Living in Bogotá, what we’ve learned
Colombia is known for being a beautiful country with an abundance of nature, mountains, beaches, and more. But Bogotá, the capital, is a different story.
Bogotá, Colombia, is the largest city in South America. It has a population of over 8 million, and it’s the capital of Colombia. It is on a higher elevation, which means it has a cool, mountain climate. The weather is quite similar to London’s climate. The city is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, which causes it to be nearly always surrounded by fog and clouds. So it has its dark vibe.
Despite that is a vibrant city, with lots of culture and history, and it’s a great place to live. Also, Bogotá is often seen as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It’s the murder capital of Latin America and the second-most dangerous city in the world for expats or digital nomads. But it’s also one of the most exciting cities on the continent, with cheap food, strong coffee, and beautiful mountains. Most people only visit Bogotá to catch a plane or to party.
Bogotá is an amazing city. It’s the perfect place for a digital nomad. It’s cheap and has great internet. We’ve been living in Bogota for about three months, and in that time we’ve learned a lot. We acknowledge that it is still not enough to know that much about the culture and know the people, but still, we’ve learned a lot.
We know that people like to associate Latin America with crime and on the other hand with sun and dance. This is not far from the truth, but also it is not that black and white.
So know we are not sharing stories, we are rather sharing what we’ve learned. Because why you would travel? Not for knowledge? Or for experience?
We are travelling to learn something new about our culture as a human. We love to adapt to different kinds of scenarios.
Let’s see what we’ve learned?
We hope you can get inspired! Sometimes we have to step out of our bubble and see another world.
1, Don’t be ashamed of your culture, be yourself.
This is one of the things that was surprising for Sara. She is coming from Hungary and in Hungary, people associate culture with nationalism. For example, if you wear a traditional skirt, maybe people think that you are a weirdo (unfortunately). But in Bogotá, while we were there we have seen people with traditional bags and clothes. Things are covered with their flag. They are proud.
For Juan it was also surprising, even tho he is Mexican. And Mexicans are kind of proud of their country but in a different way.
Nowadays we identify ourselves with sexual identity. That we are gay or lesbian or hetero. This identification is not a problem. The problem is that we tend to forget where we are really coming from. In western countries usually, it is something to be ashamed of. Of course, there are exceptions, when people are proud.
We are not saying that everybody is like this. While we are travelling we are not really meeting someone who would be proud (maybe that is why they are travelling, to find themselves :D maybe ).
But you know that some countries have a bad reputation and people are just not proud of their country, because for example in the media they are bullying that country. Like nowadays Russia, even tho it’s not the people’s fault there.
Colombia has a bad reputation in media. Unfortunately, those who haven’t been, they assume that is it a bad, dirty country.
And it’s quite the opposite of what you think.
And when you go there, most of the people know their country’s history (museums are free on Sundays), parts of the country, foods, dialects. They are educated. They are cherishing and protecting the indigenous culture. They are saying that they are a mix of the people who lived there(indigenious+Spanish/European). In Bogotá, the muiscas people lived, and there are some muiscas still living there. They are proud of their ancestors. (If you want to read more about Colombian history: grab this.)We bet you can not tell your ancestor’s clan or origin. Which is sad.
So we felt that they are proud of who they are, even with the bad history with Pablo Escobar, the high poverty in Colombia and other bad things. They just love their country and this is part of their identity. And they are not afraid to wear the Colombian flag or anything. It helped us to realize who we are and where is our root.
Show to the world who you are. Your country is also part of your identity. Don’t hide it:) This is the first thing that we learned.
2, Waking up at 10 am on a weekend is not a problem.
Even tho where we lived and in our surrounding people was working super early like 6 am.
When we went somewhere by car on the weekend, traffic started to come around 10–11 am. Also when we met our friends, they wouldn’t come early somewhere. Even car rentals were open from 9–10 ish. Which is quite late, if you want to go somewhere.
Not a problem, if you can’t do everything on your weekend, relax. Colombians work 6 days a week, why they wouldn’t let themself rest a little as, do you?
Colombians have a balance between work and party. They know what they are doing.
You can let yourself at least one day to chill, eat, being with your friend. Enjoy life. :) This is what we learned.
3, Your curiosity, you should never let down.
What do we mean by that? In Bogotá people on the weekend, they go on the nature, they go to travel. Not only in Bogotá but most of the Colombians, let’s say the average is well travelled.
Why is that? Because we just felt that, that they are still curious. Something is it saying, that every Sunday we had to stand in lines with local people to get into the museum. Normal average people with children. Not artists, not alternative people. Average people.
You think being curious is something fundamental for us. But unfortunately, it is easy to lose the ability to be inquisitive.
How Bogotanos are doing that? No idea. Probably they are surrounded by amazing nature and Bogotá is like a melting pot so they are meeting different kinds of people and just this keeps their curiosity.
If you want to read something about curiosity: buy this.
Go out a meet new people, go to that mountain or beach. Ask your neighbour how they are. Just be part of the world. This is what we learned.
4, Stop and smell roses. Be present.
We tend to do everything in the fastest time. For example, we find ourselves often thinking: how can I finish this task in the least time possible?
As we mentioned before, we saw that people are working a lot in Bogotá, but we saw and experienced that, they can sit in a restaurant for two hours also. Waiters can take that time. Actually, there is one exception this is the traffic :D. But usually, they can chitty-chat with each other, drink a beer for two hours and just enjoy. There is no rush, no rush to be the richest person. No rush to be perfect. No rush to make your hair( it doesn’t mean that people look homeless).
Who cares? These small things, just make us feel more present. Is the coffee coming in forty minutes? It is okay, I can wait. I haven’t finished my work? That is completely fine I can do it tomorrow.
Take your time, hopefully, there is tomorrow. Enjoy your coffee. Enjoy the view. Enjoy the sun. This is what we learned.
5, You have to learn to be street-smart.
Bogotá is a street smart city. It’s not the easiest place to navigate. You can get lost very easily if you don’t know your way around. I’ve been here for about three months and I still get lost sometimes. Bogotá is a unique city. It is unlike any other place I have ever been. It is a street-smart city. The first thing I learned about Bogotá is that being street-smart is crucial.
The first thing we learned about Bogotá is that it’s important to be street smart. We are not talking about the kind of street smart where you’re aware of your surroundings and avoid dark alleys. We are talking about the kind of street smart where you observe your surroundings, adapt to them, and use them to your advantage. This can help you identify better opportunities, avoid common pitfalls, and keep yourself out of harm’s way.
If you want to defend yourself while you are travelling: buy this pepper spray.
You don’t have to wear crazy gold chains, be simple. Clothes and things are not everything. And also you have to be conscious and be there. This is what we learned.
We’ve learned that Bogota is an amazing city with a lot to offer. It’s relatively cheap to live here, and there are great events. We’ve also learned that the city is full of amazing people, many of which have been incredibly welcoming to us as digital nomads. We’ve learned a lot about the culture, and we’ve made a lot of friends.
We’ve lived in Bogota for about three months now, and in that time we’ve learned a lot. We’ve come to understand the city better, and have gotten to know some of the people who live here. We’ve also learned a lot about the culture, and have become familiar with the things that make Bogotans unique. We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the help of locals, who have shared their time and knowledge with us.
We are cherishing what we could adapt from Colombians. They just showed us that even tho you live in a crazy and chaotic city, it doesn’t mean that you can not enjoy life.
Life hopefully always has a bright side, as in the mountains after a rain there is always light. ☀️