Gringo Diaries: My First Day in Bogota



Arriving in Bogota, Colombia at 6:50pm

Airbnb booked paying $15USD/night

Cost of flight: $106USD ( I forgot to add check-in bag which cost me $40USD ouch!, If I would have added during booking I would have only paid $27USD

Booked for two nights in Chapinero Provincia

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Arriving in Colombia was chaotic for the following reasons.

I arrive at airport in Bogota

I luckily booked an Airbnb right before my flight took off from Panama.

You do not get full access to address until after the host confirms.

I am now at customs, The fervent customs officer apparently had to see this address load on a google map to believe its real.

Thanks to my sub-par T-Mobile plan I had no access to data immediately my cellular plan, so I was forced to jump on the (temporarily-free) Airport WiFi in front of the customs officer. The WiFi sucked (or the address did) and the address never loaded in case you were wondering. However, he didn’t look like he was going to budge on the issue (stickler for the exact address) so I opened up Airbnb and was luckily my host had sent me a message with an address. Either it had what he was looking for or grew weary of trying, For whatever reason, he finally gave me the stamp. Thinking the toughest part was well on my way to quickly jump into a cab and get to my room

I walked up to the first exchange counter I see, greeted by a woman, I threw down around $140 bucks for exchange. She says she will give me 302,000 Colombian pesos for it. I was about to pay but my mental conversion wasn’t checking out. I should only be charged 30,200 for this conversion which would run me about $10 bucks to have them exchange $140USD… so I ask her about it again and she says “no” so I asked her what the 30,200 is for…. She said, “that’s what you get”I was blown away “I’m going to give you $140 bucks and you are going to give me $100 worth of pesos back to me?” … “yes” she replied. I couldn’t roll my eyes and ask for my money back any quicker. So I figured well if I can’t convert my cash I can use uber as that will charge my Paypal and I can wait to convert at a better rate.

My 30 minutes of free WiFi has already run out as I spent a fair amount of time with the customs agent and exchange thief by this time…. and I still had no data from T-Mobile.

“So I guess I’m back to square one, I need cash” so I look around and see a sign for another cash exchange. Hopefully a more affordable cash counter, however, I had been in line for 10-15 minutes and it wasn’t budgeting an inch. Doing the math, at this rate I won’t need a hotel room. It will be morning by the time I get it exchanged…. “Man, am I thirsty,” I thought. “I’m going to get some Gatorade and some gum”

Do you know how much I paid for that? Neither do I here are my receipts…


Does the one on the right say I paid $15.80USD for this?

“Can I dispute? … no, You don’t have the skills Tyler move on”

…miraculously I now had data, as I immediately got a warm feeling of comfort. My transportation issues have been solved.

I called for my Uber and continued to finish the most expensive Gatorade I’ve ever had in record time.

“Uber drivers here” notification pops up on my phone. “Thank god get me out of this hellish money pit of an airport.” My driver is nowhere to be found. I realize he must be on the ground floor and run downstairs. My driver recognizes me and waves me over. He tells me to throw bags in the back seat and sit in front.

I’m going to stop right here and mention that I knew in Colombia uber drivers will ask you sit in the front seat. It was described to me that there was some unrest between taxi drivers and Uber drivers so uber drivers try to stay low-key. Which is cool with me. I was going to pay 24,000 pesos which is $8 roughly by my calculation.

So I jump in the uber car and we are off… for approximately 15 feet before a cop jumps in front of his car. The Uber driver says to me “Eres mi amigo”. Not a stranger to shenanigans, I quickly pick up what he is putting down which is. “Don’t tell them I’m your uber driver”.

Cop  #2 makes uber driver open his window and begins to interrogate him. The tone did not sound in his favor. They remove him from the car now surrounded by 4 cops, they begin searching his trunk. I look over to the cop watching me, she takes the eye contact as an invitation to interrogate me. She asked if he is my amigo. To which I replied “Si, somos amigos”. The problem with this stunt I’m trying to pull is the cops have just heard almost all the Spanish I know and are asking me things I simply can’t understand… my Uber driver knew little to no English. Thus, Sherlock Holmes will not need Watson to crack this case. Looking at my dwindling odds of success and realizing that I’ve barely set foot in this country and I’m ALREADY lying to the cops. The jig was up! I came clean. I’m not about to see what the inside of a Colombian jail looks like for the sake of an $8 dollar Uber ride. I spent twice that amount on Gatorade and gum a moment ago, so I’m just in the compromising mood.

The officer, appreciating my honesty, set me up with a taxi driver.  I tell him where I want to go and he says “Quince”, “$15 ?” I replied “es Doble Uber” he said no, I showed him conversion. Which I was right it was double. Getting tired of all the bullshit I looked at him and said “Dolce” (12) he agreed and I finally got my ass out of that airport.

I arrive at my Airbnb, just looking to crash. I’m greeted by my host right outside my taxi… things were looking up.

But I wasn’t able to get to my room and write this until after he spent 15 minutes showing me how to open the door. Which involves a series of unlocking multiple locks with their own special “push”

Or “pull” theme. … and don’t you dare f*ck up the arrangement or you have to start all over because you lose your place. He speaks little English and I Spanish so that makes the game of masquerade even more enthralling.

I tried to relay to him that I’m pretty tired and no longer want to go out. (Partially because I don’t know how to diffuse your door like the guy from hurt locker)

So here I am in Bogota thinking WTF. Haha

I’m sharing this story for the sake of entertainment and do not want this to be a negative reflection. I hope readers will not be deterred from Bogota just because of my initial experience. Since this, I have had an amazing time here and would definitely recommend.