“…And next up we have Muñeca, a gorgeous grey renowned for her speed and agility…”
The baseball-capped commentator’s voice booms out through the microphone as the small crowd gathered around follow his gaze down towards the tarmac.
A couple of metres away a small, grey guinea pig is snuggling up to two other cuddly cavies.
Muñeca is unfazed by the attention and continues nibbling away at an unseen snack.
A short distance in front lies a collection of overturned coloured plastic bowls with numbers on top and tiny holes cut into their sides, onto which punters are placing 200 COP coins (about 6p).
The humble guinea pig is one of the stars of the ludicrously brilliant spectacle of El Septimazo in Bogotá.
While during the day it is a nondescript road heaving with cars, buses and bikes, every Friday at sunset the city’s Carrera 7 is blocked off to transport and transformed into a vibrant hotbed of entertainment.
Street performers in bright costume use mimes, magic and acrobatics to captivate hundreds of onlookers, who stroll by sipping cups of piping hot canelazo (a herby, lime drink with a kick of local spirit aguardiente).
The scent of juicy sizzling meat on skewers and toasted cheese arepas wafts through the air, towards another small crowd. They are spellbound by a black and white sombrero-topped man crooning along to some recorded salsa music while a curvy Colombian woman grabs passers by to share a dance.
Phil and I join in the claps and cheers when a dapper-looking old man with laughing, crinkly eyes suddenly throws down his walking stick and hobbles over to show her some moves.
But back to the racing rodents – no more bets, the show is set to begin.
The tension in the air is palpable. Come on number 7.
At the MC’s command, Muñeca surges forwards towards the waiting bowls. Which one will lure her in?
She shuffles towards number 1, sniffs at it and carries on, past 2, 3, 4 and 5 and all the way up to number 9.
The crowd gasps as she hovers near number 12, which no-one has bet on.
She pokes her head inside number 15, which makes an elderly woman screech with delight, but then scurries off shamelessly. Muñeca clearly knows how to work the crowd.
After several tense seconds, she finally turns around and lunges at number 8, disappearing inside and making an ten-year-old girl jump for joy as the commentator hands over her winnings to a round of applause.
The crowds move on to see what else El Septimazo holds in store – the quintessence of Colombia’s relaxed, happy sense of fun.