Ways to Make Your Trip More Comfortable and Convenient – No Dar Papaya
Generally Colombians are some of the friendliest people that you will meet. You may find some cultural differences on the coast or in Bogota but overall this is a very agreeable culture. Here it is important that you allow extra time to complete tasks that in other parts of the world may happen much more quickly. You will need to be especially patient in lineups.
From a ”technical” standpoint, coming to Colombia is comfortable for a North American. The electrical systems match so generally your electrical appliances will operate properly here. Most bank machines accept the common credit and debit cards so managing your money is much easier. You don’t need to carry large amounts of cash with you at anytime but like anywhere else in the world, choose your bank machine carefully.
A very good Colombian friend sat me down before I moved to Colombia and educated me on life in this country. He told me that the Colombians say they have 12 Commandments. The 11th Commandment is ”No dar papaya”. When you translate that literally it means, ”don’t give papaya”. The reasoning behind this is that Colombians generally love papaya. If you put out a plate of papaya for guests, it often disappears in a few minutes. Really what the saying means is ”don’t give opportunity”.
When you visit Colombia the cost of your airline ticket might be 1-3 times what the average person in the street earns per month. At the moment, this is under $350.00 USD. This means you have much more disposable cash than the average person and you might be perceived as an ”opportunity”. In English we say, ”opportunity knocks but once”. The Colombians say, Commandment #12, ”if someone gives you papaya, take it !”. This is not to imply that all Colombians are opportunistic because they are not.
Common sense as in any place in the world must prevail. Don’t flash about money, wear ostentatious jewelry, etc. Don’t set down your cellphone or passport and then turn away. Be careful with your credit/debit cards and pins. Be cautious where you walk at night. It can be risky hailing a taxi in the evening on the street. Have someone call a taxi service. Count your change carefully. Don’t accept any cash from money changers in the street. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to register your money or your ID. When you get into a crowded area, on a bus or in the Metro, hold your bag or wallet tightly. There are pick pockets and people who are extremely adept at opening zippered bags. Under no circumstance let anyone tell you that they have to check your money to make certain it isn’t counterfeit. Not even the police do this !
Colombia is an excellent place to visit. It is safe and the people are warm and personal. Just remember, ” no dar papaya !”