The Dangers of Travel to Colombia

Danger #1:  Suffering a Heart Attack

Sticker shock – seeing all those zeroes makes your heart stop!  Our hostel accommodations were between 75,000 – 101,000 Colombian pesos – and the knee jerk reaction was ” Wow! Too expensive!!!”  when in reality it’s between USD $35 -$45.00.

After our first Colombian ATM withdrawal I thought we had been shortchanged and marched into the bank exclaiming the machine made a mistake as I tossed the money on the rep’s desk where he counted the $800,000 Colombian pesos into 8 stacks of 100,000 pesos. (The ATM machine dispenses a variety of banknotes in each transaction.) Why was he placing only two of the “smaller” 50s notes in a stack to equal 100,000? And then I realized I had counted the “50 MIL” banknotes as 50, not 50,000; they were of greater value than the 20,000 banknotes and not less!!!  Chagrined, I apologized, and thanked him, feeling extremely relieved and so embarrassed I couldn’t exit fast enough! 

Too many zeros to put on the banknotes. This isn’t just 50 pesos, but 50 MIL pesos or 50,000.


Danger #2: Getting Seriously Hurt

There is the constant danger of a misstep resulting in broken bones or severe sprains if one isn’t paying attention to high curbs, narrow sidewalks, broken paving, loose bricks, and holes of all sizes and depths – not to mention the dog doo too!  

Danger #3:  Developing an Addiction

And I’m not talking about drugs, but an addiction for fresh ripe fruit: whole, juiced and blended smoothies! For less than a $1 we loved sampling exotic fruit drinks. Our favorites were Lulo and Limonada de Coco (which is made with coconut milk and limes, not lemons.) So many choices: strawberry, blackberry, banana, guava, passion fruit, pineapple, guanabana, mango, papaya…and many others I had never heard of before, such as lulo. 

Nispero (top left), a fruit I didn’t love and one (top right) whose name I don’ t remember. Lulo (bottom) was a favorite drink when blended with water.
The breakfast we purchased from a supermarket: ready-to-eat fruit and a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice. I didn’t eat the donut!


Danger #4: Getting Straightened Out

If as a child you were deprived of orthodontic care and have a secret desire for a more beautiful smile, you can join the multitudes here. We noticed people of all ages wearing braces. Questioning the brace-wearing hotel desk clerk, she informed us that the orthodontia business was very competitive.  Her 2-year treatment will cost $1,800,000.00 –  or about only $755.00 USD.  

Colombia is also thriving as a medical tourism destination for many procedures other than dental care.

Reuniting with Gloria who stayed in our home when she came to the USA for heart surgery.

Danger #5:  Falling in Love

There’s so much to love about Colombia.  You could fall in love with the lush tropical, flowers and temperate year-around springlike climate of Medellin.  Or the rich Colombian coffee. Or the huge cheap avocados. Or the reasonable prices. But travelers had warned us about the friendliness of the Colombians and true enough, the people we encountered were very friendly and helpful. Policeman, taxi drivers, vendors, waitresses, hotel employees, and people on the street were pleased to have us visit their country, and open to conversation. 

Lovely El Centro, Bogota neighborhood.


The beautiful El Poblado neighborhood of Medellin.
A modern mall in Bogotá.
A garden courtyard in an old colonial in Popayan.

Seriously, we realize that Colombia has had a scary reputation, but drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar is dead and the Colombians are recovering from that oppressive era of terror. Travel in Colombia isn’t dangerous. We never felt threatened or frightened. As always use common sense, be vigilant, and don’t flaunt money or expensive possessions.

We are headed to Europe but know that some day we have to return to Medellin!

4 responses to “The Dangers of Travel to Colombia

  1. Enjoyed reading your post on Colombia, specifically Bogotá. We’re planning a visit this summer and I’ve been a bit worried about safety. Your photos and descriptions are lovely.


  2. Great post! Very cleverly written. We would be interested in visiting Colombia someday. We have heard from others that Colombia is often their favorite place in South America!


    Liked by 1 person

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