Sometimes communication requires a different form of “technology” language… when I was getting a custom paint job on my bicycle in Bogota, it wasn’t just that I had to learn more Spanish, but I found that it was easiest to communicate with the store manager via Whatsapp. Acquiring a product like a painted bike requires ceaseless vigilance and dogged constant contact… hence Whatsapp messages, and then magically, two months later, a reality in my possession.
Yup, I did find it sort of strange but eventually, I gave in… what’s that? Yes, I got my bike painted in a graffiti style as a homage to Bogota. Not in time to use it on Ciclovia, and just in time to pack with my belongings when I moved from Colombia. So, my advice is that if you plan to get anything custom made in Bogota, work on 12 months before you depart.
My bike shop in Bogota is Rolling Bicicletas con Estilo. The address is Carrera 7 # 47-91. Telephone: 285 2151. Biking is a big deal here in Bogota. Both during ciclovia and because Mike’s Bogota Bike Tours is one of the most popular tourist activities here.
I don’t get a discount for referring people to this shop, despite the number of folks I’ve sent their way. It’s not fancy but it’s less expensive than some of the other shops I’ve been to. They do not speak English so bring someone who speaks Spanish when you go shopping. I’m not sure what their opening hours are but they are open on some Sundays. Apparently, they are quite responsive via Whatsapp.
People told me to buy my bike before coming to Bogota. I’m glad that I waited. My bike with helmet, lights, custom paint job and so on cost around $300. Not bad, eh?
I did it! 120 kilometers of Bogota’s Ciclovia. Okay, almost all of it. The city continues to change the map. So I did what I could on the 2015 map.
Sometimes, I’d get to a part that seemed like a simple “stay straight” and follow the signs. Not so. I would get to a part of the marked route, and then nothing. The route would simply end like an appendix (in the body; not in a book). No real purpose (why do we have one?) and no reason for it to end. I’d go down and suddenly it would end. Then I’d have to turn around and go back on the same route I’d just biked down.
Having now spent many days on Ciclovia, I have three wishes:
Provide opportunities for massages (along with the food stalls, bike repair stalls, brain exercise stalls, and entertainment pit stops)
Make the Ciclovia employees have maps or at least know where they are…
(okay, four) Make the roads connect!
My favorite parts have been down south. Much more to explore. Better prices.
Every Sunday and holiday, in Bogota, 120 kilometers (74 miles) of streets are closed to motor vehicles. It’s called Ciclovia and although there are now Ciclovias all over the world, it was invented here in Colombia in 1974.
Bogotanos love to exercise. Every day, the weather is always 65 F here, so every Sunday is a great day to get outside and exercise. Ciclovia starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. There are bikes for rent, food stands, bike repair stands, and a vast array of non-motorized conveyances. Hundreds of staff work as crossing guards, counters (I don’t know exactly if that’s what they are doign but that’s my guess), and sign-movers.
I’ve seen more kinds of wheeled vehicles here than I knew existed. Tricycles, scooters, duo-scooters, skateboards, inline skateboards, bikes, trikes, unicycles, tandem bikes, quatro-bikes, strollers, and a reclining wheeled things (I don’t know what it’s called). Some people even transport their own stereos in their bike basket.
Not everyone uses wheels. There are joggers, walkers, dog walkers, and bouncers (shoes with bouncy springs). There are people of all ages and all shapes. Even some with parasols.
For some expats, the biggest souvenir they buy in Bangladesh is a rickshaw. I decided to buy one for the blogging experience. There are many places where you can get them. Apparently the folks at River Tours will arrange a sale for you. If you want a used one, it is unlikely that the local rickshaw puller owns his own and so he may not be able to sell it to you. A colleague bought two rickshaws so I got the shop information from him.
Then I enlisted the help of two Bangladeshis. One arranged for us to go out to the rickshaw “shop” and made an appointment with the rickshaw maker for us. The shop we went to was back in the rabbit warren of streets to the north of Baridhara (it ended up being somewhere near the train tracks, for those of you who know your way around Baridhara). Without my Bangla-speaking Bangladeshi, I would never have found this shop. The shop was more of a “parts” shop and there were no shiny ready-made rickshaws for sale. That said, looking at the photo, now I see the tires on the roof.
Rickshaw Maker: Hasan
Address: Maria Cycle store, 97/1 Joar Shahara Bazar Road, Dhaka.
The rickshaw took one week to build, it weighs 250 pounds, and cost 20,000 taka (about $250). I paid 5,000 taka in down payment and rest on delivery as you can see from the receipt but you can pay all of it at once if you prefer. If I had bought two or more, I would have received a bulk discount (and remember that everything can be negotiated so I could have perhaps haggled to a lower price. Frankly, I was distracted by the gentleman on the right in the photo who was performing depilation in his nostrils — I could not take my eyes off his fingers!).
I left the decoration of the rickshaw completely up to the craftsmen making it. At one point, the shop owner called to find out which name I wanted painted on the back and my friend told him to put my name on the back! I will most likely paint over it at some point. The rickshaw also has the maker’s telephone number and name painted on it. I like how my rickshaw is decorated although I would have chosen to not have guns painted on it, despite this being the tradition.
The rickshaw was ready a day early and the rickshaw maker wanted to deliver it as soon as possible. I asked why the urgency… they did not want it to get dirty. It was delivered to me fully assembled and driven by a professional rickshaw driver. Since then, it has only been driven by two people. I will mostly keep it in my future home, as a piece of installation art. Some people have suggested I take it out and give rides on it…
Yesterday, a friend recently sent me the link to World Market’s site advertising Bangladeshi rickshaws on demand for $3,000! But, theirs are not meant for actual use (it says so in the ad). Therefore it is better to buy one while in Bangladesh.
Normally, I try to post a new blog every sixth day, but because of yesterday’s rickshaw email, I decided to publish this now.
The answer to my previous post’s trivia game of “M’s Adventures moves to ______?” is: It is a country with a river famous for being the most _colorful_ in the world. Thanks to the random person on the Internet who decided to play along.