I had a very fun and quite adventurous day with my friend Eva today! We decided to go into Bogota to see La Candelaria -the old, colonial part of town with the main square, the old cobblestone streets, and the museums. We actually didn’t make it to any museums but we had a blast reconnecting and experiencing Bogota.
Our day began with an adventure. We drove to Esteban’s work, parked there and were planning to take a taxi to Candelaria. Traffic in Bogota is bad and driving in it can be extremely stressful so it seemed wise to spend the approximately $8 for an hour long ride. Except that we had quite a hard time getting a cab. The deal with taxis in Bogota is that it is highly unadvisable to just grab a taxi on the street. It is much safer to call a taxi and get the license plate number of the taxi that is coming to get you. You also get a clave (a “key”) that you tell the driver so he or she (although taxi drivers are usually men here, there are a few female drivers) knows that you are the person that called for a taxi. This system is basically in place to insure that there is a record of who drives whom and this reduces the chances of being robbed or kidnapped by a taxi driver.
So we called a taxi and waited and waited. It was raining and taxis are notoriously hard to come by in the rain. Everybody in this city of 11 million people seems to want a taxi when it rains. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting in the rain, our taxi finally arrived, only to be sideswiped by another car just as it pulled over. The driver who sideswiped the taxi just took off and our taxi took off after the offending car. We were once again left without a taxi and had to start the process all over again. While we waited for the second taxi, this is what we saw:
Finally the second taxi came and Eva and I had about an hour to catch up before we got to the old part of the city. I was pretty relaxed and happy to just talk with Eva but she seemed pretty stressed out by the driving. In any case, here is what we saw and did in the city:
After lots of fun, it was time to wrap up our day and go home. The dilemma again was how to get a taxi. We called one and were told it would come in five minutes. We wound up waiting forty0five minutes but the taxi didn’t show. Multiple calls to the taxi company yielded no results. What to do? We had to get home to relieve the nanny and rush hour was fast approaching. We could get stuck in Bogota traffic for a long time.
I had an idea. We could ask the cops for help. I figured that if I told them of our problem and concern of getting into a random taxi, they would flag one down for us and the driver would be more likely to take us where we need to go. So that’s what we did. The police officers, who looked like they just started shaving yesterday, were very nice. They tried to flag down a taxi for us but nobody wanted to take us the hundred plus blocks in rush hour traffic. They eventually stopped traffic and started asking every taxi they saw until one agreed to take us to our destination. He was an elderly man and the first thing he said was “are you friends with the police?” It’s good to have friends in high places!
Here is a picture of the police stopping traffic:
At last me made it back safe and sound. What a day!