Thursday, October 28, 2021

[BOGOTÁ] What's Left of Nueva Granada

The Spanish empire managed their colonies in the new world through viceroyalties. Much of their Pacific territories, from the Philippines to California all the way down to Costa Rica, were grouped together under Nueva España. Perú was its own virreinato. Then Chile and Argentina would become the Virreinato del Río de la Plata, while the northern South America bunch composed of Panamá, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and northern Perú would break away to become Nueva Granada.

Nowadays, Colombia is all that’s left of what was then the core of New Granada after Venezuela became its own captaincy and Ecuador its own audiencia. The last country to break away from the group was Panamá, which was considered as part of what would be modern-day Colombia until it seceded in the early 1900’s. Given their position as capitals of the new world, Bogotá, Mexico City, and Lima, among others, benefited well from such an arrangement. This is perhaps one reason why vestiges of Spanish colonization remain quite prevalent in these capital cities even up to this day.

And that’s what I learned during my second day of exploring here in Bogotá. After sightseeing at La Candelaria yesterday, the choice today was between taking the teleférico to Montserrat or visiting a museum. You know how I hate cold weather, right? And so, the museum trip won. But which museum? Bogotá sure has plenty! I opted for the Museo Nacional in Santa Fe. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed but there sure were areas where I lingered for a while to bask in a review of colonial history.

One of those areas was where they had the old maps of the Spanish empire. This is among the many cultural and historic similarities we share with our American cousins, our shared colonial heritage. Underwhelmed as I was about the museum itself and their rather limited collection, I think this particular trip reignited my desire to go back to the academe and just pursue knowledge. It had me connecting to the museum’s WiFi suddenly searching for master’s degrees related to the Spanish and Portuguese empires.

I found two relevant options: one offered by the Universidade de Nova Lisboa; the other at Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. Oh well, let’s see if this plan will materialize. And so, this is where my Bogotá tour ends, with just La Candelaria and the Museo Nacional on my itinerary. Add the frequent Uber rides that became impromptu neighborhood tours of Chapinero along with its brick buildings and hilltop cityscape, I think I’ve seen enough for this particular trip.

Bogotá has been a pleasant surprise. In all honesty, I thought this was going to be a second-rate clone of Mexico City located farther south. But man, Bogotá is a different beast altogether. The core dynamics that deem it a legit Hispanic city are all there, but there are so many unique peculiarities that make it stand out from its Central American neighbor. For one, I think its high-altitude location at the Andes makes the weather colder than usual, at least for a tropical boy like me. For most people, it’s a cool eternal spring.

And yes, bricks for days. I didn’t even bother to take photos anymore. Just see it for yourself if ever you drop by for a visit. The resulting red-orange tint gives the cityscape a unique flavor that somehow refuses to be Hispanic despite it being obvious. Overall, Colombia might just be giving Mexico a run for its money. At least in my book. But hey, I guess it’s not bad to like both, right? But then again, I am saying this from a tourist’s point of view. I don’t know if I would feel the same way should I relocate here and stay for a while like I did in CDMX. Who knows!

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