Up close in the Capital city

BOGOTA. 9AM (PEAK HR) Up close. Armpit close. In latin america it’s not uncommon for the men to wear as much, or sometimes more perfume than the women. It’s nice, they smell good and thankfully too, as there are certain times of day you will find yourself pressed firmly against a chest, arm or other body part when trying to get around the capital city of Colombia. Bogota Like now. There’s a certain skill to taking public transport which is part tetris, part jenga. Fit an arm in here, leg there, check the only hand in your bag is your own and lean either into or against the other bodies pressed around you to avoid creating a full body mexican wave. So, with my face wedged between my own arm someone elses as we grip onto the rail to hold our own weight and that of the people around us, I can catch a glimpse of the barrios outside. I grasp the rail and tense as the transmilenio jolts to a stop and the mass of bodies press forward with inertia. The doors begrudingly groan apart, moving against the solid wall of bodies within, and as some bodies press to excape, new bodies eagre to get to work or school try to envelope themselves within the mass, molding and contorting into non-existent gaps. As yet another arm reaches past my face to grasp the rail, I think again how lucky we are that at least it smells good in here. I also wonder if my makeup is going to rub off a little onto the sleeve of the gentleman near me as his arm yet again wipes past my face in a bid to stay upright. I wonder if this is a common problem faced by people taking the transmilenio to work. I wonder if this is something he is worrying about as well. The look on his face says probably not. BogotaIn fact, there doesn’t seem to be that much to worry about here at all. I had been warned to keep a sharp eye and my bag close when taking the transmilenio but peering around at the faces near mine it looks like most people are just enduring the ride like everyone else. As my firend tells me, at least this way they can get to work at all. We hurtle past beautiful old buildings covered in graffiti, traffic at a standstill and small herds of dogs dragging along walkers behind them. Reaching the city centre the passsengers disembark with all the gracce and cohesion of a group of sheep escaping the run. It’s chaos but it’s city chaos, orderly and disporderly all at one. Thousands of personalities, opinions, needs, wants, agendas shuffled together within paved valleys walled by bricks and mortar. Outside of peak hour the transmilenios become moving live music venues, shop fronts and more as street vendors take the product to the people. To see the city up close, and I’m talking armpit in face close, there might be no better way than the transmilenio. You feel me?

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