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How to get over the 'foreigner traps'?

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Joined: 26 Jun 2010
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 8:45 pm    Post subject: How to get over the 'foreigner traps'? Reply with quote

For 6 weeks in 2012 and then another 3 and a half months until this past June, I had spent my time getting to know Popayan and I have to say I loved it.

The reason is just one word that I heard a million times during my stay;'tranquillo'. Its their term to relax, take it easy, everything's cool, stuff like that.
I usually had my homestay hosts around to help me translate- except for a weekend in Ecuador, where I spent a total of 30 minutes speaking English over a 4-day stay- mostly because I was told that when I spoke 'reversed Spangiish', I sound more like Yoda dubbed in Spanish.

My point is, I loved Colombia- the climate was good, the atmosphere was 'quasi' peaceful and the people were more approachable and believe it or not, the police were helpful and vigilant.
I would love to go there and live there- I saw a house that was WAY bigger than what you would find anywhere here (US) and nicely decorated and had awesome glass doors (I know, those kind of house scream 'invite' to robbers. It was 1,600,000 a month (which was awesome for me).

However, I love the city, so if I were to go back, I was thinking either Medellin or Cali (I would love to get a place and live in Cartagena, but that would land me in the poor house).

As for visa, I qualify for 2 types of visas- the pension visa and the medical visa. So living there is not an issue since I would be legal.

The first hangup I have is the 'foreigner trap', which is when local shopkeepers and vendors tended to mark up the price for the simple reason that I am a foreigner. They did an episode of "Septimo Dias' in which they tried to see how honest the people were and they had several examples of people who might have lost money from their pocket. Most of the time, the people picked up the money and gave it back to the owner. Yet when it showed a foreigner dropping his money, the people simply picked it up and walked away. When the anchor woman asked them why they didn't try to give the money back to the foreigner, most of the respondents said 'because he is a foreigner and he has a lot of money'.....yeah right.

For those who have been in Colombia for a substantial amount of time, which place you think of more 'foreign friendly'?
And how do you get by?
How long did it take you to get used to certain things that seemed unfair?

Thanks for reading and hope to get a few responses.
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Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 168

PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Up until the past few years, Colombia's reputation has scared off most gringos. This has always made it less of a "gringo trap" than other countries like Peru or Bolivia. I remember once I paid for something in a shop in Medellin, and when I walked out to the street, the cashier ran after me, saying I forgot to take my change! Perhaps things may have changed lately, but I believe that most of Colombia is still foreigner friendly in that regard (except perhaps for Cartagena, which has always overcharged gringos).

As for the Septimo Dia episode, it was probably filmed in Bogota- a place where no one trusts anyone for being ripped off-gringos or locals alike! Smile
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