7 Ways Bogota Drives Me Insane
Many times over you have probably read my praises about Bogota, and Colombia in general, and all the wonderful things this country has to offer.
Especially with the latest buzz in the international press about Colombia lately, it seems as if everyone is painting the town pink.
But let’s come down from cloud nine for a second and let’s be real. Like any other city, Bogota is not perfect and there are many things that still need fixing. Regardless of whether you are a foreigner or a local living in the capital, we have to admit the imperfections. And that’s OK.
1. The horrid traffic in Bogota
Let’s address the elephant in the room: traffic. For many, it’s common to commute up 3 to 4 hours a day in Bogota. Even if it’s a big city, it’s no excuse. The roads are few and poorly built. Public transportation still needs much improvement in terms of reach across the city and practicality.
Plainly said, traffic sucks. It’s one of the citizens main concern. Sure, individual drivers in car owners could be part of the problem, but then where is the government to impose laws and limiting cars? Pico y placa doesn’t apply to the wealthy as they can afford to have two cars with even and odd license plates.
2. The everyday chaos
Although some love it, many do hate it. The lack of rules makes the city a mess. People generally do not care about others. Colombian people are nice, but that doesn’t make them good public citizens. It can be very frustrating at times and can build up a lot of passive aggressive anger.
3. People falling through on their promises
This isn’t a one off event. This happens often and repeatedly. Your plumber, a potential business partner, and everyone else in between will make an appointment and then disappear.
They might never write back, or the right back the day of, saying they can’t make it. They’ll come up with a lame excuse and you’ll probably buy it as it sounds very serious. The most common one being some type of cell phone problem or that they’re sick. Typical.
Knock on wood. As I write this, I have been lucky to not have been a victim of theft or petty crime yet. Except for that one time I got totally ripped off with by a street shoe shiner.
This doesn’t go without saying that I do take a few precautions. I know many in the past have written to me saying that Bogota is as secure and as insecure as any other big city. That they haven’t gotten robbed here but have been in very popular European or American capitals. Nonetheless, I have found that Colombians take more precautions than other locals would in their city. As a result, it’s clear insecurity is something very present in everyone’s mind.
5. People don’t mean what they say
Locals are so polite no one has the heart to say “no”, or at least say it to your face. It’s hard to get honest feedback.
But more than that you’ll get a lot of empty promises. People tell you they want to see you again, invite you here in there, say they will do this and that, and all are but empty promises.
A few women have also claimed this is the case when dating a colombian man.
In short, don’t get your hopes up.
6. Taxis will shorthand you
Yes, there are great and honest taxi drivers out there. Probably many. But there are also a whole lot of bad ones. I personally hate taking taxis because I don’t like the service I receive, I don’t like how they drive, and most importantly, I feel I’m always getting ripped off when they tell me how much I owe them.
I keep a handy taxi calculator handy which tells me how much I am supposed to pay based on the taximeter and adds all the additional ‘recargos‘.
Even if I never debate the fees with my taxi driver, I often get charged more than what calculator indicates. In short, I get ripped off about 30% of the time.
You think it’s not a big deal as it’s just $1,000 or $3,000 pesos, but it’s the principle, you know what I mean?
7. Estratos defining your bills and your friends
Estratas are a very delicate topic. They are not only determined based on the neighborhood you live in, but your family’s social background.
For the sake of this article, I will focus just on estratas based on where you live. This defines how much more you pay for utilities, rent, and even the prices of stores in your area. In short, just because people think you’re rich, they’ll charge you more.
I rather cross the city to get cheaper dry cleaning and a haircut if you ask me! I hate when I try and get a delivery and the salesperson asks me which neighborhood I live in. It’s clear that he’s trying to measure up how much to charge me.
But aside from higher expenses, estratas also plays a part in how you make friends. I won’t go into much detail here but instead invite you to read my article: 6 Things No One Told You About Meeting People vs. Making Friends In Bogota
So yes, Bogota is not all sunshine and roses. However, I must admit that while writing this article I had to think very hard of things that I didn’t like.
Perhaps I over exaggerated a bit with the title just to get your attention. Many of these things don’t actually drive me crazy. Maybe at one point in time they did.
But you soon learn that if you want to adapt well in Bogota, you must have patience and learn to let things go. Roll with the punches.
Overall, there are many more things good things than bad and Bogota has been so good to me but I can only be grateful.