Privacy in Colombia

question-markAlmost everytime we go to a shop to buy things like clothes or electrodomestics, at the register they start by asking either mine or my wifes Cedula number (ID). Sometimes we are not paying attention and just give it, which leads to the next questions: what is your name, where do you live, phonenumber, email address etc?

The first time this happened to me I did not think about it too much and gave them my information as it was a famous clothing store here (Arturo Calle) and did not worry too much about them using the information wrongly. The second time they asked me somewhere, I just asked them why they needed it and the reply was a simple: “I have no idea”.

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The third time a store asked me for all these details, I actually wanted to see what happened if I would refuse to give it. Amazingly in that particular store, they said they could not sell anything to me if I did not give them any information!! I was probably “lucky” and had the only clerk in Colombia that would not just make up a name and address, but anyway, it happened and I left the store semi-mad. From then on I decide that I was going to have a fake name: Oscar Ortiz and my address, phone number and Cedula are very flexible.

Now I don’t want to scare anyone, but most know that in its history Colombia has had a big problem with kidnapping, which luckily has changed a lot in recent years. Besides this there are cases known where people try to find out as much information as they can and they get you involved in their scam. Actually everywhere in the world, people are getting more aware of things like identity and bank fraud, but here it seems nobody is really worried when it comes to this particular situation. In other situations (like over the phone, or when meeting new people) many people are actually extremely cousious here with giving information.

idtheft-1I am not particularly worried of being kidnapped, as I own no more than the couch I am sitting on and the bed I sleep in (which both are very comfortable by the way), but I find it amazing that people are so easy in giving all their information to what basically is a stranger. It even goes so far that on the receipt that you have to sign when you pay something with a debit or credit card, you have to add your ID number and leave your phone number! So now they have your credit card number, a magnetic copy of your card, your signature, your ID number, your name and everything else they would need to clone you or your cards (accept for a picture, but that should not be too hard to fake)

It says on the receipts that the DIAN (government) is obliging everyone to fill in the details correctly and that they might check these receipts to see if you have. Well if they ever want to visit Oscar Ortiz, they can give me a call and I will happily pass and explain to them my objections to this way of dealing with peoples privacy.

Ah no wait!! they don’t have my number!!!hehehe

More Ciclovia – Biking Ways

As I noticed that many people are looking for information and pictures about the Ciclovia, I am posting some new pictures I took this last Sunday. For those who do not know what Ciclovia exactly is (even after watching the pictures), please check this earlier post.

Celia Cruz – La vida es un carnaval (Music)

Celia Cruz (Cuban) was worldwide known as the queen of salsa and had an impressive career with 23 golden albums to her name. She unfortunately passed away in 2003, but many of her songs you can still hear in Latin parties around the world. This particular song is actually the only one I know so far. It is translated into: “Life is a carnaval”, life is a party and it is one of the songs that gets me moving easily.

This video comes with subtitles that I think are made with some online translating site as there are some mistakes, but you get the idea:

Oiga, Mire, Vea – Orquesta Guayacan (Music)

A pure Colombian song from Tierra Caliente (Hot Land): Cali. The video shows some nice images of the city, which I have not visited myself yet so I do not know too much about it. Enjoy!

Bodyguards, blinded cars and convoys

bodyguardsOne of the things you will have to get used to living in Bogota are the people driving around with bodyguards in their armored cars with blinded windows and possibly a guy on a motorcycle two meters behind them.

Regularly you will see one or more Toyota(s) or other brand of SUV with some blinking lights and/or a siren to warn you to get out of the way (or get run over hehe).  These cars are normally used by high police or military officers, politicians, diplomats or by rich people. For “normal” people  there really is no need (or money) for these cars but I imagine that if you have a lot in the bank or are important in some way, it might not be a bad idea to get some extra protection on the road. Even if it would be just to frighten that idiot driving in front of you that does not want to go out of the way. The added benefit is that you do not have the limitation of car use called pico y placa that everone else has!

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So, now that our “fantastic” mayor Mr. Moreno has decided that we can not use our car two full days during the week, I was looking on how to get around this issue so I would actually be able to go places. A friend told me that me being a foreigner would probably make it relatively easy to get a license to armor my car, but at the same time it would damage my car due to the remodeling and the sheer weight of the special glass, it would make it hard to sell my car, my gasoline consumption would go steeply up and besides that I have the impression that I would actually draw more attention to myself than makes any sense. If you want to stay out of harms way, it might be a better idea to stay out of its sight first!

So no armored car for me and also no bodyguards. Besides not having the money for it, I simply do not need it and if I would feel that I would need special protection to be able to live here, I would leave right away. Ah and for getting around this pico placa nonsense, I have some other ideas that I am going to try out!

ZOE Restaurant – my kind of eating

Just before going into Carrefour for some products we can not find in “our own” supermarket, a strong hunger feeling lead us to the third floor of Centro Comercial (Mall) Santa Ana. Here you will find my favorite:  WOK, but also Crepes & Waffles, El Corral and some others that are less famous.

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This day we decided to try something new and walked into ZOE, a fresh looking place with the kitchen in the middle of the guests. As it was a very beautifull day with blue skies and sunshine we took a table at the windows and enjoyed the view of the city while waiting for our limonada natural (lemonade).

limonada-naturalZOE serves salads, sandwiches, wraps and I think I remember some heavier plates also. We choose the smoked salmon wrap and a fallafel wrap, which both turned out excellent. After finishing with the fried yuka (kind of patato) that the plate came with, a waiter drove up with a little car with some deserts. We choose the capuchino flan which was nice and fluffy and good of taste. All in all we really were impressed with the place, the decoration is modern and of great style and the food was up to par with WOK, which means a lot in my book.

ZOE, calle 110, 9a-70, 3rd floor, tel: 6124581

Btw. the pictures are not the best as there are taken with my phone…

Full 80´s – party with the A-team and Bon Jovi

full-80-4Saturday night we went out with some friends to a bar called Full 80´s, which has two locations in Bogota. The theme of the bar is obviously the 80´s but also music and intros from famous series from the 70´s and 90´s is used to entertain the customers. We started the evening with some picadas (fingerfood) like empanadas and quesadillas combined with some mojitos and whiskey.

Seeing the intros in the background and hearing some of the tunes of our teen years, memories that were almost forgotten came up and we had a great laugh about all the stupid things we did and wore back than. One strange difference between me and the Colombians I have noticed is that I have NO clue who Chips is or are! Two guys on a motorcycle does not seem to be that big of a deal people!!

full-80-1After a steady consumption of drinks we moved inside from the terrace to step up the party and it took off. Being not too sober anymore, we danced like it was 1999! Unfortunately the place has to close at 1am and we were politely kicked out. We decided to go to our place with a cousin and his friend we met in the bar and somehow the hours passed rapidly from there. With only 3 hours of sleep behind us we got a wakeup call to  go to San Victorino with my parents-in-law…

Full 80´s; Av 19 118-48 and we have seen it around Calle 13 with 96 (not 100% sure), tel: 2138066