With ‘Bogota! A Bilingual Guide to the Enchanted City’, partners Toby de Lys and Tigre Hall set out on a labour of love, to set the record straight about Bogota
The pair had had it with New York. Paris, they came to realize, had lost its way. London is great but an ever more expensive place to live. It was time for a change, and a journey to the global south beckoned, so they followed a path that brought them to their ‘Enchanted City’ – Bogota. That was seven years ago.
What Toby de Lys and Tigre Hall would find here would surprise them, and set them on a course to take up arms, (uh… pens, rather) to beat back the sneers and clucked tongues at a city and a country most considered a failed state not 15 years ago. What the duo discovered about Bogota made them realize that it was worth fighting for. The idea was born – write a book that shines a light on one of Latin America’s oldest and most misunderstood cities.
It wasn’t just that Bogota has been overlooked or ignored because of its tragically violent past. Tigre sensed something more nefarious. “Colombia has been the victim of image assassination – a deliberate image assassination, for decades,” he said.
The information available on Bogota did not do the city justice, and the two quickly realized that if they wanted to capture all that the Colombian capital had to offer, they were going to have to do it themselves.
Their website, Bogota Brilliance, was thronged with visitors hungry for info about where to eat, where to stay, and what to do here. But to really reach the multifaceted audience the two were striving for, an all-in-one book was needed: Bogota was probably one of the only major western cities that didn’t have one.
To this, the ‘dynamic duo’ retorts that problems experienced in Bogota are no different to those in New York City.
“Try living through a garbage strike in New York in the middle of winter, and then wait till the snow melts and see what you’re going to discover,” Tigre says. “Try to ride the subway in New York any time of day or night, and it’s crowded as hell, stinky, disgusting.”
The two are not only optimistic about the future of the city they fell in love with and now call home, they are excited by it – especially its tourism prospects.
Says Toby: “Imagine what would happen for the arts here if Bogota could bring even 20 percent of the tourists who go to London , New York and Paris? It would be explosive, and it already is.”
‘Bogota! A Bilingual Guide to the Enchanted City’ can be found in independent and chain bookstores across the city and Toby and Tigre’s website can be found online at www.bogotabrilliance.co.
By Mark Kennedy