold. El Museo del Oro holds the largest collection in the world of pre-Hispanic gold work. There are two floors of extraordinary pieces.
There was an interesting movie, which showed the ways that people made the amazing gold items. The more intricate pieces were first made out of wax. The wax was then surrounded by clay and fired. As the clay hardened, the wax melted, leaving a void in the clay. Gold was then melted and poured into the clay mold. When cooled, the clay was broken open, leaving the gold piece. No two pieces were exactly the same, because each mold could only be used once.
We were pooped at the end of the day, but it was a great introduction to Colombia.