Christmas Eve and day were super special; celebrating in the Costa Rican jungle with a real Tarzan; Rodolfo, and his Jane. In order not to disturb their whole romantic Christmas, we got back into our 4×4 car and made a beautiful mountain tour towards the San José airport to fly to Bogotá.

Arriving in the morning after Christmas, we only had that day in Bogotá before catching our connecting flight towards Santiago de Chile. So, we made the most of it!



We dropped off our luggage at a secured storage at the airport, got some Colombian Pesos from the ATM and took a cab straight to the Teleférico de Monserrate (cable car) to go to the top of the Hill of Monserrate (3,152 m). Of course it was a public holiday for the Colombians too, so the queue to get onto the gondola was endless. We preferred tasting the culture of Colombia, so decided to skip the viewpoint and walked around in the capital for hours.



The plus side of this busy Christmas weekend was that the whole city was packed with food stalls full of colourful, unidentifiable and tasty looking snacks, meals, juices, teas and fruits. We created our own food tour, with a new experience every few meters; from pastel-coloured sugar sticks, to traditional Christmas lunch packs wrapped in banana leaves, to snacks that were delicious yet un-comprehendible, to the best-smelling herbal teas ever. Even the coffee stall was impressive with its stunning, copper brewing machine and it tasted as good as it looked.


Distracted by all the delicious food, we were slowly making our way to appreciate all the impressive street art and architecture in La Candelaria. La Candelaria is a historic neighbourhood in downtown Bogotá; the equivalent to the ‘Old City’ in other cities. The architecture of the churches, old houses and other buildings are a mix of Baroque, Spanish Colonial and art deco styles.


The whole day we received nothing but smiles from the locals. Though Bogotá is a pretty touristic metropolis with some 8 million inhabitants, the people were extremely friendly and enthusiastic towards us. We were equally amazed by the wall art and couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. As we wanted to take a photo of the both of us for our parents, we asked a man on the street to take a photo for us. Unsure if he was pretending not to know how to use this big camera, he kept taking photos, from a bigger and bigger distance and that’s when he started running!


Yes, we made a mistake! Obviously we shouldn’t have given an object worth a yearly wage to someone in a much less well-off state. However, Leonie instinctively sprinted towards the thief while screaming ‘stop that thief’ and Lotte grabbed our backpack, shouted ‘Policia! Policia!’ and followed the cat-and-mouse game.

Leonie could see his strategy, trying to escape behind a driving bus, but she caught up and the thief was starting to get locked between observing bystanders. He then suddenly hugged Leonie, pretended it was a joke and quickly got away. Kind witnesses helped us call the police, but we guess the man got away with it, though luckily with nothing.

Though Lotte is secretly proud of her brave sister, we highly recommend not following this example! Leonie has been extremely lucky not to have been run over by a bus, lured into an alley or stabbed by the thief. We learned our lesson and were very glad we both were unhurt and didn’t lose our photos either.



Busily talking about what had just happened and distrusting some people around us, we arrived at Bolívar Square with its Cathedral, Palace of Justice, National Capitol and Liévano building (the seat for the mayor). From there, we walked towards some church towers which we could see a few blocks further on the busy Carrera 7.


Before arriving on Calle 7 (walking on Carrera 7), a Swedish woman ran to us and out of breath she told us we should immediately return and put our camera away. She was a professional photographer who only carries a tiny camera hidden in a little pocket while in Bogotá, because you cannot be seen with such great valuables. She said that if we would walk a bit further, we would be at great risk of getting pulled into an alley with a gun against our head to take all our stuff, if not worse. Also, she warned us that we already might be followed by criminals who spotted our camera. We were so grateful she took the effort to warn us and she might have saved us a trauma! At the same time customers of a café next to us stood up and waved to us ‘don’t go further, don’t go further’.

We realised we were so close to great danger and it was so unnoticeable as there were people and tourists on that street and even policemen. Clearly, from one street to another you can get into deep trouble, even right in the city centre and you wouldn’t have a clue! We learned that you can definitely not walk around with valuables and you cannot see where it is safe and where it isn’t.



These two incidences made us want to leave this city and not postpone our flight to see more of Colombia, which we did consider earlier. It was also time to get back to the airport to catch our flight to Santiago, but that wasn’t as easy as it sounds either. We had to find a safe way to get to a safe taxi, as we were now worried about which street to take and which not and which taxi to take and which not.



Walking back to the main square, Lotte found some weapons; a big rock from the ground and a half umbrella which could function perfectly as a knife.

Locals told us where to get a taxi. A first taxi approached us and that’s not a good sign; you need to choose your taxi and not a ‘taxi’ choosing you. The second available taxi we called to a stop, but we were hesitant and gave an excuse. We started to run out of time and we stopped a third available taxi. The driver looked worryingly at Lotte holding a weapon in both her hands and said we didn’t need to worry. However, she strongly held on to her weapons and we locked doors and windows until arriving at the airport.



Relieved we arrived safely, we rushed to get our luggage and checked in for our flight to Santiago. Though we had had a fantastic day in this beautiful city, we were glad to depart.

Worrisome, on the Dutch Government website ( Bogotá is marked without special safety risks (!), while Chile and most South American countries are marked with warnings of safety risks if not worse. This made us seriously question whether we should travel South America with the two of us, especially by camper.

Luckily, we could spend the first few nights in Santiago at our friends Lucia Vasquez and Alberto Diaz Huizi from Venezuela. There, we could carefully reconsider our plans of buying another camper and touring South America.


(PS: this story was written when Lotte had a sleepless night in Corumbá (Brazil) after having spent some time with a friendly hostel guest who fooled every single person around him with his fake stories, fake promises and lies and disappeared without paying his giant hostel and bar bill, the phone of a Korean guest, money stolen from doctors and visa documents and 600BRL (some 180USD) of a New Zealand guest!

Warning; you cannot trust everyone! Always keep your valuables and important items at a safe place and don’t get fooled by kind people. This guy was really tricky and unexpected!

Though, luckily the great majority of people we met during our world trip are extremely friendly, hospitable and helpful.)