It was a few moons ago that I found myself in Bogotá, filled with the excitement of visiting the region starring in Narcos on Netflix. Chose my hotel well – the charming Casa Deco – in La Candeleria, the heart of the historic part of town.
Going out to dinner on the first evening was a little hairy, with the front desk staff insisting on sending a security guard to accompany me to a restaurant nearby, as he deemed the streets unsafe. The guard dropped me at a plaza filled with young people having a loud and good time. But by the time I emerged from dinner, about 45 minutes later, the police had dispersed the crowds, and the 5-minute walk back to the hotel made me slightly apprehensive. So I tagged behind a large group and sped back. It wasn’t a late hour, but why risk it in a new country!
The hotel receptionist told me that this spot was one of the most historic sites of Bogotá – Chorro de Quevedo – believed to be the birthplace of the city.
The next morning, I was signed up for a walking tour, and my guide, Sr. Luis, started the walk with a stroll back to the Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo, describing how the church and the first houses built around the square were the foundation of the city.
My immersive tour with Impulse Travel was a typical walk through local streets and markets, sampling snacks and fruits, while absorbing history and culture. What impressed me most, however, was the vibrant street art – in and around the Distrito Graffiti, and some in La Candelaria too. I’ve tried to link each image to the artist, wherever possible.
The history of graffiti is not pleasant, and often associated with vandalism. However, by legitimising it, the quality of art in Bogotá has scaled great heights. It feels good to know that a number of street artists get support for their art, and also commissioned for work. Yet, after admiring the rich colours and themes, it is worthwhile to spend some time thinking about the deeper social messages that each work aims to convey.