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Questions people ask when they learn that I’m heading to Bogota

It’s countdown time! We’re heading to Bogota soon, and our excitement is rising. (South America, here we come!)

I’ve been talking about this trip quite a lot, and people have been asking a lot of very interesting questions. Here are 3 of the most popular questions I get.

Is it safe?

Bogota has a hard time shaking off its reputation as a “dangerous city”. From what I’ve read (blogs and press), things are better now. And by things I mean kidnappings, explosions (although there was one not too long ago), and overall insecurity. Also, there is an increase in the number of tourists the city welcomes.

Can I guarantee you that nothing will happen to us while we’re there? No. I wouldn’t be able to guarantee that with certainty for any other place in the world. Is the risk of something happening higher? Probably. Do we worry about our safety? Always.

We will exercise caution, as we always do. And will count on sheer luck, as we always do.

Will you go to Medellin?

One of my buddies from my Spanish class keeps on reminding me that I should head there. He explained that he’s biased, since Medellin is his favourite city in the world. He will not let this go. And I get it.

Medellin is one (if not) the most touristic city in Columbia. I would actually love to go. Yes, Narcos has a lot to do with it. I’ve also seen photos. They are beautiful.

Our plan is to try to go there. But we won’t be trying that hard: budget and time are our biggest concerns. Our cheapest option would be the 20- to 24-hour bus ride to and from. But that would be a good chunk of our 7-night stay. Flying would take about an hour each way; but the cost would take a big bite out of our budget. We’re hoping to be able to catch better deals once we get there. (I’m telling you, we’re counting on luck.)

How do they treat black people in Columbia?

This one caught me by surprise because I hadn’t actively thought about that myself.

My answer: I’ve seen black people in their football (soccer) team. They must be used to seeing black people. At least people won’t stare at us like they did in Buenos Aires.

What do you know! I now use football teams as an indicator of a country’s diversity and of the likelihood of locals being used to seeing black people. I am also aware that this is totally arbitrary. But, so far, this indicator hasn’t failed me.

So, I got curious and looked into it more purposefully. Luckily, I haven’t had to conduct a thorough research regarding the treatment of black travellers in Columbia. Bloggers are vocal about their experiences with racism. And I haven’t found any negative comments.

Mind you, there have been recent reports of black human rights activists being killed in Columbia. I’ll honestly say that this gives me pause.


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