Fast Times at the National University

Ready to roar!

In the National University’s campus, with its politics, political graffiti and protests, something interesting is usually going one. Not long ago during a bike tour

Going for it!

Going for it!

we participated in this race across the Plaza Del Che.
After a grueling race, the gringos won, thanks mostly to superior driving skills.

What did the revolutionary leader think about all this?

racing rivals

Run, run, run!

Run, run, run!



A disastrous fall by the rival team!

A disastrous fall by the rival team!

The other day we visited the National University, known as La Nacho, during its colorful annual carnaval.

Drummers in action.

Drummers in action.

Making bubbles under the watch of Che Guevara.

Making bubbles under the watch of Che Guevara.


Dancing on Plaza del Che

Dancing on Plaza del Che

Circus under the portrait of guerrilla priest Camilo Torres.

Circus under the portrait of guerrilla priest Camilo Torres.


Scary devils in the National University!


Colorful carnival characters.


Even the university’s security guards got into the spirit.


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Stopping for Snail Slime

snail slime man

Buy my snail slime!

Edgar sets up his little stand every day on Ave. Septima near 24th St. and sells snail slime. Really. Often, we stop and meet him during our bike tours.

Yet another happy customer buying snail slime.

Yet another happy customer buying snail slime.ail slime. Really.

He says the stuff treats wrinkles, stretch marks and acne. And it must be true, since I’ve never seen a snail with acne. And Edgar himself has real baby skin.

Edgar says he’s got hundreds of snails at home, working away producing the slime, which he harvests without harming the critters.

snail slime sign

Before and after snail slime treatment.

snail stuff on table

Snails hard at work.


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Of Plazas and Pigeons

pigeons guy

Hi there birds!

Lots of people are surprised by the plentiful pigeons populating Bogotá’s plazas. Other cities try to eliminate these ‘flying rats’, or at least discourage them. But in Bogotá they are honored members of the community. Vendors sell grain to feed them, people pose with them for phots and artists sketch them.

For better or for worse, we often make feathered friends during our bike tours.

girl with pigeons

A little girl feeds pigeons on Plaza Bolivar.

pigeon flying

Woah there!

me and pigeon

Yours truly with a pigeon hitch-hiker.

pigeons and cyclists

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Meeting Greenman

meeting greenman 1

Environmental activist Greenman with friends.

During out bike tours, we often meet interesting local characters, and one of the most unique has to be Greenman, whom we talked to the other day on Ave. Septima. He’s an artist and environemental activist who rides around on his simple old bike dressed and painted green!

meeting greenman 2

You won’t forget Greenman!

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Ruiz Manuel’s Bullfighting Class

bullfighting practice

This guy’s a lot of bull!

Today, Ruiz Manuel, a Spanish bullfighter, gave us a brief lesson in el toreo, la fiesta ruiz and belgianbrava. Ruiz is doing a tour of Latin America, fighting in Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. Although Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro has prohibited bullfighting in the Santamaria Plaza, bullfighting continues in many other parts of Colombia.

“A bullfighter is like a singer,” he says, “he goes wherever the work is.”

Ruiz is a thoughtful defender of his art. He asserts that the bull does not suffer – much – since it’s consumed by the passion of the battle. He points out that bulls raised for fighting are a special breed which wouldn’t even exist if not for bullfighting, and thumbs upthat they live much longer and in much better conditions than do animals raised for meat or milk.

“They live like kings,” Ruiz says.

That is true to a great extent. Fighting bulls grow up free in the fields. Compare that to living crowded in a dark barn, as is the case for many animals raised for milk and meat.

“We bullfighters love animals,” Ruiz told us, altho some animal rights activists mightpreparing cape say they have a strange way of expressing love.

Ruiz also has an eye for the ladies. “Bullfighters are very special people,” he told us.

I observed that humility wasn’t one of his strong points. He didn’t disagree.

“If I don’t sell myself, then who will?” he asked with a grin. “My grandmother isn’t around to do it for me.” A fair point.

with cape

photographing bullfighters

By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours

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Tasting Chicha

drinking chicha 1

A sip of chicha during a bike tour.

photographing chichaChicha is the most traditional alcoholic drink in La Candelaria and probably in Colombia. Made from fermented corn, it was invented by the Muisca Indians who inhabited what’s now Bogotá before the arrival of the Spanish.

Today, it’s still popular among young people and drunk in small dark bars in La Candelaria’s Callejon del Embudo.

super chicha

Super chicha!

Thankfully, chicha hasn’t been corporatized. It’s still made by local women in their homes or the bars themselves.

Of course, not everybody likes chicha, but it is worth a try.

chicha bowl

Chicha is often served in wooden gourds or reused glass bottles.



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Julian, Boy Bullfighter and Tour Guide

juli 2

Julian shows us his moves.

Sometimes when we visit Bogotá’s handsome bullfighting stadium, particularly during

juli 3

school vacations, we meet Julian, who is nine years old and dreams of becoming a famous bullfighter. Julian models himself after ‘El Juli’, a Spaniard who is one of the stars of the sport.

Between practicing his moves, Julian likes to show visitors around the stadium, including the bullring and the elaborate stables (which are now empty). Julian’s a very personable and enthusiastic kid and he’d make a great tour guide – which is a good thing, since prospects in bullfighting these days are getting slimmer and slimmer. The fiesta brava has been restricted or banned in Venezuela, Perupracticing bullfighting, Ecuador and even parts of Spain. And Bogotá’s mayor prohibited bullfighting in Bogotá’s plaza, although the bullfighters won a court ruling that cities couldn’t ban bullfighting where it’s traditional.

The fight over bullfighting will continue. Meanwhile, Julian practices his veronicas, hoping one day to bring crowds to their feet.

It’s a good thing, though, that he’s got a back-up career in tour guiding.

Capotes and swords ready for the fiesta brava.

Capotes and swords ready for the fiesta brava.

juli pointing sword

Don’t get scared! Julian points his sword, called an ayudado.

julian and bullhorns

Julian displays a set of bullhorns, used by bullfighters for training.

julian holding bullfighting cape

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