Sharing that I once lived in Colombia is often followed by a set of questions, some common enough to which I’ve developed scripted answers.
Q: “Is it hot in Bogota?” A: “No, it sits at 8,612 ft altitude”
Q: “Oh, so is the food spicy, like Mexican food?” A: “Not really. We have a spicy sauce called ají, but otherwise the food is pretty mild.”
Q: “How long does it take to drive there?” A: “I wish I’d driven there before. Driving down and crossing the Darien is on my to-do list.”
Really though, the most common question dances on safety and the fear many people commonly associate with Colombia. Being that I feel so strongly about the country, I’ve learned to separate my emotions from the question. I’m not any more afraid when I’m in Colombia than when I’ve been in New York or Paris or Delhi or Berlin. The potential of danger is something to be aware of, but it’s also not what would dissuade me from exploring what a city or a country has to offer. In Colombia, I see a society that strongly wants to change an image of violence to one of peace.
Most travelers will tell you to trust your gut when visiting other places, and more importantly, to have some faith in humanity. It’s precisely in these situations where I’ve experienced great kindness from perfect strangers.
Going back to Colombia, I don’t fear for my safety specifically, but fear itself does become the subject of a different post.
P.S. The link above is to the book Building Peace in a Time of War edited by V. Bouvier, it highlights the role of civil society in a country working for peace.