View from my window of Montserrate, Bogota, Colombia, April 7, 2001.


Palm Sunday, Bogota, Colombia April 7, 2001

The view from the room where I write looks up at Montserrate, the mountain whose white church overlooks downtown Bogota. Friends have told me that every Sunday people climb the steep and winding path on their knees. Today I joined the pilgrims to experience the climb. It's Palm Sunday and thousands of Bogotanos are heading to Mass at the summit. There are joggers, families with palm fronds and picnic lunches packed. Every so often I spot barefoot pilgrims doing penance. But I don't see anyone on their knees.

"If you want to see people on their knees come back on Good Friday," several people tell me. Ascending the summit I can't imagine how anyone could possibly do it on their knees. I am perspiring and breathless and though I am in good shape my legs are aching when I reach the summit. Bogota is already 2.6 Kilometers above sea level and you feel the altitude throughout your body as you climb.

From the church I try to spot my house. I can't see it but I can see the bullring a couple of blocks away. It appears to be much further from the summit where I stand, than the distance the church appears when I gaze up at it from my window. Going down is even harder than going up I'm told. I take a deep breath and prepare to descend.

April 11, Bogota