“It’s on this street. Or maybe the next.” I wasn’t sure where we were going, just that we were trying to find a restaurant that Tony had had a good meal at previously and had been hard to find.
We rounded a corner and hidden among the brightly colored buildings was Maria Candelaria’s. We rang the buzzer and waited as a short, white haired woman in faded blue jeans (perhaps Maria?) shuffled to unlock the glass doors. She ushered us to a table on the patio where an elderly man explained the house specialties. As soon as I heard “albóndigas” I knew that was what I had been craving. Enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sunshine and the brilliance of the flowering blooms on the patio, we noticed a sign above us that read “No servimos comida rápida.” We laughed and settled into casual conversation, watching the elderly couple shuffle back and forth between customers, the locked front door to let guests both in and out, the kitchen. Sooner than we expected, our lunches arrived in individual cast iron pans, piping hot. I oohed and ahhed with each bite – stringy, melty cheese. chunky, fresh tomato-y ragu. tender, savory meatballs.
Afterwards, we continued through the narrow cobbled streets, searching for a once visited patisserie. After only a few turns leading us to other destinations, we found it. We leisurely enjoyed cappuccinos and treats.
We made our way across the plaza and entered El Museo del Oro. Four floors showcasing pre-Hispanic gold in Colombia – dark halls with subdued spotlights highlighting the richest of the treasures. I couldn’t quite reconcile the opulence with the antiquity; the pieces looked as though they could be on display in a modern jewelry shop.
We chose to go to one more museum before heading home, Museo Nacional de Colombia. One room housed Gabriel García Márquez’s iconic white guayabera, next to a video clip of him accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature. Another domed room housed gigantic Botero paintings from all periods. We sat on benches and stared upwards, amazed that so many styles were created by one artist. And then, home. Past men playing chess, vendors selling watermelon, and beautiful brick buildings.