When in Bogotá I made the mistake of staying in La Candelaria. Don’t get me wrong, the location is perfect for touring as it sits in the cultural center containing all of the main attractions and museums. I was torn between whether or not to stay there initially and read a number of articles to help me make my decision, including this one comparing the difference in nightlife between the city center and northern neighborhoods.
My mistake was actually rooted in a poor order of priorities: did I want to stay close to the center of the action, backpackers, and museums or in a place where I can do my favorite activity – strolling through bourgeoisie/grungy/quirky/gentrified neighborhoods to see what’s up in interiors, architecture, graphic design, and fashion? You know, the boutiques, consignment stores, and cafés with products that are way too expensive but have all the shiny appeal to catch your eye. Where did I find this in Bogota? Chapinero. Again, I didn’t lodge there but there I did what I do best, walked for hours through the residential and commercial streets, purely shooting whatever caught my attention, and chatting with some locals about their craft.
I’ve always loved art museums and I try to visit at least one in every city I travel. I believe that art does real magic in my brain. It solves problems that I don’t even know I have, with solutions that I don’t even know exist. I’m not a numbers person. Instead my mind connects images/ideas similar and strange, so that seeing something creative remains in my memory and shape shifts to meet me in a later situation – when solving client problems at work, when joking with friends, or even while trying to give directions to a stranger in a different language (still working on that español). I’ve grown to appreciate the creativity in anything and everything for what it can later produce. I found this on the walls of coffee shops, on street corners, and the green of plants and succulents.
While at the MAMBO – Bogotá Museum of Modern Art, I was inspired by an analogy of life and staircases. A stairway has many attributes and ultimately no detail is too small. How it curves. The depth and height of it’s steps. The angle of it’s ascent. It’s all meaningful for the journey of the walker going up or down. Does the curve make you dizzy? Take you for a ride? Does the depth make you slow down your stride and take the journey much slower? Is the destination more important or the path it takes you to get there? Such is life and such are the small details in the everyday.
I stumbled into a home goods store called Un Medio Creativo, mainly because it’s sign screamed, “Tienda de Diseño”. I walked in and found a garage sale of coin art, taxidermy made out of bike parts, a coffee table Rubix cube and the like. It. Was. Awesome. I wondered how the stuff got there and I guess my gaze begged the question because a guy working at the register walked over to me. I asked about the objects. “It’s all trash found in the street.” No way! In the streets of Bogota!? He, Camilo, and his business partner, Daniel, find “trash” and redesign it using their creativity and expertise in graphic design. There’s no way you can call this stuff trash anymore. I was so inspired by his craft and entrepreneurship. What an interesting way to use a degree in graphic design.
It’s images like this that will be the inspiration for my [future] wedding or decorating my new apartment or writing a birthday card or photography or my next destination…
Where should I go next? Perhaps Lima.
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3 comments on “Bogotá”
Hello! First of all thanks for sharing these amazing pictures. I’ve been gaining a particular interest in getting to know South America – specially Colombia. I am portuguese, so the language is no issue, my biggest concern is the safety of the country. As for Bogotá, could you give me your feedback on the safety issue? Is it safe to be there, specially on your own? Every time I try to read about south america, all that comes up is the issue with secuestros, terrorism, murder… But I have also heard that it is no longer as it used to be back in the 80s or in the 90s.
Hi, thank you for asking and I appreciate your feedback! I traveled to Colombia alone and with friends (Cartagena and Medellin with 2 women and Bogota alone) and honestly, I felt safe! We stayed in hostels, walked around at night, and took ubers (although they are illegal) with no problem. I understand the bad wrap that Colombia has but from what I have heard and can see, the situation is improving. There were law enforcement officers everywhere in Bogota and Medellin and locals were very welcoming and friendly when it came to asking for directions or about places to visit. I even walked through Chapinero and La Candelaria in Bogota with my DSLR camera out and didn’t feel unsafe. If you plan to go, practice the normal caution you would in any big city – always be aware of your surroundings, keep your belongings secure when in crowds, don’t take public transport during rush hour, make sure to have close to exact change while in a taxi (I’ve been swindled a couple times in Peru like this), don’t walk into dark alleys, etc. Please let me know if you have any more questions about Bogota! I really enjoyed my time there and will certainly return.
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Thanks a lot for your response. It’s good to know that Colombia has really gotten safer. I am portuguese and I have never adventured myself outside Europe (except for the USA).
Colombia is definitely in my list of places to visit. I always take care most of the places I visit, such as avoiding taxis, or walking at night in strange streets.
I’m looking forward to read more of South America on your blog 😉 Best regards.