I’m in Bogota! It’s a fabulous city filled with bright colors and brick buildings. I’ve been here for two days now and I am already in love. That has a lot to do with the fact that I’m staying in a beautiful home. My housemates include several Swatties who will be working at Taller de Paz with me, as well as a local fashion designer by the name of Andres! He is fabulously fabulous and made the paintings to the left out of tape! The rest of the home is decorated with other art that he made and Andres and I plan to have a show in the living room before I leave and to make a zine together. Very exciting! He has many fashion drawings that would look extremely cool photocopied.
On my first day here, I went to a cathedral with Andres and found lots of folks hanging out and buying candy from the vendors. Loved the composition of the pigeons and the man in black.
There are mountains surrounding the city…perhaps that’s what keeps the temperature down. I was not ready for the weather, which is fickle and mostly cold. But then in the middle of the day the sun will catch you in your layers and it’s like a sauna! The shops in the photo are all flower shops, hence the name of the bus stop “Flores.” This is the stop closest to our house.
Here’s one of the store keepers sweeping rose petals off the sidewalk. Que bonita! She might look confused because I was taking her picture without her permission OR because I’m Asian. 🙂 I’ve only had one person actually call out my Asian-ness (“Koreanaaaa” they said) but I definitely stand out here and I haven’t seen any other Asian-looking folks on the streets. I did see a couple of Chinese restaurants and am looking forward to visiting them to see if there are any Mandarin-speakers there.
In terms of food, I’ve noticed that people LOVE their fried food and bread here. Had a delicious little nugget stuffed with rice, beef, a whole egg and seasonings, all fried to a crispy brown surface. Other than that, we’ve been cooking at home, in fact I made some fried rice for us last night with lots of veggies, eggs, rice and soy sauce–yum. The dish on the left was made by Andres’ mother…fish, peas, potatoes, and rice. The flavoring was superb and we had some sweet guanabana juice on the side too! Priceless. So I’ve been pretty happy with the food situation here so far. Bought a big bag of oatmeal and some bananas from the supermercado to have for breakfast. When I get to new countries during my Watson year, I’m really looking forward to taking cooking lessons! Food is the way to my heart and in my opinion, the quickest way to understand a culture.
Last night, Alex and Andres came back from a wedding in Quito! (FYI, Alex and my other friend Deivid started Taller de Paz four years ago! and they are one of the biggest reasons for my joining the team this summer) So it was really exciting to have them back and Alex started telling me about the conditions of the neighborhood we’d be working in. There’s also a (dumpster of a) park that we’ll be taking over and turning into a safe space for folks in the community. I’ll write more about our programming in the next week but for now, I’m off to a meeting with a local R&B rap artist who will be performing with a Taller de Paz team member this Saturday!