Bogota – culture of the street

When I travel I am often surprised about how wrong my perceptions of a place are based on movies or news reports over many years. Bogota was one such place as my overriding memory of it was as the setting for the movie “Clear and Present Danger” were Harrison Ford narrowly avoids being killed and folks are walking around with guns under their immaculate linen suits. So I was a little apprehensive as we arrived in Bogota my first major South American city.

I had carefully chosen a hostel in the tourist part of the city Arche Noah, which had a secure car parking right beside the hostel, we could see Nelson from the roof terrace which also gave a lovely view over the city.

I should not have been apprehensive

Bogota is a lovely city with a thriving cultural scene, lots of tourists both Spanish speaking and from further afield, lots of bars and resturants and a thriving mural culture in the area we stayed, one striking example is shown below

These ladies are some of the heros of the city who helped expand the knowledge of the indigenous culture and get it recognised by the government as a valuable part of the Colombian identity.

In the main square there were many groups gathering for political discussions and a really nice vibe of couples walking around and some visible but subtly reassuring police presence. Errol and I were recommended to go to the BBC which here stands for the Bogota brewing Company.

The artistry of the murals was very striking, they must have taken quite a time to paint these, some are made by collectives over a few weeks.

We decided on the second day to go on a bike tour around the city, it was a public holiday and nearly all the roads were closed to private cars just taxis and cyclists were around so we had a lovely time learning about the culture of the city from a young history graduate.

He also took us to play a crazy Colombian game were you throw rocks at gunpower charges placed around a metal ring set in clay, this is a lot harder than it looks but when you do hit one of the charges it goes off with a real bang !

Some of the street art is pretty exotic. To finish up the day we met with some friends who live in Bogota Nick and his wife Chelin. Nick is the brother of our friend Kim of Gusto Overland and works in the British Embassy so gave us lots of tips (plus an offer of support if I got into any more trouble).

So I left Bogota with a really positive feeling about the city and an increasing positive view of Colombia

Next a salt cathedral and crossing to the Jungle…..

About Gerry Mulligan

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