|The sun is setting on this latest (but perhaps not last) stint in Bogotá|
Considering the bridges we built during our time living in ‘divided’ Belfast (a nice little chat with the Reverend Ian Paisley outside City Hall being one of the highlights), it was only a matter of time before President Juan Manuel Santos called on us to set the Colombian peace process in motion. Cynics out there may say that the whole thing is just an expensive talking shop that’s going nowhere – the violence hasn’t stopped for one – but at least they’re talking, right? (For an earlier account of this, see http://bit.ly/13IIUKr).
Where do we start with this? There’s the partially pedestrianised Carrera Septima (7th Street) in the capital’s centre – a rare victory for humans over vehicles (kind of anyway). We stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Mayor Gustavo Petro during the controversial change in rubbish collection that has ‘revolutionised’ waste collection in the city (well maybe not quite revolutionised, but it sounds good – for background see http://bit.ly/WFOPsW).
What's more we finally initialised the programme to rescue the metropolis’ overworked horses – it’s taking time to get them all off the streets, but we’re getting there (see http://bit.ly/15IZQPz).
It’s not only the equines we’ve saved, but also some human beings. Our cleaning up of Bogotá’s notorious Bronx barrio (and other dangerous barrios in other cities across Colombia) has been a roaring success – we just haven’t been there in a while to check on progress (it’s too dangerous).
|Carrera Septima –take away the cars & the people will come (and march)|
An ever-extending (it goes to the airport now, almost) efficient (at times) Transmilenio service linked up with an integrated public bus system (SITP – okay, hardly anybody uses it yet and its operation is divvied up between nine companies, but change takes time you know) is something we’re pretty proud of. We’re not resting on our laurels though – Metro Bogotá is more than just a pipe dream, it is on the way, trust us. (For more on transport in the city, check out http://bit.ly/N68gKL)
|Las grandes in our favourite tienda...|
Vamos a Brazil
There’s no doubt Colombia has produced some exceptional football (soccer if you will) players through the ages, but ‘La Selección’ – the national team – has very often flattered to deceive. Thanks to our, erm, support that has all changed. All they need is a couple of points from their final four games of the South American World Cup qualifiers and the ‘Los Cafeteros’ will be on their way to Brazil next year – their first World Cup finals appearance since 1998. Chévere.
Before our arrival Colombian ‘telenovelas’ (soap operas) were renowned for their cheesiness, terrible acting, ridiculous storylines and just all round bad quality. Now however, with our help, they are, well, erm... Right, let’s just say we did some interesting extras work from time-to-time. The ‘gory’ details of that can be found here http://bit.ly/NrbPc3.
|Hard at it; but whose is that banana skin?|
While we may have occasionally showcased our acting ‘skills’ on Colombia’s small screen, the arguably more lasting, beneficial legacy we’ll leave behind has been our ability to pass on the English language – with an Irish twist albeit (more detailed thoughts on our teaching 'talents' can be read here http://bit.ly/V8ELH4). Whether any of our alumni actually learned anything is open to debate. At the very least though, some of them have a better understanding of Irish history and culture, 'Wrong Way' style. We'll miss imparting that knowledge; as well as all the free coffees and the odd free lunch. Heck those latter two 'treats' are enough to entice us back (we're easily pleased here you know). Time will tell on that one.
*Discalimer: We would like to point out that some of these 'achievements' may not be directly attributed to us. But...