The Barrio: A neighbourhood under pressure

This barrio, Juan XXIII, is but one block from my home in Bogotá. It cannot be more than five or six blocks in size and is facing an uneasy and uncertain future as developers and real estate speculators look down vulture-like at the next plot of land upon which to build a mega-project of apartments in the highly desirable barrio of Chapinero. When I tell taxi drivers to swing through this barrio as a short cut on my route home, some look warily about them, others seem in awe at having never driven though here before. In the barrio they support Millonarios, at least, the blue team seems to be favoured since there are murals dedicated to them in various places. There is a mural on an outer wall of the local Jardin “Los Niños de Colombia quieren La Paz.” I don’t normally walk through here, only that my powerless gas-run taxi couldn’t make it up the hill the other day. In fact the driver had to stop, angling his wheels away from the kerb to ensure he did not roll back downhill. So, I was able to snap a few images on my phone of this “Positano” of Chapinero Alto. At least, in the mind of another expat resident nearby, who suggested that Juan XXIII resembled the famous holiday resort on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. On Sunday’s you cannot drive over the top here since there are usually pick-me up football games in the street. I know that if I leave chatarra or waste goods useful to someone in the street outside my home, they’ll be recycled up here in the barrio Juan XXIII before long. It’s supposedly not safe for a gringo here, I don’t know whether it is or isn’t. How long until these homes are bulldozed for new apartments?

children want peace

children want peace

2 thoughts on “The Barrio: A neighbourhood under pressure

  • The Juan XXIII barrio is relatively safe for a "gringo" to walk through during the day. If you look on a map, it is located just 2 blocks from Colegio Nueva Granada where many expat teachers work. Go have a coffee one morning at the panaderia on Calle 66 and you'll see about about a dozen expat teachers trudging up the hill on their daily walk to work. There is an occasionally mugging of an expat on this route 1-2 times a year, but those usually happen when a teacher is walking home close to dusk.

  • Interesting little read.. I have run through here a couple of times on routes-which-wored out longer than I'd planned, but if it's where I think it is, is it likely it won't soon be shiny, characterless tower blocks?

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