He's one of the most colorful characters on the streets of central Bogotá. You'll recognize him by his
long walking stick, toothless grin and the military-style uniform, which upon closer examination turns out to be decorated with a random collection of colorful buttons, cultural icons and other random things picked up on the street or at a flea market.
He says he's 85 and that he's been walking the streets of La Candelaria for 12 years. He was a waiter once, and then a security guard, until he got fired for being too old. Now, he survives off of a government pension and the coins which locals and tourists give him to pose for photos, make political commentaries (politicians are corrupt, the wealthy are predators and Gaitan is immortal) or recite doggerel political poetry. Occasionally, a TV crew interviews him and gives him a 10,000 or 20,000 peso note.
He calls himself General Sanduo - a name borrowed from a defunct telenovela - when he doesn't use a religious title, and says he's emulating Mother Theresa and St. Francis of Asisi. His military style dress produces no contradiction, he says. And, it catches people's eye, earning him a few coins.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours