Bogotá – The nameless city


A typical address marking in Bogotá
The streets in Bogotá are governed by numbers. Just numbers. You don’t have any names at all (well, apart from a few in the old town area – check my previous post).
To some, this is godsend, to others, like me, this is a nightmare. For those who like numbers, such as Americans or Australians, they find it easy to orient around the city knowing that the numbers of calles ascend from South to North (e.g. if a place is Calle 90 you have a mental picture that it’s approximately in the North) and the carerras run from east to west (i.e. Carerra 1 is next to the mountains). But to those who are used to names, you never know where you really are.
When you see the above, you’d assume that you’re on street 12, number 25. But no!!!! You’re actually on another street, here it was 70. Pretty disorienting, huh? 12 indicates the cross street.. So here you have to rely on your familiarity of the city to know that 12 is the Carrera (the vertical streets of the city, running parallel to the mountains that lie on the East side of the city).
So if you’re looking for Carerra 70, No. 11-69. Are you supposed to walk North, South, East or West? What a big riddle! The only option is to walk to the closest crossing and check where you are. Assuming that at the crossing you find another address plate that says 71-2, then you need to look for the mountains (hoping that the buildings are not tall enough to block your view), and walk towards them (since lower numbers carreras are towards the mountains) and then go south.
You’re confused already, right? It takes some time to intuitively know your directions and locations. I have to say that I’m good with directions. Imagine what this city is like to those who can’t deal with left/right or North/South!
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