Monday, July 27, 2009
What’s Spanish for Neo-Citrin?
A new day. A new town. A new view (photo above). Usually this means good things but this morning I felt like absolute poo. It was official; I had a cold. Anxious to make up for yesterday’s ickiness, we got up and decided to ignore my runny nose and eyes and see the town. The big thing to do around here was hiking through the hills but we decided to just hike to town. So after breakfast we headed down the hill and into town.
As Catia and Nur had promised, Villa de Leyva was a beautiful town. That was incredible picturesque. At the middle of it all was a ginormous plaza surrounded by white adobe buildings. The town was fairly close to Bogota that meant it was a popular weekend destination for city folk. The good thing about this was the town had a walking tour mapped out on street corners that was easy to follow. But since it was Monday, not the weekend, the bad thing was that most of the sites were closed. That was okay. I was feeling miserable and not up to stopping in the churches or museums. Besides, the town was pretty enough to keep us amused. There were pretty churches, parks, bridges, and balconies. There were also lots of posters advertising theatre shows or so Adrian thought. On closer inspection (i.e. me reading and translating them) they were obituaries and funeral notices.
Just before lunch we did pop into the Casa de Antonio Nariño. We didn’t know what the museum was about but with the help of a guide, we soon found out he was one of Colombia’s most important revolutionary heroes. He translated the France’s human rights into Spanish and fought to bring equality to Colombia. For that he spent half of his adult life in prison for sedition and the other half as a member of parliament. Details were a bit fuzzy as the tour guide only spoke Spanish. She did speak slowly and clearly but without any breaks and eventually, I had to interrupt her to tell her I needed to translate for Adrian. She left us for a moment and then returned to continue the rest of the tour which consisted of her pointing to objects in the display cases. I’m sure she thoroughly explained their significance but with my clogged up head and short attention span, all I got was here is Nariño’s book, here is Nariño’s pen, here is his chair, etc. etc. The personal tour was nice but considering we just wanted to poke around an old house it was a bit excessive. So we ducked out as soon as we could in search of lunch and some tissues so I could blow my nose.
We went to a place mentioned in our ancient Lonely Planet for having good cheap local grub. But when we were handed the menu, the prices appeared to be $10 per plate. That’s some inflation. I looked around and noticed that all the locals were eating something I couldn’t find on the menu so I asked the waitress what they were having. She exhaled and said it was the almuerzo (set menu lunch) and it was only $3.50 for soup and main course. We’ll have two of those, please. The first course was soup and just what I needed for my cold. It looked like the same soup as yesterday but without the odd tasting mystery meat, it was infinitely more appetizing. I couldn’t tell you how it actually tasted since my taste buds had stopped working. Likewise the fired chicken lunch. All that mattered at that point was that it was cheap and filling. Now it was time to find those tissues.
We started to walk to town and I knew it was time for me to get back to the hostel and sleep off this cold. Adrian offered to pick up the tissues and some Neo-Citrin (Lem-Sip for you Brits) while I went back to the hostel. Sweet thought, but I knew he’d never be able to get the Neo-Citrin without any Spanish, so I hobbled along with him. Of course, I didn’t know what it was called here either or even tissues. But thank goodness for brand names as Kleenex, is apparently bilingual. Then it was time to ask for the Neo-Citrin, which we discovered is not bilingual. So instead I asked for a hot drink I have when I’m sick. The pharmacist thought for a second and handed me a package of Pax. Mission accomplished. Now it was time to knock myself out with the Pax.
On the way back to the hostel, we stopped in an ice cream shop. I joked that perhaps it could freeze my sinuses and actually I did feel better afterwards until we got to the hill up to the hostel. It took twice as long to get up as it did to get down but I made it back. I just hung out with my tissues and hot drink until dinnertime, chatting with Naomi and Emily, two Aussie girls who had arrived a few days before. Emily also had a cold as did another girl from the UK. I guess being sick is another one of the things you do in Villa de Leyva. The two Slovenian girls who just arrived obviously hadn’t gotten the memo, as they were fine. Must be those Eastern European constitutions.
As we chatted Adrian went out in search of some dinner. I realized that he was gone for two hours and I started to get a little worried. Naomi and Emily assured me that he’d be fine especially since there was a military academy just across the road. Eventually he returned - by taxi. He’d gotten a little lost and without a map or ability to tell the driver where to go, he'd had to mime the location of the hostel on the hill. But I was glad he was back and with food so we can eat and then go to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be feeling better.