National Geographic : 1947 May
616 The National Geographic Magazine The landscape with its scattered trees and hedges of willows and eucalyptus trees ap peared austere after the lush vegetation in the tropical lowlands. The sharp air at the Techo airport had the tang of a New England autumn. A Colombian, his blood thinned from living years in torrid Barranquilla, tugged his over coat closer about his neck with a mock shud der. A Bogotano after a month of sun-bathing on the hot beaches at Cartagena rubbed his hands and sniffed the invigorating air. Like most Colombian cities, Bogota has made seven-league strides toward moderniza tion during the past generation. Modern office buildings shoulder century-old churches. Bogota's Open-air Forums As I zigzagged through crowds swarming on narrow streets, I noticed men talking ani matedly. Like the Athenians, Bogotanos as semble in the open air for discussion. Every utterance by a public man must be run through the grinding mills of these street assemblies.* At noon the street in front of El Tiempo, a leading newspaper, was clogged with dark dressed Bogotanos discussing news flashed on a big bulletin board (page 621). In coffee shops men carried on discussions over small cups of the black beverage. Here in the capital representatives from every nook of a Republic given to sectionalism meet and blend. Remotely situated BogotA has long enjoyed a reputation for hospitality, culture, and good manners. It was no small task packing in grand pianos and Venetian mirrors on mule back over the mountain trails from the Mag dalena to satisfy the urge for fine things. While the coastal city of Cartagena was attacked by pirates of the Spanish Main for more than two centuries (page 655), Bogota, behind her Andean walls, serenely developed her rich and mellow ways. By 1571, half a century before the Pilgrims landed at Plym outh Rock, Bogota was a cultural center of the New World. Letters to the Editor Bogotanos write fluently and often. The Republic's numerous periodicals give local writers a chance to express their views. Ilenricks Hiodge from Three Lions I watched one of the night editors of El Water Powers Medellin Factories Tiempo thumb through a thick sheaf of letters El Salto de Guadalupe (upper left) plunges down to the editor. Many were scholarly essays a mountainside higher than Niagara. Cheap power expressing various writers' views on politics, from its hydroelectric plant attracts cotton mills and literature, philosophy, marriage, and many other industrial concerns. A cable car climbs the other subjects. t UIULIiU1UI~ bUU ~ id th di l b IIlUUlIlll USII.lU il; LULIUL5, .UIIIIUUliL 5 U d dU Andes hamper delivery of goods, but modern roads and rail and air lines are uniting isolated areas. * See "Hail Colombia!" by Luis Marden, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1940.