I would not have believed it, had I not seen it with my own eyes. It’s amazing how experiencing something, even in the second person, can completely change your ideas of what’s possible. When I was visiting Machu Picchu a few years back I had this feeling, where wonder and confusion collide and even in your imagination you find it difficult to recreate. Someone told me we’re so far removed from the possibilities of man power, en masse, that we can’t really picture how stones were moved up there without machinery. In a weekend a few firsts I was happy to experience that feeling a few more times.
On Thursday night I finally managed to find my way into a futbol game, but perhaps not as you’d imagine. We played at a place called Futbol Cinco and there were ironically four fields. They were located in a former warehouse in a well-to-do neighborhood. Two fields on each of two floors with parking on the ground floor. The group I was a part of paid for an hour on the field and has it reserved every Thursday at 9. I think this is an idea waiting to happen in the US. Where, in Atlanta, could we find a location ripe for such a proposition? You need a structurally sound building and a crowd looking for places to play (places there are lit, dry and warm well into the night after work). Hmmm, maybe somewhere on Buford Highway, but I could also see something like this occupying the second and third floors of some space in Atlantic Station, make it all sleek with lots of walls of glass so people outside can watch and the fields can be used for anything, indoor football or futbol, field hockey, etc. B. Leary, call me.
On Saturday I went for a tour of a few parts of the city with a friend from the university. We started from my place in the south and headed north on Transmilenio. This is Bogotá’s Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) modeled after a similar system in Curitiba, Brazil. If you’re in a traffic-choked US city or in a planning program you’ve probably heard the term thrown around. I had heard much talk of it in Atlanta, but this was my first time aboard for a ride. It works like a subway with buses running on dedicated routes. In Bogotá you enter the system at stations and pay a flat fare to go anywhere the system will take you. I have to see that it is very clean, efficient and pleasant. Also, it’s far cheaper than putting in subway infrastructure.
For lunch on Saturday we went to a Bogotá landmark, everyone knows it, and everyone knows it a little bit differently. It is actually just outside Bogotá in Chia and it’s called Andres Carne de Res. There is little I can do to describe it, expect to tell you that it was enormous, loud, delicious, exciting and I could have spent another 3 hours there. Jorge, who took me, told me that all told the restaurant employs an estimated 1,000 people; that includes cooks, waiters, parking attendants, actors, musicians, admin, etc. I went for lunch and every account I’ve heard since labels it a completely different brand of fun after dark, but I would say it’s a great time whenever you go.
I finished Saturday with a Futbol game in the city. Bogotá has two teams, Santa Fe and Millonarios and Jorge is a huge Santa Fe fan. Unfortunately, the home team lost to the defending league champ from Medellin, Nacional. But I did hear a lot of bad words and got to experience my second South American live game. The first was in Buenos Aires two years ago. In both case I did not have a camera. In Argentina I thought better to leave it in the hostel not knowing where I might get tickets and this time I was advised that it might get confiscated because it contained batteries that could be thrown.
All of this was a the day before my first running event, the Bogota half marathon (and 10K). It also happened to be a day after I re-ruined my left ankle playing basketball. When I got home from my day out on Saturday I removed the soccer sock that I had tied around it for compressions and it looked like, well, like this. I took what little ice I could scrounge up and started RICE again. I had felt good most of the day but when I saw this I had second thoughts about running on it. For two days I slept with it raised, actually with both of my feet raised, as I sleep in a tapered sleeping bag. On Sunday it had evened out but was still a bit big, still without pain. So I went for it.
http://nikeplus.nike.com/nikeplus/v1/swf/scrapablewidget/rundetail.swfMy goal was to finish in under an hour and it took me a grad total of 57:30. I felt good about it. At first it was slow going as the streets were packed with people and there was little room to make any moves, but that actually made the trip go by faster. Also, the first 5K wound through tight streets and there was no way to see how far you had to go when you looked ahead. Toward the finish at Parque Simon Bolivar, the buildings disappeared and you were offered a clear view of thousands filling the street for the next kilometer in front of you. Around 40,000 people participated in this one, now I can start thinking about the full 21K next year.
By the end of the weekend I had to completely alter my understanding of so many things. Maybe we could play soccer at Atlantic Station or build a subway with a bus. I still couldn’t understand who would throw batteries at a sports event (Ohio State Fans). Maybe I could even run a marathon, or at least a half; IronMan is still a long lost Inca capital for me.