I am very glad that I decided to live in Medellin instead of Bogota, especially after my visit to the cosmopolitan capital. When I was first planning to live in Colombia it was between Bogota and Medellin. While being a very popular city Bogota is known for its crime, especially at night.
Is Bogota Dangerous I asked myself? The first red flag is when I picked up my bags from the terminal I immediately buddied up with a local and started asking questions about crime in the city, what I should avoid, and taxis in particular. After chatting with the local, which we will now call Jose Henriquez Rodriguez Lopez Herrera, he pointed to a vending machine to order a taxi.
I thought to myself “how cool is this!” It actually wasn’t to order the taxi it was to get a printout of how much the taxi would cost. You select which hostel or hotel you are going to and the machine spits out a receipt showing you the price, location, and other useless information they always put in receipts.
Now if only they had these kind of machines for the trinkets they sell to tourists, imagine how much money you would save! I have personally never seen an airport that prints out this kind of confirmation and it was the first thing that indicated that Bogota is more dangerous than the other cities in Colombia. There is so much corruption that you need a receipt to confirm the price of the taxi? Now you can easily pick up a taxi off the street but I have a rule when I travel, never buy something from a man that tries (come up to you) to sell you something. I didn’t experience this in Medellin but in Bogota I definitely had to fend off the taxi mafia.
After I did the old fashioned shake and bake around the taxi mafia, I finally found my taxi and headed on my way. I decided to stay at one of the hotels in Bogota because of the recent reports of crime in the city. The popular place to stay is the historic district called La Candelaria. Here you can find the majority of the hostels in the city, the same hostels that have been robbed. There has been more than one occurrence of hostels in that area of town being robbed and I have a certain fancy with my electronics. Not because they are expensive to fix, but because I have an addiction, to Facebook and my blackberry silly. I thought it would be better to get overcharged a few hundred dollars at one of the hotels in Colombia of my choice rather than having all my goodies stolen.
“Is Bogota Dangerous” I asked the taxi on our way to the hotel. He promptly replied “no of course not, there are just some bad areas.” I of course didn’t believe a word he said because many of my travel blogger friends that have been living in Colombia told me that I need to be very careful while in Bogota. After refusing to admit that the city is dangerous I walked up to hotel only to be greeting by a dog that loved the scent of my post no shower perfume. Oh wait a sec, he was checking for drugs and bombs, but anyway you get my drift.
The city is under construction; not part of the city, not a Bogota neighborhood of the city, the entire city is under construction. Everywhere I went the streets where torn up because they were under construction. The second thing I immediately noticed is that the air in Bogota smells like a foul 4 year old. It just didn’t seem like a clean city from the start.
As I traveled around and did my sightseeing things were very chaotic. It kind of felt like a city that grew unexpectedly faster than what urban planners thought, hence all the construction. When I was going to see Montserrat to get a view of the city I met a gringa (white woman) that lived in Bogota. And guess what has happened to her twice since she has lived there for 6 months? She got her hair and nails done, she of course saw the fat people art, and she got robbed. Now fancy that.
Bogota didn’t rub me the wrong way it just seemed more chaotic and dangerous than other cities I have visited in Colombia. Coming from a city like Medellin I am used to a different kind of city. I would definitely visit again but another problem is that there really isn’t that many things to see. No Bogota, it isn’t nice to meet you.