Bogota is full of beauty. Bright colored street art, moss covered walls, brick and ivy…. this city has it all. I had the privilege this weekend of photographing a fellow expat family that happens to be a fellow Down syndrome family. We walked around their apartment, the neighborhood, and Parque el Virrey.
Living in a new city means lots of exploring and location scouting. Yesterday, on a drizzly morning, I took my eight year old on a walk around our neighborhood to check out some spots. We went through Parque Del Virrey and ended up wandering through Zona Rosa as well, before circling back to Parque Del Virrey.
It’s no secret I love street art, both on it’s own and as a photo backdrop. Today, my family explored La Candelaria, an area of Bogota known for colonial Spanish architecture, Plaza de Bolivar, and street art galore.
I was in my own little photographer heaven, and even my youngest eventually started asking for photos with her favorite murals.
I’d love to photograph a senior session here!
First of all, I know Bogota has an accent on the a. I am struggling here with typing mostly in English and using a lot more Spanish words than ever before!
This is much more of a personal update, but since a) I haven’t updated my personal blog in about four years and b) I love my clients dearly and c) this is the easiest platform, here’s my observations and updates.
Many of you know I love (aka am obsessed with) running. I heard that Bogota is a good running city. I also heard that Bogota is polluted and obviously anywhere at 8500 feet makes running hard. Well, we saw the Bogota half marathon (Media Maraton de Bogota) and it was HUGE! I also have been running in Parque del Virrey, which has two different fitness stations and is full of runners every morning of the week. However, the lack of oxygen is very real. I haven’t experienced issues with pollution yet, but I also wonder if spending my formative years in Southern California during that early 80s pollution has toughened my lungs!
PLAYGROUNDS AND PARKS:
There’s a billion. They have good equipment. That’s the bottom line.
We live within a half mile walk of, by current count, eight huge play structures and one park with so many I can’t count. I’m sure if we explore more in other directions, we’ll find more parks. Pretty much everyone lives in apartments, yet green space abounds.
Some of the parks get crowded, which isn’t surprising. Last Saturday, the girls and I went out for ice cream and took the dog to Parque 93 - it was packed! We saw dogs, student groups studying, kids running everywhere, guys selling balloons and bubbles…. I enjoy the atmosphere, but I have to keep my kids closer than I do in Arlington. That’s true in any city.
GENERAL FOOD, LANGUAGE, AND FEELS:
The only Latin American travel I’ve done prior to moving to Bogota is a week in Puerto Rico and our honeymoon in Mexico. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect in Bogota. Food is cheap, services are cheap, finished goods are expensive.
Very little English is spoken in general. My Spanish is rudimentary at best, but I think it will improve quickly! Ordering food, etc is all done in Spanish. Allergens are labeled very well on packaged food, and most restaurants have either labeled menus or knowledgeable staff. Colombians speak FAST, but have all slowed down and speak clearly when I make that request! People (both Colombians and expats) have been warm and welcoming.
I’ve been surprised in a city that seems to top out at 62 degrees Fahrenheit - popsicles (palettas) are HUGE. I mean, they are everywhere. On a Sunday morning, we were with a friend’s kid, who told us that despite ordering popsicles from one shop, the place two doors down has even better popsicles, because that’s all they sell. I naively told her it wouldn’t be open at 10 am. I was wrong.
Rappi is THE THING in Bogota. What is Rappi? Amazon Prime Now, but for everything and faster. You hop on the app, fight with it because your American credit card won’t verify, and then choose from about 400 restaurants and other specialties from pet supplies to groceries to fancy towels to alcohol. Rappi orders are delivered by guys on bikes all over the city. From what I’ve gathered, these Rappi guys will nearly run you over but also bring you a hamburger and beer in 20 minutes, so at least you can recover from the collisions.
The city feels as safe as any other major city I’ve visited (DC, San Francisco, Rome, etc). I wouldn’t walk around with huge amounts of money in my hand or swinging my phone around, but running, walking, shopping, etc. haven’t felt unsafe at all. We also live in a fantastic neighborhood, have security at our building, and often have our dog in tow.
Bogota has amazing street art, of both the commissioned and not-so-commissioned kind. If you have ever visited this website, you know this has made my heart sing. I haven’t even seen the best areas yet, but the murals near my house have given me inspiration for photos and fun with my kids. I cannot wait to get to the downtown and historic areas where street art abounds. Even in an Uber en route to SkyZone, I was staring at all the color and design.
Many more Bogota thoughts and photos to come!
This space has been silent for over a month, but with good reason. My family has recently relocated, and we relocated pretty far from our home in Arlington. We are getting settled in the beautiful city of Bogota, Colombia! Despite rain most days, I’ve found the city to be ideal for photos with overcast light and sunsets at 6:30, meaning my kids are awake at Golden Hour!
There are hardly words for this fun session with a baby, a big kid, wonderful parents, and two sets of grandparents! So I won’t try with words, and I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.