Bogotá Reacts to Critical, Complimentary Posts

I recently posted a two lists regarding my opinion of Bogotá, both good and bad. To say the reaction among Bogotanos was … strong … would be like saying World War II was a disagreement among statesmen. I was lauded as a brave truth teller for breaking the news that Colombia’s capital had some areas of improvement. I was called an arrogant gringo who should get to the airport on the next taxi. One emailer called me “weak” for coughing in Bogota’s pollution; others said I had the courage to say out loud what many expats only whisper when Colombians are out of earshot.

Originally published on Medium.com, in two days both posts garnered an astonishing 58,790 views (as of 8 p.m. Wednesday night) and 34,668 full reads. This blog saw a spillover increase in traffic of massive proportion. Twitter is still buzzing as I type, with the “Hate” article vastly outperforming the “Love” column. It’s been a bit overwhelming to be honest, but I was reminded of a few things:

  1. Crankiness sells. When people say they want good news in the media? They’re lying.
  2. A lot of people don’t like foreigners criticizing their country, even if they make the same points to me in private conversations.
  3. After a complaint that it’s hard to make friends in Bogotá, my Facebook friend request queue is full, and Bogotanos who I never would have encountered otherwise have been inviting me out for coffee, dinner, drinks, etc. Apparently, I just needed to post a bitchy cri de coeur and my year would have been much nicer.

Number 2 is obviously a bit of a “No duh,” moment, but it’s good to be reminded that one’s words have consequences. For instance, the toll of my personal life was heavy. A number of people I know, some friends, some students, basically want nothing more to do with me. Good thing I’m leaving next week!

Number 3, however, has been surprising—and humbling. These are folks who could have easily said, “Stupid gringo, serves him right!” But instead, they thought about what I wrote and said, “Hey, let’s grab coffee.” Bogotá, even as I prepare to depart, you can break my heart with surprises. Thank you.

Laura Albornoz Damme even took the time to write her own response to “10 Things to Hate About Bogotá” (Spanish). While I don’t agree with much of what she writes, I appreciate her taking the time to do so.

About the Colombian food served in Bogotá, a clarification: I like spicy food. Colombian food isn’t. Nor do I find it particularly flavorful. (Except for the fruits.) Deal with with it. I didn’t intend my article to prevent anyone from enjoying arepas and ajiaco, if that’s your thing. ¡Buen provecho! But I’ve been here a year. If I don’t like most Colombian dishes by now, I’m not going to. I don’t much like beets either, by the way.

Regarding Spanish. Man, I tried. I spent two months at Universidad Nacional and then more time in intensive private lessons trying to learn Spanish. It’s a beautiful — and fun — language, but I just could not pick it up. I can speak it OK, but I get, at best, 20 percent of what people say to me. I don’t hear all that well, and people tend to talk really fast here. It wasn’t for lack of trying that I didn’t learn Spanish as well as I would have liked. It was exhaustion and disappointment with myself. After a while I had to face the fact that I wasn’t going to get good enough, fast enough to make living here economical.

It’s easy to cheer breezy, simple writing about a place. The internet is full of “10 Great Things to Do in Bogotá” or “101 Great Things About Bolivia.” Such articles make you feel good about your hometown, and probably even attract a few tourists. That’s fine. But that’s not the kind of writer I am. I believe in telling the truth, as I see it, even if it’s unpopular or makes me the target of torches and pitchforks. I wrote the “Hate” column with the idea that maybe some people would read it and have a debate, because I believe that while Colombia has much going for it, it can also do much better. Some have questioned whether an extranjero has the right to suggest such a debate. Some suggested that all the problems I listed were well known to Colombians, and they didn’t need me pointing them out. But if they’re so well known, why does nothing change? Sometimes an outsider’s perspective is exactly what is needed.

Colombia is a country of astonishing beauty, kindness, wealth and resources. It is also one of cruelty, indifference, inequality and want. It is hardly unique in having those qualities exist side by side, but I think—because of the peace process and a growing economy—it does have a unique opportunity to decide what kind of country it’s going to be. Will it be a country locked in a feudal mindset with 80 percent of the population laboring for the cosseted 20 percent? Or will it have an educated, empowered workforce where more people prosper, class divisions are narrowed and the political left and right both have space to make their case? Will the country move ahead as a nation, or remain a patchwork of Bogotanos, Paisas, Costeñas, leftists, rightists, etc.?

I’m leaving soon, returning to the United States without a real plan for the first time in 10+ years. At least I won’t lack for material to write about. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, a lot of Americans still think real estate is the best investment and more than half question the validity of the Big Bang. It’s obvious my people need me.

This last year has been frustrating and enlightening, and while I didn’t “win” at the game of Bogotá, I don’t regret playing. Vaya con Dios.

(Also published on Medium.com)

28 Comments on “Bogotá Reacts to Critical, Complimentary Posts

  1. Dude, with that attitude towards a new place (any new place, short or long term, work or pleasure), you will likely find yourself with the same adaptation issues everywhere. Problem is that you’re expecting to find the internationally Condé-Nast-approved cliché (Bogotá = Naively open people = Shakira = Juan Valdez on a donkey smiling at you) and you’ll be in for a surprise wherever you go in the world. Bogotá is a very very big, complex city, both socially and geographically, in a country going through very deep historical changes. So you can’t (I repeat, you can’t) expect to fit it into your preconceived telenovela expectations and come up with a patronising and narrow-minded article after just one year of just “being” there. No, you’re not telling it how it is, you’re just giving your rather superficial opinion on a matter, but with little background or proper depth. I’ll give you a free hint: Bogotanos are no more. Bogotá today is a poorly blended mix of every culture and race in the country, people that because of the mountain “issue” there, have not faced each other like this, ever. It is a city with huge problems, like the country itself (it’s a freaking developing country!), but a city that unlike other destinations in the country, is not begging for tourists or foreigners because the average Juan Perez in Bogota could not care less about any foreigner’s first world problems, like the ajiaco not being flavorful enough for Mr. YoQuieroTacoBell. First thing you gotta do to enjoy traveling and absorbing cultures properly: Get rid of your copy of the New York Times and make an effort to understand where you’re going to. I’ve done that 5 times already as I have moved from Bogota to Miami to Seattle to Boston and to Berlin, and I can spot (and enjoy) the deep cultural differences between a northwestern hippie and a east Berliner, and I don’t expect them to sing Carlos Vives to me. With a better attitude comes friends and joy. Can’t call yourself a nomad with that attitude towards new experiences. Cheers.

    • Bogota is hard to adapt because you need to be a phony and a cunt to succeed. I could say that in spanish, as i grew up here, but then you would give me the cold shoulder. Props to the writer for experiencing the whole picture, because when you do, it is very clear that the good and reputable part of bogota’s population are fuckin pretentious and spineless

    • Hi I just want to support this answer in a way and just share a bit of my thoughts ( my english is not the best… anyways…) me and my danish husband are looking in the possibility to move to colombia and when my husband sent me the link I could understand a bit the 10 things u may hate from bogota as being in other cities and seing a different world is easy to compare and critise but at the same time I would say at least more than 5 things Chris did not like from Colombia I found my selv in a similiar situation after being in copenhagen and not only for 1 year but for 4 … not saying that i did not find good experiences and people in Denmark but just assuring that definitly the good attitude is everything towards a new place, the language opens big door into a culture and for the rest of the world may be hard to understand that some people does not speak english to comunicate or share experiences as they wished, many do not have even the chance in education systems and the worst or the best many just dont want to learn it, so do not feel frustated because people does not speak your language…

      having expectations is what makes you unhappy so I also wonder which were Chris expectations when coming to bogota?

      even if you dont believe it one can find similar challenges in a first world country, very rich and listed as one of the most happy places…denmark so in that sense the critic is rough pointed only bogota as the big mess

      My husband is not so happy about moving to bogota and I undertand it in a way but he also understands me why i can not seee denmark as the happiest place in the world each person can have differnet experiences so I would not like that this sayings scare him or let him prefabricate a negative attitud/ ideas before he comes and after being in his place I would not say one place is better that the other but just different and in both there will be similar or equivalent challenges as there is no perfect place. I wished the will of Chris to change some of the 10 things he hated of bogota could turned into something stronger and real as his opinion online does not make any improvement compared to the other 12 million bogotanians that are also tired of lack of work oportunities traffic and unsafe streets and pollution and if they make fun of the bad situation is not because they do not care but beacuse they probably have not find they tools or thw ways to improve the situation …is easy to speak and point but difficult to act …i hope more conciousness and actions also help bogota

  2. This is what happen when people is face to criticism of what really matter to them, for example, their own nationality or the city where one was born and raised. But I find this reaction more acceptable than when people get really angry, really, really angry and will give anything in their lives when they hear something like; saying that the whole Star Wars filmography is just a wast of time and none of it is worth of watching it, or what about comics, really! Isn’t that just for little kids, I mean, paying thousands for just cartoons bound together.

    If you didn’t like what you read about Colombia just do a quick search for “things I hate about America” or United States of America, and you will find even videos where people express why they hate America.

    It’s not a secret that if you what to get people’s attention you have to argue about the same old topics like religion, sports, politics and the mother of all… Money!

    The link below is a list of Wikipedia’s controversial articles, pick one, talk about it and you will get more visits to your blog, but do it at your own risk.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_controversial_issues

  3. The things I dislike most about the city are transmilenio and traffic. But also, you get an apartment that is right in the city and there are so many people who do not seem to get that concept of respect…that maybe throwing a party at 1am or 3 am or whatever on a Wednesday night is not the best idea. That, get this, people have to get up early and WORK. But I have run into this issue FOUR TIMES from four different apartments, 2 in my building, 2 in the buidling next door *why do they keep the windows open* in JUST TWO WEEK of living in a well known neighborhood..before that I was more secluded for 2 months. But yah, maybe people can respect others more here….

    The food is super bland but I can deal with that because there are plenty of places to get cheap foreign food. Transmilenio, other than weekday apartment parties, shows the worst of Bogota as people act like absolute animals on the thing.

    Otherwise, it is a good city.

  4. Hey, I read both articles. The “hate” one is full of truth facts, but also full of “easy” generalizations, and I think, that’s what causes most of the anger (besides the fact that we are not good to react to criticism). For example, “Few work opportunities” Well, there were not many for you that’s for sure, but if that statement were truth, it does not explain why a big proportion of the population actually comes from other parts of the country. My parents came from countryside (and I’m just in my 20’s), they have worked hard and have succeed (although definition of success may differ for an (north)-American :P), and this is true for most of the people I know, whose parents or grand-parents were not born in the city. This is the land of opportunities in Colombia, despite most of them may not be that great, and are not easy to get.

    The social divisions are sadly true, and goes beyond what you described, but people don’t realize that. In any case.

  5. Read you article dude, not nice bashing colombian food liek that! Flavorless, wtf!?!?! Its FUC**NG delightful! Yeah, its true, there’s people who eat horribly, and do cook their meat until its uneatable, but FOCK men, it aint our fault you ate at all the wrong places, and did not research at all good colombian cuisine restaurants in Bogota. Let me give you a list honey:

    Sopas de mama y postres de la abuela
    la antigua
    La bella antioquia
    la bonga del sinu
    la carreta
    Mondongo y mucho mas
    Entrepues
    Mini-mal

    And I am sure there are thousand more under this list. Although, I bet you went to Andres-Carne de res cause that’s what gringo’s do, right? Thats colombian cuisine mr writer. I am sure you must have eatten un patacon with hogao or something similar, right? Now, you find that flavorless?

  6. Yes, I am from Bogota, I love my city I love its bad things and its possitive things. How are you not to love the place where you were born? the place where you grew up? To me the article you talked about made me feel really annoyed, upset and dissapointed, not of my city, but of people like that, who focus on the bad things which could happen anywhere. Obviously, my city is not for everyboy, and of course you need to speak Spanish, since that is the official language of my country. Anyways… it is your point of view and I can not change it. That can only be done by you, your experiences and your background. Thank you though, for comming to my city and waste your precious time in this “black hole”.

    • Here: We have this idiot that can not even speak Spanish…
      And only was there for less then a year…
      Talking nonsense !
      I am not from Bogota… But? I think it’s a great City !
      And never what so ever ! anything bad ever happen to me in Bogota !
      I met great people everywhere !
      The food was also different but very good!
      Tremendo pendejo ! menos mal que se va…

  7. Colombia has many problems… Bogotà being the Capitol probably more…??
    Please tell me how your comments will help our City’s or our Country ?
    We are not on denial ! neither are we stupid !
    We are victims of Politics and corruption !!
    Just like everybody else around the globe…
    It’s no fair that you use your writhing skills to criticize and put International fear:
    On others that might want to come, visit or work in our Country !
    Fine! you got your 2 Cents worth of fame on Facebook !
    Which are good for nothing at the end… because being popular on FB it’s like being rich with “Monopoly money” There !
    Stay away from Colombia! We don’t need idiots like you there!
    Colombia tiene muchos problemas y Bogotà al ser la Capital…
    Posiblemente mas ?
    Por favor digame como ayudan sus comentarios a nuestras Ciudades y Pais?
    Nosotros no ignoramos, negamos ò somos ignorantes que no se dan cuenta de todo lo que sucede allà…
    Somos victimas de la corupciòn y los Politicos como lo son el resto de habitantes de este Planeta!
    No es justo que usted utilice su conocimiento del Inglès y estos medios para infundir mas miedo a muchas otras personas que talvez quieran visitar nuestro Pais… No vuelva a Colombia! allà no necesitamos imbeciles como usted!
    Ya, usted recibiò sus 2 Centavos de fama en Facebook !
    Aunque: Ser popular en FB ? No sirve de nada!
    Es como ser rico con el dinero de ” Monopolio ”
    Work with your Country :
    No health care, Gangs, Serial Killers, “Mountain people” many of them:
    racist kk, massive shooting in schools etc…
    And you have the nerve to talk about us?
    Trabajele a su Pais:
    No tiene asistencia medica, Pandillas en todas partes, asesinos seriales que hasta hàn comido gente! Montaneros racistas muchos del k-klan, disparatorias masivas en escuelas y lugares publicos etc…
    Y a usted se le ocurre ponerse a hablar de nosotros ?
    I am not Rola, I was just blessed by being born in Colombia !
    No soy Rola solo hè tenido la bendiciòn de haber nacido en Colombia !

  8. Me gustó mucho, y soy bogotana….. Bogotá es una vergüenza actualmente, pero es como un mal hijo q a pesar de todo lo sigues amando…. Pero si no fuera bogotana…… La odiaría!

  9. Being a rola, I can relate to many of the things written in the hate article, however, I don’t think they are as bad as the article describes, also, I believe some of the things could’ve been said a little bit nicer. I’m not saying they are not true, but I have to agree the article is a little bit harsh.

    I’ve been out of Colombia for a year also, in India, and I can understand the frustration of loneliness in a disliked city, however, i think its all about attitude. Its too sad you were not able to find a lot of nice friends, I think people make hell a nicer place, so they would’ve definitely make your stay in Bogota a lot better (I’m leaving India in a month, and until February I couldn’t wait to go back home. But then I started meeting really nice people who made me start loving this place and now i don’t want to leave) Maybe you just had to move away from the place you were (office or neighborhood, etc) and explore other areas where you could’ve met more people and make more friends, because of course Bogota has its terrible things, but it is not as terrible as you experience it.

  10. there might be another reason why the article wasn’t well received, which I just noticed while reading the “Bogotano Politeness” one. The -questionable, to say the less- tendency to stereotype “Colombians” and “Bogotanos”, and the imposture that lies on pretending that there is such thing as the stereotypic Colombian and that we all behave and must behave the same because of our nationality. The way you talk about “us” from the watchtower of your wisdom is quite laughable and/or irritating. Nationaliity of people is probably the question that influences the culture of a person the less. What you call “Bogotanos” (most people living in Bogotà was born outside the city) and “Colombians” have the most diverse origins

  11. Maybe a lot of Bogotanos aren’t used to reading such “10 things I hate” lists? Because you are right when you say “even if they make the same points to me in private conversations”.

    Most of the things you said (low wages, unemployment, unequality, crime) are quite obvious for most of us Colombians, being the capital of a relatively poor country with a civil war which made a lot of people emigrate to the cities leaving their jobs and properties behind. Lack of infraestructure and a protectionist economy that favors monopolies (and public policies, like the ones that are making land expensive) are some of the reasons that make living in Bogotá relatively expensive for locals (moreso in some areas than in others). And being such a huge country, one of the most diverse on Earth and one that inherited the class divisions from Colonial times, there is a huge unequality, and, of course , it will reflect in the capital city.

    So the article is not out of the ordinary. evidently you have the view of a foreigner, which can be a little disparaging and it can disturb a little bit.

    Also when you said you weren’t able to learn Spanish properly, I understood partially why you had such trouble making friends.

  12. I am Bogotana. I agree with many of the things are said. About “and the
    use of surgical masks in the street is common” is because of the changes
    in weather people get sick (a flu, a cold).
    In Bogota We go out a lot. There are plenty of places to party and dance!!
    Few
    friends, I felt the same in the states and a couple of times I felt
    people were afraid of talking to a latina or Spanish as We are called.
    You met the wrong people my friend.
    Working opportunities. I have
    exactly the same feeling you have, but about the States. Obviously You
    have to speak Spanish well to get a good job, the same as if you go to
    the States, you have to speak English to get a good job.
    Despite allthe negative aspects, I like my city, the food from here: Ajiaco, changua, chocolate etc.
    Thanks for the post about 10 things you love about Bogota.

  13. I agree with most of your 10 reasons to hate Bogotá, and I still love it…sorry you lost your Bogota gamble, but I would have loved to continue reading your posts about Colombia…Still, will follow your blog from now on.

    http://www.quepenaconusted.com

  14. Great point of view, as a colombian I support your opinion. Most of the people just don’t want to see and realize where many of the problems lie. This has to change, and people need to know that. We cannot stick to the “happiest country of the world” label, it sucks when there are so many other problems.

  15. Bueno toda ciudad tiene sus puntos malos, si yo llego a New York criminalidad a gran escala pero mejor controlada en parte, drogadición y contaminación y mucha. La diferencia es que ustedes trabajan mas disciplinadamente para mitigar lo mejor posible este tipo de problemas o el que se les presente, porque cuentan con los recursos para ello y nosotros estamos empeñados en lograr lo mismo a nuestro ritmo.

  16. I think you just said what all Colombians- non-Bogotanos- thinks about Bogota. I agree with you, maybe its time people stop whispering and start to make some changes. There are reasons why most of the people feel frustration when they have to move from another city to Bogota, and btw is not because your were a foreigner, people from Bogota it is that way with everyone. I guess after 6 months you should had realize you had to move to a another city and at least you could have had six good months. i will have to say I enjoy both articles, and I happy the discussion has started. Sorry that you didn´t have a nice experience here.

  17. As a Colombian and Bogotá resident (I wasn’t born here but I’ve lived in Bogotá almost all my life), I think we just find it comfy living in denial. Fernando Vallejo, an accomplished Colombian writer (who found success AFTER leaving the country, just like “Gabo” and Fernando Botero) is considered Public Enemy #1 by many, just because he calls it like it is.

    I don’t feel proud of being Colombian. Why should I? It’s not an achievement or something to pump my chest to. Like Louis Clark said, “I didn’t have a hand in that. My parents just fucked here”.

  18. WOW how come I’ve never seen this article before? first of all, I was born and raised in Bogota and moved to Boston 10 years ago (not by choice), and I wish every single day to be back in Bogota… With that said, I think that I have a very objective point of view regarding your articles.

    While I truly love my country and my city very much, I have to agree 100% with you in everything you wrote in these articles, specially knowing that you are an American (so is my wife) even if nobody likes it and they all get butt hurt about it.

    There was one thing you didn’t mention about Colombians thou, specially Bogotanos (but I am sure that by now you know about it) and that is our incapability to see our own faults and errors. Unfortunately people bitch when someone points out that something is not perfect (tell someone in the US that they are fat, and you know how that will end),.. people are very superficial in general and they try to project an image that is not true, this is why Bogotanos live their lives trying to show off something that they don’t have, even if that means living of credit cards.

    I wish the people in Bogota could think about everything that is wrong and do something (other than bitchin) to make things change. Colombia is the richest country in natural resources and talent that I have ever seen, but unless we as Colombians don’t learn to stop bitching and instead of focusing in problems we work on the solutions I’m afraid everything will remain the same.

  19. Hey Chris, I really apreciate articles about areas of improvement, maybe a person with a new perspective recalls this urge of improvement we really need to have in our minds !!! This all means that I suppoort your article about Bogota !!!

    Maybe there is one thing I disagree which is the fact of friendships, If I write an article telling that i lived in NYC for a year and I think newyorkers are not very friendly.. What is the message i am sending to the reader ? If you are the reader, maybe you would think that NYC is such a big city that it is kind of exagerated and ridiculous to throw a sentense like that, or maybe you would think that the problem is not the newyorkers, the real problem is that they didn´t see me as an interesting person after a short talk and that is why they never felt motivated to call me to invite me to dinner or another party….

    Maybe you would think I am such an arrogant man who starts from the idea that the fact I couldn´t have friends in NYC is not because of me, (because I am incredible and charming), it is because the lack of friendship building skills newyorkers have.

    So in the same way i feel very thankful of your article because that is the only we we can improve (will be a hard work), I hope you take this as another oportunity to explore why people didn´t feel motivated to build stronger relationships with you when you lived here, why do you feel so happy about telling everyone that after writting this article soooo many people now are interested in you (which I think was your main concern while you were here…)

    I am pretty sure that your article and this exploration will be grat tools of improvement for both of us !!

    Take care and a big hug !!!

  20. Estoy de acuerdo en que hay muchas cosas mal en Bogotá. Pero no deja de parecer arrogante publicar un articulo como el tuyo, para viajeros, que desde algunos puntos de vista parece trivial (por ejemplo por el publico al que está dirigido, o pues yo espero que el turismo en Bogotá no sea la prioridad), hablando sobre problemáticas tan complejas y que en verdad, o por lo menos en mi caso y por mucha gente que conozco, causan bastante preocupación y nos causan tantos problemas día a día. Tu puedes no encontrar un trabajo, ni un buen salario, pero facilmente puedes regresar a tu país y todo estará bien, pero no los que vivimos acá, asi que tu articulo parece bastante cruel ante quienes se enfrentan con este problema laboral tan grave a diario y tienen que trabajar “como burros” para sobrevivir en una ciudad tan costosa.

    El problema ambiental y social, contrario a lo que tu crees si es un punto prioritario en la agenda de muchas personas en esta ciudad y en las universidades y en las localidades vas a encontrar cantidad de colectivos trabajando por el medio ambiente y tratando de generar consciencia sobre todos esos problemas. Si. muchos quisieran trazar un muro en la calle 19 -y en tu post pareciera que tu también-, pero ellos son solo una parte de Bogotá y si quieres hablar sobre el tema y ser más acertado probablemente podrías escribir un articulo llamado “10 cosas que odio de la gente rica en Bogotá”.

    Sobre la indiferencia, lo mismo que escribí arriba, es cierto en parte. Pero seguramente tu post hiere bastante a los miles de colombianos que salen a marchar constantemente protestando contra muchas de las problematicas que se señalan en el articulo. Y lo siento, contrario a lo que nosotros y nosotras quisieramos no es tan facil lograr que las cosas cambien, es una problematica tan compleja que no se soluciona de un día para otro. Tampoco creo que tu articulo realmente ayude en algo: primero porque todo está tan superficial que en poco o nada ayuda, no habla de las causas, ni da propuestas. Segundo, está más bien escrito para personas que pasan unos días en Bogotá y no les importan nuestras problemáticas en verdad, ni van a despertar gracias a tu articulo. Tercero, porque parte de la palabra Odio y el Odio solo genera más odio y gracias!, pero de eso ya tenemos bastante.

    Finalmente, solo quiero decir que tus articulos dejan una sensación de falta de información. Respecto a la comida, es bastante injusto, primero hay muchisimos restaurantes tipicos. Además, porque lo que pasa en las capitales es que se ven platos de otros lugares porque la mezcla de culturas hace que se pierda la del lugar y se genere más bien un sincretismo que logra conciliar todas las influencias para que todas las culturas que se reunen allí puedan convivir. Eso no es culpa de los bogotanos, es más bien culpa de la globalización y probablemente pasará lo mismo en otros lados.

    Tu articulo tiene puntos muy ciertos y esta escrito de una forma en la que efectivamente puede generar debates interesantes, aunque probablmente todos en tu contra -reitero probablmente por la falta de información-. Y pues ya que tus articulos han sido tan exitosos, sugiero seguir el tema con más articulos que de paso borren ese estilo arrogante, odioso, pesadumbroso y falto de tacto con el que abordaste el tema, puede ser algo así como: “cómo subirse a una bicicleta puede contribuir a la disminución de la polución en BOgotá”; o “la importancia de unirse a los colectivos de trabajo que ya existen y tomar consciencia sobre nuestras problematicas”; “los movimientos sociales en Bogotá, en busca de una mejor ciudad”; “acercar el sur y el norte en Bogotá daría una mejor impresión a los y las turistas y podria ayudar en la prevención del crimen y el ambiente de desconfianza en el que vivimos” …

    • Many people in this country (and the goverment too) are constantly obsessed with show a different face of this place, because too many people still think that Colombia its just a nest of crime, hookers, violence and drugs. And that hurts a lot to us. Sometimes we overcompensate showing positive issues of Colombia, and sometimes we try to hide that painful problems, facts and realities that too many people don’t want to talk about.

      Is shocking when foreing people talk about that problems, but i think it’s good to shake us and make us remeber that we are not ok, we have to improve, and work out (improve what? work out on what? that’s the question…). But is sad when somebody talk from a specific and personal experience (you know, some temperaments, some personalities can fit or make repulse in differents cultures), personal taste (specially talking about spicy food) and show it as a fact. And worse, if you write about that experiences as a fact and mix it with a little bit of rage and frustration obviously the result isn’t accurate, full of kind and politeness. It will cause damage.

      I’m agree with some topics of your “10 Things to Hate About Bogotá” i’m very critic with that “climate of fear” and that paranoia, specially because is contagious. I personally walk and ride bycicle around too many places called “dangerous” and it’s ok, even i think it’s more dangerous be around “rich people” and “safe places”. Just open eyes, don´t be stupid but without lose your tranquility.

      In my humble opinion is so annoying that cold and passive attitute, hipocresy and that difficulty to say “truths in the face” from too much people. I think is common in too many occidental countries, but Bogotá is a special case. But i don’t fight against that, is like a strange equilibrium act where you can say what you want to say with specific rules. I just try to say my truths with kind humor and maybe people take it in a good way.

      And the traffic… it´s just a therapy. I walk and ride bycicle because is more fun and fast. But isn’t for everyone.

      To finalize i think is very important to be clear in something. We can’t generalize Colombian’s people only viewing Bogotá’s people. You can find very caracteristics, attitudes and different cultures from other places in Colombia. Obviously you talk only about Bogotá (Duh! ). But people from other places can generalize.

      I´m sorry you find frustrating live, work and learn spanish here. But maybe in other circumstances could be less challenging an more pleasant to you, who knows.

      Anyway, good luck and bon voyage!

  21. It’s sad that your experience in the city I grew up wasn’t great. Quite honestly what you wrote is truth. A cool group of people to hang out was essential (para salir a rumbiar, and really explore the city ). Obviously if you lived in Pakistan and India our food is very different from it. I don’t understand why you thought it was a good idea to move there for a year! Bogota is tolerable if you have money and know people, otherwise is simply terrible.
    Good luck, yes people need you in America, get out of there as soon as possible.

  22. I read the “hate” article and I have to say that I felt a little bit of anger, basically, because most of it it’s true. I read the “love” article and I found it as unispired and flavourless as you find Colombian food. It’s clear that you’re not very fond of this city, mostly because It’s very hard to love it.

    I’m from Santander and, let me tell you, a lot of people asks me why I like living here. My answer is that as a journalist it’s pretty much impossible to get a decent job anywhere else in this country, which is sad considering Bogotá is a “black hole, work-wise”.

    I get that Bogotá is a tough place, it’s definately not for everyone. But for some of us it’s home, even though we don’t really know why.

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