Saturday, December 15, 2012

Homeless and Happy About It

Carlos Ochoa shows off his beer goggles on a bench in the Parque Santander. 
He tells lively stories about his childhood in the countryside of Casanare and Sogamoso, where he was born in 1944. He recalls the chickens and bicycle racing - dramatized with great arm motions, grins and laughs. Then he sings a short song from childhood.

He joined the military - but got kicked out 'for being a tramp and a partyer.'

The following decades, he worked as a security guard and in construction.

Now he camps out somewhere in Bogotá's Cerros Orientales, but usually spends his days in and around La Candelaria, where he loves to talk, usually about himself.

He also enjoys dancing, altho he now walks with a cane, participating in street marches and listening to music in the street. Today, he was proud of his newest possession - a pair of cardboard beer goggles.

Carlos talks with a neighbor who was searching
for her brother, who is living in the street. Carlos
later told me he'd met the man and that he was
using drugs and didn't want help.
Is Carlos mentally ill? He does seem childlike in his happiness and spontaneity.

But in a world in which adulthood sometimes seems synonymous with cynicism and resignation, is there anything wrong with that?

Carlos is clearly having fun.

Carlos Ochoa shows his moves on Ave. Septima.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

This guy is happier than many people I know with good jobs, a house and a car not just here in USA but in Colombia. There must be something in this kind of life that makes some of this characters look so happy and seemingly out of any worries. Lets remember people like Tolstoy that at the end of his life was looking to have the same kind of freedom, or perhaps San Francis of Assisi.

M. Forero.

Miguel said...

Thanks Mauricio. Happiness is in the mind, not the wallet.