Bogota has so much going for it as a capital city in that it becomes so painfully frustrating to watch the slow pace of change. This is change that we crave. As a resident here I go through well documented moments of love and then utter hatred of the city. Presently the weather has been excellent, well, what were wonderful days of crisp clear high altitude vistas have given way to rainy afternoons and bruised skies over the Cerros Orientales. This is the season, nothing wrong with that.
And just as it is written that it has to rain on a Friday afternoon when everyone is looking for taxi I find myself feeling a sense of pride in Bogota. I am proud that Bogotanos were progressive thinking enough to elect former M19 guerrilla Gustavo Petro as mayor, I am proud that the people in charge have created a Centro de Atención Móvil para Drogodependientes (Camad) to attend to addicts in central Bogota, I was very happy to have seen some of the famous mime artists return to the streets the other day to ridicule poor drivers and promote the respect for zebra crossings and traffic lights. All of the aforementioned are wonderful examples of how this city can see a way forward.
I am not going to harp on about how badly Bogota needs a metro system and a complete overhaul of the collapsing Transmilennio bendy bus system. What I would like is the following, a little more polish to the city.
Not lustre from cash or gaudy celebrations of vulgar wealth. No, I would like for Bogota to return to her residents and that each and every person living here would feel a sense of belonging, which, I fear presently, is strikingly absent. So much is made of Bogota’s well educated citizenry and their polite nature, but I feel that frustrations have simmered over with the failures of the past administration and Bogotanos have forgotten their manners. The corruption that has paralysed the city is showing itself and there are some very basic actions that need to be taken to return Bogota to her inhabitants, foreigners and nationals alike.
My nine image collage is meant to reflect a few of the things I would like to see change in Bogota, and the sooner the better. (Order is from the top left clockwise)
- There is so much work needed on so many streets, Bogota’s roads are potholed and rutted and lead to drivers swerving dangerously to avoid irreparable damage to their vehicle’s shocks. Don’t get me started on the city’s pavements.
- Resiste: I am all for demonstrations, marches and so on so long as they are peaceful and respect public and private property. Why students feel the need to tear up the Carrera Septima every month is a mystery to me.
- The horse and cart culture need not change, but it does need to be made to obey traffic laws as well. There needs to be regulation.
- City Parks: Look closely under the tree and you’ll see a gentleman defecating within yards of where couples are seated in Lourdes Park, Chapinero. Interestingly this event is taking place all of 25m from a Police CAI.
- Pollution: At some point roughly three to four years ago there was talk about improving the fuel grade for public transport. This clearly has not happened. This needs to happen.
- Quality of driving. It’s just terrible. Nothing more to say. Pedestrians have no rights.
- Refuse: I have no problem with recycling, in fact I am overwhelmingly pro, but again, wouldn’t it more conducive to a civilized city if there were centers where the recicladores could go and find it all under one roof rather than leaving it strewn along every street?
- Demolitions for new build: In principle I have no issue with this but, why knock down beautiful old buildings (not like the one pictured) to throw up high rise, tiny apartments and then overcharge for them?
- More culture less war: This speaks for itself, but I want to put it into a civic context where people are more patient and participative. Taxis would stop for pedestrians rather than speeding up, doormen would be courteous and beggars wouldn’t cuss you in English if you failed to give them some pesos.
Is this a pipe dream or something worth aiming for?