ANDEAN EYE CANDY
SANTA FE DE ANTIOQUIA, Colombia Earth claws skyward here, mounded into a spur of the Andes. The bus wends the switchbacks like a snake-hipped tango dancer. And I, somehow, sleep through the 90°F slalom.
Of all my transport-narcolepsy triumphs, this may be the finest.
I awake in Santa Fe de Antioquia, the region's oldest settlement. A market still anchors this colonial city of churches and cobbled streets.
At the Museo de Arte Religioso, I skim away from the group. No matter how passionate my guide, I can't connect with a place while being talked at.
Following a pigeon's trill, I discover two interlocking courtyards, discarded scraps in centuries of haphazard building. Monks chant over loudspeakers, solemn voices leavened by the fountain's arpeggios. On a wooden bench, I sit and grow quiet. I burrow towards the deep, centering solitude, where words bloom unbidden like tropical moss on terracotta tiles.
"You must come now," a hostesses materializes.
"I'm working," I wave my notebook at her.
"Now, please. Come."
She herds me back to the group. And who can blame her? The periodistas norteños are visiting for a few hours only and there is much to see.
Except I need to feel. And think. To simply be here.
Three times we perform this minuet, before I cave and plod behind the curator. Inspired, he displays vestments, beribboned statues of saints and the strange image of Mary squirting breast milk.
As instructed, I fill my eyes.
But not my heart.