Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Friday Evening in Bogota

My first Friday in Bogota, I decided to walk home from work- and happened upon the other time per week when the main street is closed to traffic for miles.  Imagine if every Sunday morning and Friday evening, Washington DC closed 18th Street to traffic from Adam's Morgan through Dupont, the business district, past the White House, all the way to the Mall... and everyone walked along it, people set up kiosks with fruit, jewelry, and artisan crafts, and street performers carved out space to dance, sing, or even paint.  That's what Carrera 7a is like in Bogota, except that Bogota has ten times the population of DC!  It was a lot of fun.

I stood up on something in the sidewalk to take this picture, and this guy at a kiosknext to it started goofing around, joking that I should take his picture.  So:

He even got a friend to pose with him!

These paintings were surpisingly good for something done so quickly on the street!

The Transmilenio is less than a decade old, and is the only public transportation in Bogota.  Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of buses here, but they're all privately owned.  The Transmilenio is the only bus with a map, and it has stations where you can transfer for free.  Plus, for much of their routes, they have their own lane, allowing them to move much faster than other traffic.

The light was gorgeous.

Then, twilight fell.

I stopped in a plaza with a market.  People wandered through the kiosks, and sat laughing and chatting with friends around the statue.

I loved the way the jewelry hanging in some of the kiosks caught the light, and almost hid the shopkeepers inside.  I bought a bag that ended up breaking within a week, but I've since reinforced the seams with my own stitchwork. 

A street in La Candelaria.

That night, I went out on my own to explore the nightlife.  And what did I find?


A group of street-performing clowns had attracted a large crowd in the plaza near my house (which, it turns out, is something of a social center).  They had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands (me included), juggling fire and machetes and riding six-foot-tall unicycles.

I even got a picture with one!

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