(Los Angeles, CA) After receiving multiple warnings about crime, disease, and danger in Colombia, one woman was disappointed that her vacation turned out quite fabulously.
“I was very excited before my trip to Colombia,” the woman recounted. “But every time I would mention my destination, I would get “Oh” and “Be careful” and “I knew a woman whose father was kidnapped in Colombia and she vowed never to live there again.”
Botero, Fernando. Death of Pablo Escobar. 1999. Oil on canvas. Museo de Antioquia, Medellin
Crime was the subject most frequent of well-meaning warnings. Previously warned of strangers blowing drugs in her face and stealing her money, the woman momentarily forgot when she spoke to a man standing next to an ATM. He not only turned out not to be a drug-blowing thief, he was not even in line for the ATM but rather waiting for his girlfriend.
Another concern was potential vandalism and rioting. The woman joined the city of Medellìn in watching their futbol team play in the championship finals against Argentina. But when the home team was defeated, there was no rioting, or even yelling and loud talking. Everyone quietly dispersed from the restaurants and the park, and quietly went home.
Not even tourist ripoffs or police misconduct was done with any aggression or malice. An exorbitantly expensive cab ride came with friendly chatter and compliments on her friend’s Spanish. And a tale of a sick friend needing an operation was a gentle way for police to try and relieve tourists of money. When the woman declined, the policeman quietly nodded his head and returned to his post.
And no – no freeze. No rock. No freeze. No rock.
Disease warnings from health professionals and public health initiatives also failed to come to fruition. As her typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations were administered before the trip, the travel clinic nurse warned of monkeys jumping on her without warning. However only one monkey was spotted, and even then the monkey lacked any interest in moving let alone biting her. Despite more than 55 mosquito bites, the woman also failed to contract dengue fever, which has no vaccination. The woman did not even catch lice from a fellow hiker on the Ciudad Perdida trek, who prior to discovery was boasting that she had not taken a shower in over a month.
But the trip was not completely void of danger.
“The first night I arrived,” the woman shared, “there was a centipede in the room. He moved quickly and then rolled into a ball. But when he later unfurled and slithered around, I will admit that there was some screaming.”
“After the hotel desk manager killed it, he asked us not to scream any more.”
Other insects, such as spiders and swarms of ants, were also traveling companions on the Ciudad Perdida trek, where 1,200 slippery rock steps led you to the “Lost City.”
“Yes,” the woman admitted, “there was more screaming and yelping when the ants started crawling on our shoes.”
Being in urban areas also failed to be dangerous. The closest brush with death was in a taxi ride to the airport, when the driver drove the wrong way on a windy two-lane mountain road to avoid the long line of cars. And when it was discovered that the cause was an accident, the driver seemed to have other priorities in mind.
“Rather than wait in the car,” the woman recounted, “the taxi driver got out of the car and held up his flip phone as he chatted with other people standing around or waiting in cars nearby.”
“When the driver finally returned to the taxi, he gleefully showed us his video.”
After traveling more than 4,500 miles (including almost 100 miles on foot), the woman was confident in reporting that Colombia was amazing. And the people as nice as anything.
“I met a woman on the connecting flight to Cartagena,” the woman said. “She said that while there were places in Medellìn that were dangerous, she also knew the best places to shop for jewelry at great prices and she would take me. More than a month after this brief conversation, this same Colombian called me to ask me about my trip.”
“I know,” the woman resigned, “how awesome is that?”