Bogotá: Papaya and the fat people
Bogotá is not all posh. We concluded that we were staying in the Knightsbridge of the city after taking trips to the Swindon, Hull and Newcastle sink estate parts of town. I should have understood that we were in the posh bit when I found three different types of Fevertree tonic in the local supermarket.
In some ways we hoped that we were in a particularly posh bit as it was also a reasonably expensive bit. Not Singapore expensive but close to Sydney prices, which is fine, except that our budget assumptions were that Colombia would be relatively cheap. As we took shelter from a rain storm in a small bar in the old Downtown area, drinking Caprihinias for about AU$4 each and beers for AU$2, we realised that all was well in the world. This scenario could have gone horribly wrong, except that we knew that this part of town was unsafe after dark so had a reason to leave before it got too messy.
So is Bogoata safe? There is a great expression here; ‘Don’t give papaya’, which basically means don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. In practice this means that we do not wear our rings or watches, I carry a wallet with decoy cards and a little money to give up easily in the event we are ‘asked’ for our money and the minimal amounts of the rest of the stuff I carry is in a deeper hide. We stay aware of who is around us and we don’t go to deserted areas.
On our first night in Medellin, we went along to an expats gathering in a local boozer and met a young man who had been drugged on a Tinder date and woke up in hospital robbed of all his stuff and suffering concussion. J and I have decided not to go on any Tinder dates.
This makes it all sound very dodgy, but all these things are easy to do and we really do feel ok here, walking places at night, drinking in more local places and generally relaxing. It is pretty typical of any large South American city.
Bogotá’s ‘unsafe at night’ downtown area is home to big old buildings, narrow streets of old houses and some great museums so it is worth going there in daylight. We loved the Boltera museum. It has some great international works but is home to many works by the artist the place is named after. He paints and sculpts various normal scenes but everything is fat. The people, the dogs, the horses, the fruit; all fat. But fat in a nice way and J and I smiled all the way around.
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