I have to confess. I fell passionately, madly, in love at first sight. I was standing on the edge of Bogotá’s National Park, breathing in the rain-washed air laden with the heavy fragrance of eucalyptus trees. I looked up towards the mountains over the red-tiled roofs. And then it happened.
I had been wending my way all afternoon from the narrow colonial streets downtown, walking along the Septima and doing the things that people do in cities—browsing in the excellent bookstores, stopping for a little cup of coffee known as a tinto, looking at people and having people look at me.
Standing at the edge of the park, I realized it was love at first sight. I fell in love, not with a person (at least not that time), but with a city. As a friend of mine liked to say, Bogotá is the only Latin American city where you can browse all day in first-class bookstores and enjoy spectacular sunsets over the mountains in the evening.
Since then—as with most loves—there has been some competition: Buenos Aires with its wide boulevards, Havana with its faded colonial charm, São Paulo with its cosmopolitan bustle, even earthquake-torn steaming Managua with its offbeat way of indicating addresses by “three blocks towards the lake from where the little tree used to stand.”
Bogotá, which like all true loves, has improved with age, remains my true passion. It is a constant performance, an ever-changing canvas. For others, for you readers, there will be some other city that has touched your soul. That’s why I think the response for reader “blurbs/sabor de la ciudad” on cities has been so overwhelming. You will find many of the responses on these pages and others at <http://www.drclas.fas.harvard.edu>.
In this ReVista, as in most polyglot cities, you will now find a mix of Spanish and English. While paper costs keep us from creating a totally bilingual ReVista, we hope to extend the linguistic territory on the pages of this publication and through our website.
This issue would not have been possible without the hard work and guidance of David Carrasco and Neida Jiménez, along with many others. It has been the collective effort of city believers. Come stroll with us as we experience cities from different disciplines and perspectives. Maybe you can find your favorite city here or see an old city acquaintance in a new way. After all, it’s never too late to love.
Winter 2003, Volume II, Number 2
June Carolyn Erlick is Editor-in-Chief of ReVista.
The sleek red bus zooms out of the station in northern Bogota, a futuristic symbol of an (almost) transformed city. Nearby, thousands of cyclists of all ages enjoy a sunny morning on Latin America’s largest bike-path network.
Bridges. Highways. Tunnels. Buses. Trains. Subways. Transmilenio. Transcable. When I first started working on this issue of ReVista on Transportation (Volume XXI, No. I), I imagined transportation as infrastructure.
Ellen Schneider’s description of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega in her provocative article on Nicaraguan democracy sent me scurrying to my oversized scrapbooks of newspaper articles. I wanted to show her that rather than being perceived as a caudillo