I came across this beautiful blog post, and since it is hosted on Myspace, and was posted in 2007, I want to reproduce it here to preserve it. The original blog post can be found here:
Sam’s brother comes for a visit. He’s twenty years older than Sam, and he’s an engineer at a nuclear power plant. His questions revolve around safety.
“I just want to be sure my little brother’s safe down here,” he says. Well, given his profession, the safety obsession makes sense.
He’s pleased to see Sam has an extended family in Bogotá, us ragtag group of expats that look after each other in such a dangerous, unseemly environment.
“So what’s the biggest risk you guys face down here?” he asks me over the pounding music in the bar.
“Honestly?” I reply, “Getting hit by a bus.”
Sam laughs, but his eyebrows go up as he heartily agrees. I’ve almost absentmindedly strolled into traffic a few times, and that’s definitely the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. Anything else can be explained – oh, he was caught in a crossfire, gut-stabbed by a drug-addled mugger, pissed off the wrong guy in the wrong place, the grenade ignited the propane heater on the deck of the bar, these things happen – but hit by a bus while jabbering on a cell phone? Fuck me, that’s no way to go.
Everything in Colombia is a contradiction. I’m fond of saying I’m so fond of Colombia because it’s like the entire world condensed into one country. It’s a land of tremendous opportunity and limitless destruction, paradise and damnation, say what you want about the place and it’s probably accurate in some way. Nothing is true and everything is permitted, and vice versa. But everyone wants to know the same thing about Colombia:
Is it safe?