I never planned to go back. I was ready to leave within two weeks of arriving the first go around. The grey skies had me down in the dumps, while there were so many gringos around I barely spoke any Spanish.
Lima, Peru didn’t live up to expectations on my first trip. In fact, my first trip to Lima was a nightmare. I drank too much, partied too hard, did too little work, and spent way too much time on Tinder. I barely left Miraflores and didn’t see much of the city or country.
Plus, the weather was so trash. Grey skies every single day. I think I saw the sun twice in nearly two months in the city. Make no mistake about it – Lima, Peru has horrific weather in the winter months.
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So, Why Go Back?
Why on earth would I go back to a city where I had such an average experience? Well, there’s a few reasons.
First, a trusted friend said Lima is a completely different place in the summer. When the sun is out and it’s warm, Peru offers thousands of miles of Pacific coast beaches and amazing views. Plus, people are always happier and life is just better when the sun is out.
Miraflores is one of the safest neighborhoods in all of Latin America. I imagine it’s a great place to get some work done – if you actually work. Plus, I plan to enjoy inspiring Pacific Ocean views and generally have a good time.
Finally, a few good travel buddies will be in Peru during my trip. It’ll be a great time catching up, enjoying a little rumba, and plotting for the future.
Project Peru: The Reconnaissance Mission
While I wasn’t a fan on my first trip, I cannot wait to do a little reconnaissance over the next few months. So, what will I be doing in Lima, Peru for the next few months?
Is Lima, Peru a Good Spot For Digital Nomads?
First and foremost, I’ll be scouting out Lima as a digital nomad location. This is my priority for the trip. I want to find out if living in Lima, Peru would be productive and fun for six months a year.
I’ll be hitting the cafes around Miraflores. I’ll check out a few co-working spots. Internet speeds will be tested and cost of living will be determined.
I think Lima, Peru could be a great base for digital expats from November through May each year. I’m going down to confirm this suspicion.
Summertime Weather in Lima, Peru
The weather in Lima, Peru is absolutely horrific during the winter months of May through October.
From June through September, Lima averages 1-2 hours of sunshine a day. The rest of the time it’s grey and cloudy. That’s not fun, especially for someone with slight season affective disorder. Fuck Autumn.
In December through May, Lima is privy to 5-7 hours of sunshine every single day. That’s a pretty big improvement. It’s also warmer by 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit each day.
Daily hours of sunshine in Lima, Peru.
What does this mean? You can go to the beach and swim in the Pacific Ocean from December through April in Lima.
I plan to take full advantage of this. A little surfing is on the docket, along with unwinding on the beach and exploring other parts of Peru while the good weather lasts.
There’s tons to do in Lima. As Peru’s biggest city, the place boosts fantastic neighborhoods like Miraflores and stunning views. I plan to enjoy the city and do a little tourism, including:
Surfing the Pacific
Paragliding Over the Ocean
Eating World-Class Peruvian Food
Checking Out Palomino Island
I also plan to explore other parts of Peru. Lima makes an ideal base for a few weekend trips to check out other spots in the country. I plan to take advantage of this, hop on a bus, and check out:
Suffice to say, I’m excited to hit the road and explore. Being cooped up with minor health issues for a bit has left me with a thirst to travel around that cannot be ignored.
La Rumba…Ya Tu Sabes
Of course, I’ll be doing a little partying, too. While the legendary club Gotica is gone, I’ll still hit the streets on weekends and see if I can find a spot that plays Spanish trap and allows me to get my perreando on.
After figuring out where the hot spots are, I’ll throw together a detailed report on nightlife in:
My Spanish is ok right now, but not as good as it was. I’m rusty after being in the U.S. for a bit. So, I’m looking forward to speaking Spanish every single day and getting a little studying in.
As always, I’ll have my copy of Madrigal’s Magic Keys by my side and make an effort to study 15-20 minutes each day.
Cheapest way to learn Spanish.
I wouldn’t say I’m swole right now. I’m not in the type of shape I’d like to be due to past health issues. Still, I recently started a new program and plan to gym four days every week.
I need to lose 10-15 pounds, too. That means hitting the gym consistently, walking around a lot, and laying low on the booze.
One thing I’m looking forward to? Body weight workouts overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There’s a great park in Miraflores that’s ideal for pull-ups and push-up with a sea breeze.
Lima, Peru – Round Two…
That’s it. My plan to recon Lima, Peru and find out if the city is ideal for digital nomads and expats.
On paper, I believe it is. But, paper doesn’t matter. I’ll gather intel with boots on the ground and report back here. If Lima is an ideal city for nomads, you’ll find the intel on Nomadic Hustle. And if it’s not, I won’t sugarcoat shit.
If you’re planning to hit the road in 2018, then you’re in the right place. The holidays are rolling around and the gift giving season is in full swing. What does that mean? It’s time to check out the best gifts for travelers and expats in 2018.
Whether you’re looking to buy something for the road warrior in your life or you’re looking for ideas to send to the family, I’ve got you covered.
After spending over six months traveling around this year, I found some amazing gifts that make life on the road so much better. I’m talking about:
Clothing that makes it possible to pack lighter while still looking.
Luggage that allows you to bring everything you’d ever want while still being carry-on size.
A surefire hangover remedy for when traveling gets the best of you.
Simple solutions that make staying in shape on the road a breeze.
Endless entertainment and electronics to improve time away from home.
…And so much more!
The 51 Best Gifts For Travelers & Expats – 2018 Edition
While this is a long post, I want to keep things organized for you. So, I’ll break the gifts down by category, including the following. Just click where you want to go:
If you’re headed on a big trip, getting the best luggage is imperative. After traveling around with a 45L Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack for over six months, I’m confident this is the best travel backpack available.
This backpack is HUGE, but still carry-on size. I can fit all my clothing, shoes, electronics, and more into this pack with ease.
The unique suitcase-opening system makes packing and unpacking almost too easy with the Tortuga Outbreaker.
Plus, the travel bag is waterproof and has safe storage for all electronic, including a laptop and Kindle. Read my full review here.
Traveling with dress clothes can be difficult. You pay for dry cleaning in one place, pack your clothes, and arrive with a wrinkled wardrobe.
You’re in a new city and want to explore the nightlife, but all your nice clothes look like trash. I’ve been there before. Luckily, I found a solution that ensures you don’t have to hit the club looking like a smelly backpacker.
Enter the ZEGUR Garment Bag. This unique piece of luggage can easily hold 1-2 suits and 3-4 shirts. Your clothing stays wrinkle-free and you arrive ready to party.
Plus, it’s carry-on size! Traveling light while looking great has never been easier.
If you’ve been traveling long enough, you’ve heard of packing cubes. The benefits of packing cubes? They allow you to make the most of your luggage space while staying organized.
But that’s not the best part. Personally, I use packing cubes as a way to separate my dirty laundry from my cleaning clothing. Thus, you’ll arrive with your previously clean clothes still clean and smelling good.
Eagle Creek makes the best packing cubes I’ve found. If you’re in the market, I couldn’t recommend them enough.
On a trip to stunning Parque Tayrona on the coast of Colombia, I remember thinking a dry bag would be useful. The boat ride to the park entrance had me dripping wet after being splashed in the face for an hour straight by the giant waves.
None of my things were dry (thankfully the guide stored out valuables). My towel, change of clothing, and more was all drenched.
If I had the Sea to Summit Dry Bag, my things would have been 100% dry.
I love this dry bag because it’s super lightweight and easily fits into your other luggage when not in use. The Sea to Summit Dry Bag is 100% waterproof and in my opinion, a steal at the price point.
P.S: This travel clothing is generally geared towards men. As a male, I don’t feel like giving clothing and style advice to women. I saw a few other male bloggers did and they recommended things like menstrual cups…so I’m just going to avoid all that. Sorry, ladies!
If you want to travel in style, then these Outlier Slim Dungarees Travel Pants cannot be beaten. Seriously, I’ve gotten dozens of compliments on these pants.
The Outlier Slim Dungarees look way better than jeans, only need to be washed once every couple weeks, and are as comfortable as can be.
There’s been weeks that I’ve worn these travel pants every single day, all day. They didn’t smell at all or look grimy. If you’re striving to look good while traveling exceptionally light, you could get by with one or two of these pants.
The only issue? These are a little pricey. But in my opinion, they’re worth it!
Now that you have a travel yoga mat, all you need is a place to do yoga. Instead of paying inflated yoga studio prices with limiting schedules, just sign up for Gaia, an unlimited online yoga subscription.
Gaia has over 8,000 member-only videos with every type of yoga class imaginable. Whether you want a tough yoga workout or some light stretching, you can find it here.
The best part? All you need is a mat and your computer.
This thing is really cool. Have you ever struggled to find a comfortable position to sleep on an airplane? Thought about putting your head on the person’s shoulder next to you because you could barely keep your eyes open?
If you answered yes, then the TRTL Travel Pillow is for you. The unique design allows the pillow to take up barely any space in your luggage, while still providing huge benefits and allowing you to sleep.
With over 5,000 positive reviews on Amazon, the TRTL Travel Pillow is incredibly popular among vagabonds.
The easiest way to keep your abs in-shape while traveling? Just pack The Ab Roller and you’re good to go.
The Ab Roller is a great workout for your core. Plus, it fits easily in your luggage due to the small size and collapsable design. If your knees hurt while rolling, just throw a pillow under them and get to work.
The absolute best natural sleep aid known to mankind. If you have trouble sleeping on the road, then bringing a bottle of tart cherry juice concentrate should be mandatory.
You’ll fall asleep quicker and sleep deeper when taking this incredible supplement. In fact, cherry juice may be my favorite natural supplement on the market. The stuff just works, and sleep isn’t the only benefit.
This one is a little weird on a list of best gifts for travelers, but I found a jet lag solution. No longer will jet lag and a lack of energy effects the first few days of an international trip. Why? Because of Modafinil.
Modafinil is a smart drug used to increase wakefulness. Many take Modafinil to keep them focused and productive for 12-15 hours straight.
But, you can use Modafinil to beat jet lag, too. Just take a Modafinil at 7 AM when in your new city. No matter how tired you are, you’ll stay awake for 14-16 hours after consuming the smart drug.
You’ll reset your natural clock and get back to a normal sleep schedule. The next day the jet lag will be gone!
P.S: I’m no doctor. The above is not advice, simply for entertainment purposes. Modafinil is a pharmaceutical drug. Make sure you speak with a medical professional before consuming.
Now, selfies sticks aren’t anything new or cool. A regular, typical one would never make the list of best gifts for travelers.
But if you’re creating a lot of YouTube content or want to make it look like you have friends when you really don’t, this selfie stick / tri-pod combo from Lifestyle Designs is ideal.
The design is unique, efficient, and it works. Within 15 seconds, you can turn your selfie stick into a three-foot tall tri-pod for your iPhone or GoPro. The trip-pod is sturdy and offers great stabilization.
If you’re planning to create YouTube content while traveling, I couldn’t recommend this contraption enough.
Keeping your expensive smartphone safe is key when traveling. Well, anytime really. However, it can be especially hard when headed to the beach or hiking to a waterfall.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution. The JOTO Cellphone Dry Bag ensures your smartphone stays 100% dry when you’re out exploring.
Whether on a boat trip to the islands or hiking in the rain, this case will ensure your phone stays dry and functional at all times. For active vagabonds, this is not only one of the best gifts for travelers – but a great stocking stuffer, too.
Life on the road spikes the endorphins like nothing else. Sometimes relaxing with a good book is all you want and need. The issue? Physical books take up too much space when traveling light and long-term.
As such, the Kindle Paperwhite is a must. The device allows your to carry thousands of books with you while traveling light. You’ll have a full library at your fingertips whenever you need to unwind.
If you’re going to get a Kindle for reading, make sure you get the “Paperwhite” model, as it’s easiest to read and best for your eyes.
Honestly, I’m baffled the Roku Streaming Stick isn’t more popular with travelers. See, most hotel rooms and Airbnb rentals have flatscreen TVs these days. However, smart TVs are still rare in some countries.
With a Roku Streaming Stick, you can turn any flatscreen into a smart TV. And it works really well!
While I’m no fan of watching too much TV while traveling, a little Netflix never hurt anybody. Personally, I often use the Roku to turn on a YouTube playlist and pre-game a bit before heading out for a night on the town.
When living in hotels and renting apartments around the world, you’ll occasionally get stuck with bad WiFi. Maybe the host only has one router for the whole apartment building or the hotel skimped on their Internet plan this month.
Whatever the reason, you need to get better WiFi to your room or apartment ASAP. Enter the Netgear AC 1200 WiFi Extender.
This is one of the best WiFI extenders on the market with over 22,000 reviews on Amazon. Suffice to say, this thing works.
Just plus in the Netgear AC1200 in your room and turn it on. An instant increase in Internet speed and WiFi signal will be noticed. Instead of suffering with lagging WiFi, you’ll get back to using the web how you need to.
There’s 1,000s of options when looking for a portable external charger online. This one from Jackery seems to have the most positive reviews, with nearly 10,000 on Amazon.
What makes the Jackery Giant Portable External Charger so great? For starters, it’s incredibly powerful. With over 12,000 mAh power, the batter can charge an iPhone from 0% to 100% over five times on one battery life cycle.
That means everyone in the car can fully charge there phone with the Jackery Giant. Plus, the dual USB plugins allow you to charge multiple devices at once.
The king of travel computers couldn’t be left of this list of best gifts for travelers and expats! The Macbook Air 13″ is the premier travel laptop.
The unique, thin design means the laptop barely takes up any space in your backpack. It’s durable, lightweight, and great looking.
Plus, the newer models come fully loaded with great speed and memory. Some have even done 4K video editing on a Macbook Air – which I once thought was impossible, but is easy with the proper configuration these days.
The Soundworks Oontz Portable Bluetooh Speaker w/ More Bass is the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on Amazon that’s cheap. With over 22,000 positive reviews, the travel speaker does the job well.
What makes this Soundworks speaker so good? First, the sound is crystal clear, has solid bass, and is more than loud enough. Plus, it’s waterproof – making it ideal for taking to the beach.
But that’s not the best part…
The best thing about this Bluethooth speaker? It only cost $25 with free shipping! Talk about one of the best gifts for travelers on a budget.
Your only issue when traveling with the Soundworks Oontz Portable Bluetooh Speaker w/ More Bass? You’re neighbors might coming knocking on your door asking you to turn it down 🙂
If you want to get the imagination rolling or plan your next adventure, check out this guide. Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 is filled to the brim with exciting, unique, and impressive travel ideas for the upcoming year.
The book makes an amazing gift for travel lovers and is ideal for those dreaming of the day they hit the road.
Not exactly something to bring on the road, but still one of the best gifts for travelers! This World Scratch Map Deluxe is absolutely gigantic. It allows travelers to hang the map on their wall and scratch off every country they’ve visited.
While I’ll try not to spoil the book, if you’re looking for a crazy tale of drugs, addiction, and adventure – Mad Outta Me Head has everything you’re looking for and more! I’d reckon most nomads will really dig this book, especially if you have a debaucherous side.
When I first hit the road, I was traveling alone. Sure, I had a buddy meet up with me, but for the majority of my trip, I was alone. Four months of hitting Latin American countries alone with little Spanish speaking ability. The epitome of adventure.
I wouldn’t trade that trip for anything. Relaxing on deserted islands, volcano boarding, getting jumped, learning to surf, a few sexy women, and so much more. Traveling alone as a virgin nomad was quite the experience.
Every single day was something new. I was on my toes at all times. I never knew what to expect or what the day would hold. My endorphins were in overdrive. Everyday was a rush of dopamine.
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…But, the only constant in life is change and change. As humans, we are designed to evolve. While traveling alone was exciting, I eventually started making friends with other travelers and bloggers.
I began planning trips with the friends that I’d made due to my nomadic lifestyle. We started renting nicer apartments with multiple bedrooms and solid amenities. We hit the gym together and popped bottles at the club.
Now, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to go back to traveling alone for extended periods of time. I could, but I wouldn’t want to. Why? Because relationships matter. Making memories with good friends and/or family is something that cannot be replaced.
With the homies.
Benefits of Traveling Alone
Still, there are vast benefits to traveling alone. If you’re new to traveling, you should hit the road alone. Here’s a few reasons why:
Expand Your Comfort Zone
When you’re alone in a new country, you will require human companionship. You can act like a hard-ass loner all you want, but you’ll eventually want to hang out with friends.
You’ll want to speak with someone. You’ll want to form a connection with a living being. So, you’ll have to get out of your shell and use your words.
You’ll have to talk to people at the gym. You’ll end up chatting up the people in line at the club. You might chat up the cute girl at the coffee shop. You’ll head to language learning events or join group surf lessons.
This will expand your comfort zone. You’ll speak to people you’d never consider talking to at home. Why? Because you have to. Your human. You need friends. You need someone to hang out with and shoot the shit.
Make New Friends
Due to your need for companionship and the continual expansion of your comfort zone, you’ll end up making new friends. Lots of them. When you’re traveling alone and moving around quickly, you’ll end up meeting people from all walks of life.
The interesting part? These new friends of yours will often be different than your old ones. You’ll meet people that you never would have met or even engaged with back home. This will expand your worldview greatly.
When you travel alone, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You don’t have any plans with friends. You don’t have to go to the club at night if you don’t want to.
If you want to leave to a new city on the spur of a moment, leave your apartment trashed, or come home stumbling drunk and throw on Spotify at 4 a.m. – you can! And nobody will care.
Now, you don’t have to do anything when traveling with friends, either. But who wants to travel with someone that’s a hermit. You’ll end up with less true freedom when you’re on the road with your boys. It’s a trade off.
Not only will your comfort zone expand, but you’ll also grow as a person by traveling alone. You’ll get to know your true self. You won’t have anyone to listen to. So you’ll get to do exactly what you want to whenever you want to.
You’ll also become incredibly self-reliant while traveling alone. You’re in a new city where you know no one. You only have you to count on. If shit hits the fan, you have to solve the problems.
Deserted island lifestyle.
Downsides of Traveling Alone
Now, solo travel isn’t perfect. Far from it. Here are a few of the downsides:
Requires High Energy
If you don’t know anyone where you’re going, you’ll need high energy to get the most out of the city. When alone, you’ll have to continually live outside your comfort zone to make new friends.
You’ll have time alone to recharge your batteries, but the first few weeks in the city without friends will require a lot. You’ll be going out alone, talking to people at the gym, club, coffee shop, etc., and spending a lot of energy creating your social circle.
No One to Share With
Part of creating memories is having someone to share them with down the road. You want those common, shared experiences with your boys. Why? Because 5-10 years down the road you’ll bring them up over beers and start cracking up.
If you don’t have memories with your good friends, then the bond could crumble as life takes you separate ways. With memories, you’ll always have a commonality – even when your day-to-day lives currently are nothing alike.
Con estos mariconessss!
No Help When You Need It
If you travel long enough, you’re going to run into some type of trouble. That’s just how it goes. Without friends, a bad situation can get a lot worse. Sometimes you can’t handle a situation alone.
For example, I was in Colombia a few years back with a buddy who is fluent in Spanish. At the time, my Spanish was not great. I couldn’t understand much.
Then I got into a heated situation. Spanish was being hurled at me so fast I couldn’t understand a word. Fists started flying my way, but never landed. Luckily, my boy arrived just in time. He started replying back in Spanish and the situation quickly diffused.
If he wouldn’t have arrived with his fluent Spanish, things were going to go downhill for me – fast.
As you can imagine, the benefits of traveling with your friends will be the opposite of traveling alone:
Always someone to hang out with.
Built-in social circle.
Someone to create memories with.
A helpful hand when you need it.
Someone to take Instagram photos of you.
Overall, it’s just easier.
Downsides of Traveling with Friends
But traveling with your boys isn’t perfect. There’s a few downsides:
Less flexibility. More compromise.
You’re not forced to expand your comfort zone – if you don’t want to.
You don’t make nearly as many new friends.
The potential to not grow as much as a person.
My Ideal Scenario
After traveling for months on end alone and months with my friends, I’ve found the ideal scenario for me personally.
Ideally, I live in a city where I have friends, but I don’t live in the same apartment. Often, my friends and I will rent studio apartments in the same building.
This way you get the autonomy of living alone with the benefit of being near your boys. It’s a win-win. You can be alone when you want to, but still have the ability to make memories with your boys at the drop of a hat.
Traveling is amazing – no matter how you do it.
What Do You Prefer? Solo Travel or Traveling with Friends?
So, how do you like to travel? Do you prefer solo travel or hitting a new city with a crew? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on traveling alone vs. traveling with friends.
That’s it. This is the best book to study if you want to learn Spanish on your own. It’s not even a question.
Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish is just that – a magic key to unlocking the language. You’ll shorten the learning process by years and quickly become conversational in Spanish before you know it.
Plus, the book only costs $12-13 USD. There’s no excuse to not learn Spanish.
Playa Blanca, Cartagena.
Do You Need to Speak Spanish in Colombia? A Gringo’s Guide
Speaking Spanish in Colombia is a good idea for the traveling gringo. Not only will it make your life easier and keep you out of trouble, you’ll also get respect from the locals who are used to non-Spanish speakers visiting their country.
While I’ve traveled in Colombia with and without Spanish, I’d highly recommend picking up some Spanish before you head down south.
Bogota Vs. Cali? Which city offers a better glimpse into Colombian culture for the traveling gringo? Well, that all depends on who you ask and what you want to do.
Cali may be the cheapest big city in Colombia. The city features smooth salsa vibes in discos throughout the city and a slower pace of life than Bogota. Plus, the weather is absolutely fantastic.
Bogota is the capital of Colombia and one of the biggest cities in all of Latin America. As the New York City of Colombia, Bogota offers big city living and world-class nightlife nearly every single day.
But, which city is better for you…
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Bogota Vs. Cali: A Gringo’s Guide to Colombian Culture, Salsa Vibes, & City Living
If you’re looking to compare Bogota versus Cali and see which city features the Colombian culture you seek, you’re in the right spot.
Below I detail anything a traveling gringo may want to consider when comparing Bogota vs. Cali:
Bogota is a huge city. With over 8 million people in the city proper, the capital of Colombia is a massive metropolis. If big city living is your thing, then Bogota is what you want.
Cali, Colombia isn’t close to the size of Bogota. In fact, Cali has around 1.8 million people the last time I checked. While this isn’t a small number, it’s not a monster city, either.
Winner: Tie. If you like big cities, Bogota is your choice. But a city of nearly 2 million people cannot be discounted. Many will prefer the size of Cali.
As I’ve said before, the infrastructure in Bogota isn’t amazing. In fact, it’s pretty average for a mega city. Traffic is absolutely horrific in the city and public transport leaves a lot to be desired, especially when safety is taken into account.
Cali really isn’t better from an infrastructure standpoint. The public transportation, like the Mio, isn’t exactly spectacular, either. The one area where Cali beats Bogota here? The traffic in Cali isn’t that bad when compared with Bogota.
Winner: Cali, due to less traffic.
Bogota weather is trash. It’s somewhat cold all year around, the sun rarely shines, and rain is more than common. I’m not a fan of Bogota’s climate at all.
Cali, on the other hand, offers amazing weather near year around. While some say Cali is too hot, I’d argue it’s just right.
Cali features temperatures around high 70s or low 80s during the day. At night, it’s cool enough to sleep without an air conditioner. The sun shines nearly every day and rain isn’t that common.
Cost of Living
As the capital of Colombia, Bogota tends to be a little more expensive than the other cities in the country. Still, Bogota is quite cheap compared to Western prices.
Cali is cheap compared to nearly everywhere. Cost of living is quite low. You can find furnished apartments for $300-500 USD in safe areas. If you’re willing to search around, you can find some incredible apartment deals in Cali.
Quality of Life
Quality of life in Bogota varies greatly. On one hand, you have first-world amenities galore in a place like Zona T. Chapinero is fairly upscale, too. Once you get out of the tourist areas in the city, things take a drastic drop in quality, especially when you factor in the weather and crime.
Cali offers a fairly high quality of life, but isn’t nearly as developed as Bogota. In Cali, you’ll find more local owned businesses and less chain restaurants. When you factor in the weather and low costs, you can still live a high quality of life here.
Winner: Tie. Cali would probably win overall, but Zona T is one amazing area in Bogota.
Friendliness of Locals
While some around Colombia say Bogotanos are a cold, calculating bunch – I didn’t find that to be the case. In fact, I found the people in the capital to be exceptionally friendly and helpful – provided you speak a just a little bit of Spanish.
Calenos are incredibly friendly, too. However, there a little more reserved until you get to know them. I believe this is due to the crime in the city over the past decade. Overall, the connections I made in Cali were a bit deeper than the ones in Bogota.
Winner: Tie. Bogota is better for making friends quickly. Cali is better for long-term connections.
Bogota has to be the most educated city in all of Latin America. Nearly everyone in the city had a degree or is studying. Everyone has a job, too. Why? Because the city is way too expensive (by Colombian standards) to live in without working.
Cali is a bit different, but I was still impressed with the education levels of many in the city. While Bogota probably has them beat, Calenos take pride in education and managing their businesses in the city. I met many an entrepreneur in Cali.
Winner: Bogota, but not by much.
As many in Bogota are highly educated, you’ll find English speakers around every corner. While speaking Spanish will help you navigate this mega city, it’s not absolutely necessary. You can get by with just English for a bit.
While English levels aren’t bad in Cali, they certainly don’t compare to Bogota. Personally, I found the more Spanish I learned, the better time I had in Cali. As such, I’d recommend learning a bit before living in Cali, Colombia.
Winner: Bogota by a slight margin.
Gringos. Can’t live with em’ – can’t live without em’. Or maybe you can. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. In my opinion, there just aren’t that many gringos in either Cali or Bogota to worry about.
We’re not talking Medellin or Cartagena here. There really isn’t any gringo fatigue in either Bogota or Cali.
Bogota simply isn’t a great city for nature lovers. Bogota is a bustling metropolis. It’s a big city. To get into nature, you’ll have at least a 30-minute drive before green trees fill the skyline. I don’t consider a few parks as great nature.
Cali, on the other hand, has numerous hiking options available. From Cerro de Tres Cruces to Pance to Lago Calima – you’ll have many ways to get some fresh air while living in Cali.
Cali is a little different. Unless you really love salsa music, the nightlife here is going to get old quickly. Personally, I was never a fan of the nightlife in Cali, but some people claim they’ve found a few decent crossover places.
Winner: Bogota by a long shot.
Bogota Vs. Cali: Which City is Better For You?
Overall, comparing Cali to Bogota is like comparing apples to oranges. These two large cities don’t have a ton in common outside of being in Colombia.
If you’re looking to explore Colombian culture, dance salsa, and live cheaply – then Cali is a no-brainer. The weather and nature in Cali is pretty tough to beat, too.
If you want big city vibes and amazing nightlife, then Bogota simply cannot be beat. The capital of Colombia also features all the first-world amenities you’d ever want.
Winner: Tie. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Looking to learn more about Colombian culture? Check out some of my other articles:
Drugs in Colombia? Tell me more, Jake! No, these aren’t the fun kind of drugs. We’re talking about getting drugged in Colombia and then robbed. We’re talking about scopolamine, the drug that takes your free will and makes robbing you easier than ever before.
So, is scopolamine a real danger?
Well, that depends on who you ask. Many a foreigner has lived in Colombia for years without getting drugged. Others had their drink spiked the first night they went out in Bogota or Medellin.
Personally, I have never been drugged. However, many of my friends did. Even a good friend of mine who has traveled Latin America and Colombia for years did.
Here’s his tale:
“I sat bolt upright in bed and looked around the dark room. She was gone.
I fell out the bed sideways and groped my hand along the table where my laptop was. It was gone, too.
Panic beat out the drowsiness in my body and I scrambled around to find my jeans and shoes. I managed to get them on and flew out of the door.
Once I took the first step on the stairs, my legs gave way. I stumbled and almost hit a guy coming up the stairs.
I had lived in the building for 4 weeks and had seen one neighbor. What were the chances of bumping into one at 4.30am after I had just been robbed?
He let out an amused “Wow!” and pressed himself into the wall to avoid me knocking him over. He probably thought I was drunk. I didn’t care, as I was trying to catch up with the bitch who drugged me.
I got to the main door, threw it open and dashed into the street. It was dead. I looked both ways. Nobody.
I made a half-hearted attempt to sprint down the street after an imaginary taxi that I imagined she was in.
My body was working but my mind was still dazed – there was no taxi, she was long gone.”
…That’s never fun. Getting drugged and then robbed to the tune of nearly $2,000 USD in electronics is a tough pill to swallow. But, is it common?
Let’s find out
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Why It Works
First, let’s learn a little more about scopolamine and why it works. What is scopolamine? Well, that’s a tough one.
On the surface, scopolamine is used as a roofie. Criminals slip it into drinks or attempt to have their targets absorb the chemical through their skin. Once the effects of scopolamine kick in, victims tend to lose their free will.
Instead of being able to make coherent decisions, they find themselves vulnerable to whatever the criminal wants. Often times, this is passwords to bank accounts, sensitive information, and more.
Scopolamine can be extracted from a flower commonly found in Colombia. Many criminals in Colombia get their roofies by extracting scopolamine from this tree named, “borrachero.”
You can also buy scopolamine in the pharmacy to treat seasickness. The pharmaceutical version of the drug comes in a patch used to treat nausea and vomiting while at sea. It’s a motion sickness drug.
No matter how a criminal gets it, scopolamine is also referred to as the “Devil’s Breath” because skilled criminals don’t even require a victim to consume the drug. They can administer scopolamine without slipping it into your drink.
So, what are the some common scopolamine side effects? It varies. As we all respond differently to pharmaceutical drugs, there’s a lot of different reactions to this roofie. The dosage plays a huge role, too.
Common pharmaceutical side effects include (source):
>However, when used as a roofie, scopolamine offers different effects altogether. If the drug doesn’t completely knock you out, which tends to only happen at higher dosages, you’ll become submissive.
You will lose free will. The criminal will be able to tell you what to do, and you’ll obey. In this manner, the drug is not only good for knocking out victims and robbing them of their property, but can be used to steal from bank accounts and more.
Many times scopolamine will be administered and then the victim will go to an ATM or bank and unload their accounts for the criminal.
Other stories about scopolamine side effects have stated that victims robbed their own homes. They would empty out all their furniture into a moving van while the doorman at their apartment building watched.
The victim would seem coherent, so the doorman didn’t suspect anything was up. Then the criminals drive away with a moving van full of designer furniture, electronics, and cash.
How Common is Scopolamine in Colombia
The tree that naturally produces scopolamine is common throughout the countryside in Colombia. As such, it’s not difficult for people to get their hands on the roofie in this country.
While women may be concerned about men using the roofie to rape unsuspecting visitors to the country, the reality is far different. Attractive women often target male visitors who seem wealthy.
They meet these men at bars or on dating sites, and are quickly invited over to a guy’s apartment for a drink. The trap is set and when the man goes to the bathroom, the pretty Colombian girl slips some scopolamine in his drink – whether it be alcoholic or not.
A few minutes later, the man is incapable of stopping the girl from robbing his computer, camera, smartphone, and cash. For many male travelers, this equates to $2,000 or more in stolen valuables.
But, how common is it? Well, unofficial reports state that over 50,000 cases of scopolamine druggings take place in Colombia each year (source).
The reality is that number could be significantly higher. While I spend a lot of time in Colombia, I haven’t had an issue being drugged yet. However, three of my personal friends all have.
All of my friends had their laptops and smartphones stolen. One even ended up waking up in a ditch on the street. You can’t make this stuff up.
Getting drugged in Colombia is common, and it’s becoming more and more popular. Many poor girls are realizing how easy it is to slip scopolamine into a travelers’ glass and rob him blind.
Should Traveling Gringos Be Worried?
Now, I don’t mean to free-monger here. More people go to Colombia and have the time of their life – than those who get drugged and robbed.
You needn’t be too worried about getting drugged in Colombia, but you need to take a few precautions.
First, never leave your food or drink unaccompanied in the country. Finish your drink or your food before you hit the bathroom. Don’t let your new friend or date order a drink for you. Be cautious.
Next, never go to bars and clubs alone. You’re much less likely to be targeted if you’re rolling with a friend or two.
Lastly, build a relationship with your apartment building or hotel doormen. Let them know that any friends or guests of your should not leave without you accompanying them. Give your doormen tips and food. They can offer a small layer of protection for you – if they like you.
And if you suspect a girl (or guy) may be trying to drug you, then stop speaking with him or her and leave. It’s not worth it – no matter how good looking they are.
Getting Drugged in Colombia: Is Scopolamine a Real Danger?
Getting drugged in Colombia happens. A lot. Scopolamine is a real danger. However, with a little common sense, you shouldn’t have any issue.
Colombia is one of my favorite countries in Latin America, and well worth a visit. Just keep your guard up a bit when you’re having fun.