Queer Adventures in Bogotá, Colombia

2019 May — We begin our time in Bogotá at Viviana’s uncle’s place in La Aurora. It is a bustling working class neighborhood full of people, shops, and roadside stalls. It has a lot of parks and public spaces.

You can see the mountains from just about anywhere. All in all, La Aurora is so full of life. It is always a pleasure to wander around the neighborhood.

The next day, we spent a whole day walking through the city of Bogota. We started off on the bus, the “Transmilenio.” The bus system here is great. The buses have their own lanes, so they avoid a lot of traffic. It would be nice to see more places in the U.S. where public transportation makes more logical sense than owning a car.

We visited the Planetario de Bogotá and hung out on the rooftop terrace. It was very relaxing and there was no entry fee.

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the city center. Really, you could walk around for hours and be entertained. Most of those hours could easily be spent playing chess. It is so cool that there is a public space for people to play chess.

We ran into this guy who had a dog that could skateboard! That was so entertaining to watch. The dog was having a blast.

In this plaza we sat in for a while, there were a lot of people selling emeralds. It was very interesting to see how much business everyone got. This “underground” emerald trade business made us curious about why emeralds were so significant. Luckily, there was an official emerald trade center around the corner.

Emerald Trade Center

I learned a ton about the emerald business here. Apparently, emeralds are native to this land. There is an entire industry dedicated to mining them. It used to be a job that solely belonged to the government, but then it became open to private companies. Now there are tons of private companies that mine emeralds. It’s sad because now not as much money from the business goes back into the country. Not as many locals get to be employed in this business overall now that it is no longer a government business. It was really interesting hearing about the history of emeralds and how it effects the country.

We continued our journey throughout downtown. No matter where you go, there’s always a beautiful view of mountains. It’s amazing! It makes a great addition to the cityscape.

We made our way to the building where Tio (Viviana’s uncle) has his workshop in Candelaria. It is a government building where artisans set up shop, do work, and sell to patrons. We had a lot of fun playing with all the different crafts in the workshop. It contained mostly folk instruments and jewelry.

Another day of our trip we spent a day cleaning up Tio’s shop. This is the final product.

Probably one of the best spots in Bogota is a place called El Chorro De Quevedo. You know you’re there when you start seeing a lot of really beautiful murals on the walls, cobblestone roads, tons of places to get a quick bite to eat, booze, loads of young people, and happy brownies.

Yes, we found another happy brownies spot. There were performers doing comedy, people on stilts, lots of chicha (a farm town alcoholic drink), and young people close to our age. It is very high energy.

We got pretty hungry, and it was starting to get dark, so we headed back in the direction of the main city area. On the way, we ran into a magical gem. It was a Naruto themed restaurant. “Ichiraku Ramen” to be exact. I geeked out so hard from the moment we approached it until we finished our dinner and left.

Thanks to the presence of family connections we spent a day riding around in a cool looking classic car. We had never seen anything like it before. We went out to eat and we enjoyed each others company and we marveled at the fact that something so old still operated. It was very cool and an experience that everyone should have. Riding around in a classic car really is a necessary experience for anyone who appreciates good craftsmanship. There’s a lot of European brands of cars that we have never seen before until coming here. Sure, Puegot is a brand that I have seen many times while in Germany, but this one was completely new to me. Considering how everyone drives stick here, it only makes sense that most of the cars are European.

Later in the week, we spent a some time at a Bogotá Beer Company bar drinking beer and enjoying ourselves. When it started raining, we made our way inside and we saw that the six packs of their strongest beer was waaaaay too affordable to pass up. So after we finished our pints, we bought two six packs and continued the party back home.

Another day in the city, we say some bomb af salsa dancing in the street. The crowd was huge and everyone was super mesmerized by what we were witnessing.

We also visited Plaza Bolivar. What we found there was great architecture, but what was most impressive was the way people interacted with the pigeons. We had never seen anyone do that before. It was clear that these girls had grown up with chickens in their homes because they knew exactly how to scoop up these birds with no fear whatsoever and make them their friends. It was beautiful and terrifying.

Later one Friday night we met up with some students who had spent the last 10 months learning English in an intensive program. We sat in one of their classes and got to participate in the conversation. It was a ton of fun getting to know everyone and help everyone with their English. Afterwards we went out for drinks and danced the night away.

After all the shenanigans in the city center, we made our way back to the working class neighborhood. It was Mother’s Day and everyone was out and about. Flowers were everywhere and all the families were bonding. It was so adorable. Everyone is friendly. It is always a pleasure returning to La Aurora.