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  • Writer's pictureveronicapaini

Netflix’s Narcos ≠ Colombia

For those of you like me who don’t own a Netflix ‘Narcos’ doesn’t really ring a bell...

So here’s the Netflix definition:

“The true story of Colombia’s infamously violent and powerful drug cartels fuels this gritty gangster drama series.”

Consequently, when I announced I was off to Colombia, Narcos and other harsh stories were brought to my attention…by everyone. My mum, my Uber driver, my dad’s golf friends, the cool neighbors & list goes on.

Then to top it off, I told them I was traveling solo...

Newport Beach, (probably the safest, most sheltered, laid back, posh beach town) went bananas on me.


So of course, rightfully so, I started to overthink my decision and doubt my ability to navigate through Colombia. No joke – I was having travel anxiety? Ask my girlfriends, it was hysteria. Quite comical actually.


I was being ridiculous obviously, but it’s funny how something can get to you, and your mind just starts wanderin’.


Fast-forward, I’m in Bogota, Colombia- smiling from cheek to cheek. This place is electric.

Right off the bat, I am welcomed with open arms, Colombians patiently listening to my butchered Spanish, allowing me to finish my thoughts. Music, colors, and unique smells take over as I find myself strolling through the streets… I am happy to be here.

This is Colombia.

School kids dressed in uniform as they order food from local street vendors.

This is Colombia.

Colombian flags hanging from windows, cafes, and official buildings.

This is Colombia.

6am - The airport stands still as the staff & local travelers watch the National Soccer team play Japan on all tv monitors.

This is Colombia.

My taxi driver teaching me a Spanish tongue twister to test my rolling 'R' skills

This is Colombia.

Free Zumba classes in the center plaza where kids move with such rhythm you can only be born with.

This is Colombia.

late night rooftop beers with your new Argentinian hostel friends.

This is Colombia.

Free Admission to the Botero Museum.

This is Colombia.

Streets closed on Sunday to hold a community what-looked-to-be-like baseball game.

This is Colombia.

Freshly made passion fruit juice costing 3,000 pesos (1 US dollar )

This is Colombia.

Reggeton blasting from the top floor window as teens in the street sway their hips to the beat.

This is Colombia.

Colombia isn’t just a Netflix show…because there’s more to the violent history, there’s hope.

All I can say is this – though spending only a short time here in Colombia, I already want to come back, to prove the critics wrong on this “dangerous country.”

Now don’t get me wrong- as a solo traveler, it’s best you keep your guard on. Always.

Hence, I won’t lie to you, there’s still petty crime happening. I hear it first hand from other backpackers, in hopes I won’t be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Especially here in Bogota, I’m told to be extra careful.

They even have a saying “No dar Papaya” (Don’t give Papaya) which translates as avoid having anything “sweet” “rich” in sight. Smartphones, watches, jewelry, GoPro’s, flashy purses become bait for petty crime and you don’t want to become target.

But setting this all aside. I genuinely like it here. Unexpectedly Bogota, the capital- which so many people chose to overlook.

Now I’m not saying Colombia is for everyone – but if you’re curious, Go. You won’t be disappointed.

Stay tuned for guides, tips, and packing lists as I explore more.


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