There are alot of things about living in a big city that I never thought I’d get used to. And really, I don’t know if I ever will. It’s different, and for a Mississippi girl, the Big City culture shock is just as strong as the Latin American one. And by big, I mean BIG…10 MILLION people in this little town of mine, and even though I’ll live in Bogotá for 2 years, there’s no way I’ll ever see all of it. And even if I could somehow manage to pay a visit to every little part of this place, I could never show it to you because there are lots of areas where hauling a camera around really isn’t a great idea if you want to keep it.
But I CAN take pictures all over my little corner of Bogotá, so I thought I’d give you a little virtual tour of mi barrio (translation: my neighborhood). Thanks to Lacey for the majority of these pictures, because she was basically the paparazzi when she came to visit.
We live in a little complex of townhomes that’s part of a bigger complex of townhomes and apartments. The whole big complex is gated, and each little mini-section (called a sector) has its own little gate, guard, and playground. Our little sector has about 3 or 4 buildings that make up about 50 townhomes. Sounds confusing, but it’s not once you see it. Here’s my house:
Josh and Emily live around the corner in another sector inside this same complex. It only takes a couple of minutes to walk to their house. Normally anyone who doesn’t live in the sector has to sign in to visit, but the guards in both of our sectors are so used to us coming back and forth to each other’s houses that they don’t stop us anymore…they just wave and pass out high-fives to all the kids.
If you were to leave our complex and turn left, you’d find a little strip mall that has alot of little mom-and-pop shops in it. On the corner is our fresh produce shop, which I visit almost every other day. It’s crazy how cheap it is to eat fresh here! One of the guys who works in this shop has a bike with baskets on the front and back, and he’ll even deliver to my house if I need him to. It’s a great setup.
Thanks to this shop, the fruit basket on my counter is always full, and we have fresh fruit and veggies with almost every meal.
In this same strip is a little papelaría (shop with paper goods and knick-knacks), a few little homemade food shops, a pharmacy (no Rx needed), and a cute little coffee shop/bakery that we visit pretty regularly. The bread and pastries are DELICIOUS and it’s a good spot to sit, drink a cup of coffee, and practice listening and understanding all the spanish going on around us.
Just past the coffee shop and cross the street is our little neighborhood grocery store. It’s kind of hit-and-miss as far as inventory goes, but I can usually find all the basics. Bread, eggs, milk, OJ, rice, pasta, etc…
But sometimes there are items on the list and the little corner grocery just won’t cut it….so I have to walk a tiny bit further to the fancy grocery store. But on the way there, I pass the flower stand…
…and this place that sells lechona colombiana, which is basically a huge roasted pig…
…and a couple more miscellaneous shops before you get to the fancy grocery store, called Carulla. It has alot of imported stuff that the smaller shops don’t have, and its meat, produce, and deli sections are really nice. Of course, you pay more for it! But there are a few things that I will buy from there if I can’t find it anywhere else.
If you keep walking a bit further — about a 15-20 minute walk from my house, more or less — there’s a store called Éxito, which is kind of like a Wal-mart. I shop here even less often because it’s further away and it’s a much bigger hassle to navigate. But, sometimes that’s the only place I can find certain things, so I fight the crowds anyway.
And if you cross over the Autopista (interstate, basically), and head back on the other side, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff to see, none of which I have pictures of, unfortunately. But I’m not over there much (except for the mall and to our friends Esta and Matt’s house), and pics of that side would make this post too long anyway. I’ll save it for another day.
So now that I know you’ve got all of that straight, here’s a little visual for you:
So there ya go. That’s my neighborhood. It’s different from what I’m used to, for sure, but it’s quickly becoming home. And I have no doubt that it will look completely different from wherever we end up after this. But for now, it’s mi barrio and I’m kinda starting to like it.