Jared and I spent almost two weeks in Bogota, Colombia. It was our first time in la tierra cachaca (Cachaco or cachaca is the name given to the people from Bogota). Visiting and experience a new place for the first time always gives you some impressions that stand out.
6 Things That Impressed me from Bogota, Colombia
1. Colombians are extremely kind
From the business person to the taxi driver, Colombians were extremely friendly and kind. Spanish phrases like “Sí, como no,” “Ay, que pena,” and “Con mucho gusto” were the most common.
2. The Spanish pronunciation from the people from Bogotá is clear
Colombian accents have the reputation of being one of the most clear and easy to understand. During my days in Bogota I could see that it is true. But I also learned that this statement does not apply to the whole country. According to one of Spanish teachers we contacted while in Bogota, each region has different accents and vocabulary.
3. Aggressive drivers
There is a general belief that the worst drivers live in your city. I was so impressed with the stress levels you feel in the streets in Bogota. There is a lot going in the streets for which a driver needs to be aggressive in order to survive. For example, as a driver you need to be aware about the buses pulling out of their stops abruptly, motorcycles, people biking with no bike lanes, pedestrians crossing in the middle of the avenue… all this happening massively. On top of that, there is a lot of construction going on and the traffic jam or trancón is an everyday occurrence.
4. Colombian traditional music and salsa are strong
I was also impressed how strong the Colombian traditional music and salsa were. I was able to listen to both music genres on many radio stations all day long. One of our drivers told us that El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico had a sold out presentation recently, plus Victor Manuel was also schedule during those days.
Many people worry about the security in Colombia. Things have improved in the last years and I didn’t feel in danger while in Bogota. But still, a police and military presence in every corner was evident. I wasn’t sure if it had to do with the strike that was happening during those days or if it was their regular police display. Other signs of prevention efforts that I experienced were:
• four additional security locks in one of hotel rooms
• a private security guard logging our exit from and return to the hotel, including the taxi license plate
• police with dogs in strategic and high traffic areas
• a metal detector and dog searching us, purses and packages before entering a hotel
• coordinating taxi transportation with the hotel was highly encouraged, instead of grabbing cabs off the street
6. The altitude
Bogota is a city located at 8661 ft above sea level. If you are not used to it, that altitude makes the weather cold and makes you feel weird. You will need to catch your breath after doing simple things such as walking around or walking up the stairs on floor. One day I went to the gym to do some cardio and four minutes into the exercise I was already tired!
My experience in Bogota was awesome. I can’t wait to go back a explore other regions of Colombia. I was advised by several people that Medellin should be next!
Check out these other Colombia Culture articles.