Preparing For The Dangers In Colombia

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Guard Dog, AK-47, Ready for Colombia

Dangers in Colombia?  This is a topic of heavy conversation especially in Colombia.  Since the era of the drug wars and Pablo Escobar, there has always been a tainted mentality about the country.  Everyone thinks its not safe to travel there and that every American is going to get kidnapped!

I was kidnapped last night, but only to be taken to a delicious restaurant for dinner.

I have only been in Colombia one day and I can already sense the big difference between other South American countries that I have been in.  There were no taxi hustlers waiting for me at the airport trying to hustle me into a taxi.  Instead they approach you very respectively and speak to you in a very proper manner.

In other words, they don’t look at you as a piece of meat that is only good for a buck.  Dangers in Colombia? We stopped at the restaurant to have some arepas with sausage and cheese.  All my luggage was in the back seat and before we got out of the car I asked, we are going to leave this stuff in the car?  They said of course nothing is going to happen to it.  This amazed me because in Argentina, or even Venezuela, I wouldn’t leave clean socks in any car for fear that it would be robbed.

Since Medellin has such good climate the restaurant didn’t have air conditioning, it was in the open air.  When I was playing with my cell phone I set it on the table and immediately picked it back up of fear that it would be stolen.  I had forgotten I wasn’t in Argentina or Brazil anymore.  I asked if it was okay and they said of course.  That small detail said a lot to me about the security of the country.

Colombia has changed quite a bit since the epic drug wars that tore the country apart.  The people are very gracious and proper when they speak to you and everyone is overly friendly.  It is still a Latin American country which means you still have to keep an eye out.  Its safe to say thats its NOT as dangerous as everyone thinks it is.


  1. I have to admit that the first thing that comes to my mind when you talk about Colombia is Pable Escobar and getting kidnapped, not really the kind of things that makes me want to go over there. Its interesting how much the media plays a rol in getting a twisted view of what its really like there. I read on other blogs as well, that its a perfectly safe destination as long as you use your common sense.

  2. I spent about a week in Bogotá during the early 80’s with my family. It was a different country then. I remember driving from the airport when our taxi driver started yelling at my dad to place his arm back in the window. Back then, robbers would use a machete to cut off your arm for the watch on your wrist. Reading your latest posts – times have changed in Columbia. I wish to go back. I think it’s time for me to visit again.

    1. The economy is booming and the Colombian culture really blows me away. With the corruption in South America I would like to see if this place changes at all in say.. 10/20 years. Thanks for the comment Matt!

  3. I can tell you one apartment company in Medellin NOT to rent from!

    We had wanted to visit Colombia for a long time, having already been to several Central and South American countries and enjoying the experiences. We decided on Medellin based on the amazing location giving it great weather year round. So where to stay for an extended period of time? Not knowing anyone who had been there before we did what so many do…we went to the internet.

    I found the site http://www.themedellinapartments.com and sent an email about one of the apartments. We were contacted by Albert Licht who said he was the apartment owner. The apartment we rented was Terrazas Patio Bonito 1104. We decided to rent it in June 2012, after exchanging several emails as it seemed to fit our needs with location and security. We arrived at the apartment building and were pleased with the surrounding. It is in a very good part of town. The main door is locked at all times and there is a security person there manning it 24 hours a day! Having never been to Colombia we wanted to assure our safety (at least to the extent that one can do). Having travelled to over 25 countries and living long term in several of them, we felt like we were experienced travellers and so far we felt very good about choice of rentals.

    Sebastian Lopez (Albert’s partner) met us and escorted us up to the 11th floor…approaching the apartment door we immediately noticed that it had a push button style combination lock on the door instead of the standard deadbolt that ALL of the other apartments in the building had. We were very concerned since any number of people could have the combination and therefore full access to our things and we told Sebastian about our concern as it didn’t seem right at all but he assured us that no one knew the code and everything would be fine. We didn’t feel comfortable about it and but since the building had 24 hour manned security and after the reassurance offered by Albert’s assistant we decided it would be ok. We felt uneasy about it…well, this was our first mistake…TRUST.

    We rented for 1 month and 2 weeks into the rental we noticed that our dog was acting odd when we returned to the apartment. He was scared and hiding as if something had happened. We made a mental note of it but nothing more, until a couple of days later when we needed to find something in the luggage and noticed that one of the locks on a bag had been broken! It has been fine when we moved it! It was carefully positioned to appear at a casual glance to be fine so clearly they didn’t want us to notice the robbery immediately. We quickly searched the bag onto discover that a very valuable item has been stolen! We immediately informed building security and the owner Albert Licht about the robbery in his apartment.

    Neither building security or Albert seemed the least bit concerned, in fact, Albert didn’t contact us until a day later (after we left many phone calls and emails). When he did he was completely defensive and didn’t seem concerned about our loss or our well being. The robbery was clearly an inside job as the thief knew the security code and was welcome in the building (remember the 24 hour manned security). We immediately changed the lock to a deadbolt but we never felt safe again since we suspected that the building security were actually part of the theft. Albert offered no assistance even though this occurred inside his apartment. The door lock he provided to secure the apartment door was sub-standard for the environment and clearly inadequate as evidenced by all the other apartments having multiple deadbolts! Although we have no way to prove it, we suspect that someone associated with the apartment rental company was directly involved. How can someone enter a locked building (with men at the front desk), then enter a locked apartment, then search and have time to steal an item from a locked bag!

    We are nearly 100% sure that the thief knew that we were gone (probably assisted by the building security personnel). The reason being that out of 1000s of dollars of electronics (2 high end laptops, 2 iPods, 1 iPad 2, high end digital video camera, dslr cameras, and even credit cards and our passports, ALL SITTING IN PLAIN SIGHT and yet there was ONLY ONE item stolen (which was hidden and locked away)! It was hidden inside of a backpack that had a lock on it. The lock had been broken, the item stolen from it’s box, and then the box carefully placed back into the backpack (minus the item), the lock carefully replaced to appear to be OK. It was only after simply picking the backpack up to move it that the lock simply fell off but to the eye it appeared fine. Why take the time to do something that was not necessary?

    The person had access to the building (past the 24 hour manned security desk), they had access to our apartment (with the access code), and they had plenty of time to search the entire apartment…find the most expensive item…take only that item…and even took the time to rearrange things to appear that nothing was wrong and no one had been there! Had it been a break in the door would have been…well…broken in and they would have taken the clearly expensive and easy access items so they could get out of the apartment fast…not knowing when we might return OR if building security might show up OR if there were cameras in place…BUT NO…they KNEW that they had all the TIME IN THE WORLD. How would they know that without the building security being involved? How would they have the apartment access code…without someone associated with the apartment involved.

    Doing the math over and over there is only 1 clear answer…clearly it was an inside job.

    I strongly recommend that you avoid doing business with Albert Licht and his company. They left us high and dry and offered only defensive excuses and nothing else. We never even saw Albert once after that event. He refused to give us a refund for the rental even though we suffered a substantial lose due to his inadequate security. At times we even felt intimidated and threatened by him and associates instead of being assisted! Our vacation was ruined. I strongly recommend that you avoid Albert Licht and his company at all cost. Neither the building or the apartment are safe. If it can happen in that location (and it did) it can certainly happen in other apartments as well.

    Trust no one you do not know personally. Change the lock on any apartment you are renting. You have no idea who you can trust, who has keys, (or in our case – the combination) or even if the building security is actually there to protect you or simply to watch until you leave for other reasons!

    1. Lee it is unfortunate that this happened to you but I wouldn’t say that all of Colombia is like this.. you simply rented from an owner that clearly was out to rob from you and your family. There were several warning signs and it just didn’t work out the way you thought it would. I never had an issue in Colombia, not once. Not even traveling around the country side or even carnival.. Its okay to use that site next time as I got to know the owner of the actual site.. I would recommend that you use a different owner next time. Thanks for the comment

  4. Marcello,
    why is it ok to use that site when you continue to let the same owner advertise on it? Marcello, you need to get out a bit more often Son. How well did you get to know the owner of the site???? Pap your Jap Eye and get real mate.

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