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Bogota First stamp

Text and photographs by Sandra Hernández

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The first-time traveler to Bogota should arrive at dawn, in a parachute, and land directly on top of Monserrate hill. He must not be taken aback by the thick haze that covers everything and fills one’s gaze because, as the sun comes up, the white cape vanishes, and then, from one moment to other, as if in a dream, the uneven urban grid of the Capital District appears murkily.

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Let’s not blame the wandering knight if he were to feel between the confines of two parallel lives. With the vision of that warp of concrete and lights that go out, one by one, before his eyes, Monserrate, behind him, is completely dressed in forests of foggy veils that float ethereal, that come and go. The voice of a city that wakes up abruptly, without yawns, that intertwines with gushes of a stubborn wind and the crush of the funicular that begins its work.

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The ancient Bacatá is awake at last: the invitation has been made. Perhaps the visitor decides to dive in the streets with all the frenzy that curiosity fosters. As a good rambler would, he’ll take the old path, the customary one, the traditional one: that cobbled stairway that – filled with myths and stories of conquest and devout pilgrims – will lead him, step by step, to the encounter with a metropolis that runs giddily, waiting for no one.

However, this traveller is not in a rush. In a calm and tranquil descent, he will submerge himself in the streets until he has been swallowed by the city. He, who only knows the métier of flâneur, knows that his pockets, now empty, will return full of stamps that Bogota has put in his way.

astonishing graffiti, red buildings with apparent partition walls, alleys with consumed walls, stray dogs, the smell of coffee,

white mansions, fearless mansions, streams of cars, the comings and goings of people, mimes and guinea pig races, sad looking beggars,

flower vendors, fruit vendors, sweets vendors, the smell of freshly made almojábana, vallenato notes, horns honking,

the laughter of students entering school, llamas walking the streets, suited businessmen, people riding bicycles...

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Thus far, the first stamp. Hence, our traveller celebrates being in Bogota at last. If he looks up, Monserrate will once again be wearing its white veil as an omen of the rain that will fall moments later. He picks up the pace, and, wandering, goes for more.

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