Part 1, Food – Although food in restaurants in Bogota is cheap, surviving off empenada’s with meat is cheaper. They also have empenadas with cheese, but I’m not such a big fan of those. Also hamburgers did become my most common meal. As I found out first in Bogota, Colombians think fast food hamburgers need to be stuffed with crisps (potato chips). While they go well on the side, biting into a mouthful of bun, salad, crisps, and meat is quite unpleasant. I think they do it to add size. Even in nice restaurants, the meat you get with a hamburger is quite thin, much like you’d expect in a McDonald’s burger. So to make it seem like they aren’t being stingy with what is the best part of a burger, the meat, they add pointless things like crisps.
Part 2, Hostels – Hostels are interesting places and you often meet interesting people. But you don’t have to, you can also keep to yourself if you prefer. I arrived in Colombia with 4 t-shirts, two red and two white. I notice that when I wear the red ones people tend to leave me alone, and in white I am far more approachable. So I did make good friends here, mostly American. An older guy from Mexico, a Colombian-American girl from Texas, a fun, short-haired lesbian girl who doesn’t wear underwear – and her guyfriend who shares my appreciation for tinder. And another American girl who left the hostel for an airbnb, and when telling me about it said “the taxi driver wouldn’t let me get out and walk in the area alone. The mother was nice, she was showing me the houses where the drug dealers lived, explaining how they get the drugs through the mountains…I think I’m going to stick to hostels from now on.
Part 3, Uncertainty – I have two wallets, and two phones. One wallet is an old leather wallet containing my money and often my credit cards, debit cards, and identification. The other is a plastic wallet containing a few pesos, a copy of my american passport, and an expired credit card. One phone is an iphone 4, the other is a cheap flip phone with no sim card. One is for thieves, the other is for me. Now if someone holds me up at gunpoint and goes through my pockets, the decoys don’t help much. But I can think of many scenarios where I can just throw the fake wallet, run away, and hope any person threatening me is more interested in the wallet than chasing me. The issue is that it takes up a fair bit of space in my pockets. So I’m always evaulating before I go out – are my chances for robbery higher or lower. And in Bogota, new to Colombia, the chances always felt kind of high, even with many police surrounding the area.