Please Don’t Rob Me: Colombia Edition

We’re spending a few days in Bogota, a city I’m still trying to form an opinion on. On one hand the city feels rather gritty and the traffic is horrendous, so it’s nothing like (relatively) slow paced Cartagena. On the other hand, there’s something sort of captivating about the energy of the city, everything is cheap, and the food is great.

Bogota-1

I’m still working while traveling, so we only have a few hours a day to sightsee, which is made worse by the fact that the traffic is so bad; getting across town from the W Hotel can take an hour.

W-Bogota

Yesterday we went to a cathedral located inside a salt mine, which was… random interesting? I felt like I was back at my Catholic high school after all the Stations of the Cross we stopped at.

Salt-Mine-Cathedral

While the W Hotel is located in a fairly good part of town, earlier today we went to the other side of town, which certainly has a lot of rustic character. This is where the Plaza de Bolivar is located, which is beautiful.

Bogota

I’m always cautious when I travel, and try to be aware of my surroundings. That’s especially true here, because we really felt like we stood out; as far as we could tell, we were the only tourists. The streets were extremely crowded, so I didn’t really snap any pictures aside from the above, and kept everything in my pockets at all times.

So it’s not that I felt unsafe, but rather that I was just being cautious.

We eventually sat down at a coffee shop for a drink, which seemed to be a local chain. People kept coming in and begging, and there was a guy working there who seemed to be responsible for asking people to leave.

I was facing towards the interior of the cafe, while Ford was facing towards the exterior. After a few minutes he said “don’t turn around, but there’s a creepy guy standing outside behind the sign by the entrance.” I didn’t make much of it, until I eventually turned around and saw he was glaring at us.

I’m not sure if there’s a good way to describe him, but he just looked mean and intimidating, based on the expression on his face. He was really tall, had his hands in his pockets, bloodshot eyes, and was glaring at us. It’s tough to put one’s intuition into words sometimes, but he made us feel really uncomfortable (which isn’t true of someone who is just begging for money, or something).

First he stood by a sign to the right of the entrance looking at us, and then after another 10 minutes he moved over to the right side of the entrance, where I could see him more easily. He was still glaring.

I was feeling pretty uneasy, and wasn’t sure what to do:

  • I was convinced he was specifically targeting us for whatever he had in mind (which isn’t surprising, since we stood out)
  • Ultimately it could have just been that he was planning to ask for money when we came outside, but then again the other people begging had no issues walking inside, while he was standing right at the entrance
  • He seemed to think he was being sly based on where he was positioning his body, as he was hiding it behind the sign by the entrance; when we looked at him we avoided eye contact and didn’t appear alarmed

This all leads me to believe he thought he was being sneaky and that we weren’t catching on, though obviously we were.

I’ve been in all kinds of uncomfortable situations in different countries, but nothing like this, where someone was making me feel really uncomfortable, and was standing at my only exit (usually if someone makes you feel uncomfortable you can walk into a store, or take a different turn, etc.). In this case there was no way out.

So Ford and I were trying to decide what we should do:

  • Telling one of the staff, though no one spoke English, and the guy who was “shooing” people away wasn’t in sight; at the same time, the guy standing outside would surely know what we were doing
  • Calling the police, though we didn’t really know what we’d call them over, since I didn’t want to be presumptuous, even though he was making us really uncomfortable; making people feel uncomfortable isn’t a crime, after all (at least as far as I know)
  • Walking out quickly and hoping he wouldn’t follow us
  • Just sitting and waiting and hoping he’d eventually leave

We chose the fourth option, and sure enough, about 30 minutes after we finished our drinks he finally walked away. We made sure he was actually walking away, and not just around a corner. We then called an Uber and headed back to the hotel.

Bottom line

I’ve faced a lot of strange situations and know how to handle most of them, though this was sort of a new one for me. I believe in always trusting your gut, and regardless of what his intentions were, we were extremely uncomfortable, and there wasn’t really a way to “escape” him other than walking out the door, which may very well have also been what he was hoping for.

Perhaps the overall setting of this grimy area of Bogota also got to us. There were police officers and bomb sniffing dogs on almost every block, and many of them had machine guns. I wasn’t sure if that should make me feel more or less safe.

The point of this post isn’t to suggest something nearly happened to us, because I don’t know if it did. I know our guts gave us strange feelings, and that’s what counts. Instead, the reason for the post is that I’m wondering how you guys would handle the above situation? Which option would you have gone with?

Comments

  1. Bogota still has that feel to it based on how the media portrayed the city in the past. Although not as dangerous as before, you still have to follow the basics. I’m an avid photographer so when I was in Bogota for the day I spent most of it walking around La Cendelaria with my DSLR strapped around me. You simply have to be careful and aware of your surroundings, as you were. The people they’re looking for are the ones that DON’T notice him, hence why, if he was even a threat, just walked away/gave up. Even if you flash your valuables around, if you look intimidating yourself or you don’t look like you’d be easily intimidated, they won’t follow you for long.

    Now, if you’re walking around Bogota with a tank that says “God Bless America” and a bandana I assure you, they’ll be following you as long as they can!

    As someone said in one of your earlier posts, you need to go to Andres Carne de Res for dinner at some point. There’s one outside the city and then one decently close to the Hilton (where I stayed). The original, outside the city, is more energetic but the food is nearly identical.

  2. I think you did the best you could and glad it turned out alright. And I agree, if you don’t look intimidated, it goes a long way.

  3. 95% of Bogotanos don’t go to the center aka downtown of Bogota so you shouldn’t of either. It’s not gentrified, it feels unsafe and does in fact feel 3rd world-ish. Not sure why you went there at all but next time, focus on the areas like Usaquen, Parque 93, Zona T, Zona Rosa, Zona G. Much, much nicer areas where the beauty and charm of Bogota shines. And yes, traffic is horrendous.

  4. better safe than sorry. i really liked bogota (went over xmas a few years ago – the traffic was almost nonexistent) and felt safe the entire time, even in candelaria and more working class areas near downtown. the problem i had there was with taxi drivers swapping fake money into real when giving me change. i got three fake notes during the seven days i was there. my hotel desk staff was amazed it happened so much. we figured it was from unscrupulous taxi drivers because that’s pretty much the only time i ever used cash save for withdrawing from a citi atm, which i doubt would stock the counterfeit bills.

    otherwise i didn’t really encounter any shady stuff. the most uncomfortable i felt the entire week was at el catedral de sal. a little too claustrophobic for me being that far underground. but everyone’s mileage may vary. i grew up in the hood so it takes a fair amount to spook me.

    as they say, YMMV. the most uncomfortable i’ve ever felt while traveling was at a relatively upscale bar in wellington nz where an extremely drunk guy was challenging me to a fight. and the only time i’ve ever been robbed was in central london as a teenager. so there you go.

  5. You should really watch “Narcos” on Netflix to see what Colombia used to be in the time Pablo Escobar was the “king” there.

  6. Dunno…Maybe he was high or Low IQ? No real problem though since there were people everywhere and you had options. Really neat shot above. As a lone female traveler back in the day, I had a guy try to be my companion. I had to start screaming in a train station with really no one else around. Minus a few sketchy situations with gypsies, my nasty encounters were always with would be suitors. Hostels were really great places to make safe friends so they are highly underrated. I also only hosteled when other Americans didn’t. (Off-season) I’m in a different age bracket now though.

  7. I do understand how you felt lucky. I`m Brazilian so most of the time, because of our kind of latin looks, we can get away with pretty much anything such as you described, but being from the very south of Brazil, during winter, we also get milky white with brown hair.

    In 2012 me and my husband moved to South Africa and faced what you are describing, but daily. In the end we eventually got used to, but it`s just an awful situation. I even had to confront them and say bad stuff to get rid of them.

    Well, most of the time it`s better to be safe than sorry.

  8. I am headed to Bogota in a few weeks (on a cheap AA biz fare). Currently I am booked at the Hilton, but am so tempted to do the W since it is so cheap. Did you enjoy the W, or would have rather not have the long commutes?

  9. It’s ridiculuos. I mean Lucky, your blog is awesome, and i’m your fellow blogger from Europe.. i lived for 2 months in Bogota, it’s super safe, not for a moment did i feel unsafe.
    Just maybe don’t TRY to stand out. You enjoy so much being a tourist, and tourist are victims,always. If you were a _traveller_, nothing happens. Try to spend some time outside of chain hotels, learn some Spanish (what an insane idea…you’re American! you don’t even want to give a try), go away from the main square.. you’ll have a different impression.
    While you keep traveling (touristing) the way you do, just accept these unpleasant situations. It’s you who causes them, not the destination. Kudos to your blog, a shame to the way you travel. All the european stereotypes towards americans are true.

  10. @ igor82j — Did you read the actual post? We were sitting in a cafe full of locals a distance from the square. Ford speaks a good amount of Spanish and I speak some, though I’m not sure how that’s relevant here? I didn’t once take out a camera, or a map, or anything. We were sitting in a cafe and drinking coffee. This probably had more to do with me having blonde hair and being rather pale, and therefore “sticking out.” Should I get my hair colored and a spray tan, or can you please explain what I could have done in this situation to be a “traveler” rather than a “tourist?”

    Save your generalizations for elsewhere, please. “All European stereotypes towards Americans are true.” Gee, that’s very cultured and open-minded of you…

  11. @ Kevin — Tough to say. The W is fantastic, so as a hotel I highly recommend it. The location is a bit boring, though. Given how bad traffic is, I might just stick to the Hilton. Enjoy your time!

  12. i lived in Bogota a few years ago. Overall it is a safe city. it has some issues, my ex gf got pickpocketed when we were riding on a bus (she was Colombian) but we chased them down and got Colombian police who basically were useless, but very nice and friendly. Let us do our own interrogating lol. That was my only bad experience in Bogota. Other than that, you really need to spend more time there to get a good feel for it. A few days, its just a big, ugly and dirty city…Deep down its a cool place

  13. You are becoming a bit too paranoid… Not everyone in the 3rd world is out to get you. I am disappointed in your latest blog entries on Colombia.

  14. I spent time in Cartagena and Bogota in 2010. I really enjoyed my three nights in Cartagena, but my one night in Bogota was enough. I also took a taxi to the historic area, and since I was there solo, I felt like I was being followed and cased. Not threatened, but I was aware of my situation.

  15. Do you think it could have been based upon your sexual orientation? Some people are very aggressive against that in some countries.

  16. Only you can know all the details of the situation yourself. I am just judging on what i read here.
    Mud volcanoes, Cartagena (the most disgusting and tourist-filled city in Colombia), eating for 75usd in colombia (what?…two people can eat for a week for that money in Europe) your blog is full of “touristy” things. It’s fine, it’s your job, you may do whatever you want, and you also seem to enjoy it. But then be prepared for such situations. You can immediately notice an American in another country – that guy obviously saw it too. If you’re a tourist (not if you _behave_ like one, your essence is much more important than your behavour), you’re a victim. And fine so!
    Yeah, and i’m not even trying to be open-minded. The concept of open-mindedness is another american idea which has nothing to do with reality. Not trying to defend Colombia, at all. Good and bad things can happen everywhere. But then again, you wrote in one of your posts that Sao Paolo was dangerous coz a hotel clerk told you not to walk around at night…
    Just maybe try to not get to places where beggars are… i know it might sound ridiculous, but beggars/criminals are where easy victims are. avoid the main square, the “worthwile” touristy areas of the city. that’s the actual difference between a traveler and a tourist. And becoming a victim on the main square…well, that can happen in Paris, in Madrid, in Rome. Not rocket science. take care.

  17. Your title is awful, and only proliferates the feelings that people have regarding Colombia. You need to see more of Latin America so that you will learn to feel more comfortable.

  18. He was just pissed off at the demise of manufactured spend and somehow felt it was your fault. That was a MS denied glare.

  19. Yeah. Did not appreciate Bogota at all. Never felt safe there. Searched and failed to find the charms that so many people speak of lately.

  20. The contrast between Carrera 10 and La T on the north is incredible.

    I loved Bogota, though the smog was harsh on the lungs.

  21. I had a similar experience. But I was in a Starbucks. In Miami Beach.

    I was with my mother and i was the one facing the exterior. There was this really creepy guy with a leather coat (it was around 80°F and sunny) just outside the entrance doing nothing, and he was definitely looking at us. I checked a few times and everytime i looked up he was staring at me. I didn’t say anything to my mother and just decided to wait there, and after 20 minutes he was gone. I wasn’t really worried because we were in a central location in the daylight but it was an unusual situation for me.

  22. First off, I am ALSO NOW here at the W Bogota! (I’m also in a Fantastic Suite.) so maybe we’ll see you at the bar (my bestie and me). We’re heading down to the bar in a few minutes before departing for dinner around 7:30 pm. 🙂 We checked out the FS Casa Medina earlier today.

    Second, I think the city’s rep and the feeling of it being unsafe made you more paranoid than you needed to be. But in the end, no harm, no foul, so lesson learned! Everyone responds differently to off moments.

    Hope we bump into you! We’re here til Mondaupy morning. 🙂

  23. @Lucky,

    Sorry about that – I was just hanging out waiting because I wanted an autograph.

    Kidding aside – you did what I would have, wait them out.

  24. I was wondering what @Eric was wondering. Bigotry is everywhere, but I’m sure it’s worse in some places than in others…

  25. @igor82j

    Your gross generalization of Americans may make you feel hip and trendy; but, in the end it just makes you sound comically pompous.

    Your self-righteous attitude and implied belief of the superiority of Europeans travelers made me snicker as I have witnessed many years worth of the questionable antics of European tourists in San Francisco.

  26. @Ben, The name “Lucky” doesn’t seem to fit here. I think the phrase “YMMV” is apropos here. I found Bogota to be the opposite of your experience. I’ll say one thing. People who look like criminals are easy to deal with. It’s the ones you don’t see coming that are the most dangerous. Correct me if my memory is inaccurate, but as I recall, you blogged that not too long ago you and your mother had a very bad experience in Barcelona at an expensive hotel when a gentleman managed to meet and befriend your mother and then proceeded to steal her purse (I believe it was) right out from under her nose in her hotel room. She did not even realize it was missing. I’m sure your mom would have never given any creepy looking guy the time of day.

  27. Maybe he was thinking it might be his lucky night, bit of cruising haha.

    Probably a bit of the situation making you more paranoid than you need to be, imagine it happening in the middle of NYC, you would think what a weirdo and not give it another thought as you’re comfortable with the city. Although i’ve visited places which give me the same feeling, in Moscow I was convinced every time seeing a cop they were going to try an extract cash from me after lots of people telling me don’t go because of all the corruption .

  28. You absolutely did the right thing Lucky. Americans are targets anywhere in the world, especially a third world country where there is a level of economic desperation.There isn’t much you can do to not stand out unless you are willing to where old clothes,shoes, watch, frames, get a lot tanner, die your hair etc.Predators can even tell by your teeth being straight that you are from money. The people that don’t notice guys like that following them are the people that get bags thrown over their heads and held for ransom. Ignore the peanut gallery. Anyone who would imply that you don’t know how to carry yourself in a foreign country is just not credible. Circumnavigating the globe 50 times over earns you that credibility. I, for one, appreciate the honest post about feeling uncomfortable especially since I travel with my 8 yr old daughter these are the types of insights I don’t get from brochures. Good post.

  29. Bogota is safe. You should have given a serious stare back at the guy with a “i’m a bad ass gringo you don’t know who you’re messing with” look and he would have left sooner. How was the coffee ?

  30. I was on vacation in Colombia last week (would have been fun to run into you), and the Candelaria in Bogota made me feel really uncomfortable at times. On the other hand, I felt fairly safe visiting Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park on the northeast coast.

  31. I generally enjoy the site but the title of your post is atrocious. I spent two years living in Bogota and never had a single problem. Like many big cities where there is much poverty, one needs to be street smart. I guess I don’t see the point of spending such a brief time in a relatively sketchy part of a huge city where you are clearly out of your element, and then blog about how dangerous it is. Sheltered travelers should stick to blogging about fancy hotels in Dubai and first-class cabins, instead of dogging an entire country after spending a couple hours in their capital city. Lame post. You can do better.

  32. When you’re pale & blonde, you attract attention in most of Latin America. The guy was probably high on something & felt no inhibitions staring at you. You did the best thing by just hanging out until he got tired of staring. Staring back would not have helped the situation. I’ve been to Bogota 6 times & never had a bad experience, so don’t let this odd occurrence sour you on the place.

  33. I just returned from Bogota. Stayed at the JW Marriott in the financial district, which was fabulous. I passed on the W as it didn’t appeal to me.

    We felt very safe in Bogota, loved the restaurants there. The Colombia Club was especially good, and the restaurant at the Opera House Hotel (right next to the restored Opera House) has neat roof top vistas.

  34. We spent some time in Bogota a few years ago, but my wife is from Medellin so I know that city a lot more and I prefer it in terms of safety, climate and overall fun factor. I recommend you go to Medellin whenever you have a chance – maybe we’ll bump into you there. Delta just started non-stop service from ATL in December.

  35. Crime is everywhere folks. A few years ago I took a group tour of South Korea. Most in the group were Korean Americans, if ethnicity matters. While waiting in the lobby of the Shilla hotel (a Korean luxury hotel chain) in Seoul, one of our group had her purse stolen. We were waiting for 20 minutes or so for the bus to show up. When it was time to board, a woman could not find her purse. We looked everywhere. The hotel replayed the security video and said it showed a “well-dressed” man with a coat over his arm walk through our group. It appeared that he must have placed his coat over the purse and walked away with it. There were 20-25 of us standing around right by where the purse was and we noticed nothing. Nobody even recalled the man walking through our group.

    So avoid those places with people whose appearance makes you uncomfortable and stay in really “safe” cities and hotels, and at least you will feel comfortable when you get ripped off. I have another personal example from Australia, one of the nicest and I thought safest countries on the planet, where my wife, son aged 6 and I witnessed a break in. On the other hand, I have never had anything stolen or been in a group that suffered a theft or physical attack in any less comfortable “third world” country. Crime could happen anywhere though, and comfort or lack thereof has nothing to do with it IMO.

  36. I found your concerns at this article totally ridiculous. The worst text you ever wrote. I am from Rio de Jnaeiro, Brazil and was already robbed at Rome and London´s Subway. Go to Baltimore, Detroit or South Central Los Angeles to check if you will feel scare or safe. Come on man, GET REAL! Nothing happened. and probably wouldn´t have.

    Like your blog very much but that was total crap. Should delete it.

    Regards.

  37. you wrote like if you were a domestic unvacinated pet that could not go to the streets without suffering any harm. Wow. Sorry about my opinion, but that was a shame!

  38. LOL–I told you on the other thread it’s a dangerous place for you–but oh did people said it’s not true.

    And here we are It’s a TERRIBLE place to visit and glad it happened to you to prove my point.

    NOT SAFE FOR AMERICANS!

  39. @Matt D, can you explain your bandana comment? That one is lost on me! LOL. Are Americans known to where bandanas around the world? I have never worn a bandana and I don’t think I know anyone who wears one.

    And Igor82j, aren’t you just a peach?

  40. You were clearly out of your comfort zone and experiencing heightened paranoia ! I’m guessing you get a bit concerned if you are not in sight of a Hilton, Sheraton or W luxe hotel, yes?
    Did you look like a couple of nicely pressed preppies wearing baseball caps and expensive sneakers, since you felt you stood out? That place is a good place to wear some ratty old clothes (if you have such things) which you planned on throwing out~ halfway there to ‘fitting-in’ already!
    As to your exit, as you couldn’t squeeze through the bathroom window into the handy laneway, you just need to confidently walk out, eyes straight ahead, and walk up to the nearest policeman you already noticed. Ask him for directions, engage him for a minute even if you are getting nowhere with the language barrier, and your would-be assailant will have scarpered, if he had been in fact up to no good!

  41. FYI, for those of you who write novels in the comments section, the majority of us read first two sentences and skim/skip the rest. Unless we’re REALLY bored.

  42. Dunno about Uber in Third World countries. Friends caught a cab in Mexicco City, were taken to a nice, quiet spot and relieved of belongings at machete point. Friend still has machete marks on his arms. Dunno about Uber in Third. World countries.

  43. I hope you had gotten in the car with that guy. Would’ve mad me for way more fun blog entries if you made it back out.

  44. Wow, Lucky getting a bit of heat for this one! Let’s be honest, we don’t come to this blog to pick up adventure travel (unless you think essential survival advice includes things like ‘what to do when British Airways run out of complimentary pyjamas’) . I think Lucky’s risk perception is a bit different to mine, and I think spending all this time in W Hotels and First Class cabins means that he’s a bit more pampered than me, BUT he gives us some bloody good insights and advice on premium travel so for that, I think people should cut him some slack!

    @Lucky – was this you on your last trip to London? 😉
    https://youtu.be/I2YxjogXOMI

  45. So….who robbed you? Or threatend to???

    Please visit NYC for true street people encounters or LA for that matter, it may help you to adjust for international travel and exposure to….different people. I’m confused.

  46. You think you traveled a lot and knows the world but you are not, think you should just stay home in your comfort zone or be open minded. Don’t get me wrong I read your block because very informative when comes to miles and points but some of your posts make you look like a frog in the bottom of a well like this one. Put yourself into the eyes of a beggar when he is desperate of money for food or for whatever reason due to Colombia it’s still a third world country. We even see this all over North Americas when homeless people trying to ask for money in downtown areas or in front of a traffic light. This happens everywhere.

    First of all the title of your post it gives a wrong impression of the country: “Please Don’t Rob Me: Colombia Edition”, this might be the case 20 years ago but it has changed ever since. People need to get out to see this country themselves rather than just believe what they hear from people and make it real.

    Secondly, I assure you are not the only tourist in the area of plaza de Bolivar so don’t feel too special about that. Although this is not the best area but it should be ok during the day just use common sense wherever you go including at home, there is no difference between Plaze de Bolivar in Bogota or Harlem in New York for safety concerns, even worst in Europe if we are talking about pick pocketing.

    Some people here suggested to go to Parque 93 or Zona Rosa etc only. Why don’t they just stay home if they want to feel like home only whenever they travel. The benefits of travelling is to learn about the different culture, if you want to feel like home mind as well stay home.

    May be you should just change the title of this post.

  47. Lucky,

    Avid reader here, but you’ve lost me on your Colombia trip reports. From the start you have conveyed that you were expecting things to be dangerous. Every time you even hint at the possible dangers, your commenters all talk about how great it really is and to ignore the reputation from the 90s, yet you continue to be afraid. What you describe in this post has happened to me in all sorts of “safe” countries. There are creepy guys everywhere and it is worse if you are traveling with a pretty woman. The bottom line is that nothing happened and your experience was clouded because you expect Colombia to be dangerous. It’s almost like you are hoping to get pick-pocketed to confirm your expectations. Next time try the non-passive agressive response. Stare back so the guy knows that you see him or find the restaurant staff who is responsible for shooing people away.

  48. @kevin

    I am at W now and was at Hilton Bogota last week. I recommend the Hilton. Was $66 weekend vs $94 at W. W needs another month for lounge to open, no perk in interim. Hilton lounge nice, but no indoor pool. Location better for sightseeing and walking around. Rosales area great for walking around and enjoying Zona G for dining, socializing.

    Fourth night free in Prestige is great here since weekday rates are 3x. Also exempt 16% IVA tax, be sure to mention if tourist Visa stamp.

  49. talk about sheltered travelers out of place outside the F cabin and the spa

    Yes, La Candelaria is gritty and can be dangerous at night. During the day, it’s like much of latin america, or innumerable other parts of the world. I can take you to parts of Oakland that are equally “gritty” and far more “dangerous.”

  50. I walked all over plaza de Bolivar and past the presidents house, to the museo de oro and who knows where else. I never had an issue in bogota feeling unsafe. Make sure you two go up the Monserrate, it’s beautiful and COLD up there.

    I also did the catedral mine. It’s amazing going all the way inside and seeing how everything was done without machines.

    Colombia is definitely a country I will visit again.

  51. I have travelled extensively in Latin America, and to Bogota probably five times. It’s like anywhere else in that you have to be careful and aware of your surroundings. I never felt unsafe there, and I believe it is because I was always with a native. I don’t mind being stared at (I am female, blonde with blue eyes) but would have been uncomfortable in the situation you describe. I would have been tempted to either 1. glare back with the meanest expression I could manage, or 2. Smile and wave enthusiastically as if the guy were a long-lost friend. When you go back, get a Colombiano to take you to the original Andres Carne de Res, go up to Monseratte, and be sure to go to the Museo de Oro. It’s in a “bad” part of town, but to me that made it all the more exciting. Ditto for the uniformed, armed men everywhere. In spite of stereotypes, I found Bogota to be the Paris of South America (and yes, I have visited Buenos Aires), filled with art, culture, charm, and some of the classiest, most educated, and warmest people on the planet. But, I always had a Colombian with me and I think that must be what makes the difference.

  52. I’m confusing about the headline and intent of this post. Tilte is about begging not to be robbed and nothing about that happened. In fact, there wasn’t even an actual threatening situation. You just saw somebody you felt intimidated of. You don’t know what the guy was up to and would never know.
    When you travel to a new city/country it’s about facing/learning new cultures and there is always uncertainty. You always, wherever you go, need to be careful and keep your eyes wide open. Colombia is in general a country that welcomes foreigners even more than any other Latin American nation. Also, when you travel to mega cities you see the contrasts of wealth and poverty, and maybe crime. It’s similar everywhere. Humans are the same everywhere.
    I find disrespectful here that people keep referring of developing countries as “3rd world.” We don’t need to go far from home in America to have the “3rd world” feeling. In some developing countries sometimes you feel more like in advanced places than at home. I applaud that people travel to learn and get to know new places but you don’t go places to find what you have in your living room.
    To get to know a place a little bit you need to be there enough time to make a real opinion. Otherwise, it’s a partial and limited image.

  53. Many of these comments are terrible. Lucky, please don’t self-censor yourself because some readers can’t distinguish hetween a single example and a general criticism of a place or people.

    To all of you that lived in/visited Columbia for longer than Lucky and never felt unsafe, that’s cool. It also does nothing to invalidate his own experience. My wife rides public transport daily in a major city, and has thankfully never been assaulted on it. If I read that a women was assaulted though I’d not arrogantly claim “she misunderstood what happened since it doesn’t match my own experience.” Just because Lucky is in a foreign country and you might have meta reasons for wanting him to describe his experience a certain way doesn’t impact what actually happened to him in the least.

  54. Lucky,

    Thanks for the read. Its absolutely ludicrous how many people feel the need to lecture you. .Especially those who are somehow trying to admonish you for simply stating what country you were in. These things can happen anywhere and I think your article is genuinely helpful because it runs you through a scenario that could happen to anyone and it is never a bad thing to have some options in mind for this type of situation beforehand. Erring on the side of caution is always the best bet when abroad, you can be to far removed from resources that we take for granted in our home countries.

  55. Your so brave lucky venturing out from the W hotel.
    Really your adventures are so rivvating i cant wait for the next installment.
    Did you and your fellow make it back safely to the gated confines of the W.

    Where you going next
    Hopefully not more third world its truly dangerous based on your experience in Bogota.

  56. Lucky did you and your male partner get out of that gritty and dangerous part of bogota alive?
    Omg i stress so much reading about your harrowing adventures , your so lucky lucky.

  57. A completely unfair headline. What happened to you could have easily have happened in so many cities in the US. You are indeed perpetuating the old stereotype of Colombia from the past.

  58. Latin America is not as safe as North America. It’s not a stereotype, its the truth. Thanks to Lucky for blogging about and pointing out how he handled a potentially dangerous situation. Those of you who are saying that it is totally safe are off their rockers.. I have seen so many idiotic Americans traveling without awareness around South America, wearing blingy jewelry and such, asking to get robbed (and do). I have traveled all around South America, living in Argentina for a year and feel I have some expertise on this subject. I sometimes felt safe, other times was quite nervous about the position I had found myself in. Awareness and knowledge of the country you are going to is the right way to travel. While Colombia is an amazing, gorgeous, colorful country, it is not as safe as most of the US.

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