Contributed Story: Scoped in Bogota

This article was contributed by an American living in Bogota. See my article, Scopolamine: Drugged and Robbed in Colombia, if you aren’t aware of its effects and use.

There’s a sentiment here in Colombia about papaya. It’s not a fruit or a local delicacy- it has to do with putting yourself in a position to be taken advantage of. If you’re drunk and obnoxious and walking the street with pesos hanging out of your wallet, that’s ‘giving papaya’ to the nth degree. If you’re loosely holding your cell phone by the doorway of a Transmilenio exit, well you’re giving papaya too. One either gives or takes papaya. The thing about ‘taking papaya’ is that many of the morally bankrupt Colombians view it as more of an entitlement then the shitty act of a grifter or petty thief.

I love Colombia, I really do. But one of the problems I have with my new home is that one is far more likely to hear the term ‘give papaya’ then ‘take papaya,’ thus leading one to believe that the fault lies at the foot of the victim, not the asshole assailant. I gave papaya once, but the fuckers took a ton as well.

I’ve now been in Colombia, primarily in Bogota, for over three years. When I was drugged, robbed, and left incapicitated, I had only been here about six months.

I met my buddy Jones several weeks prior after he overheard my fragmented Spanglish. We made plans to meet up in Zona T on a Thursday night. We went to the Irish Pub, which is often frequented by English-speakers and those seeking them out. The beer is fine there, not great and slightly over-priced. The food is below-average, fried, unthoughtful, and uncomplicated. But the location can’t be beat, right in the heart of Zona T and great for people-watching.

We settled in for drinks and a bite to eat. One beer became three, three became five. I ran into another American I met months back and we shot the shit for awhile. When he had to take off, I headed back to the table where Jones was now accompanied by two girls and a guy, all Colombians.

We sat around having another beer or two with a few cigarettes. The Colombians seemed nice enough, although I’d stop short of calling them affable. The girls were almost reserved. As things began wrapping up I would have been happy to hop my 15 minute cab home, moderately buzzed, eat an arepa, and drift off to sleep. But Jones pulled me aside and asked me if my roommate was still out of town. Unfortunately she was off visiting family in Bolivia, Nicaragua, or whereverthefuck for three weeks or so.

We grabbed a bottle of guaro and headed to my place. The doormen put up a bit of a fight because I was bringing back houseguests after midnight but eventually relented. In retrospect, I would’ve much preferred he take cédulas (national ID cards) or put up no fight whatsoever but not have allowed them to leave without seeing my face. At the time I just wanted them through the door to find out if either of the girls were bangable since their male companion had assured us he was neither interested nor protective.

Inside my apartment they cracked the bottle open while I distributed the four beers I had in the fridge, leaving myself without one which was fine by me. My plan was to make a half-assed run at the hotter of the two chicks, have a couple of whacks at the guaro, and once I was sure Jones was going nowhere with his chick (most often the case), I’d make up some horseshit about an early day tomorrow and ask them to bounce.

I had some shots and I remember the Colombian guy offering me his beer because I didn’t have one. I passed. I didn’t need it at that point. When he offered again, the guaro bent my will. After all, he spoke some shitty english, didn’t seem to mind if I took a run at one of his cousins/sisters, I was worried it would be offensive. It’s just one sip to make sure I’m not insulting him, then back to the plan.

In hindsight even the way he handed it to me seemed odd. It wasn’t casual in the way someone passes you a beer, kind of off to the side in a sweeping motion. It seemed perfectly framed between his arms as if he was balancing a baseball on top of the can. But this is Monday morning quarterbacking. Looking back, the entire night seems forced from the get-go.

Shortly after I was gassed. Thinking I was just drunk, I went to my room, figuring I’d lock my door and crash and they’d see their way out shortly after. Jones was still up and I knew the door to my roommate’s room was locked while she was away. There was really nothing for them to take in the living room and I just wanted to lay down. I either didn’t lock the door or didn’t even shut the fucking thing. As I remember it, I aimed for solely the bed but instead first hit the bed, followed by the wall, followed by the floor space between the bed and the wall. My last thought, ‘I don’t get it … I’m not this drunk.’

I woke up in bed, on top of the covers with what I thought was a hangover and not even a large one. Someone was shaking me. It was the girl I was about to enter into an exclusive relationship with. She had hammered on the door until she woke Jones who was passed out on the couch, also drugged.

I had laid unconscious until two in the afternoon without so much as rolling over. I have no idea how I ended up in bed. They got my MacBook Pro, iPad, sunglasses, multiple cell phones, and even cologne.

I don’t know if it was scopolamine or something else. I’ve suffered no long term damage whatsoever. I don’t know if I was lucky that my roommate’s door was locked and they didn’t get anything of hers or if I was unlucky that I buckled and took that sip of beer. I don’t know if I was lucky my girl found me or unlucky the doorman let us all in and then let them out without first checking with me. I don’t know if I was lucky that that wonderful girl stayed with me through that debacle for awhile longer, or unlucky that it didn’t last longer.

I never saw Jones again. I dug in my heels and stayed in Bogota. The incident made me smarter and more cautious. My old man told me that you should always ALWAYS learn from your mistakes……but if you’re smart you’ll learn from others’ mistakes. I hope both happen in this instance.



  1. Good story. Should be required reading for newcomers. There’s exactly one reason why you’d let a Colombian woman you just met into your home… and there’s exactly zero reasons to let a Colombian man you just met into your home. (unless that’s your thing, of course)

    Another good tip if you’re renting a flat: look for one with a front door that locks with a key on the inside. I thought a buddy of mine was just being paranoid when he insisted on that, but later learned otherwise. If you bring strange women home with you, be in the habit of discreetly locking the door and hiding the key.


  2. Nothing wrong with the papaya rule. It exists in nature, Colombians are one of the few cultures smart enough to understand this.

    I dunno how many times I have to tell people AVOID THE FUCKING ZONA T. It is home to at least 50% of the city’s scopolamine incidents. You’re safer at the top of the nastiest hill in Ciudad Bolivar than you are in the T. But people still go because they’re lemmings!


  3. Complaining that in Colombia the burden is put on the people not to give papaya and saying that this makes the Colombian people morally bankrupt is like the feminists who cry endlessly that a woman dressing like a total slut and going to a dangerous part of the city should not be blamed if she ends up raped.

    The feminists are totally correct, as are you, but you both miss the point. You can either take the moral high ground and live on cloud 9 as you wish, or you can accept reality and take precautions.

    Firstly you talk about meeting a man by the name of Jones when out solo. Are you a fag? In my time in Bogota a city filled by millions of beautiful girls not once did I elect to hang out with guys. No good can come from it, because he’s probably some bum English teacher like yourself he offers no business connections, nor can you fuck him (unless you’re a fag).

    Second if you were soon to enter an exclusive relationship then what were you doing out partying and trying to bang some random new pussy?

    Third if you were leaving with the potential for people to return to your apartment then why did you not lock up your stuff? My laptop, passport and cash always stayed in the safe.

    Fourth, if you have a guest in your house why would you feel obliged to drink his beer so that he doesn’t feel insulted?

    The author reeks of stupidity.


  4. Crazy story… Thanks for the advice. I know these things can just happen, even when you know about potential dangers.

    I will keep the story in mind when I go to bogota soon


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