Bogota, D.C. is Dog City

An older sign.
An older sign about collecting what your dog does.

The “district central” could stand for dog city. Here in Bogota, I see lots of Rottweilers, German Shepherds/Alsatians, Golden Retrievers, and Golden Labradors standing guard, walking with their guards, sniffing packages, sniffing cars, and spending much of their working lives not on a leash (okay, not the Rotties — they are always leashed and muzzled even though they are calm and well-behaved).

Another sign.
Another sign about cleaning up.
Lots of reading... about the law.
Lots of reading… it’s your responsibility… and the law.

While there are some street dogs around, the vast majority of dogs that I see are well-cared for and well groomed. The wealthy have their dogs picked up for doggy daycare every day, and every morning, I see dog walkers with up to ten dogs out for their first walk of the eight-hour doggy day. I’ve seen all shapes and sizes of dogs. (Recently, I got a dog kiss from a passing Retriever as he pulled his child along at the other end of the leash. So, although I wouldn’t approach strange dogs, they don’t seem to feel the same way about us humans.)

Here are some dogs patiently waiting for the next dog in their play group.
Here are some dogs patiently waiting for the next dog in their play group.
No pets allowed here.
No pets allowed here.

As Bogota is also a city of constant signage and cleaning, there are many signs about cleaning up after your dog. I’ve included some here.

It's branded by the city.
It’s branded by the city.

Emerald Winter

The highest quality emerald in the shop at the time.
The highest quality emerald in the shop at the time. $32,000.

If it’s possible, Bogota is even more lush and verdant in December due to the thunderstorms every day and the sun every morning. It seems natural that a country so green would be famous for a green gem — emeralds.

There are many shops selling emeralds, both rough cut and polished. Most of the emerald store attendants will explain karat and clarity (I’m told that the deeper the green, the bigger the stone, the fewer flaws — the better). Apparently, this is the place to be to buy emeralds.

A less expensive emerald.
A less expensive emerald. $500.

Corferias – The Expo Fair in Bogota

Really fine handicrafts at Corferias market.
Really fine handicrafts at Corferias market.

When I got here and began shopping for local products like leather, glass, and the like, everyone kept telling me the same thing. “Wait till you see Corferias!” They told me I’d be in a shopping tizzy when I got to Corferias. I imagined a rough-around-the-edges Christmas market. I was wrong. Corferias is like an expo showing with artisans from all over the world. It seemed like everything was hand made. Better still, each piece was made with care.

A magnificent hand made head dress.
A magnificent hand made head dress. For $700.

There were at least nine hangar sized buildings with an entire floor selling only jewelry. On the international floor, they had stalls from Turkey, Iran, India, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, and so many others (though not Bangladesh). It was truly a world bazaar.

Local culture being celebrated.
Local culture was celebrated. This lady was wearing one of the headgear that they made to entertain children.

The local crafts were high quality and some were a good price while others were very pricey. The place is organized and there are many signs, a mobile bar, food courts, cash machines, rest areas, and a packing and delivery service.

The local flavors dining area before the rush.
The local flavors dining area before the rush.

I enjoyed the local flavors hall where they gave free samples of all sorts of foods. Roast pork at ten in the morning. Why yes! When I went back later to buy some pork, the vendor gave a friendly wave as I waited in the longest line in the hall.

Bolivian nativity scene.
Bolivian nativity scene.

It’s a good thing that this fair is over many days because I got tuckered out and did not see all the stalls. I’ll be back! Corferias is from December 6-18 (I think). Bring money for the entrance fee and shopping!

These arepa plates rotated.
These arepa plates rotated.

No Baking At Altitude – No Bake Dessert

Hand blown glass from the glass factory in Bogota.
Hand blown glass from the glass factory in Bogota.

So I used my oven for the first, and last, time. I tried to bake something for a holiday party, a giant meat pie with phyllo pastry. It’s been months since I moved to Bogota, yet I couldn’t find my rolling pin, so I cut the pastry up into squares and placed them on top of the meat filling. My oven is a combination gas and electric oven. I couldn’t figure out which of the knobs I’m supposed to turn as the markings make no sense to me (plus some are worn off). So I turned everything. There was a hiss and then a few minutes later, the blue flames danced along the bottom. I put the pan in the oven. I watched. Eventually, I took it out. None of the pastry had risen. Some of the pastry had turned a dark bark color. At the other end of the pan, the pastry lay like uncooked lasagne sheets. I gave up.

For another holiday party, I made an artsy no-bake dessert. Here’s how I made it:

Marinate some dried cranberries in tequila (or rum) for a few days. Cook them with some sugar. Puree these with softened cream cheese and sour cream. Put in a ziplock bag for ease of transport. In a pan, toast some walnuts. Put aside. Melt some sugar (okay, lots) in a pan. Add a touch of butter to make a caramel. When the sugar is a liquid caramel, add dried cranberries and the walnuts. Put on a silicone sheet (or a greased surface) to cool. Smash the brittle into bits and put into a bag. At the party, assemble by cutting a hole in one corner of the cream cheese bag and pipette (fancy pouring) into hand blown glasses from Colombia (or a glass from anywhere). Add whipped cream if you want, or just put the brittle on top.

From now on, my desserts will all be brittle based.