Colombia

A Bricked, Green Bogotá

I didn´t know much about Colombia before I decided to move to Bogota this April. And I have to admit that I even had to double check where it was on the map. My boyfriend Santiago, who I had started dating in Kenya, had received a new job offer to be based in Bogota (where he is from) and we had decided that it made sense for us to go. His new position in impact investing was different than some of work he had done before, and I was excited to take some time to learn Spanish, so within 2 weeks we had packed up our bags and left Kenya.

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I fell in love with the city within minutes of being here. I felt as if I were in a city that had been placed in the middle of a forest surrounded by mountains. That sounds a bit strange, but that´s how I saw it. There were old trees lining the roads, tall and beautiful, flowers of a myriad of colors being sold on the street corners (Colombia is one of the largest exporters of flowers in the world), and very few skyscapers once you were out of the city center.

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The buildings in Bogota, particularly in the northern area where I live, are mostly brick. It reminded me a bit of NC States’ campus, to be honest. I had never seen so many brick buildings lining the streets in every direction. In contrast with the green trees, it´s a very lovely scenery.

Most people live in apartments here, like in most big cities. While there are some houses, they are few and far between. There are about 9M people living in Bogota, so having enough space for a house isn´t exactly practical. Below are some photos from my neighborhood.

DSC03959The view from my bedroom window (Note here all the brick).

IMG_2912Cute little street one block from my apartment with some furniture shops and tasty restaurants. Great for walking around on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon or a warm evening.

IMG_2915Adorable little bakery on the corner of our block with lights that stay up all year. My building is the one just there at the top right of the photo.

The city is very divided by the huge income inequity that exists. In Colombia, there exists a sort of caste system where people are assigned a socio-economic level on a scale from 1 to 6 (6 being the highest). This system was created in the 1980s to better classify urban areas, allowing for grant subsidies to the poorest stratas of the population and higher service fees, including water and utilities, for the higher stratas.

This link provides more of an explanation of the system and illustrates how divided the city is: http://www.ifhp.org/ifhp-blog/colombia-social-stratification-law

I live in the North, in a brick building, with a doorman, parking underground, and a little gym on the first floor. Santiago and I have a one bedroom apartment with a walk in closet, two bathrooms, a kitchen that opens up into our living room, and a little chili tree, and we pay the equivalent of about $1,000 per month. Let me just say that this apartment in NY or SF would not be less than $8,000 per month.

IMG_2916My brick building with a precious little Christmas tree in the entry way.

IMG_0086The discoed-out chili tree, but beware the chilies are VERY spicy! Might even bring tears to the eyes…

IMG_0085The living room decked-out with some lights, a projector to watch tv, and some mattresses on the floor for lounging around. We didn’t buy any real furniture since we aren’t planning on staying in Bogota for more than this year.

Living in this area of the city is great since we are able to walk to everything we need to day-to-day. Santiago and I can both walk to our offices, to my Spanish school, to the grocery store, and to hundreds of restaurants and bars. Being able to walk is key here since not much has been invested in the infrastructure to expand roads and invest in a better public transportation system (still not a metro in the city…).

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I continue to love and explore this beautiful city, and grateful to have two feet to be able to take me through it!

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