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My Blogotá

Photos from my time in Bogotá, Colombia, during 2006.

I am sponsored by a Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship, and hosted by the Universidad de los Andes.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the larger images.
Most recent update: 12 September 2008.

Photo of the little weeds that grow on telephone wires. Weeds on wires. I am facinated by the weeds that grow on telephone wires. I first noticed them in Honduras, and what appear to be the same little plants are growing on the wires here, just off the main square in the tiny town of Güepsa (pronounced not unlike the word "website"), Boyacá (or did we already cross into the Department of Santander?). (See also my photoshopped version of the same photo.)

Photo of Bogota as seen from the hills along its eastern edge. Flowers for Bogotá. Here's a lovely view of a small section of northern Bogotá as seen from the hills that define the eastern edge of the city. These hills are so high in some places that one finds páramo habitat, with its signature plants, the frailejón , genus Espeletia. See below for more páramo pictures. The frog-killing microscopic aquatic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has been reported from a site near to where this photo was taken.

Photo looking up 26th Street. Looking up my street. Here's a view looking across Fifth Street and up 26th Street. I live 2 blocks up. Note the nice green hills in the background. Notice that my neighborhood has its own cloud. So does the Universidad de los Andes.

Photo looking down 26th Street. Looking down my street. My old apartment is there on the right. In the U.S. and Colombia we call that the 3rd floor, but in Panama and Europe they'd call that the 2nd floor.

Photo of soldiers outside my apartmente. I got you now, Sucker! This photo was taking out my window one fine Sunday. I could tell you that they are my personal guardaespaldas, but actually I only ever saw them again once more on my street. However, small groups of soldiers are a common sight on the streets of Bogotá. (Can you tell the guy on the right is holding a sucker?)

Photo of fireworks. Fuegos artificiales. This picture was also taken out my same window, looking downtown to the Colpatria building, the tallest building in Bogotá, one fine evening during the Iberoamerican Theater Festival.

Photo of interior of the Teatro Colón in Bogotá. That's "Colón," not "Colon." During the Iberoamerican Theater Festival we saw "Hamlet" in Castillan Spanish, as presented by a theater group based in Bilbao. We sat in the very back row of the Teatro Colón, where tickets cost less than US$2 bucks. Good thing I finally read the play last year or I would have been pretty lost. Check out this photo of the inside of the theater. It's pretty spectacular. The theater, I mean. Not the photo.

Photo of Parque El Gallineral. Parque El Gallineral, San Gil, Department of Santander. This park is located along the Río Fonce in downtown San Gil, elevation about 1100 meters, population 33,000 according to my Lonely Planet guidebook. The trees are covered with barbas de viejo or tillandsia. (Is that the same as "Spanish Moss"?). Notice the string of it hanging down in the foreground. My hosts on this trip was the Flechas family, that's Vicky on the left and her parents in the middle, and our park tour guide on the right, in a traditional dress.

Photo of AJC with sad burro pulling a wagon. Vélez, Santander, Colombia. Here is a picture of me drinking a tinto (in Colombia that means a small black coffee, not a red wine) and annoying this skinny horse parked by the back steps of the main church in Vélez. You can see still these small horses sometimes on the streets of Bogotá, pulling carts loaded with salvage or recyclables.

Photo of Church and town square in Arcabuco, Boyacá, Colombia. Arcabuco, Boyacá, Colombia. The center of every town has to have a nice church with a main plaza in front of it, of course. In Colombia, even small towns have great churches. Here's a lovely but modest example, from the town of Arcabuco, where we stopped for breakfast and had the typical caldo, a clear soup with big hunks of potatoes and hunks of meat. It's OK, but I much prefer the fabulous Ajiaco, a thick soup with miniumum 3 kinds of potatoes and other veggies plus chicken, and served with avocado and rice. The car in the photo below was parked in front of this plaza.

Photo of an old Ford in Arcabuco, Boyacá, Colombia. The Out-of-state Game. When I was a kid, my sisters and I played the "Out-of-state" game on long car rides with the family. The rules are simple. First person to see a license plate from a state other than the one we were currently in gets to slug another player (e.g.; sibling). Each car can be used only once. This game proved tricky in Colombia, which has Departments instead of States. So we played the Afuera-del-departamento game. The tricky part is that the license plates in Colombia list the town of registry, not the department or state. So, I had to learn Colombian geography fast or literally suffer the consequences. In this photo the car is from Soacha, which is the Dept. of Cundinamarca (the capital district), but the photo was taken in Arcabuco, in the neighboring Dept. of Boyacá, but close to the Dept. of Santander... Ouch! FYI, the man in the distant right of the photo is wearing a ruana, a type of poncho tipical of the high Andean region.

campus of Universidad de los Andes El Bobo. Here is a picture of me on the campus of the Universidad de los Andes, before classes started, back in January when there were more sunny days. It's a beautiful campus, not so big but very modern, built on a steep hillside above the old colonial neighborhood of Bogotá.

Scene from the bullfight. A fighting chance. Here is a picture of one of the more exciting moments at the bullfright. The matador (or as my brother pointed out, he's a picador not the matador; they got a team of like 4 guys, but only one is 'licensed to kill') is in mid-air about stick the poor bull, but it was probably the best chance the bull was going to have at wounding a human. Photo by Vicky Flechas, not me. I could never getting the timing right on my digital camera.
Update: OK, never ask a Gringo to do a Colombian's job. My friend María Isabel provides the following correction. Turns out that guy is not the picador, either. He's the banderillero because he's sticking the bull with the banderillas (little flags). The picador comes on earlier in the "fight" and he's the one on horseback. Wow, I feel so Ernest Hemingway.

Photo of a parade with a group of pretend bull fighters. Example of a picador. OK, just to clarify the above points, the person in the center of this photo is the picador (but where are his legs?!), and the matador (matadora?) is on the left with the sword, and so is the bull, anxiously running away. Photo taken on the same occasion as the photo below....

Bogotá Theatre Festival parade. I love a parade! April, 2006, Bogotá hosts the biannual (that's every OTHER year, right?) Iberoamerican Theater Festival, and it kicks off with a parade that runs from the Plaza de Toros to the Plaza de Bolivar. The special guest nation this year was Russian, and we got tickets for a Slovenian production.

Espeletia of the páramo. Know your Páramo. On our class field trip to the Chingaza Natural Park I made friends with a frailejón plant, genus Espeletia, the 'signature' species of the high elevation northern Andes. The tops of tall Neotropical mountains host a distinctive habitat called páramo, well above the tree-line. Costa Rica has páramo, but no Espeletia. The frog photo below was taken in the same place.

Frog with lunch money. The Lunch Money Robber Frog. Here is a high-altitude frog (Dendropsophus labialis) native to the páramo. These frogs collect coins, and guard them vigilantly, like dangerous little leprechauns. Sure, 200 colombian pesos is only worth a dime, but 10 cents is a lot of money to a frog. So, if you know what's good for you, you'll think twice about trying to take a frog's coins.

Photo of my house warming party. Welcome to Bogotá, 2006. House-warming party for my two-room apartment, Februrary 2006. Special guests: my students from the Universidad Nacional 2005 and the U. de los Andes 2006. The party was packed! Of course, that's not hard to do in such a small apt.

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