09 December 2011

Bogota Bulletproof

Today in Bogota the sun was out and it was blue and warm, the mountains visible high behind the city and I walked up the calle from the hotel. I took a tinto at a cafĂ© and then continued through Chapinero past the little shops and restaurants and street vendors, and along the route of the Transmilenio, until I reached Miguel Caballero’s bulletproof clothing store on Calle 71, no 15-28. The door is kept locked and an attendant in a black bulletproof vest opened it for me. Inside the clean, bright shop two women at the counter asked what I needed and I explained I was interested in both motorcycle clothing and bulletproof garments.

A small woman guided me to the motorcycle section where I tried on a number of jackets of a durable synthetic material. These jackets were implanted with hard protection on the elbows, shoulders and back. There were various colors other than black and some fit more snugly than others against my body. She showed me to the mirror and we both marveled at how well the jackets looked on me. All were quite affordable at prices around 300,000 COP.

Then we went into the bulletproof section and I tried on the jackets there. There were many wonderfully designed jackets and pants as well as boots and other protective wear and I wondered if this tiny woman who was assisting me had upon acceptance of employment with Miguel Caballero, donned a bulletproof jacket and allowed herself to be shot in the chest with a handgun. I had read that a condition of employment, including that of his lawyers, was a personal trial of the bulletproof qualities of the garments.

I helped the little woman hang the last jacket up on the rack and I thanked her and explained I would most certainly be returning to the shop. I thought the clothing, all from the design of Miguel Caballero himself, was both expertly made and fashionable. She smiled graciously and told me she would be at my orders upon my return.
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