Saturday, August 7, 2010
3 days later, and I am happy to say that I am finally getting a decent grasp as to what is Bogotá. Things are slowly coming together and falling into place: TransMilenio is finally becoming somewhat comprehendible; the streets appear are navigable and safe; and the people are receptive to my photographic advances.
Speaking of TransMilenio, even though there isn’t a time that is not severely overcrowded, I cannot stress how great of an asset it is to the city and people of Bogotá. It humanizes the city, and by breaking down otherwise lengthy distances, makes it surprisingly easy to get around. Can’t knock that. I only wish that I could skip the transferring altogether…walking through the long tunnel at Estación Ricaurte is a drag.
I have, though, been taking a lot of photos. Most recently, I covered the Centro and La Candelaria areas in depth, with a special emphasis on people. It took a couple of days for me to get acclimated and accustomed to the sheer volume but also, general mood, of the people here. When shooting street photography, which requires the camera to be in your hands at all times, - for one wouldn’t want to miss out on an interesting photos – it really helps to know how to gauge your audience and subjects. With that out of the way, and having the people figured out, I had a field day. Street photography here is almost too easy, because unlike in many cities back home, the people come to you – not vice-versa. I would vouch that such is a direct result of a culture where walking is the mean and is accepted. Private automobile usage, for the most part, is rare, and taxis make up the majority of the cars in the city. LA is the exact opposite: everybody has cars, and nobody walks (save for those who can’t afford cars, which is why some of the poorest areas are the most pedestrian-friendly).
Anyways, on to La Candelaria, pretty much the only barrio with any sort of a tourist presence (Bogotá has the least amount of tourists out of any large city I’ve visited). Bogotá’s largest and most-intact colonial district, La Candelaria features single-story Spanish houses with cast-iron balconies and red-tiled roofs along narrow cobblestone lanes. It is also a huge student hub, with 6 major universities in the relatively small area. As a result, its streets are full of college students (and their graffiti), with many of them hailing from Bogotá’s distinct sub-cultures, such as Goths, emo’s/metaleros, rappers, along with, the increasingly omnipresent artsy subset. Too, there are many new restaurants popping up in the area, with nearly all of them having kitschy/ironic or minimalistic interiors. In one way or another, it reminds me a whole lot of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, and Bushwick in Brooklyn.