Just about everyone we spoke with, including these two paisas below, told us not to go to Bogota, the capitol city of Colombia. They said that it was too big, really cold, somewhat dangerous, and hard to get around–all of which turned out to be true.
Nonetheless, our family motto is to see shit, so Tree and I are here.
And boy have we seen shit.
On our first day here we drove right through the guts to the center of town. We accidentally went through the red-light district and saw more working women in broad daylight than I have ever seen anywhere else in the world, including Las Vegas and Amsterdam. Maybe it’s because prostitution is legal here (as it should be, but I will address that issue in a later post), so the ladies don’t hide. In fact, similar to Amsterdam, they sit or stand in storefronts to openly solicit themselves, staring out at you with that vacant hooker look–call it bored contempt–from an all too contrived veneer of sexuality. I don’t know about you, but I usually prefer my lover to not look at me like I’m yesterday’s gum stuck to the bottom of his shoe. (Sorry, no pictures. I wanted to take some but Tree thought it would be impolite. I really love that about him.)
No, ladies, he is not for hire.
After driving up and down one way streets in bad barrios and serpentining through endless construction zones for no less than three hours, we finally found a safe place at the Hotel Nacion in the north side of town that has wifi, a kitchen, hot water, a secure parking lot nearby for the van, and accepts Kiki. Bingo! Our little apartment is behind this church.
On our second day in the city, we took the cable car up Cerro de Monserrateto get a birds-eye view of the third highest capital in South America. Only then did we fully comprehend just how enormous it really is. Bogota sits above 9,000 feet and is home to over 7 million people. It’s become known as the Athens of South America.
Amidst its big city problems of drugs, crime, pollution, overpopulation, and poverty, beauty abounds. The churches below are in La Candelaria, the cobbled historic center where most of the city’s attractions can be found. The church on the right, the Catedral Primadais the largest in Bogota and sits in the grand Plaza Bolivar.
But gorgeous churches are par for the course in Latin America. What I’ve been most impressed by in Bogota is the street art.It’s colorful, angry, loud, expressive, playful, and full of hope. In the past decade or so, Bogota has made many surprising advances- the murder rate is down 70%, construction of a new public transportation system is underway- commencing a new era for Colombia’s capital. In result, the people are starting to take pride in their city again, and I think nothing expresses this love more than the art that adorns the city streets.
I also went to many of the museums, but I have to say, nothing surpassed the street art. That being said, I enjoyed the collection of Mexican artists at the Museum of Modern Art. (I went to the Museo d ‘Oro, the most frequented museum in Bogota, but was not particularly impressed.)
The below image is from a collection by Dulce Pinzon. Each photograph depicts an unsung hero of daily life.Aside from the superman shot below, there was a picture of a mother dressed up as cat woman nursing a child, a spider man washing windows, among others.
And here is life imitating art. These superboys on bikes are transporting gigantic sacks of potatoes through Bogota’s fierce and relentless traffic.
The below photo was taken by Nacho Lopez.
Tree decided to go to the Botero museum with me in an effort to earn back some brownie points. Botero, a famous Colombian artist, had a fetish for all things fat. He painted fat men, fat women, fat horses, fat fruit, fat everything. Tree did good…on the first floor. He refused to go to the second floor, though, insisting that we’d seen the whole exhibit. I gave him half a point.