Saturday, October 16, 2010

Breaking the mold

Everyone should one day take a mountain bus driven by an allergic-to-life Colombian.  It is true maniacal pleasure.  Once you get nauseated the sensation doesn’t go away; doesn’t matter if you stop reading, stare at the horizon, take deep breaths, etc.  The travel gods don’t even care if you still have eight more hours to go—they will not hear your pleas.  Tia and I learned this on our ear-popping trip with Bolivariana from Manizales to Bogotá.  To top it off we spent an hour at the side of the road watching tractor trailers try to extract themselves from each other like two very confused elephants mating.  Is it possible to put a bus company on the list of state-sponsored, terrorist organizations?

Compared to its South American contemporaries, Bogotá itself had a lot of artsy character.  Think Jackson Pollack dripping paint in front of a stolid audience of pencil-wielding automatons.  Aside from the scarf-wrapped, rocker jean-toting hipsters that dotted the brick laid sidewalks, our hostel in La Candelaria abutted a street that had various statues on the rooftops, one fishing with a squash on his line, another looked likely to jump.  Wandering down Carretera 7 
 on a drizzling Friday night, we encountered the weekly tradition of Septimazo:  a motley gathering of meat grills, Bob Ross wannabes, melted plastic sculptors, brass bands, Latin dancers (good and bad), cotton candy, and temporary TV stands featuring Asian singers, all with crowds formed in semi-circles packing the street.  Elsewhere, when confronted with the need for a better public transportation system, rather than build a metro the city simply shut down a few major streets for the exclusive use of buses.  In fact, even more roads are shut every Sunday to bikers only!  Kind of ingenious, huh, and something out of a madman’s mind?  Bogotá doesn’t play by the rules and we like it. 

Sadly, it rained down on us the entire four days we spent there and Tia was horribly afflicted by altitude sickness.  As such it won’t make our list of cities to live in one day, but not a bad place for a visitazo!

Oh, and most importantly, we found Duff beer (sí existe!).

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