24 May 2011

The Seder

In advance of our stay in Bogotá, Becky looked into possible Passover Seders she could attend there. With some general directions, we set off on the Transmilenio to points north.

We got off at Calle 100 – well, Amy and I did. Becky didn't get out in time and continued to Calle 127. We decided to wait until Becky returned, presumably by the same bus line. Eventually a young man came up to me and asked “Are you Chris?” and pointed towards the exit. There we found Becky buying a bus ticket to enter, despairing of the effectiveness of yelling “Chris!” repeatedly. Becky reportedly managed her quick return to us by boarding a taxi and yelling “Calle 100! Mis amigos!” between bouts of laughter.

With this hiccup behind us, we proceeded along Calle 94 to the site of the “Israeli backpacker” Seder, which should've been a less formal affair than the one hosted by the Jewish community in Bogotá Having wandered past the pedestrian overpass, we scampered across one intersection and were promptly soaked by cars driving through the numerous puddles/ponds.

At this point we realised that we had passed the block the address suggested, although it soon emerged that the address was, in fact, incomplete (i.e. with block and street number, but no building number). At a hotel I began asking about a “sinagoga” nearby. Rather than being ushered back where we came from (perhaps on the other side of Calle 94?), a kindly, portly, moustachioed middle-aged man suggested that we continue along Calle 94 for several blocks. I was a bit dubious as this contradicted the partial address we had, but we set off nonetheless.

After several minutes' trudging, we decided that we should head back to the side of the block we missed on the walk over. Our friend from the hotel caught up with us though, and pressed on with us. I tried to ask him if there wasn't a synagogue behind us (“sinagoga” being the only known Spanish word that even approximated what we were looking for), but he said, “No, that's a hotel.” I attempted this line of inquiry a few more times, but had no way of fully explaining that I knew we'd met him outside a hotel, but was wondering if there wasn't anything further back.

Five minutes later he pointed to the left and said, “Es casi una sinagoga.” - That's almost a synagogue. He was pointing to the rather garish Farhaad Rugs: Persian Carpets emporium across the calle.

I felt compelled to ask, “But it's not...?” To which he declaratively stated “No!”

We went on a couple of more blocks before our friend said that it was just a bit further ahead on the left. He tacked right to catch a bus home.

We remained doubtful, but shortly afterwards we saw a brightly lit building with well-dressed people greeting each other and heading outside. The building was called “Lubavitch,” which turned out to be the synagogue for the resident Jewish community, earlier deemed by Becky as too posh for the likes of us in our (sodden) backpacker getup.

At first Becky protested that she couldn't enter in her current state (under-dressed and over-soiled), but Amy and I insisted that they go in after all the effort we made in finding the place. So Becky and Amy headed in while I searched for an affordable place to drink in the zona roja, finally settling on a quiet bar nestled amongst car dealerships (but still quite expensive).

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