101 Reasons why they should give you Bogotá citizenship

1. You feel guilty putting your used teabags inside an old chocolate box because you know that is going to really disappoint a homeless person.

2. You refuse to board an empty bus when you are in a hurry, because you know the profit-per-passenger driver is going to crawl along until he is full.

3. You carry around a mental price list and refuse to concede to blonde girl taxes: “Oreos? I usually pay $600,” … “Cepillado? I usually pay $6,000 and that is with shampoo.”

4. You rave about the city centre (“I love the museums!” “I love the ajiaco!”) but you never go there because, frankly, it feels like the end of the Earth.

5. You get super anxious about tourists and insist they never take night buses, nor street taxis and then you do exactly that the moment their back is turned.

6. You know that being called doctora doesn’t mean you have a PhD nor a fondness for formaldehyde, but more that you look like the kind of girl who has 20,000 pesos in her pocket.

7. You lie to your cleaner and tell her you had a special birthday dinner at Crepes or El Corral because you daren’t admit that you and your friends spent more than the monthly minimum wage on one meal in the Zona G.

8. You look at the mountain, pack up your computer and tell yourself you have to leave Juan Valdez because it is going to rain in exactly 17 minutes.

9. You look at the mountain every 17 minutes anyway, because you are curious about what the weather is going to do and all good bogotanos know that is the only way to tell.

10. You agree to leave the city on a puente but after the first night away you declare: “That’s enough, can we go back now?” and you can’t relax until you hit that winding road and start to feel cold again.

11. You only buy wine on Fridays, and only at Carulla, because it is 25% off. You only buy vegetables on Tuesdays for the same reason. And you always try all of the free samples. Even the fruit.

12. You get on the back of the bus when it’s full, pass your money forward to the driver and then have no shame reminding him to pass you back your change, even though he only owes you 50 pesos.

13. You swear blind that you have given up the Zona T, only to sneak back to La Villa on a Thursday and be greeted by the doorman who says loudly: “Victoria… lost girl… where have you been?”

14. You accidentally say: “Well, we can’t all live in estrato seis,” at a party where everyone, clearly, lives in estrato seis. You then furiously backpeddle: “I am not saying it’s a bad thing if we elect another President with the same surname, it’s just that…”

15. You say “our” when you mean “your” and then you give up and admit that, yes, Colombia is your country because if it isn’t your country, then where is?

16. You divide your rubbish into “edible” and “non-edible” because you assume that makes life easier for the homeless people.

17. You overhear wealthy bogotanos declaring that “Poverty is a business,” and fight the urge to reply: “Really? ‘Cos considering the number of people who go through my bin at night, it ain’t that profitable.”

18. You get confused when you tell people abroad that you live in Bogotá and they mention something about drugs. Then you remember that, yes, there is another world out there and it really has no idea.

19. You sit next to a boy on the bus who has fallen asleep with his iPhone clearly visible. You wake him up, pass him the phone and tell him not to “give papaya”. Then you spend the rest of the journey feeling important as he tells you “God bless you,” over and over again.

20. When you hear someone say the word mona you walk faster.

21. When you see a policeman dressed as RoboCop, you run.

22. You know how much a taxi is going to cost before you take it and ignore the driver when he tells you there is an additional fee for being blonde, speaking bad Spanish, living in Chapinero… etc. etc.

23. You would never leave a restaurant without the leftovers.

24. Your handbag has to be on your lap or attached to you at all times.

25. You see friends you haven’t seen for years and are surprised to see them driving fancy cars and flashing smartphones, when you remember them as struggling students who couldn’t afford a $2,500 beer.

26. You see friends you haven’t seen for years and they are surprised to see you drinking wine and affording your own apartment, when they remember you as a struggling writer who couldn’t afford a decent haircut.

27. You agree with your friends that surviving and thriving in Bogotá is down to hard work, grit, a bit more hard work and an awful lot of luck.

28. You often speculate about what Bogotá will look like in 20 years time and secretly hope you will all be there to see it.

29. You are never surprised to discover something new.

30. You make elaborate lists of all the new stuff you plan to do, then spend your weekends doing the same stuff you always have, because there is always tomorrow.

31. Foreign people write to you for advice because you seem to know what you are doing. You laugh, then write back: “Seriously, if Bogotá had a Bridget Jones…”

32. Foreign people write to you to ask if they can advertise on your blog. You laugh, then write back: “Seriously? Have you read it? If Bogotá had a Bridget Jones…”

33. You couldn’t live without Twitter.

34. The people on Twitter know more about you than your own family.

35. You really need to get your Mum on Twitter.

36. You sometimes see smartly-dressed beggars, with immaculate coats and decent shoes, in Rosales and wonder if everything is more upmarket in Rosales.

37. You love the sugar-free café in Rosales, but the cakes and chocolates are so good, you are starting to wonder if it really is sugar-free or just another part of the Rosales mirage.

38. You are always glad to get back on your side of the septima because you find the smartly-dressed supposedly-homeless people in Rosales a bit intimidating and, besides, no-one calls you doctora.

39. You start to worry that you are obsessed with making lists and then you relax, because you realise the staff in Juan Valdez are the only ones who have noticed.

40. You still go to Juan Valdez, because the staff there call you la escritora (the writer) even though the only thing they see you write is… lists.

41. You never get bored of being the girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks at posh parties.

42. You are never surprised when nice but worried people at posh parties insist their chauffeur drives you home. But you always refuse because you know you will only get embarrassed and make them drop you outside Carulla.

43. You are embarrassed that the staff in Carulla see you in all your guises (posh dresses, gym kit, buying wine on Fridays) and, even worse, they know how addicted you are to oreos and cheese carimañolas.

44. In almost four years, you have still not learned how to correctly pronounce the word carimañola.

45. You will never admit to eating Dunkin Donuts, oreos or drinking Milo and lie to yourself that you have absolutely no intention of frequenting Starbucks, nor, er, accidentally falling into Krispy Kreme.

46. You agree wholeheartedly that all of the above are the source of all evil, will be the downfall of all mankind and should have been explicitly prohibited by the Colombian constitution. The only problem is…

47. You are proud that Juan Valdez recorded record profits this year though and are convinced it’s because the staff in at least three branches know both your name… and your cedula number.

48. You are also proud to be an amiga of Juan Valdez but really think they should give you a loyalty card to prove it, after all, what are friends for?

49. You did quit your addiction to panelitos though.

50. You just replaced it with an addiction to alfajores.

51. You are confused when foreigners and Colombians emigrate and wonder frequently about when they are going to come home.

52. You never go for coffee with anyone who is “just passing through” because you have made it a rule not to bond over hot beverages with anyone who is more delusional than you are.

53. You’ve given up coffee.

54. You lie to yourself that you’ve given up coffee.

55. You say “yes” when you mean “no”.

56. At the time, you really wanted to mean “yes”.

57. But you always knew it was really a “no”.

58. You think the word “no” is actually quite rude.

59. You wonder how anyone manages to ever use the word “no”.

60. No.

61. You’re feeling a bit uncomfortable now.

62. You offend nice young men who ask you out to dinner in nice places because you know they can’t really afford it and you can’t bear the thought of them being down to their last peso.

63. You can’t say “no” though so you insist you are just a very laid-back person who really does prefer Subway.

64. You hate eating Subway in front of other people, because it goes everywhere.

65. You never eat anything without a napkin.

66. Not having napkins in your house is a crisis situation. Like running out of milk. Or toilet roll.

67. You sympathise with Colombians who are horrified by so-and-so who wipes his mouth on his hand, rather than a napkin, then secretly wonder if you have ever done that.

68. You would never admit to wiping your mouth on your hand. Ever.

69. You think friends cooking arroz-con-pollo at a family party for 100 people is completely normal.

70. There are some Colombian friends you won’t invite to your house because you know they will bring the world-and-his-wife and there is no way you can cook arroz-con-pollo for 100 people.

71. You can’t cook arroz-con-pollo for two people.

72. You can’t cook at all.

73. You know every restaurant within an at-least-I-won’t-starve-while-I-wait delivery distance from your house.

74. Even your tea lady worries about you and smuggles you a portion of home-cooked rice from her house every day.

75. You feel horrendous about this and insist on buying her bags of rice from Carulla which is ridiculous because, thanks to stratified pricing, it costs you 10 times more.

76. You find any excuse to buy chocolate for your tea lady.

77. You find any excuse to buy chocolate.

78. You are always ready to admire a friend’s new outfit. The one she bought for her dog.

79. You are comfortable with the fact that most of the dogs you know are better dressed than you are.

80. You secretly fantasise that your friends’ dogs are being bullied by the street dogs, because a street dog wouldn’t be caught dead in a pink tutu or a Justin Bieber hoodie.

81. You secretly want a Justin Bieber hoodie.

82. Sometimes you forget that real people read your blog.

83. You wish you didn’t start writing lists about Bogotá when you are already tired and your hand aches and you know you won’t be able to stop until you get to 101.

84. You accept and embrace your OCD.

85. You feel a bit strange when you meet nice people at parties who tell you they have read your blog. You feel like you ought to pretend to be normal and completely together, even though they already know the truth.

86. You can’t wait to publish your book so you can stop being that dappy girl from Banana Skin Flip Flops.

87. You secretly like being the dappy girl from Banana Skin Flip Flops.

88. Your friends like it too and hope you’ll be famous one day so people will suck up to you and give you free drinks in nightclubs.

89. You can’t think of anything worse.

90. You buy your own drinks in nightclubs, thank you very much.

91. You don’t even really go out anymore.

92. Gin and tonics on a Friday night don’t count.

93. You accept you are gomela.

94. You secretly hate gomelas.

95. You enjoy the anonymity and normal-ness of Chapinero.

96. You support the street art in Chapinero… until you catch your doorlady scrubbing the tagging off your front door at 6.30am on a Tuesday.

97. You are confused as to why not everyone lives in Chapinero.

98. You would hate it if everyone lived in Chapinero.

99. You finally understand that you don’t have to be Colombian to be bogotana.

100. You finally get why they call your city La cuna de pocos, la casa de todos.

101. And you say: “Thank God for that.”

Like this? You’ll love Colombia a comedy of errors

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22 Comments

  1. Leyli

    maybe instead of eating in an expensive restaurant try to pay your cleaning lady a more decent wage would work better than feeling embarrassed and lying?

  2. Michael

    Funny – I live in Bogota (estado unidense here) and my world is sooooo different, though much of this made me smile. How could you want to come back on the first night of a puente out of town? Have you hung out around Parkway?

  3. Miriam Wells

    Jeje, an impressive feat! And HA, number 32… I literally thought to myself in Venezuela two weeks ago, “Oh god, I am the Bridget Jones of foreign correspondents…”. We should probably never get together after all, we could be disastrous!

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Hahaha, nah, we’ll have fun, I hope to get to Medellín around Christmas/Jan although you may be away on hols. There are only two kinds of women in this world… those who are like Bridget and admit it and those who are like Bridget… and don’t, lol!

  4. onchickenbuses

    Great blog! I just discovered it today and really enjoy your writing. I am currently in Guatemala but may come down to Colombia in January so great to here all this information about the country and the city

  5. Mario Niebles

    This is fun to read! I remember my days in Bogota, though I didn’t have many priviledges as you do! Still it is nice that someone can write articles about the city and Colombia for the rest of the world to read and learn!

    Thank you!

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