Living in a bipolar city

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Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, is a wonderful city despite all the problems it has in some relevant aspects such as security, mobility and the civism, or lack there of, many citizens. It is a place full of contrasts, of beautiful surrounding landscapes and also it is a city that offers different experiences and activities for every kind of person. In various cultural scenarios. Thanks to the significant progress that we have had in security and foreign investment Bogotá has become an absolutely multicultural city in which its common to find Koreans eating Bandeja Paisa or excited Americans and Europeans having Ajiaco.

Juanita Bernal Sanint © Solkes

The city

The city has also become a Latinamerican reference in cultural and gastronomy matters. It has all kinds of shows from all over the world that make Bogotá a mandatory stop. There are also all kind of restaurants for all kind of tastes and exquisite palates: proof of this is the recent opening at Usaquen, a traditional colonial quartier, of the famous and global French restaurant Le Ralais de l´entrecote that also has venues in some of the most important cities around the world: Paris, Genève, Dubai, new York and Tokyo. Bogotá’s venue is for now the first and only one in Latin America.

The wide cultural and gastronomy offer is only one of many characteristics that enchanted foreigners that visit the city and that also find a developed, pleasant and world competitive city. Greater than the one they imagined when they chose it as a destiny. The fear and misconceptions that they had wasn’t entirely their fault: the media, the Hollywood industry and even the books and reports used to show a crazy and dirty Macondo type of city, underdeveloped, tropical, isolated from the world and also located in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of the jungle that has nothing to do with the cosmopolitan dream that they found upon arrival.

It is important to remember that some Hollywood Flicks such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith portray Bogotá as a savage and wild place full of trees and depopulated roads.

One of the things that strangers like the most about the city is that it is surrounded by beautiful hills and that is not so common in urban cores. They have continued access to them and having the hills that near definitely is a great privilege.

Hills and stars

Certainly it is an immense pleasure to look at them, or better yet, to gaze at the horizon and run into the hills is both relaxing and pleasant. But, to be surrounded by those top hills also implies that the city´s weather is theoretically a little more plumed and supposedly cold with a higher altitude that could be overwhelming from time to time for other people.

Juanita Bernal Sanint © Solkes

Those of us who live here are used to the high altitude and it doesn’t affect us but for our visitors it could be difficult even causing some health problems during the first visiting days: 2600 meters above the sea level is big deal.

In fact, when looking at old pictures from Bogotá in the first middle of the XX century, it’s obvious that because of its cold weather and the low temperatures the city used to have, people used gabardines, heavy fiber clothes and other winter outfits. A strange fact to believe in, if we consider that recent temperatures reached 25 centigrade. But that was the other Bogotá.

It is a fact that Global Warming and some other external factors such as the over population have warmed up the cities but to have summer temperatures in Bogotá could not be normal and are caused by weather phenomena such as The Niña Phenomenon that causes long dry periods of time and high temperatures.

Nessa Twix © Solkes

It is true that all the people in Bogotá enjoy the times when it doesn’t rain and we have a warm and nice weather and we take the opportunity to dust off the summer collection that we can’t wear much.

We enjoy the parks and the outdoors and we take lots of sun bathes, there are people all over around having smoothies and cold drinks of all kinds and we even wonder who it is to live in a season country and get to enjoy from time to time the summer.

Its very own climate

But then we have a reality check and remember that we don’t have seasons and for that reason when a city that is cold like Bogotá turns to a warm or hot place it means something is wrong with the climate. Right now there are many chances that we are going to have energy rationings caused by the past and strong dry seasons and the lower levels of the water reservoirs which are also the main energy generators. Suddenly everybody claims and begs for rainy season again.

Most likely when people leave the umbrella back home the rain starts pouring.

An other problem that citizens have to face when the heat and the summer are around us is that as Bogotá is supposed to be a cold weather place. The city was definitely not prepared for the hot waves that occurred in January.

There are a lot of public places that don’t have air conditioner, most of the places are indoors and with insufficient venting systems and the dwellings are not prepared either since there are not seasons buildings and houses are not provided with heat or air conditioner, we simply have to adapt to the outside weather indoors as well.

Although it is true that most of the population is desperately asking for the rain season to start because the high temperatures have been extreme recently.

It is also true that when it rains Bogotá is specially chaotic and messy and there are a lot of problems arising from the rains. Some of them are: flooding streets, impossible traffic jams, remarkable hails, transportation problems and much more because when it rains in Bogotá usually lasts for several hours.

Juanita Bernal Sanint © Solkes

Citizens are more prepared for the rains than for the heat waves. They all have one or some umbrellas and also appropriate outfits and sweaters but the problem is the changing weather and that ironic and omnipresent god, Murphy, who seem to always be against us all.

Bipolar city

The real problem is, though, when the city becomes a real mess: taxis banish, the traffic jam is really annoying and the city basically strikes and stops protesting against the rain. his crazy and changeable weather that we have in Bogotá is one of those aspects that always seem to surprise the foreign: they don’t understand how it could be a shiny sun then low and cold temperatures and a torrential rains all in the same day and probably with few hours apart.

Our weather is that mad that even the weather forecasts tend to fail and then people don’t know how to dress or what weather to expect along the day. Those who live in Lima will miss the rain for sure also those who live in London have to long for the sun, but at least both of them are used to have one kind of weather and know how to prepare for it, not likely in Bogotá where we have to get dress as if we were onions, by layers and being able to loose or gain them according to the weather we have in each different minute.

Translated By: Juanita Sanint Bernal

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