As the taxi dropped us off at the sloping plaza, the sky shifted through grayish hues. All around the square, vendors spread out bright blankets that vied for attention with the goods they displayed. Musicians burst into sporadic song, ears of corn grew plump on the grill, and a group of enthusiastic teens gave out free hugs. We had arrived at Bogotá’s Usaquén market on a last-minute quest: to be laid-back, lazy-day explorers.
You see, a curious thing had happened while preparing our Colombian adventure. In stark contrast to our other trips, the phrases “relaxing vacation” and “hotel papi y mami” were liberally bandied about. The more that I inquired about things to do and places to see, the more excited Andres got about afternoon naps and even lazier evenings. The prospect of glorious, uninterrupted hours devoted to reading or watching sports was what lulled him into this euphoric state. However, that was only the plan for his hometown of Barranquilla. The days in Bogotá still presented a bit of a conundrum.
If Andres is to be believed, he is as familiar with the Colombian capital as he is with the surface of Mars. So, when my boyfriend expressed uncertainty about how to fill our time in Bogotá, I did what any travel-lover would do: bookmarked articles, scoured blogs, and did some good ‘ole-fashioned internet research. I filled Andres’ inbox with articles, suggestions, and exclamation marks, but to no avail. Alas, he had succumbed to Relaxing Vacation Syndrome (RVS) and wanted to plan about as much as a recent retiree embarking on his first cruise. Since Andres had been putting in a lot of long hours at work during the summer, I didn’t want to push too much for a trip that was constantly go-go-go.
Once in Colombia, our few days in Bogotá dwindled and there were always excuses not to leave the apartment. The weather was cold, rainy, and unpredictable. We had already hit up the main museums and central thoroughfares. There were pictures to edit and upload before starting back to work in Madrid. Surely we’d be back one day soon–did it matter if we did anything else?
Our last day in Bogotá dawned with no set plans. I was plotting how I could finagle one last outing, even just to the supermarket. Then, Andres happened to read an article about the Sunday Usaquén market. While I quite clearly remember suggesting this at the early stages of planning, Andres had finally awoken from his RVS stupor. It was our last day, and it was Sunday. Flechazo. Clear-eyed at last, we hightailed it to the Usaquén market to take advantage of our final day in Bogotá.
We followed the market as it snaked through neighboring streets, encountering color and buzz at every turn. Here, the stands grew thick, the competition a tad fiercer than in the square. A jewelry vendor invited passers-by to try on his wares, and others followed his lead. The goods were much of the same–beaded necklaces, woven bags, religious art and irreverent magnets. Beyond the stalls, buildings with solid blocks of color—restaurants, mostly—also attempted to catch our attention.
One man wove through the crowd serving tiny cups of tinto (coffee). The drink originated from what looked like a jet pack strapped to his back. His caffeinated customers smiled with renewed energy and I felt strangely, vicariously, invigorated. This last-minute adventure had no clear goal other than to wander around a new section of the city. It satisfied my desire to see something new with Andres’ hope of taking things easy. Meandering through the colorful crowd, we weren’t worried about rushing through a busy tourist agenda. It was enough to simply absorb the sights, smells, and sounds from the market. Thanks to the lively market, streets, and people, Usaquén filled us with plenty of color and personality to think about about long after we had left. If you find yourself in Bogotá on a Sunday, I highly recommend undertaking your own quest through the market.
Jet pack or coffee dispenser?
Hang a right for free hugs
Grafitti in one of the streets by the market