In the rain, the 9 PM highway is paved with glistening mandarins.
A boy walks hand in hand with his mother
across the bridge that bends over the twelve lanes of traffic.
He wears a navy, Chicago Bulls sweatshirt.
She wears a taupe raincoat and gray pajama pants
tucked into white galoshes
with the repeating pattern of Golden Retrievers.
Their hoods are both up.
In the boy’s other hand, he holds the tied rubber knot
of a white, surgical glove blown up like a balloon.
As he bounces his arm,
the northbound headlights reveal a smiley face
drawn onto the swollen palm with permanent marker.
About halfway across the bridge,
the two approach a man passing in the opposite direction.
His worn jean jacket, unshaven face and perforated shoes
suggest that he is homeless.
Atop a head of scraggly gray hair,
he wears a gold crown
from Burger King.
One of the paper peaks sags, disintegrating,
worn from more storms
than just this one.
The king is tired,
apparent by his hunched back and weary shuffle,
his unhurried anticipation of what awaits him
at the other side.
Has the habit of adorning this accessory
outlasted the good luck of the charm it was wished to be?
The dogs on mother’s galoshes take notice of the man,
snarling their upper lips as he nears,
veering the woman and the boy
further to their respective edge of the guard rail.
The king either pays no notice to this gesture
or he is used to his ability to repel
or he is too tired to care, but
from behind latex
the rubber glove cannot see grime
or empty pockets
or even the crown.
It just sees a person,
does what it does best
as they cross paths in the rain,
moving towards their respective kingdoms
or lack thereof.
Imagine you are at a rock concert. The band that you are there to see will be coming onto the stage soon and the crowd begins pushing forward. The dense group feigns civility while the canopy of shoulders hides jabbing elbows and toes of boots jamming into the heels of those in front of them.
… but instead of a band stepping on a stage it is a bus reaching the sliding doors of a platform and instead of a crowd pushing toward the front it is a group of people pushing towards one of the two gates to which you can swipe your card and catch your bus. Ladies and Gentlemen: this is the Transmilenio. The Transmilenio is one of two options of public transportation in Bogotá, excluding taxis, of course. Both are different forms of buses. Transmilenios are red buses that only stop at platforms designated to their route. They have two lanes on each side of the highway designated for them. Then there’s Las Busetas, buses no more than seven rows deep, that stop on any part of the side of the road where their is a person holding their arm out. You pay in cash, either directly to the hand of the driver, who reaches back while driving, or to a person sitting next to the driver, if that bus has one. Each of these Busetas has a name (I think of the general neighborhoods of their routes? Not positive), the Kr (Carrera) number that it stays on for the majority of the route and the Cll (Calle) number which is as far as it goes. Carreras run north to south and calles run east to west. So, for example, if I want to go to calle 45 going south that runs along carrera 13, I’m going to look for one that says “Kr 13” and “Cll (insert any number between 1-45, to make sure it at least goes that far without turning).” The downside of Busetas (pronounced boo seh tahs) is that they take FOREVER. Especially at rush hour, they make a TON of stops. The Transmilenios go longer distances faster, so time-wise, assuming one of the stations is near your destination, is usually the way to go. The problem is that EVERYONE KNOWS IT, hence the concert analogy (slightly more respectable that the sardines-in-a-tin-can analogy).
To get to my private classes, which I’ll be doing for the next month, Tuesday through Thursday, I take the Transmilenio, which takes me from calle 67 to calle 150 (roughly). It’s necessary, but quite claustrophobic. For my first lesson, I tried walking from the Transmi stop to the apartment, but I got lost and it ended up taking about 40 minutes on foot to arrive. Not the best option. What most people do is line up to take a “Pedal Taxi,” which line up right nearby the bus stop. What are they, you ask? They are little carriages whose sides and roofs are made of blue tarps (to shield passengers from the rain) pulled by bikers. To arrive at the apartment from the bus stop, which would be a substantial walk, costs only 1.000-2.000 pesos (50 cents to 1 USD) !! It’s absurd!! And very convenient for me!! But also absurd!! Anyways, the walk to the Transmi stop, the ride and the bike taxi in total make for a trip of around 45 minutes to an hour. This should help paint a picture of part of my daily tri-weekly commute.
On Tuesday, after my private class (6.30-8.30 PM) I met up with a friend who I had met while living in Buenos Aires, who now lives here with his wife and daughter. I ended up spending the night, which allowed me to spend the morning hanging out with their absolute ANGEL of a daughter, Mila, drawing with her and dancing to a Shakira playlist that her daddy put on.
On Wednesday, I met up with a friend who took me to lunch gave me a tour of the neighborhood, La Macarena. And no, I didn’t dance the Macarena in the Macarena! I’m going to save that for Christmas!
(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wihV1drvpc0 for reference)
Today I met a friend (through ‘Couchsurfing’) who also took me to lunch (lucky me!) and then showed me the office of his production company which he started. Cool stuff.
Tomorrow I’ll have classes all day, but I’ll try to squeeze in a poem.