One Thing I Can’t Overcome: The Lack of Civil Education in Bogota

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37 Responses

  1. Kat says:

    You should go to Barranquilla if you think Bogotanos are rude. You’ll come running back in about 2 seconds…

  2. R Pope says:

    Hi – based on my own ongoing experiences I have some theories on this that may help to explain but, of course, not excuse any of this. There is deep seated historical mistrust running through every level of society in Colombia, not just of other people but of authority, exemplified by 60 years of civil conflict in this country where even the tiniest bits of information or knowledge could lead to your own death or to the death of a loved one. Colombians often seen driven to air their disgust or refute these issues through their stubbornness and willingness to break even the tiniest of rules in some act of pseudo-rebellion or rudeness in the direction of anyone unknown to them. You should try la costa, seriously – if you think Bogotá is bad!

  3. Liz says:

    I hate this People so much, and i hate most they think that they are in the position to descriminate people

  4. Xx says:

    I hate this People so much, and i hate most they think that they are in the position to descriminate people

  5. Natalia Mojica Rojas says:

    People do many of these things in many cities, such as in NYC. It’s not just Bogota. In fact, some of my friends from NYC, who have been here, do not wait for the light to change to red, and just cross. I tell them not to do it, and they still do! I know that something must be done, BUT NOT ONLY IN BOGOTA!

    • bogotastic says:

      I absolutely agree. But for some reason I seem to see a lot more people doing things they shouldn’t be doing here compared to other big cities.

  6. Wally says:

    You are doing exactly what Colombians do…..make multiple excuses for their rude/inconsiderate/selfish behavior. It’s their one common trait that I absolutely abhor… one takes responsibility for their behavior or for the lack of progress towards “civilization”….they excuse everything.

  7. LaLa says:

    This couldn’t be more true. Excellent blog.

  8. Christopher Schafer says:

    I think that you are all missing the point. I have lived in Bogota for 8 years and I have come to understand that Colmbian’s simply do not have the ability to think of anyone else beyond their immediate family. In most western countries we are taught to think of the ramifications of our action upon other people before we do something. Colombian’s do not have this ability for whatever reason. I am teaching my son better.

    • Wally says:

      You are doing exactly what Colombians do…..make multiple excuses for their rude/inconsiderate/selfish behavior. It’s their one common trait that I absolutely abhor… one takes responsibility for their behavior or for the lack of progress towards “civilization”….they excuse everything.

  9. nelson says:

    bogota is NOT a nice city. it is a city full of opportunities, indeed yes. BUT it is as you say a concrete jungle. I am from bogota and in my life here I have just learned just one thing that has saved my life many times. That thing is “salvese quien pueda” or “every man for himself”. since day you born in colombia you knew you are just alone. Entire planet hates us. Our own government hates us. why we should be nice persons? AND yes. people of estratos 6 where you gringos live. are the most senseless of all. But they believe that they are europeans like.

  10. Erin says:

    I totally agree with this article, I have seen such blatant displays of ignorance at times when it comes to civic duty. Here in Pereira I have my days where I get so tired of waiting for people to finish telling their life’s story before they help the next customer, the lack of pride in one’s city. The whole bit. I’m an expat, and I can totally relate. You can’t say “oh, that’s any big city” either. I never felt like people were so intentionally “cochino” in San Francisco, KC, or many big cities that I have visited. It’s a cultural thing for sure, and Colombia definitely isn’t the only one. I hope when my son get’s bigger I can teach him the difference and help make the next generation just a little bit more mindful.
    Erin recently posted…Expert Roundup: What is the Best Secret to Know When Living, Working or Traveling in Colombia?My Profile

  11. Briana Songer says:

    Hey, the truth can hurt. I lived in and worked in Colombia for 6 years. Jade’s analysis is one almost everyone foreigner I know has shared when living or visiting Colombia, including myself. Due to Colombian’s patriotic nature, they of course, will not enjoy reading these “insights”. Hence their first question being, “Do you love Colombia…How do you like Colombia?” They are very concerned about your “liking” there country because they are fundamentally “nice” people. But the question itself is inherently selfish….instead ask “How are you adjusting to the cultural differences here?” Because ACKNOWLEDGING that your culture is not perfect, is flawed, is the key to change. Not posting comments that attack Jade’s views. That’s not tolerance in any form. Jade-outstanding, disrupting article 🙂 Keep ’em coming. The world isn’t all flowers and rainbows afterall.

    • nelson says:

      I am from colombia and I hate colombia soo much. well I don’t hate the land. In fact I really love this country. What I really hate is the people. NOT every colombian are “dumb uribistas nazionalistas”. some of us in fact have our own ideas of the world. but you gringos just know the “superficial” part of colombia.

  12. Jaime says:

    As a citizen of this city for over 28 years I have to sadly agree with you. I recently read an article where they explained the social behaviour (regarding traffic) in London and in an Asian country, having a big contrast. The key for traffic working in both places is the perception of what os right and what is wrong. For decades the government, the violence and the drug issues have taught Colombians to try and help themselves and go over anyone in order to achieve their goals… this of course is reflected in your article. What I’m trying to say is that the effort needed to change this, cannot be expected to come from the government since they don’t benefit (profit) of people well behaving, so the challenge is huge since we have to somehow find the way of changing ourselves. I don’t know if you have noticed, but when ou make eye contact with drivers/pedestrians (sadly motorcycles not included) everything tends to be easier, and I have also noticed the use of the thumb up sign, to ‘reward’ good behavior… we need to promote this and use social media to identify stupid/dumb/harmful behavior, hopefully with recorded or photographed examples (we Colombians feel really bad when put on the spotlight doing something wrong, we do think we are the bosses of everything most of the time). Anyways, I’m sad this is what you see, but it is also what many of us Bogotanos see and share everyday.

  13. Angelica Potes says:

    What??? This is kind of disrespectful to all of us who live here and try to make a better city. The fact that she has lived these issues doesnt mean all the citizen are like that, maybe she lives in a poorer neighboor and sometimes people with less opportunities behave like that, and another thing is: what kind of neighbors do you have? If the doorman asked you that why does he have reason to believe that you would to do that? Weird, ah? But all of this has a solution: go back to your perfect country!!!

    • bogotastic says:

      Hi Angelica! I’m afraid to say (As I’m sure all expats will agree with me) your answer is so stereotypically Colombian. The “go back to your country” attitude is so old. I live in Estrato 4 but regardless I see perfect elderly Estrato 6 women in their Mercedes driving like animals. So this is the solution I propose: Bogotanos should open their eyes and everyone should do their part. It’s because of people like you who simply go on to accept shit as it is and don’t want to hear complaining that it doesn’t get better! It’s because people are complacent and don’t do anything about their situation that Bogota is like this!

      • Maria says:

        Number 1: things like that does happen in Bogota but I think that Colombia is a very diverse Country so referring to us as “Colombians” is not only wrong, but wouldn’t give you a whole picture of how real bogotanos are. Since it is one of the most unequal countries in the world, the tendency is for people from all over the Country come to Bogota to look for a better way of living. Perhaps we should do as many countries that don’t allow citizens from other parts of the country to relocate in Bogota. Bogotanos are in fact very respectful people and we do take care of our city and we also hate all that behaviors. Sadly those behaviors come from people that don’t belong to this city and that couldn’t care less. That just come, work, make our city dirty and during the vacations go back to their original cities.

    • Wally says:

      Mi Angelica, you need to get out of Colombia a bit…to the US, Canada, Europe….see how “civilized countries” behave….then you might understand and not be so defensive. *Every* Colombian friend I have tells me they don’t understand why I stay here – that they would leave if they could.

  14. Kirsten Z says:

    Conny Nichols Not that I disagree with you that bogotanos need to wake up to a reality check when it comes to their uncivilized behavioral patterns. But honestly, have you been to New York, or Rome, or Frankfurt lately? Between people urinating in the streets, throwing trash everywhere in parks and public fairways, or defecating in New York’s subways, or the insanely high levels of road rage in Los Angeles, Bogotá is no different than most mega metropolis of the world. Have perspective! You cannot just focus on one city, regardless of which one it is, and neglect all others that are either far worse than the one you’re judging, or are just as bad. All mega cities in the world have problems. Bogotá is not an exception.

  15. Alejandra says:

    I think it is really unfair to generalize your experience here in Colombia. There are really hardworking and nice people here. It is true that things don´t work perfect but it is not only here in Bogota it is everywhere in the world.
    “Never judge someone without knowing the whole story. You may think you understand but you don´t”

  16. Camilo says:

    Totally agree with you. Some people here un Bogota hace told me that it’s because most people living in Bogota do not consider themselves Bogotanos and that they lack any sense of ownership for the city. I don’t think of it as a justification but it can be true. Although you can see that behaviour all around Colombia.

  17. Paula says:

    Totally agree!!! And overall, I think the worst thing is the way bus drivers do their job. They think they are taking cows with them or sth… but be careful! When you tell them about the lack of civil education they even get agressive and react like this: “if U don’t like it, feel free to go”. :S

  18. AMZV says:

    Agreed! But it’s not limited to Bogotá. I find certain aspects of these behaviors even worse and more annoying in Medellín. Medellín natives seems to love telling visitors (and themselves) how friendly they are; but when they’re not face-to-face with someone, their behavior is even more aggressive and entitled.

    • nelson says:

      medellin people thought that they are direct descendants of nordic races (aryos) and the rest of colombians are just sudacas apes. they hate bogotanos really bad. and talk “pestes” of us ” a nuestras espaldas”…

  19. Maia AR says:

    I moved here in July of ’15 from NY and thought it might be a bit more organized here. I was so wrong. I agree with you on so many levels. How about the moto’s that drive ON the sidewalk? It boils my blood like no other because they think they have the right of way on there, too and go way too fast which could be fatal for a pedestrian.

    I’ve kind of given up on transmi and luckily my work is 20 min by SITP and that particular bus is usually fairly empty. The bus drivers drive like mad men though and almost always stop extremely short and all the poor old ladies go tumbling.

    There have been times I’ve received raw or the wrong food and the waiters just look at me like it’s my problem and there is nothing they could possibly do to help. Customer service is a different ball game than the states – practically non existent. Even in expensive places!

    Anyway, enough rants. Luckily places like Villa de Leyva and short trips to smaller towns make up for it because of their beauty and charm. Cheers!

  20. Anne Burton says:

    I quite agree with you. It’s all about the individual and to hell with everyone else. Some years back we had a very good Mayor of Bogota, Antanas Mockus who did, in fact, promote civil education and his campaign worked well. Twelve or so years on and after Garzon, Moreno and Petro all that has gone out the window. I find it harder and harder on a daily basis to live here. One thing I would like to add to your list is the total and absolute lack of civil education, driving skills and common sense of the motorcyclists in this city. It seems to me that they can break all the rules, cause accidents, do the most stupid of manoevres and get away with it all. I have a 15km car journey to work and a 15km journey home and I spend that time stressed out incase I have an accident caused by a motorcyclist for which I will be blamed, my car will be pounded, and I could even go to prison.

    • nelson says:

      please dont make propaganda política of our internal affairs. we dont meddle into foreign affairs of your super “civilized” developed first world countries.

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