Bogotá and the irony of safety

22 Oct

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Our time in Bogotá was mostly spent researching other destinations, visiting yet another gold museum, taking a cable car up Monserrat for a spectacular view of the 8 million strong city and bakery hopping in the hopes of finding the famous chocolate bread of Colombia. As we felt like the city didn’t warrant its own post, we thought we’d combine it with our final thoughts on the country.

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First and foremost, we truly believe that we just barely scratched the surface of this vast and beautiful country and that 15 days wasn’t nearly enough time here. We also believe that the better your Spanish, the more you are able to experience, and it is our hope that we can one day return to further explore. What follows is our opinion and experience.

That which we so desperately hoped we could write upon arrival, we now feel grateful to write the following with all truth. We were safer in Colombia than in Calgary. Not once did we have a problem with a taxi driver, we were never scammed or robbed, we were not mugged or accosted and even the airline, with whom we flew 4 times and whom also has terrible reviews online, did not disappoint. The cities were vibrant and colourful, the people helpful despite our awful Spanish, the festivals (of which there are many) extravagant and yet never a concern and even some of the drivers felt safe. We had one strange experience, in which a single police officer asked to smell Joshs hands, which clearly smelt of sunscreen, followed by the question “marijuana?” We politely but firmly responded no and walked away and even though we were slightly perturbed by the situation, we never felt unsafe. Even stories that came from other travellers we met were those of policemen causing trouble and one of a quick and clever hand and a traveler whose phone was probably in the wrong pocket, but never dangerous situations. We feel so grateful to say we left this country with all our belongings and our peace of mind.

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But here’s the kicker. While we were in Colombia, a unit in the apartment building which we used to manage had a party. It was once our responsibility to knock on the door, tell them to be quiet and generally be the bad guy. We occasionally called the police if there was a problem. This particular party resulted in a stabbing death. Many times I’d lie in bed at a ridiculous hour while Josh went to break up a party, praying nothing would happen, that he would come back unharmed. What would have happened if we were there? We discussed many times on the irony of the situation.

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While the news is sad, we are once again reminded how safety is relative and it has so much to do with right time right place and vice versa. We’re posting this having left the South American continent and while we don’t doubt that it can be a dangerous place, we have left unscathed and immensely grateful for our safe experience.

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On a side note, there should be more posts soon. It’s been very difficult to edit photos and post everything on our iPad. I have been reunited with my beloved laptop and things should be much smoother in the posting department, now that we are home. We’ve still got Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, the USA and our sneaky and very secret arrival home to share. Stay tuned.