Bogota


Flying in to Colombia I was immediately excited by the hustle and bustle of people and impressed by how friendly everyone was. Even the passport check was welcoming instead of intimidating but then again I guess most people aren't smuggling things in to the country. 

Bogota is different from most cities I've visited. On one exploratory walk I reached the south of the city which I'd been told to avoid. I was getting stared at in an uncomfortable way so I turned back and found myself in what I dubbed the balaclava district. Fifty plus small shops lined up next to each other all selling nothing but army clothing and balaclavas. This is how the city is arranged, in one area there are over forty pet shops and in another a string of shops selling lamps. 

The streets of Bogota were lined with riot police while I was there because there are regular protests from various disgruntled groups. On my second day there were seventy arrests and tear gas filled the streets. There is also a very real risk of being pick-pocketed. In the hostel among a group of ten travellers one had had his passport stolen by three women who squirted water on him and then went to pat him dry, and another had his wallet nicked. Despite the dangers of the city everyone I met was in agreement that Colombians are in general extremely friendly people. 




The Cranky Croc hostel had become a home from home, everyone seemed to know everyone as soon as they arrived and the evenings were spent socialising in the common area and playing cards. One evening I got in to a heated debate with an American, Ruben, who I had got on well with for a few days. We agreed that America was ridiculous, particularly with its dishing out of Ritallin to children, Ruben himself had been on some form of medication since the age of eight. Where we came to disagree was over the American's right to bear arms. I brought up a statistic that I'd read that there were more shootings in Los Angeles schools than there were in all of London last year*. Ruben's reaction: 'There wouldn't be so many shootings if all the kids had guns'. There may be no hope for society. 

Bogota had been interesting overall. Time to see some countryside and head north towards the Caribbean coast.

*This was actually a statistic from 1990 but it may still be true.