Day 2 In Bogotá Colombia Continued: Monserrate

After learning to play Tejo and enjoying a local lunch, it was time for us to continue our tour with a visit to Monserrate. Monserrate is a mountain located in the center of Bogotá, which is more than 10,000 feet above sea level. In order to get to the top of the mountain, one can walk, take a funicular train, or a cable car. We took the cable car, since it was the fastest and easiest means of transportation.
Upon arriving to the top of the mountain, we came across a type of plant called the angel trumpet bird which hummingbirds are attracted to, and which are unfortunately used by many to make date rape drugs.
At the top of Monserrate, there is a church which contains the Lady of Monserrat (Matron Saint of Monserrat), a replica of what can be found in Catalunya, near Barcelona. This replica has been around since 1630, and was fixed over in the eighteenth century. The mountain was named Monserrate due to this famous image being held here. This was supposed to be the main focal point to see (besides the view of course) here on Monserrate, but now, it is most famous for its statue of Jesus Christ being taken off the cross named “El Señor Caído,” (fallen Lord).
In 1656, the statue of Jesus, which is pictured below was brought to Monserrate. The hair on the statue is actual human hair, and if you’re wondering whose hair it is, I had the same question, but was not able to get a definitive answer.
The rest of the church was completed in 1925 and is a beautiful place of worship, not only for the incredible artifacts inside, but for the breathtaking view outside as well. As we walked around Monserrate, we spent a few minutes adjusting to the high altitude level by drinking coca tea. As a snack, hormigas culonas were passed around for us to sample, which translates to “Big ass ants.” Hormigas culonas have their name because the rear end of the ants are much larger in size. Only the queen ants are eaten, since the others are not considered edible. Often times, the wings and legs are removed, as the ants are soaked in salty water and roasted as a delicacy. I couldn’t bring myself to indulge in the ant eating, but both my brother and sister did, and watching them eat it was still quite the experience.

Day 2 In Bogotá, Colombia

After eating breakfast in the morning, we hopped onto the tour bus and drove to La Candelaria, a historic neighborhood in downtown Bogotá. It is said that Colombia is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, with 1,887 species of birds alone in the country. Besides for its bio-diversity, our tour guide explained that Colombia is also known for four major features— coffee, emeralds, flowers, beautiful women, and cocaine. The size of Bogotá, specifically, can be compared to that of New York or London, and is the one of the three largest cities in South America.

It rains in Bogotá 250 days of the year, so rainy season is practically year-long. During the 19th century in the 1800s, the British arrived in Bogotá to build railroads and neighborhoods, so the fact that so much architecture in the city is based around red brick is due to the English influence. Something interesting about the city is that it is divided by numbers, with each number representing the class of individuals who live there—1 being the lowest socioeconomic level of status and 6 being the highest. The city’s minimum wage comes out to $280 per month, and for apartments in the level 3 district for middle class citizens, apartments cost $290 per month.

The first site that we came across was Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, a beautiful church in the city that has become a staple, followed by a church from the 1600’s that survived the Civil War nearly 60 years ago. From there, we walked to Palacio de Nariño, or Nariño’s Palace—the official home and workplace of the President of Colombia. Antonio Nariño was the first person to translate human rights from French to Spanish. He had these rights printed on pamphlets and began passing them out, but was soon imprisoned for doing so. The palace sits on the same location where Nariño was born, and the President lives on third floor, while the rest of the palace contains important artifacts from the country’s history.

Outside the palace stood various military guards, and upon inquiring more information, we learned that one year of military training is mandatory for everyone upon graduating high school unless you have money to get yourself out of the requirement or unless you go directly to college.

As we continued walking, we came across balconies from hundreds of years ago that were influenced by the Arabians. The balconies were designed for the women of the house with the purpose being that the women could look outside, but no one could see inside.

We then saw the first observatory in all of South America that was built in the 1800s. It was meant to be taller than the Catholic Church but the architect was told if he followed through with his plan, he would have his head cut off.

The next sight was a cloister where firstborn girls were sent to spend the rest of the their lives. Their bodies would be painted when they died to preserve them. The second girl in the family would be married off to a wealthy lord, and the third daughter, or the youngest in the family would have to stay with their parents until they died, which some say is a different type of imprisonment as opposed to being sent to the cloister.

Following the cloister, we came across Plaza de Bolívar, named after President Simón Bolívar. The Plaza is home to the National Capital, the Palace of Justice, and the Cathedral of Bogotá.

As we continued walking, we spotted a building where President Simón Bolívar lived. He had a close female friend who often hosted parties and purposely invited various guests—some of whom were known to like the President, and others who openly voiced their dislike towards him. After getting the guests drunk, she approached them and asked what they thought of him. It was in this way that she found out about an attempt to kill him. She told Bolívar about this plan to kill him right before it happened, and he jumped out the window (pictured below) to escape and run while the people who planned to kill him were entering his house.

Across from this building is a theater built in 1793 but completed in 1800 which is very similar to the one in France, with the only difference being that this one is a little smaller. Shortly after seeing the theater, we came across a house where the Colombian version of Dr. Seuss was born, as well as the Red Cross building in Bogotá. From here, we took a tour of Fernando Botero’s museum, but that will be discussed separately in an upcoming post.

Misioneros Del Camino: Changing Societal Norms

In 1986, Mami Leo answered a call from God to pack her belongings and move to Guatemala to help abandoned, abused, and malnourished children. With $2,700 raised by her and her prayer group, and faith that the Lord would guide her, Mami Leo devoted nearly thirty years of her life living in the mountains, nourishing, educating, and loving countless Guatemalan children in need. Throughout the past month, I have been discussion the incredible milestones that Misioneros Del Camino has accomplished thus far. As the story wraps up to today’s present date, I wanted to share a video with pictures that show some of the beautiful children who have been saved by Misioneros Del Camino.

Some of the countless children who have been saved by Mami Leo can be found in the video below. It only takes one person to make a difference, as Mami Leo has done, and just one person alone has changed a generation of children. This is evident in the fact that over the years many of the children from Misioneros Del Camino have grown up to be inspirational figures to the other children and have become exceptional figures in society. It is always such a joyous moment when we get to see them graduate from school and enter into adulthood, thus breaking the cycle of abandonment, neglect, and abuse. The success of these young adults is truly an incredible sight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO-BuoKrV9o#t=254

 

Reaching New Heights at Misioneros Del Camino

In 1986, Mami Leo answered a call from God to pack her belongings and move to Guatemala to help abandoned, abused, and malnourished children. With $2,700 raised by her and her prayer group, and faith that the Lord would guide her, Mami Leo devoted nearly thirty years of her life living in the mountains, nourishing, educating, and loving countless Guatemalan children in need. Throughout the past month, I have been discussion the incredible milestones that Misioneros Del Camino has accomplished thus far. As the story continues, we pick back up in 2011.

As you might remember from a previous post, in 2006, a neurological center was established on site, providing care and numerous therapies to children with various neurological disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and many more. In 2011, an expansion on the neurological center was completed in an effort to provide service to more children than our current facilities would allow. The expansion was devoted to both occupational and sensorial therapy.

Occupational therapy consists of teaching children everyday skills from getting dressed, to writing and more. Sensorial Therapy deals with sensory issues such as not being able to eat certain types of food, not being able to stand in a bright room, and more severe issues like the inability to sense hot or cold and high sensitivity to touch. To put this into perspective, imagine if someone touched you and it felt as though thousands of ants were crawling on you. Many children with Autism and sensory disorders cannot even be hugged or touched by their mothers because of such sensations. But thanks to the generosity of such great supporters, more will children will be able to hug their mothers and accomplish ordinary tasks that we would normally never even think twice about.

One such child who benefits from the therapies offered at the neurological center is Darlin, who is pictured below being carried on her mother’s back. She is four years old and has cerebral palsy. They live in a very poor village about 20 miles from the Neurological Center. To bring Darlin to therapy, her mother has to carry her daughter on her back to take a bus that leaves her about 5 kilometers from the Center, and then she walks the rest of the way with her daughter on her back. To return home, she does this again. She has been doing this since 2011 to help her daughter. Darlin has made fantastic progress! She is starting to take her first steps and is saying a few words. Hers is a long road, but there is hope. A few short years ago, she would not have had any hope or access to help, but thanks to the Neurological Center, that is no longer the case.

Misioneros Del Camino: The Opening of a Neurological Center

In 1986, Mami Leo answered a call from God to pack her belongings and move to Guatemala to help abandoned, abused, and malnourished children. With $2,700 raised by her and her prayer group, and faith that the Lord would guide her, Mami Leo devoted nearly thirty years of her life living in the mountains, nourishing, educating, and loving countless Guatemalan children in need. Throughout the past month, I have been discussion the incredible milestones that Misioneros Del Camino has accomplished thus far. As the story continues, we pick back up in 2006.

In 2006, a neurological center was established on site, providing care and numerous therapies to children with various neurological disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and many more. With a great team of certified therapists, psychologists, and doctors, hundreds of children are able to obtain the necessary treatments that they wouldn’t be able to receive anywhere else.

In addition to special education, various types of therapies are provided to the children at the neurological center including: speech, physical, psychological, occupational, and sensorial therapy. Neurological and psychological evaluations as well as parental and therapeutic training seminars are also provided so that the children can learn to overcome the obstacles faced with their neurological disorders to the best of their abilities.

As you can see in the video below, all it takes is determination and a dream to make a difference in someone else’s life, which is exactly what Mami Leo has been done for nearly thirty years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0mi8kCMyZ0

Misioneros Del Camino: Reaching Out To Help The Surrounding Community

In 1986, Mami Leo answered a call from God to pack her belongings and move to Guatemala to help abandoned, abused, and malnourished children. With $2,700 raised by her and her prayer group, and faith that the Lord would guide her, Mami Leo devoted nearly thirty years of her life living in the mountains, nourishing, educating, and loving countless Guatemalan children in need. For the past few weeks and remainder of the month, I’ll be highlighting many of incredible accomplishments that helped countless children in need, all thanks to one valiant and dedicated woman, Leonor Portela.

In 2001, the Emmaus Medical Mission group first started its biannual trips to Guatemala from Miami. The Emmaus doctors and volunteers treat a few thousand people each mission who have never before received medical attention in their lives. Mami Leo convinced a well-respected doctor from Miami who at the time was leading medical missions to other countries to bring his group to Guatemala because there were so many people in need of medical assistance. This doctor complied, and has since been bringing his Emmaus team to Guatemala twice a year for fourteen years now. Because of Mami Leo’s dedication to serve the people of Guatemala, thousands of Guatemalan citizens have received medical care ever since.

In 2003, a nutritional ward for malnourished children was started. Nourishment is provided to each child until they have fully recovered. Parents of children outside of the home are provided with a follow-up nutritional program that teaches them how to best feed their children with the available resources. As you can see from just one example in the picture below, the nutritional ward has positively impacted the lives of so many children. And again, this is yet another program that Mami Leo implemented to give children in such terrible, and often times deadly conditions, a chance at life.

Misioneros Del Camino- Educating the Future Generations

In 1986, Mami Leo answered a call from God to pack her belongings and move to Guatemala to help abandoned, abused, and malnourished children. With $2,700 raised by her and her prayer group, and faith that the Lord would guide her, Mami Leo devoted nearly thirty years of her life living in the mountains, nourishing, educating, and loving countless Guatemalan children in need. Over the next month, I’ll be highlighting a lot of incredible accomplishments that helped countless children in need, all thanks to one valiant and dedicated woman, Leonor Portela.

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Ernesto Townsen, a Guatemalan businessman, the Sagrado Corazon School was opened on site in 2000. This elementary school has since provided an education, uniforms, school supplies, and transportation for children from the surrounding areas. The Sagrado Corazon School also has a marching band, which consists of numerous students with immense talent. To date, the band has won countless awards and has not only made the city proud, but they have made us proud as well. The school not only provides children an opportunity to receive an education and learn to become active members in a society that might not have allowed for such an education, but it instills confidence in each and every child in attendance. And the band gives the children a chance to learn a new skill and take pride in a talent they would have otherwise not knew existed.

A preview from the Sagrado Corazon’s Marching Band practice can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/k9w2bkg