I walk my dog in Lourdes park several times a day as this is the closest stretch of green to my home, but, I am more than aware that this area may well win the accolade of being Bogotá’s saddest park.
In every city there’s a dividing line between districts, rents and gentrification. Having lived here in Bogotá for eight years these invisible economic lines become more apparent. Lourdes could be said to represent the buffer zone between Chapinero Alto/ Chapinero and below the Carrera 10.
Here ubiquitous chicken eateries abound as you walk to the west down from the park, Rene Higuita looking men pass advertising in the form of tiny slips of paper out to passers-by. Here you’ll be offered the solution to everything with solutions ranging from shamanistic treatments, tarot readings and the address of the nearest brothels. Fascinating pawn shops which sell anything and everything rub shoulders with stores selling electrical goods.
In Lourdes I have been threatened by a skinhead, propositioned by a transvestite, pursued by survey takers and interviewed by the press. You get it all here. At a certain hour at night, local residents with dogs frequent the park in numbers keeping to one stretch of lawn far from the homosexual pick up benches. Apparently, there’s a code.
Young couples are here from the early morning, necking before school. A homeless lady keeps her belongings in a tree and a homeless man defecates like clockwork beneath an assigned tree. He then bags it – like the dog walkers – and deposits his deposit into a nearby bin. Which tree? I’m not going to let on.
This morning, in the rain, an elderly lady threw grain on to the sodden yet useless fountain section of the park. Alongside the pigeons gorging themselves was a flattened and headless member of their group. At weekends the police trucks park here and if you are early enough, you’ll be asked by people held overnight to lend them your phone for minutos.
Bogotá’s saddest park.