Monday, September 1, 2008

Trotting all over town

That's what we've been doing, walking to the point of exhaustion. Yesterday, since our plans to visit Usaquén (a small town that has been engulfed by the city and is the site of a great flea market, or las pulgas) have been postponed till next week, we left the house rather late to enjoy the ciclovía. As it turns out, the last Sunday in August is a holiday here, when they celebrate national solidarity with a big, noisy caminata (parade). We hit the parade route when our bus got to the city center, and walked along Carrera 7 following the route for a few hours. There were lots of school bands, with nice musical arrangements and a very chime-like instrument that kept the melodies going.
We meant to take the funicular up to Monserrate (the beautiful white church that hangs over the city on a mountain, the view is unparalleled in Bogotá), but dilly-dallied for too long to make it up there on Sunday, when it stops running at 5 pm. The parade was definitely very neat though. We were both reminded of Renn Fayre because of the rain and the crowds and the festive music and mood.
Having consumed many a tinto (black coffee), I led us on another expedition through the international plazas of the city center. Tequendama and Parque Central Bavaria are two big centers near the museo nacional. We walked through them and then explored a neighborhood of smaller buildings just beyond the city center, Teusaquillo. I expected this to be a prosperous neighborhood when we'd passed by it on the bus, but up close it was mostly deserted. Perhaps the people thought better than to display their money through flashy upkeep, but it seemed odd to me that a neighborhood of single family homes in this city of apartments would not be more upscale. Also, since it was after 5 pm on a Sunday, most people were probably indoors having dinner. The city mostly shuts down on Sunday.
Did I mention that we saw a perfomance of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá on Friday night? It was at the Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, one of the many universities (around 45) in the city. What a beautiful performance! They played pieces by Haydn, Weber, Beethoven, and some English guy whose name I've forgotten. He composed ¨Pomp and Circumstance," there's a clue. The auditorio was all honey-colored wood and harmonized upholstery, and we got super great seats for only 2.500 pesos, which is about $1.75.
Today we're figuring out our next couchsurfing destination and riding the Transmilenio to Portal del Sur, which may give us a glimpse of the southern part of Bogotá, home to four million desplazados, according to a friend.