Rite of Passage

Estéban loafed in the entryway, clearly nervous.

“You’ll do great,” I said. “Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?”

He gave a wry smile. We both knew the worst all too well.

Olivér came out of the back carrying two of the loose jackets he favored for working. “You ready?” he said, handing one to Estéban.

“Been ready,” he answered, shrugging into the coat. He took the baseball cap from the pocket and crammed it on his head. Olivér laughed.

“Like a cock before its first fight. Ok, then. Let’s see if you have learned anything.”

I watched them walk toward the Av Jiménez bus stop. Estéban looked almost grown up, though he barely came to Olivér’s shoulder. He was twelve now, old enough to be working. A skilled carterista  could bring home hundreds.

It was risky, but Olivér was the best teacher in Bogatá.

That was something, anyway.

 

What Pegman Saw

According to Lonely PlanetBogatá is  safer than it used to be, but they warn that traveling on the TransMilenio buses can result in getting your pocket picked. Thievery is high art in Latin America, and no skill is more difficult to master than that of the carterista, the ubiquitous pickpocket.