Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ciclovia and The Mall

Today was a holiday in Colombia. Again we are not sure what holiday but we took advantage of it since the office was closed. I did end up with one consult in Peru but other wise it was one of those days that we joined in the activities. Ciclovia occurs on every sunday and all holidays from 7 am to 2 pm. Most of the main roads in the city are turned into bicycle and pedestrian ways and all kinds of people ride bikes or push strollers or wheelchairs, or rollerblade or skateboard or just plain walk down the street. We have a series of pictures below showing some of the doings along 15th. Remember that this is just one little part of a city that turns its main roads over. This is a hurge city and Ciclovia is a big deal each Sunday and on holidays. Parents ride with kids and hospitals take their patients out for walks. Cars are not allowed on the main roads and the traffic that does have to flow is routed around the main roads that have been turned over. We have a big round about that has 5 spokes comming off of it just down from us and most of those spokes had at least one half of the lanes open to the bikers and others. There were hundreds of people out on the streets today in our little area and we are not even the main area of the city.

Below is a Bicycle Service Station. There were two of them along the 20 or so blocks that we walked. Below somewhere is a picture of the tools at the second station. By the way. We got permission (finally) to get bicycles so we can ride to work and to shopping. We will keep you informed as to when we get our bikes. The Church has a humanitarian project in small communities and rural areas where kids have to go a long way to school. They are providing bicycles for the children (elementry and high school) so they can ride to school. They have a contract with several bike venders and get the bikes relatively inexpensively. They also provide helmuts and protective gear. We will be able to buy our bicycles and protective gear from the humanitarian project supplies for cost. The guy that is in charge says there are all kinds of colors and styles and sizes because different kids like different things and the Church tries to give them some choice so everyone is not alike. We shall see. We hope to go pick them out next week but have to wait until he is available to take us to the wearhouse. We know that we will be getting bikes with wide tires and not bikes like our road bikes. There are bike paths most of the way to work but there are also some rough areas and negotiating is easier with wider tires.

Venders along the route. I am planning to do a whole blog on street venders. They are facinating and sell everything from plumbing supplies on in the streets.

Ice Cream is a big thing here. Lots of the litte cafes on each block have very good ice cream. And there are ice cream venders everywhere

Second bike service station

A vender supply and garbage pickup wagon. I think they must get paid for recycling card board because ever one that doesn't have a full load takes out cardboard. The horse drawn carts particularly pick up cardboard and wooden crates from the streets. I can tell you stuff like that doesn't stay too long. Garbage is collected everyday but we noticed today that some of the garbage hadn't been picked up

Below and above are uniformed police. These are the ones that we call the boy scouts. They are so young. They look like about explorer age 16-18. However, it is nice to have them on the blocks. They are on the corners and sometimes direct traffic (that is rare. only when things get really messy). They are also stationed in the middle of the block. I hope to do a blog about security one of these times. It is relatively easy to take pictures of these guys but the ones that come out at night to replace them all have submachine guns or automatic rifles and it is harder to get pictures of them. You don't just go up to a guy with a submachine gun and say "Can I take your picture" At least I don't. The girl with the guy below is one of the Ciclovia workers. They have them on bikes as well and they help handle interesections where bikes have to stop to let cars go by and where cars have to give the bikes the right of way until they are told they can go on.

These are the cyclovia bike workers. I didn't get a good shot because thy were moving.

Below are some pictures of the Mall. A Mall is a mall and this is a huge very modern one. There were probably 10-12 major resturants though out the mall and then in addition there was a huge food court. I took a picture of the featured fare in the food court. In addition there was a 12 plex movie theater and a large bowling alley. There was also a bingo cacino and you can see some pictures below of the kids amusement park area with a merry go round and other rides. Through out the mall there were vidio game areas and computer cafes. All and all quite impressive. One of the other blogs I want to do is about the bags of Bogota. Everyone carries a bag of some kind. Brief cases are out to lunch because it is hard to get on a bus with a brief case but bags are every where in every shape. Darwin and I bought new bags today. I have one that I have been using that is a traditional Colombian bag. In the next blog I will show you the bags of Bogota including ours.

Mall Parking lot. Huge above and below ground facility.

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