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Colombian way in Bogota

Bogota, capital of Colombia, Bogota, from its 2600m above sea level, Bogota, with its 8millions inhabitants, is a very large but very beautiful city.

Extreme poverty and extreme wealth are so obvious here. Hundreds of homeless people wander in the center of the city looking for food, or selling anything to earn a few dimes (snail slime as skin cream, weighting service, home-made herbal tea, a key sawed at your name, handphone minutes, one cigarette, hooks, ...). When I was walking in the streets of the Candelaria, the historical center of Bogota, I happen to have my lunch on the go and eat some bread when walking around. In 10min, more than 5 people had asked me to get a piece of it, and when at last I was tired and gave it to a skinny young woman, she ran with it with a contented face, as if it was the most precious thing!! It's so difficult to see that.
After this experience, I was buying bread at the supermarket and distributing it to anybody begging for food, a very small thing but what else can we do?...

The "rolos", that's how people of Bogota are nicknamed, are the nicest of all. I had the chance to meet a few of them and discover the city with my own guide, Fabian. A univesity student speaking good french and good english, friend of my friend's cousin... We walked in the streets of Bogota during hours and he showed me very beautiful and lively districts as well as a wonderful old and tiny art cinema where the ticket cost 1US$. I went back a few times to this one.

The main bus system here is brand new and has very nice automatic stations similar to metro ones. But it's the most complicated I have ever seen in my life. I think you have to have a damn twisted mind to understand the logic of it.
It's called the Transmilenio. The touristic information give you a map of 9 routes with nine colors and 9 letters (A to J, I is missing dunno why...).
Ok, till here, it's easy. But the color doesn't correspond to a bus or anything. For exampe, to go to a point on route D you need to take bus number F34 or J67, where do they stop, no clue, why D, no clue and why F34 and not F35, no clue either....And be careful, if you happen to know your way by practice, they can still trick you! The numbers and places change completely on week ends!
Finally even for local people it's impossible to determine which bus to take and where. So in each station a few people are posted with a 30pages book and guide you to the route you should take... Colombian way...

The secondary bus system is as complicated... Hundreds of small buses cover the whole city. They are more than 50years old and I don't know how they manage to have them still on the road. The only information available for these ones are a few names written at the window. They stop anywhere on the street as long as somebody needs it.
I experienced also these ones. The bus name was given to me by a local person and as soon as I got up I asked the driver to stop me at a certain street and tell me where to get down. But as the time passed he didn't tell me anything. Then, just wondering if it was sooo far, I ask him if it's still a long way to go. He replies "Oups, we passed it a long time ago"... Nooo..
Then the colombian magic happen! All the persons of the bus pity me and give me advice where to get another bus. I ask the driver for my money back to pay the other bus, he gives it to me without any problem and says he will help me. Then he stops the bus, get down, ask me to follow him, and we run to a near-by street together, while the passengers of his bus watch us and node in approbation... Here he stops a bus and ask the driver to bring the "gringa" to her destination... I felt a bit like a stupid tourist but it was sooo nice! Colombian way...


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About me

About me

Travelling to learn, learning to travel.