The plane touched down in Bogota, Colombia on a cold night in June. People started clapping. I thought only Americans did that. Got a coach to the airport, got through immigration control, picked up my big backpack and headed for the exit. It was 9pm, dark outside, and legions of taxi drivers yelling “taxi, taxi, taxi”. I did want one, but I had visions of being taken on a private sightseeing tour of all the cash machines (atm’s) in Bogota at gunpoint, courtesy of picking the wrong driver.
That’s an unfair vision for most drivers, but most of what I knew about Colombia came from the media. And the media reports nothing but cocaine and kidnappings from this country.
I got an uber. Somehow, after 3 whatsapp calls with neither of us understanding each other, my driver found me. 45 minutes later I was in La Candelaria, the centre of Bogota. An area thought to be dangerous after dark. I wandered up the street to my hostel (too narrow for the uber)- Casa Bella Vista – while avoiding eye-contact, wary any local predators could see the uncertainty in my eyes. Rang the bell and was greeted by a kind-looking middle-aged Colombian man, and a large German Shepherd.
I crashed into my bed, exhausted from the ten hour journey from New York, and the added stress of having arrived in a country considered terrifying.