Colombians are tricky people

Diego is a loser.

He manages to lose every item of clothing he owns.

In the first few days I knew him, he lost two t-shirts and the same pair of flip flops, six times over.

He has already given me two jackets and a t-shirt I liked, on the basis that he would “lose them anyway”.

Last Friday night I foolishly allowed him to wear my handbag while dancing at Candelario, because it contained his precious iPod.

The following morning, I went through my handbag. It still contained my purse and his iPod earphones.

The iPod was missing along with my mascara and lipstick.

(We still have no idea what happened. “Fell out in the taxi” is the favoured explanation. I still expect them to appear)

Diego was annoyed for approximately 17 minutes before he started to think what he now had an ‘excuse’ to buy.

“I think I’ll get an iPhone,” he declared.

“Mmm,” I said.

“I am always losing phones though,”

“Then you should probably get insurance.”

Diego laughed.

“You’re not allowed to insure phones in Colombia,” he chuckled.

“You know Colombians are tricky people right?

“Well, people were always beating the system, making false claims, so they just stopped insuring Colombians.”

So, Colombians are ‘tricky’ people.

In fairness, I think the same is true of many of the South Americans I’ve met – some will tell the odd white lie just to smooth a situation or to ensure it goes as planned.

It’s normally something fairly harmless, such as fibbing about the opening times of museums they don’t want to visit or the times of buses to places they don’t want to see.

But today I learnt a valuable lesson about ‘trickery’.

It was such a lovely day too.

I went to the bank and withdrew the maximum amount I was allowed. The notes were huge, but the friendly tiller changed them for me and I congratulated myself on my foresight.

I went back to Zara and splurged on dresses, skirts, shirts and a bag that I’m sure I’ll need for work.

Then I bought some new make-up, for no reason at all.

I wandered into a hair salon and had a hilarious conversation with my new favourite stylist, Carlos, who proceeded to ignore everything I told him.

He dyed my hair blonde all over (I definitely pointed to my roots) He chopped and sliced in a comedy fashion (I definitely said just take an inch off the bottom) and, finally, he told me “straight is no good” before creating a zany, bouncing, half-curled effect that was last seen in 1962.

I probably would have written a blog just about Carlos, if it wasn’t for what was about to happen.

I jumped in a cab with 120,000 pesos remaining (around £45)

When I got to Diego’s house, I handed the cabbie a note.

He refused to accept it and proceeded to reject all six of my 20,000 peso notes on the basis they were fake.

He felt so sorry for me, he drove off without being paid.

“You’ll never believe what happened,” I said to Diego.

“You mean with your hair?”

“No, listen I’m serious,”

Diego laughed.

“It’s not that bad.”

“No, just listen will you? The cab driver wouldn’t take any of my money, he said it was all fake.”


I repeated myself.

Diego shrugged.

“He was just being nice. He just wanted to give you the journey for free.”

“But he took all of my notes and checked them all.”

“Let me see,” he said.

I handed over my cash.

Diego burst out laughing and handed the notes to his two Venezuelan housemates.

“These are terrible fakes. They look like photocopies,” he said, chuckling and shaking his head.

“Where on earth did you get them?”

I couldn’t help smiling but I was also in shock.

“I got them from the bank,” I replied.

Now, in a normal world, this would be met with disbelief.

Banks in civilised countries do not hand out fake notes.

But although the others were surprised to hear this, they weren’t surprised enough.

They didn’t even question whether I could have been mistaken (I wasn’t).

I started to feel slightly saddened about the situation (£45 goes a long way here) and, fortunately, Diego had the good grace to muster some anger on my behalf.

“We’re going back to the bank tomorrow morning, we’re going to find the girl who gave those to you and I am going to go mad about it,” he insisted.

“They have cameras there, we can prove it.”

There is absolutely no way we will be able to prove it.

“Do you remember how I told you guys that whenever anything goes wrong in England, we always put the kettle on and make a cup of tea?” I said.

One Colombian head and two Venezuelan heads nodded.

“Well, would anyone like a cup of tea?”


  1. Peter Bedrosian

    That is a funny story Vicki. 🙂 I have had some fake bills before, but never from a bank or ATM. You went shopping without me!!!??? You’re breaking my heart Vicki 😦 When you get a chance, put up a picture of your new hair-do. I need to smile a little :)~

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Shopping in Bogota without you was just not the same, no assistants came running – clutching bags, boots, dresses! It was dull! I can’t possibly post a picture of my hair. But you’ve seen Grease right? Imagine Sandy at the end… You’re The One That I Want… curls everywhere. That’s me. Without the leather trousers!

  2. Peter Bedrosian

    That is hilarious Vicki. The trick is to go in there knowing that you will leave with something. Be super critical of everything you are looking at. Look like you have money, basically. Hahahaha. I really miss hanging out and shopping with you too Vicki, I know that when I want to woo a woman (one that actually deserves me), I’ll need your help finding gifts. Take care and best of luck with your writing!!!!

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Any time!! I’ve now had to promise myself I won’t go near a shop until I get my first paycheck. I’ve been in Bogota just over a fortnight now and I already own four new dresses, two new bags, two new tops, two new skirts, a new shirt and a new pair of boots. This city is killing me!!

  3. David G

    The cab driver swapped your good notes with the fake ones. Why would Zara and your hairdresser take your bills but not the cab driver? He did a slight of hand while “checking” each bill. He “checked” all 6 of them. You paid 120,000 in real pesos and he gave you 120.000 in fake ones in return. Welcome to Bogota.

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