Bibliotecha Publica Virgilio Barco

TransMilenio busGenerally, on our trips, but sometimes when we are home also, Ron will get a wild hare about some attraction, event, or place he wants to go. For years, I have resisted his urges wearing combat gear, but in the end relented ninety-nine percent of the time. Ninety-five percent of the time, I have enjoyed myself, grateful for his persistence.

When he suggested we venture to the National Library, I knew better than protest, so I just decided to go with the flow. This was a major endeavor, as it required us to us the TransMilenio bus. These buses use elevated stations in placed in the center of main streets. Generally, depending on where it is located, passengers often have to use a bridge over the street to reach the station.

You gain access to the station entrance using a smart card. If you don’t have one, you have to buy one rather than just pay for the fare. Once you scan your card, you pass through a turnstile to wait for your buses inside the station. This is where it gets complicated for tourists. The routes, though marked in various colors are more complicated than a Rubik’s cube after a five-year has played with it when trying to figure out the route you need. Displayed only inside the station, it is like Where’s Waldo in map version. There is no opportunity to plan ahead of time.

To add to the mix, each bus route only stops at the designated doors for that route, because the bus and station doors open simultaneously. Passengers board by simply walking over the threshold like entering a subway car.

Leaving our area, we found out we needed the J8 bus, so we stood near the doors marked J8. We rode for more than a dozen stops before reaching our own. When we did part ways with the bus, it seemed we were in the middle of nothing but highways. Hey, taxi! This was another fifteen-minute ride before we reached the park where the library is located.

It was certainly worthy of the effort. After walking around the grounds, we finally approached theNational Library Bogota actual library from what turned out to be the back entrance. It was fortunate, as this was where most of the waterways and fountains were located. As we neared the cafeteria, a young man sitting at a table working on his computer said to us “Be sure you go up to the roof. You are able to walk all around up there and it is gorgeous.” We chatted for a time. He is a travel writer with his own site. He is living in and loving Bogota for the last four months.

Bogota National LibraryAfter getting a permission slip for taking photos, the places where we could take photos was so restrictive, it was almost not worth the effort. Climbing to the roof was different than I expected. Bricks used in various designs can be quite magnificent; these totally enthralled me.

I was very curious how they arranged their books. From what I could tell, it looked very similar to the Dewey Decimal System, but most certainly a system of their own. This is a full Bogota service building with classrooms, auditoriums, a cyber center and study areas. Again, for a ‘developing nation’ this was quite progressive.

To return to our part of town, we had to walk miles or hail a taxi. Needless to say, the taxi took us to the TransMilenio station, which was right next to yet another mall. It was extensive, but not nearly as well decorated as some of the others.

Bogota Mall FountainWe took Rolando out for our farewell dinner. There is a Mexican restaurant we enjoyed and wanted to return to once more before leaving. He was in a talkative mood, so after three hours, we had to call it a night.

Sunday morning the shuttle was waiting for us at 11 am to take us to the airport. Rolando showed up with some coffee from his hometown for us to take with us. Many hugs went all around before we finally left.

Diners Club only has lounges in the international terminal, which nixed my idea for getting there early and hanging out in the lounge. Our flight, booked with Avianca Airline was a real surprise. There were eight flight attendants. The flight is only one hour, but the plane was a 787 and filled. The seat backs had full entertainment options if you had your own earphones, television shows and music was available. There were also games and children’s videos. The flight was excellent! We are using them again leaving Cartagena going to Medellin.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.