Colombia is known as the 5th most dangerous country on earth, and Bogotá the capital of the country is labeled one of the most dangerous cities in the world. When you think of Colombia, few people relate the country to coffee, and Chocolate (cacao) but rather drugs, Pablo Escobar, murders, cartel, etc. On the contrary, Bogotá is full of people just like any city and/or state in America, where the rich live in the North and the poor live in the South. One of the differences in these poor areas is that everyone has a business whether it be a makeshift art gallery made from chalk on the ground in the middle of the street to upscale chic local restaurants. Nation19 was in Bogota, Colombia, Medellín, Cartagena and the Caribbean Island of Tierra Bomba shooting the documentary film #WarOnUs with grammy award winner Che Rhymefest Smith (Donda’s House) and speaker Jasiri Smith. The film Directed by Queen Muhammad Ali and Hakeem Khaaliq was screened at the UNGASS2016 a special session of the United Nations to discuss the War on Drugs. The UN gathering on this subject was the first in 20 years.
When we were in Colombia we had to sneak away to keep you up on game to whats really real. One of the similarities to America however is that Colombia is a Capitalist run country. With that being said I would say Bogota, Colombia is like a more tropical Harlem New York. Below are some of the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects we found out in Bogota Colombia:
Good: You don’t need to be scared to come to Bogota because of the “zika” virus. If you didn’t know, that is a propaganda scare tactic to get people to run and volunteer to be lab rats for the latest vaccination experiment which by the way actually has the virus in it…
Bad: Not really bad, but bad for you if you don’t speak any Spanish at all. Spanish is the major language spoken here. You will find some english speaking people working at hotels, but very rarely if at all will you find people on the streets that speak English. I suggest traveling with someone who knows the language, or bust out rosetta stone and learn before your trip. You can learn the basics of spanish in about 3 months.
Ugly: The people in Bogota are nice, but as I mentioned it is similar to newyork. Its a big city full of sky scrapers, lots of foot traffic, vehicle traffic, and bumpy roads. So getting around could be tedius if you don’t speak the language. I suggest not taking a taxi. Take a taxi only if its registered (booked directly from the hotel or airport). Most museums in the city are near each other and in walking distance. If you are able to get around by foot, it would be the most convenient and safest along with taking the bus.
Good: There are plenty of vendors down town to get gifts for friends and family.
Bad: Although the people are nice, there is much oppression on the poor in the city. Average monthly income is about $200 a month. In some of the poor areas, petty theft is common especially cell phones. Phones are commonly stolen to resale for cash. So limit your selfie game in poor areas lol.
Good: This is a city full of art and culture. The art displayed all over town through gigantic murals to Graffiti art are heavily influenced by hiphop. There is even a huge mural of Asada Shakur right down town. Art is expressed freely throughout the town. We were told it is the news of the people. Not from mass media. So, much of the art displayed are also political statements.
Good: Many of the bad aspects of the city can be avoided with common sense.