This story comes from my pal, Joey, who despite his initial distaste for Bogota, has stayed ever since he arrived three years ago.
Stabbed in Bogota
Colombia was playing Argentina so I joined some friends at La Villa to watch the game. By the time I got there it was so packed I barely made my way to the bar. Shots of guaro were being passed every 10 minutes. A student of mine, Estudiante, was on her way. So I wasn’t too thrilled to see the girl I was dating, Amiguita, at the other end of the bar. It wouldn’t have mattered but Estudiante’s intentions were not just to improve her English.
I walked outside to meet Estudiante and we went inside. I wondered how to proceed given how clingy Amiguita is. To my advantage the place was packed and she didn’t want to leave her friends to hang out with only me. I bounced between them throughout the game with no problem. Colombia barely pulled off the win so the bar was going apeshit. We celebrated with shots of whiskey as everybody sprayed beer all over each other. I was drunk. Estudiante was hot. Amiguita went upstairs. Estudiante and I made out at the bar.
We went to the bar next door where her friends were waiting with another bottle of liquor. We drank there until I was beyond drunk – pissy drunk. At some point Estudiante started yelling at me for kissing another girl. I told her she was crazy, but I don’t remember whether it happened or not. I stumbled my way to a taxi.
In the taxi Estudiante and I texted back and forth until I got to La Candelaria. I got out and continued to argue through text. I got off at Calle 19 with Carrera 3, the Las Aguas Transmilenio station that sits just above Parque de los Periodistas and La Candelaria. The streets were busy since the game just finished and it was a Friday night.
No more than 2 minutes after getting out of the taxi I was grabbed by some kids demanding my shit, “¡Dame sus cosas!”
I thrashed about to get away. They hit me in the head a few times and pulled my shirt as I tried to fight them off. I managed to get them off me and then the bastards started lightly jogging away from me, trying not to attract attention.
My arm was killing me. I rubbed my arm to find a handful of blood. The little shits stabbed me. I chased after one of them who I could still see. After 50 feet I realized I was drunk and they still had a knife. I went to a friend’s hostel.
There was a lot of blood but the wound wasn’t big. I made a bit of a scene at the hostel. I walked around rambling and took my shirt off. The cut was only an inch long but it was deep so the wound spread open. My friends helped clean me up and fed me beer to keep me quiet. I told the story over and over for an hour until I passed out.
The next morning I woke up hung over and beat up. My arm felt like it had been horribly bruised. I inspected the wound to see if I needed stitches. I worried about what they stabbed me with. It could have been something they found on the ground, a rusty knife, anything. If it was dirty there could be an infection. A friend of a friend owns a small emergency clinic in the north of the city. Three stitches later and a few shots in the ass to prevent infection, I was good to go.
The moral of the story is to never ‘dar papaya‘. Don’t give away a fucking papaya by not texting at night or at whatever time of day on a smartphone in the center of Bogota. You will most likely get robbed. And if you fight back, expect a knife to be pulled. They pull guns in the States but in Bogota you will most likely encounter a knife. Since this story it’s happened to me twice more – each for giving papaya.
[end of story]
I usually don’t like the phrase, dar papaya, because Colombians will use it for any reason to explain your being robbed. Like when the blender was stolen from my Chapinero apartment building, the owners of the blender blamed it on the guy who put it on the shelf stand near the window. They even insisted he replace it for putting it on that shelf.
But in Joey’s case, I would have to agree that texting on your iPhone while walking through Parque de los Periodistas late at night, completely unaware of your surroundings, is welcoming trouble. When I lived in Bogota and walked around the center or Chapinero at night, I developed the habit of doing so with a scowl. A walking mean face to spook the passing ñeros. It has actually been hard to shake back in the States. Where I work they tell me to smile more.
The scowl and being 6’2, 220 lbs works, as well as not brandishing with your smartphone / device for all to see in downtown Bogota at night. Joey is the third (THIRD!) gringo I have met who was stabbed in Parque de los Periodistas.
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