Walking, eating, and not getting shot in Bogota.
I said that last blog was making me hungry and I wasn’t kidding. I posted it, joined K who was waiting somewhat patiently in the hallway for me, and we went looking for a vegetarian restaurant, getting lost along the way but not minding on such a beautiful day and in such an interesting neighborhood.
Chorro de Quevedo is an unexpectedly Bohemian enclave on the southeastern edge of the Bogota’s downtown, with quality street art on half the walls, bright Latin American colors on the other half, and a narrow strip of rough cobblestones that always seems to have inexplicable puddles in odd places. There are funky little shops, handmade jewelry by the ton, and a selection of establishments for tattoos or bongs.
There are artists, “artists,” and people who do art wandering around, as well as normal people and lotsa young ‘uns, who may eye your clean hair resentfully/judgmentally. We passed one open door and I glanced in to see a middle-aged man sanding a guitar in the dark.
Walking up there last Friday night a drunk 16 year old excitedly said hello to K and I before asking to be in a picture with us, with all his friends laughing and piling in. I enjoyed the somewhat bizarre moment, albeit with my hand on my pocket (wallets are too obvious).
The veggie place we were looking for may or may not exist, it’s hard to tell in the scrambled egg street plan of that part of Bogota (I tried to explain the mangled beauty of Bogota’s layout, but it quickly became too much of a rant, even for me) so we ended up at a middle-eastern place called Fairuz.
If we hadn’t been sitting in the middle of the narrow restaurant I would have licked my plate spotless. It was the type of place where I don’t use the napkin because I don’t want to lose any of the flavor, and try futilely to eat as slowly as possible to sustain the experience.
Feeling positively sublime after that gastronogasm, we wandered up through the surprisingly beautiful campus of the Universidad Externado de Colombia, then up a steep street of stairs to a nice-looking church that promised an impressive vista over the city.
As we climbed the last stairwell below the church a stocky man in a private security uniform approached and warned us not to go that way due to the odds of being robbed at gunpoint. Hokey dokey, gracias amigo! I think he felt bad that we didn’t get to approach a beautiful piece of Bogota, so he came up the steps with us and stood by while we snapped a couple quick pictures, but he spent the whole time glancing skittishly at a seedy character on the corner opposite, who was definitely watching us back; the guard clearly was not comfortable being there with us.
We quickly headed back down through Chorro de Quevedo, but not before I heard our Protector radio in our presence and trajectory. The best part of that was that he referred to us as “vacas,” that is: cows. We had been chatting in Spanish and he looked at me a tad apologetically at that point, but man, if you protect me from an armed robbery you can call me any farm animal you like.