Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrating Christmas in Bogota, Colombia

I woke up on Christmas morning without anything to really do. No family time this year... no presents... no dinner feast... no church to attend. But I thought that I could still make it special.
There is a mountain overlooking the city of Bogota that is called Monserrate. The mountain is a tourist destination because from the top there is a scenic view of the city. The mountain is also a pilgrimage destination because there is an iglesia (church) at the top.

A few of the travelers I had met said that Monserrate was worth visiting. Even though it sounded a bit touristy, I didn't have anything to do, so I decided that I'd check it out. It turned out to be a perfect way to celebrate Christmas.
To get to Monserrate it was a short walk from my hotel. At the base of the mountain is a welcome building.
One can hike up the mountain, take a ferrocarril (train) or take a teleferico (cable car). It was sprinkling rain, so I didn't feel like hiking.
I decided to take the teleferico.
After waiting in a short line, it was time to board.
We were packed inside...
and up the mountain we went.
Once at the top of the mountain there were some amazing views of Bogota from the south...
to the north.

The view was probably worth the visit.
There was also an iglesia (church).

And an ascending walkway that takes one along a statue garden of the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross). While the Stations of the Cross are traditionally used in remembrance during Lent and Easter, it was a nice way to remember the link between Jesus's birth, death and resurrection.

I. Jesus is condemned to death

II. Jesus is given His cross

III. Jesus falls the first time

IV. Jesus meets His Mother

V. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross

VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

VII. Jesus falls the second time

VIII. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem

IX. Jesus falls the third time

X. Jesus is stripped of His garments

XI. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross

XII. Jesus dies on the cross

XIII. Jesus' body is removed from the cross

XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.
The Resurrection

After walking uphill by the Stations of the Cross, I attended a Misa (Mass Service).
It started with some burning of incense.
There was a procession of the priests.
The church was pretty full, but I managed to find a seat on a pew in the back.
There was a message, reading of scripture, prayer and singing.
A wonderful expression of faith.
After some time on the mountain top, I took the ferrocarril (train) back down to the city.
Turned out to be a great reminder of Jesus's birth, death and resurrection. And for me a nice personal celebration of Christmas.

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