Monday, January 15, 2018

A Changing of the Art on Calle 26

A healthy food mural across from Parque del Renacimiento, by Lesivo.
If there's one thing we know, it's that Bogotá has too many parks, police, soup kitchens and schoolbooks - and that's why the city is spending public money painting street art where there already is great street art.

Here are the old murals on Calle 26, sponsored by the city between about the Cementerio Central and the Universidad Nacional.

Street art is great, but Calle 26 had lots of it already.

Why not paint somewhere else, where there isn't great art already?

An indigenous woman, painted by a Peruvian graffiti crew.

A jaguar, icon of Colombia's wildlife, and a coal miner, by Toxicomano. 
The image of the coal miner, incidentally, comes from a famous photo of a West Virginian miner who died young from black lung disease. The mural, by Toxicomano, declared that 'Water is worth more than gold.' Illegal gold mines have destroyed innumerable rivers and poisoned many people, particularly on Colombia's Pacific Coast.

The assassinated comedian Jaime Garzon, dressed as a maid, by MAL.

'Land, peace and bread.' A tribute to the 1917 Russian Revolution.

A woman and child, a few blocks from the Universidad Nacional, by a graffiti crew from Lima, Peru.

Suffering? But she's smiling! A bent over woman appeared to be communing with nature, also by a Peruvian crew.
And now they're going, going, gone....

If they were determined to spend the city's budget on more murals, then why not paint empty walls, of which Bogotá has many???

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Sunday, January 14, 2018

When it Rains, it Hails

Manuel holds a handful of hail during an involuntary pause during a bike tour.
Patches of hail outside the
Museo de Oro TransMilenio Station.
Bogotá has experienced an unseasonal amount of precipitation in recent days, some of it frozen. Despite the altitude, it never snows in Bogotá, but it does hail, suddenly, violently and even painfully for those of us who have experienced its impacts directly.

Poor tree wasn't born to be hailed on.
A TransMilenio bus rolls thru the weather.
The hail melts away quickly, washed out by the often torrential rains. But those rains inundate the city, many of whose streets appear to have been designed by people who didn't believe it rained in Bogotá. Intersections turn into pools, and streets into streams.

Water-cycling across Carrera Septima.
On Carrera Septima, a recently-built bike lane floods.
Amphibious bicycling in Santa Fe.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Holiday Respite For Our Lungs

The holidays, when schools and businesses shut down and many Bogotanos leave town, allows a temporary respite for our lungs. El Tiempo illustrated this yesterday with dramatic side-by-side photos of Bogotá's air on a 'normal' (poisonous) day and during the holidays.

The Virgin of Guadalupe's normally hazy view of Bogotá is temporarily replaced by a clear one during the holidays.
The views from the intersection of Avenida Ciudad de Cali and Calle 13.
A bus belches smoke yesterday on Carrera Septima, near the Ministry of the Environment.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Egipto's Three Kings Festival

The Three Reyes crowd, with the Iglesia de Egipto in the backgrond.
This weekend, the poor neighborhood called Egipto above La Candelaria is holding its annual party, the 'Three Kings Festival,' considered the symbolic end of the Christmas season. 

Lots of crowds, music, alchohol, cholesterol and calories. If you're into that, then take a walk uphill.

A view uphill into Egipto.

Partying in the street below the festival.

Pouring chicha, a traditional drink made from fermented corn.

Grilling up the meat!

Chicharrones. A moment in the mouth, a lifetime in the arteries.

Hiking thru La Candelaria up to Egipto.

Lots of police and security.

Meat everywhere.

A party on the street nearby.

Quite a crowd!

A safety officer on the watch.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Who Owns the Sidewalks?

A cop watches as vendors gather up their goods on a side street off of Carrera 7.
One of Mayor Peñalosa's most prominent and polemical policies, clearing public spaces of illegal vendors, may have hit a roadblock.

Courts ruled recently that vendors who sell on a particular spot for a considerable time acquire rights
A car occupies a sidewalk in the Los Martires neighborhood.
If you park your car on a sidewalk long enough,
does that make you the sidewalk's owner?
of possession for that piece of pavement, something like eminent domain, and can't be driven off without a sort of due process. By the same token, the court ruled, by permitting vendors to use sidewalks as their retail space for years, it is implicitly saying that they have a right to be there, and authorities can't suddenly change the rules.

This is an age-old battle in Bogotá, and one which the city won't ever win. As long as there are poor people here and the sidewalks offer access to many potential customers, vendors will occupy them, even if they are forced to play hide-and-seek with the police.

A cop escorts a vendor off of Carrera 7.
It is true that many street vendors are a nuisance: They clutter and block sidewalks, compete with tax-paying formal businesses and contribute to an atmosphere of anarchy and disorder. But they also serve many functions, providing a livelihood to poor people and easy access to products for the rest of us. I've bought headphones, books, socks, fruit and shoes on the street (or sidewalk).

If only authorities could distinguish between 'good' vendors who don't block pedestrians and
don't compete with neighboring shops, and those who do do damage to urban living. Unfortunately, making such a distinction is nearly impossible, and therefore

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Staycationing in Bogotá

Eating and playing in the street behind the Paloquemao Market.
Bogotá is vacant these days (except for tourists), its streets empty, schools and shops closed and many homes unoccupied. The wealthy and middle classes have mostly cleared out to the coast or their countryside fincas.

But the poorer, working class folks, such as these families of the Los Martyrs neighborhood behind

Paloquemao Market, mostly stay put, either because they have to work or because they can't afford to travel.

But life in an emptied out Bogotá isn't so bad: it's peaceful, relatively unpolluted, and you can play in the street, as this family was doing the other day.

Doesn't that beat crowding onto a dirty beach where you're surrounded by screaming kids and grouching adults, the sun fries your skin and your new shoes get stolen?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Sunday, December 17, 2017

One Gender Equity Word Too Far

The girls and women of Bogotá have lots of concerns: crime, sexual harassment, employment
The new official Bogotá uniform?
discrimination, and others. But I've never heard a Bogotana say she suffered from oppression by grammatical discrimination.

But this is what Bogotá's legal system, in all of its wisdom and blindness, is now charging ahead with.

A judge just ordered Mayor Peñalosa to modify his city slogan from 'Bogotá Mejor Para Todos' to 'Bogotá Mejor Para Todos y Todas.' In other words, he's to add the words 'y todas' so that nobody gets the idea that the city's goal is to make life better only for its male residents.

Aventureros hostal: Only male adventurers allowed here?
Sensibly, Peñalosa is appealing the decision, which would require the modification of innumerable city signs, uniforms, websites and literature, not to mention making the city's slogan sound wordy and awkward. The slogan was changed when Peñalosa became mayor a year ago, and will be changed again if the current recall effort against Peñalosa succeeds.

In protesting the ruling, Peñalosa pointed out that 'every high school teacher knows that in Spanish the masculine words include both male and female individuals'. That's why when schools refer to their 'alumnos' nobody thinks they mean boys but not girls. And when presidents refer to 'ciudadanos' they mean both male and female citizens. 'Abogados' includes lawyers of both genders. And so on.
Welcome to La Candelaria: But only for males,
unless your an Engish-speaker.

Specify the female gender in everything and you not only state the obvious and treat your audience ciudadanos y ciudadanas' and 'candidatos y candidatas' and 'senadoras y senadores.' I'll never forget a mind-numbing talk I suffered thru one evening in Bolivia as the speaker went on about 'campesinos y campesinas,' 'maestros y maestras' and 'profesoras y profesores.' Perhaps he also specified that the people owned both 'perros y perras.'
like idiots, but you generate documents like Venezuela's Constitution or Colombia's peace agreement with the FARC, which drone on repetitively about '

If not for the time and effort wasted by this habit isn't enough to ban it, the trees needlessly killed and the gigabytes of computer memory needlessly filled should do it.
'A better Bogotá for all' - but only if you're a male?

But if always specifying the female gender really is required, then Bogotá is in big trouble:

The Down Town converntion center says its closer to male Bogotanos.
The Procudaria warns males not to be corrupt.
Unquestionably, Spanish is sexist - as are most languages. But Bogotá won't change it, and will make a fool of itself. A more practical solution would be to convince the ultra-conservative Real Academia de la Lengua in Madrid to accept use of the @ symbol to include both genders, as in 'Hola chic@s'.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours