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Back in Bogotá

by Alex on Nov.23, 2009, under Blog

How time flies…

After extending my trip back home I eventually spent about 10 weeks in the UK, including a visit to my bro and his girlfriend in Finland and a lovely trip to Paris. I was introduced to a quality Finnish cartoon comedy called Pasila. After a cursory search, I’ve not managed to find any full episodes with English subtitles but you can find some of them in parts here. It’s well worth a peep.

On arrival I wasn’t as happy to be back as I might have thought but that all changed with a simple walk to the supermarket. There is so much vibrancy here, I’m not sure how to describe it effectively but it’s as if you can see real life going on around you as compared to the UK and other ‘western’ countries whereby to me it feels as if you see a lot more of people just getting from A to B.

I walk past an old guy hauling a cart of stuff up a (very) steep hill, chat to a wizened-looking lady selling cigarettes, sweets and crisps from a trolley who warns me to keep my camera out of sight and bids me a departing ‘a la orden’ (to the order – don’t ask me…). Admiring the approaching view of the Plaza de Bolivar, well the pointy bits of the cathedral that is on the plaza, I soak up the general hustle and bustle of La Candelaria. A bunch of school kids call ‘hello’ to me from a second floor window and I remind myself of the story that the reason why all motorcyclists have to wear high-visibility jackets bearing their license plate numbers on the front and back is to put an end to drive-by machine gun assassinations. Past Quinoa and Amaranto, a well presented rustic kitchen that does a three course veggie lunch for 9,000 pesos (less than £3/$5), the Botero Museum and little eateries, windows laden with attractive looking sweet stuffs, arriving at septima – seventh ‘avenue’ at thePlaza where a guy is busy pressure hosing the pavement in front of the cathedral.

I wander round the square a little between the ice cream vendors and those selling bags of seed to throw at pigeons wondering not for the first time how you can make a living selling phone calls when there are four other people next to you offering calls at 200 pesos a minute. Not having fully reaccustomised it’s very notable that about one in ten people on the street is wearing a police uniform, that is certainly one way to keep the streets safe. Then I wait the 10 minutes or so it takes for the supermarket to open, and during the meanwhilst am engaged by a random guy wondering where I’m from, how I’m enjoying Colombia and what I’m doing here. And this is downtown in a city of 8 million. What I bought at the shop is incidental, the fact that a simple stroll facilitating such a perfunctory task as buying some food might lift my mood so is perhaps not so incidental…

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