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Bogota: Secrets of the city

Just as in former times when the young men and women of Kennedy’s Peace Corps took up the slogan as he was being defeated in Vietnam, we should cry, “Long live the national fruit and medicinal herbs!”


Armando Orozco Tovar


I can say that the only time that I believe in God is when I drink an orange juice, slowly and looking at the sky. I say this because I remember an article by Gabo (Gabriela Garcia Marquez) where he declared that in the infinite universe the only part where there are flowers is on this earth, so we should contemplate them lovingly.

The same applies to fruit. Perhaps avocados, apples, pears, grapes… exist on Jupiter or in the galaxy X0054P10? No! Only in Colombia can we, for 1000 pesos (35 pence), taste every type of fruit, which is sold from small, traditional carts at the side of Rosario Square in the centre of Bogota.

From that same square the fruit vendors were expelled by the city police. They have now moved to the pavements of Jiménez Avenue, down which the TransMilenios (the city’s modern buses) pass at regular intervals, so crammed with people that they bring to mind the Nazi trains loaded with Jews being carried to the extermination camps.

On the subject of the Holocaust, we are sadly reminded of those Colombian citizens of ours (whose blood, without exception, is partly indigenous) who consider themselves to be defenders of fascist ideas in this country, and who meet up to yearn for Nazism and deny the Holocaust.

It is inexplicable that at the same time that these small groups of disoriented people were promoting and applauding themselves, the District Town Hall didn’t support and defend those who construct their beautifully decorated fruit stalls, so that the people of the capital were able to know and enjoy eating our variety of fruit: mangoes, bananas, pineapples, oranges, mandarins, pawpaw, peach palm fruit, pineapple guava, strawberries, guanábanas…

In this way, the harmful, fizzy drinks, full of sugar and artificial colourings, producers of obesity and all sorts of illnesses, including the ubiquitous cancer, could be replaced. The Town Hall also ought to be putting up notices and giant billboards promoting the consumption of fruit in the interests of people’s health.

It must be that the Town Hall is very busy. The mayor of Bogota, was attacked by sections of the right and the left.

Neither the media nor the patrons of bottled coloured water (like Postobón and Coca Cola, amongst many others) have forgiven the mayor for his fight against the business cartels which have brought total squalor and overcrowded living conditions to the city.

The important thing is that we can eat fruit, that we have enough of it and that we have multiple varieties.

These are available in this country of different climatic zones: tropical, warm and temperate (Melgar and Girardot to go to for weekend breaks), cold and paramuna in those regions above three thousand metres, where there is no fruit but there are Spectacled Bears and that marvellous plant called Frailejón which sometimes serves as a bed and a shelter for the residents of the region and for the guerrillas, the natural inhabitants of these elevated regions of Colombia.

Of course, in parallel to people being educated to learn to eat the fruit sold from the stands to be found on pavements and in parks by poor families, we should educate people to throw the scraps onto the public highway.

Above all, they should do it in this district where the architect Salmona designed the Environmental Axis as a representation of the river San Francisco.

From the top of Jiménez Avenue, this river, flows through underground canals, zig-zagging down from the hillsides. Its waters serve as a bath for the doves and a drinking trough for the dogs and for the many beggars who swarm around the area.

Just as in former times when the young men and women of Kennedy’s Peace Corps took up the slogan as he was being defeated in Vietnam, we should cry, “Long live the national fruit and medicinal herbs!”

(Translated by Martin Relph – Email: Photos: Pixabay

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