Our new feature will give you a snapshot of a different corner of Bogotá each month. We’ve all been stuck at home more this year, so one writer wanted to capture a taste of different parts of the city. First up? Parkway.
One of the things that’s so interesting about Parkway is its layout. You have this long brick walkway that bisects the neighborhood hot dog-style. On either side of the path are wooden park benches and patches of grass – often balding – where families and groups of friends huddle in concentric parches. The layout can make Parkway’s elongated strip feel more like a never-ending catwalk than anything meant for pedestrian use. Though you know you’ve reached the end if you’ve gone more than a couple of minutes without seeing a susu wayuu or someone in hiking boots.
You have to imagine the area’s residents – and guests – are aware of this; that at some point or another, they have been or will be on display, if only fleetingly. That’s terrifying for anyone who shies from the spotlight, but it’s also beautifully democratic. If you sit on one of the benches along Parkway’s expansive stretch, particularly on a weekday evening or weekend afternoon, you’re bound to see it all.
If there’s an interest group that exists in Bogotá, no matter how far-right, left, orthodox, or secular, they’ve congregated here.
It’s a hotbed for hipsters and hucksters. At just about any hour of the day, you’ll see 20- and 30-somethings dressed in what looks like H&M Seinfeld chic, walking their plegables along the edge of the brick, donning thick, 70s-style glasses that may or may not have been prescribed. Not far away is someone peddling wares. And it seems being artisanal is a prerequisite. Often, the two are the same person.
In their totes, they carry arequipes, mermeladas, potted plants… pot. If you manage to resist those and other tempting trinkets, a meticulously made-up trans woman will be along shortly with bundles of incense, packets of plastic trash bags, or a mystery bag of candy – one for 500, three for 1,000, somehow.
You think to buy some, but get distracted by the highwire act of the slackliners and tela twirlers on either side of the walkway. Though I have no proof, I’m convinced this is where people hone their skills before taking their act to intersections throughout the city, where they’ll thanklessly perform in 30-second windows in front of a captive audience of taxi drivers, SITPs, and Rappitenderos.
It’s a lot to take in, but you feast on the visual spectacle because the marquee is always changing. In a city that can feel like a boundless desert of fragmented concrete, labyrinthine gridded networks of shattered asphalt streets, and clusters of unremarkable graffiti-stained low-rise buildings, Parkway, which certainly has its share of all three, still manages to feel like an urban oasis – at times, deceptively so, having shown its ability to morph into an inferno at the drop of a body. It’s where I had my first cacerolazo. It’s where they stole my bike. It’s home.