I finally found El Dorado - and it's an airport in Columbia!!!!!!! Hahahaha....
And here I thought when I was growing up in Guyana that Guyana was that mythical place where the Spanish conquistadors thought was El Dorado. And it must have been because Guyana is known for El Dorado - but it's rum!!!!! And the best there is (from here say from me only); I cannot speak from experience but Guyana's 15, 20 and 25 year-old El Dorado rum is famous around the world and the 5-year old is infamous in Guyana.
Then I went to Peru and they said that the Qorikancha was El Dorado because of all the gold the Spaniards pillaged. And now here I am in a very dingy airport in Bogota and this is El Dorado (it's the name of the airport). Not what I thought it was going to look like. To be fair, there is a new airport opening next week so that might explain why this one is so very dirty.
We are waiting for our flight to Quito. We got up this morning at 4:15 and by 5am, we were ready for breakfast which the guesthouse pleasantly obliged with. This morning there was scrambled eggs, a banana, rolls and tea. At that time, it’s all you can eat but surprisingly, you can eat. We got to the airport at 6am and got royally ripped off by the taxi driver who charged us 20 soles for the trip. We told him that it was excessive but at that time of day, it was not worth arguing about. I’m heading to Quito and he is heading for his next fare.
The flight was quite uneventful, giving me some time to reflect on the Peru part of the trip. I was thinking about the place we went to that had the fireside that the women were colouring their yarn. Do you know that they use a parasite from the prickly pear cactus to make dyes for yarns? Well, they do, But did you know that they handpick the parasites, crush them and dry them to make a powder that is used by pharmaceutical companies all over the world to make lipsticks? Next time you see a woman wearing red (or shades of red) lipstick, you may wonder if it’s a parasite on her lips. And for those of you who think that the thought of using parasites for colouring lipsticks, it is also used as a natural food colouring for such things as yogurts, puddings, and all sorts of foods. Check the ingredients list next time you are in the grocery store for cochineal or carmine colouring.
I was also reminiscing about the smell of the smoke from the fireside. As a kid, we had one of those but I don’t remember that mom used it to cook food for us. I know that each day she would cook a huge pot of food for our dogs on the fireside. But I do remember going to De Kendren and Auntie Siloch especially would make delicious dhall and sada roti that was cooked on the fireside. If you have never eaten sada roti with onions and peppers cooked to crispy brown on the fireside, you have truly not lived. The smokiness of the fire reminded me of those days of my childhood. I loved going to De Kendren for summer holidays – in fact anytime we went there, it was a treat. My Uncle Khemraj was the best uncle. The downstairs of the house had a room with a huge padlock where they used to keep bunches of green bananas to ripen. There was a little hole at the side and he would help me in the hole and I would crawl through and pick the ripe bananas which we would sit and eat together. Then Auntie Siloch would take me to the White Lady guava tree and I would climb on the fence to reach the ones that were a bit too high to reach from the ground. She would hold my ankle in case I fell (although now that I look back, I don’t know that it would have helped much if I did fall) and I would pick as many as I could reach and we would stuff ourselves with them.
Just think how the smell of smoke at a fireside could take you back to vivid childhood memories. I read that your sense of smell is the most powerful of your senses and I would have to concur. Think of fresh baked bread and see if some vivid memory doesn’t come to mind. Or for those of you who grew up by the ocean and now live far away from it as I do, the smell of salt air has the same effect. Or the smell of Old Spice makes me think of Dad.
Okay, we have another 3 hours till our flight, so I’ll go find something to eat (no eggs, no buns, no fruit salad but a cup of café con leche would go down very good right now. Yum!!!