Everything in my last post was a lie. Well, no, but here are some updates:
Bogotá hasn’t received a drop of rain since I posted.
From the reactions of some friends, I think I may have inaccurately exaggerated the level of pollution here, or at least my perception of it. I have no idea how polluted Bogotá is; it could be deathly dirty or pretty clean. But I really only sense the pollution a few ways: collected in dirt on my terrace and shoes, and as an aggravation in my chest if I walk along major streets for hours. And I experience these pretty infrequently. So, as far as my life goes, pollution isn’t a major factor—at least not in my consciousness.
And it’s even better than that at times. On Sunday I took my new bike out for its first real ride during Ciclovía. Since that was my first cardiovascular exercise in six weeks, I spent the first half hour wheezing. But the next hour or two were delightful. And without cars on the streets, there was no trace of pollution in the air. I rode along some of Bogotá’s main arteries, but, without cars, never sensed the exhaust released the other days of the week.
I realized why the crowds on TransMilenio aren’t so bad after all: By taking the TransMi during rush hour, you’re trading car congestion around you for personal congestion right up next to you. It’s remarkable how much faster the TransMi moves during rush hour than cars or buses. That’s the beauty of having exclusive lanes for prioritized traffic: they don’t get slowed down by everything else. As a native subway rider, I’d rather move quickly while pressed up against strangers than crawl through traffic much more slowly while sitting in my personal car.
Most importantly, the day after I posted, I heard Justin Bieber on the radio.