VFYW: A Middle Finger To The Nazis
For contest #348, we travel to a port city that was beautifully restored.
(For the View From Your Window contest, the results below exceed the content limit for Substack’s email service, so to ensure that you see the full results, click the headline above.)
A sleuth writes:
Greetings from Israel! Hope you had a great time in Bogotá and Medellín. I don’t care that last week’s view was a gimme; I was thrilled to track you down. Perhaps you’ll be posting a video of your progress in learning Colombian salsa? OK, maybe not.
Definitely not. Though I did capture some video clips of salsa dancers at Andres Carne de Res DC — “like a Cheesecake Factory crossed with a nightclub on steroids, but with absolutely fantastic Colombian food.” Off camera, I joined my Colombian friend on the dance floor and muddled through.
Below is a view from her Medellín window (well, balcony) in the Laureles neighborhood:
The city is usually more sunny than this, and it’s nicknamed “The City of Eternal Spring” because the annual average temperature is 72 °F — yep, right at room temperature. Flowers are one of the main exports.
Below is what those homes in the distance look like, captured while I was riding a gondola that’s part of the Medellín Metro, a really impressive transit system — far cleaner and better maintained than the NYC subway:
I took the gondola up over the mountains that surround the city into Parque Arví, a wonderful nature preserve and archeological site that attracts hikers, horseback riders and paragliders. (According to this video tour, the gondola has allowed people in the poor neighborhoods lining the hills to more easily access the lower city, thus causing a drop in crime.) Colombia is the country with the most species of butterflies, several of which I spotted. I also came upon a less lively series of sightings:
These are several of the local legends illustrated on one of the side trails, and I think it was just a coincidence I was visiting close to Halloween (a holiday that’s already very visible in many of the storefronts I saw in downtown Bogotá). Here’s more on the nature preserve if you’re interested.
Speaking of Medellín, the VFYW visited the beautiful city way back in March 2014, for contest #194. One of the sleuths gave a detailed look at the rivalry between that city and it’s bigger sibling to the south:
My mom is from Bogotá, which has an old civic rivalry with Medellín that’s on par with the old hatreds between certain medieval English market towns or ancient Greek city-states. Below is a summary of inter-Colombian hatreds in case anyone is interested.
Bogotános are stereotypically a bit cachaco — cold, distant and stuck-up in their manners like a British toff or Boston Brahmin. Bogotá is set up high in the Andes and has a climate similar to London. Residents used to wear woolen ruanas (ponchos) over their dresses and suits. Bogotá was also the old Spanish viceroyal capital. The presence of the Spanish court, and, later, the seat of the Colombian republic, brought with it all the stuff that goes along with the State in ambitious young countries striving for respectability: embassies, foreigners, archbishops, seminaries, learned professional societies, universities, cafes, bookstores, Marxists, pamphleteers, art galleries, the national language academy. Bogotá was dubbed once the “Athens of South America.”
Medellín is the young upstart city that grew on trade and industry. Think of a mini-São Paulo or Birmingham a hundred years ago. The climate is much warmer than in Bogotá, though still temperate and spring-like. Its inhabitants are known, as the stereotype goes, for being wheelers and dealers and perhaps a bit relaxed in their morals. There is a legend that the inhabitants of the region, known as pasias, were conversos — Sephardic Jews who presented themselves as Catholics to the outside world but who maintained Jewish law and beliefs in private. They were known more recently, and more infamously, for being at the heart of the narcotics trade and the home of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.
Bogotános were concerned for a long time during the middle of the 20th century that their young paisa upstarts had outclassed them in terms of quality of life and development. Medellín boasted (and still boasts) the country’s only metro system. Its city center was modern and clean. Its denizens were cosmopolitan and (in the middle of the 20th century) tango-obsessed — like a bunch of porteños (natives of Buenos Aires)! But, more recently, in the past quarter century, the capital has made important moves in the direction of humanistic and ecological urban design. The Transmilenio bus rapid transit system is a massive success, as is the Ciclovía open streets program for bicyclists. Soon Bogotá — if city hall can get their stuff together — will have its own metro. It’ll be underground, too. (What will you have then, Medellín? What will you have then?)
Well, eight years later, still no Bogotá metro, let alone underground. But speaking of tango-obsessed Medellín, I did stumble into an Argentinian restaurant that had a lively tango performance. This was in Parque Lleras, the heart of Medellin’s night-life district in the Poblado neighborhood. It has countless cool bars that gave me a Burning Man vibe walking through the narrow, neoned streets. One of them, La Octava Bar, had more of a Chuck E Cheese vibe:
One more quick note about my Colombia trip: I had a great coffee with a window sleuth, Brian Marrin, a Canadian philosophy professor who’s lived in Bogotá for many years with his Colombian wife and their young son. Brian’s been reading the Dish since about 2003, so we had a lot to reminisce about. And we both remarked on the reconnection of Dishheads in the summer of 2020, when it was most needed, during the early pandemic — whose lockdowns were particularly onerous in Bogotá. During the first three months, for example, he wasn’t even allowed to take his toddler son to the park.
But as much as Andrew and I feel connected to readers through the inbox, it’s always so much more gratifying to connect in person:
On to this week’s view:
Thanks for making last week easy by choosing not to “beagle out” the Farmatodo sign! I hope you had a nice trip.
Ok, I’m sure I’m wrong, but the picture bleeds California to me. Nice overall feeling of warmth and beauty, a wide variety of vegetation from beautiful evergreens to interspersed palms to dry unwatered grass, the typical wild plants and bushes reminiscent of the SW and what seems to be a blue agave in the foreground. Then the large ocean-like body of water! And the breakwater (which is what I tried to hunt down to no avail).
Also, I think the windowless building is an AT&T building — always secretive. I was in the wireless industry, so I know those gorgeous 5G equipment configurations on the roof, as well as the stealth “monopole” disguising the beautiful 5G antennas inside. Hiding those antennas is a NIMBY California requirement.
Another sleuth jumps across the Atlantic: