People in Bogotá are very friendly and calm. There does not seem to be any trace of stress in the air, even during midday in the downtown financial area. A great divide is evident between the lives of the lower class and the middle and upper classes. For the most part, people of the middle and upper classes are very well educated, and they tend to steer clear of any association with the lower class, other than perhaps grabbing an empanada from a vendor.
Though Colombia still is working to shed the image of being a dangerous and drug-infested country full of civil wars, Bogotá is far ahead of the country as a whole. The city is very safe, and its inhabitants are definitely lovers, not fighters. Though I did not personally experience even the slightest hint of danger while I was there, my friends in Bogotá told me to keep away from any areas where the poorer lower class may reside, especially the mountains along the east of the city. These places, so I’ve heard, may potentially pose a threat to the traveler. This poor, lower class seems to be degraded by the majority of the social stigma that Bogotá produces.
Bogotanos, or Rolos, as they like to be called, love to enjoy a good time. Friday and Saturday nights cause all of the bars and clubs to be packed with yuppies. Though everyone here seems to love to dance, they also seem to equally enjoy a sit-down conversation with good friends and a beer. They also have other kinds of clubs, such as strip clubs where you can actually pay for sex, but I stayed away from those.
Bogotanos are a very ambitious bunch, if I am allowed to generalize, and everyone that I came into contact with was quite the hard worker. Given that I am in my mid-twenties, many of my friends who showed me around went to university full-time, found time to give me a tour of something or have a drink with me, and then went off to work. Not only do they work very hard towards their goals, but the pay that they receive does not seem adequate in relation to the hard work that they do. For example, one girl who I met is at school from 7am until 3pm, and then works from 5pm until 8pm during the week, and another 6 hours on Saturday. Her total pay per month comes out to $400,000 COP, or a little over $200 USD. Per month!
People here in Bogotá seem to all be just the right weight. Everyone looks good here, and obesity is all but nonexistent. One of the city’s efforts to get people moving is the Ciclovía. Every Sunday and major holiday, many of the streets are closed, and from around 7am until 2pm, cyclists, rollerbladers, and pedestrians all get out and walk. At the same time, parks are set up with tents and booths for yoga instructors and fitness gurus, and the whole city becomes one giant fitness center. This Ciclovía seems to be one of the biggest factors for Bogotanos maintaining their figure and relaxed attitude.
Fact is, residents of Bogotá have a great lifestyle. They have all the potential stress factors that come with being one of the world’s largest cities(over 8 million inhabitants), yet they all seem relaxed, fit, and happy, overall. And it’s contagious; spend a little time here and you very likely will begin to let loose yourself.