Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rude Awakening

I had a restless night last night. Don’t know why. Sometimes it just happens. It’s just as well, because if I were having a good night’s sleep I would probably be really pissed right now.

At 5 am this morning I heard a boom that brought me wide awake – immediately. Then I heard the bangs. At first I thought they were gun shots, but they were too regular, like fireworks. Then I began to hear sirens and some distant voice on a loud speaker. This continues for over 30 minutes. Little Dude and Little Mermaid slept right through it all. As the sirens and, now, honking grew closer I went to the window and asked the Dude if he was woken up by it all. He was. I walked down the hall to find CC walking up the stairs. “What’s going on?” I asked. She smiled and shook her head. Today is the day of the Virgin of CARmen the saint of conductors and drivers. It’s true folks, you can’t make this stuff up.

Well, once I’m up, I’m up. So I sat in bed, downloading pictures from the camera, typing up the previous blog, making videos that I can’t upload and watching American TV dubbed in Spanish. I did find this really cute priest on channel 5, Padre Chucha. He was talking about the FARC and the kidnapped. Sunday is Colombia’s Independence Day, and they are planning a huge rally in the city square to demonstrate solidarity against the FARC. This seems to be a fairly common occurrence in Manizales. This small city in the mountains is known for its colleges and universities. And you know how students like to rally and protest. Go on, check for Manizales on YouTube and I’ll bed you’ll find a video of an Anti-FARC rally. Pretty good thing to rally against, actually.

Ok, back to the parade. The noise continued on until about 5:45 – 6:00. Later that day, at more civilized hour I asked CC why in the world were they parading at 5 am? She answered, “Colombia is a very Catholic country and on special days people celebrate. They begin at 5 am because that is sunrise.”

After breakfast we, the Dudes, Little Mermaid, CC and myself, drove to downtown Manizales. At the main square there are two very beautiful, very historic buildings. The first is a grand cathedral. It is over 80 years old. It looks very dark and gothic on the outside. Absolutely stunning. Inside are statues of saints and loads of stained glass. I took LOTS of pictures. Now, if only I could get them loaded online!!! ARGH! Darn you slow internet!

Across the square, directly across from the cathedral, is the Governor’s Mansion. This building is about 86 years old. CC spoke to the people in protocol and got us special permission to photograph the mansion and we were even invited to the top floor where the Governor’s office is located. Very cool! We didn’t get to meet the big man though, but I was very impressed nonetheless. The mansion is more like an office building. I don’t know if there is a personal residential wing for the governor, or if it was the residence of the first governors. Now it is mostly used as a government building. I took loads of pictures. The building is creamsicle orange, maybe a little bit darker, with white trim. There is all sorts of fancy scrollwork and medallions on the walls and ceilings. The middle of the building is a courtyard with a big beautiful palm tree. Ah! So magnificent.

While we were touring the mansion, we heard another parade; I was able to video the procession. There was a marching band and a team of priests dressed in white holding tall candlesticks. And, of course, CC found someone she hadn’t seen in years and they hugged and talked. I’m telling you, the woman is popular. And I get to be her friend, nanny nanny boo boo!

On our walk back to the car we stopped at a shop and bought our super touristy t-shirts. The Dude lucked out though. He got an embroidered polo shirt. Excuse me!

We came home and had something that looked an awful lot like leftovers, which is totally fine. But it was masquerading as an entirely new meal. Basically, it was pot roast stew, minus the liquid and adding some arroz (that’s rice to you gringos).

The Dudes are napping and the Little Mermaid must be bored playing with her things, b/c she’s down here giggling hysterically while I type. So I’m going to wrap this up and I’ll type more later…