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How to live like a Rolo (that is a Bogotano)? Be like a local in Bogota.

Posted by on in Bogotá and Around
The Bogotano is a strange creature, and difficult to pin down. Thanks to decades of displacement in Colombia's countryside the city-wide identity of the Bogota Citizen is confused at best. Indeed, there is a visible difference between the city's north and south; not just in architecture and wealth, but in interests, tastes, dress sense and even ethnography (which is undoubtedly dictated to some extent by wealth).

[caption id="attachment_809" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bogotanos in La Candelaria Living like a Bogotano in La Candelaria

As such, it's difficult to pin down an average day in the life of a Rolo. Many wake up at the most ridiculous hours of the day to pull along a cart that'll be filled with cardboard. Others wake up at the most ridiculous hours of the day to get into their porsche and drive to Davivienda, where they'll preside over some of the country's most important financial decisions. Some will wake up at normal hours, grab a bus and go about their business working in a small coffee shop. Others won't wake up until their maid forces them to, and they'll merely plan their next trip to Europe using their father's money. For these people, Colombia and Bogota are very different beasts.

There are, however, some uniting features of Rolos, and some things are so prevalant that, even if you can't paint the whole city with the same brush, you can't fail to notice.

Drink coffee

Coffee may well be more of a Paisa thing, but thanks to the influx of Paisas and the strength of it as a symbol of national identity, most Bogotanos indulge in several cups of tinto daily. Whether this is in Juan Valdez or just from a dude with a flask on the street depends, of course, on who you are.

Learn about Colombian coffee

Have a smartphone

[caption id="attachment_802" align="alignleft" width="180"]Blackberry the smartphone of Bogotanos Blackberry, the smartphone of choice for Bogotanos

No Bogotano from the mid to upper echelons would be seen dead without a smartphone. The weapon of choice used to be the Blackberry, but as they got cheaper and began to penetrate other areas of society, the richer kids have preferred to be seen with iPhones and Samsungs. Of course, there is the fact that these phones are infinitely better, so if you can afford them they're the better option.

Wear a blazer and roll the sleeves up, straighten your hair

This one's for the laydeeez. If you want to look like a true Bogotana, you gots to get rid of that frizz and get down with the straight kidz. You should also (depending on where you're planning on being seen, this is mainly for the La T/Parque 93 crowd)) wear a blazer with the sleeves rolled up, knee high black boots and a top you bought in Tennis.


Weather? Too hot or too cold. Traffic? Awful. Petro? Don't even get me started. Buses? Stupid. It's always best if you start of your complaint with an "uuush".

"Uuuuush pero que frio!"

...But be fiercely proud

Still, just because you complain, doesn't mean other people can. You're intensely proud of Bogota and Colombia and you'll be damned if a foreigner will come here and complain about the food/weather/prices. It's a similar deal with food. Rich Bogotanos will wax lyrical about Colombian food's delights. And then eat in Wok, Crepes, Papa John's, Sub Way... And basically anywhere that doesn't serve Colombian food.

Be friendly, but not too friendly

Elsewhere in the country people will gladly stop you for a chat merely based on the fact that you're foreign. Here you'll find things distinctly more European. Heads are down, chats can be brisk and generally people seem to have a purpose. That all falls apart, however, come the evening. In Bogota, even the most unlikely friendships can be forged over a cheeky aguardiente. Similarly, once engaged in conversation for whatever reason, Bogotanos are outrageously courteous - going as far as to thank someone merely for coming to their country, or even just being in an elevator with them.

Be focused, but not too focused

Your walk should be brisk and you should try to ignore strangers using a general stand-offish stance. Still, if you spot someone you know you will stop wherever you are to chat to them. Seriously, in the entrance to the Transmilenio or the middle of the whole walkway is just fine. Exchange pleasantries, ask "how are you" in several different ways, shake hands, and then be on your way. You having to be at work should not get in the way of you being nice to your friends, after all.

Have a drink!

Bogotanos love a good drink, so be prepared to see away plenty of Aguardiente, rum and beer when you stay. Nothing gets people swaying to the music like a nice carton of low-price liquor.

Hate reggaeton/vallenato. Love reggaeton/vallenato

To become a true Bogotano (especially a young, wealthy, trendy one) you have to develop a strong love/hate relationship with vallenato and reggaeton. You can't stand reggaeton, but it's the only type of music that you'll play at your house party for the first 2 hours. You can't stand vallenato, but at the end of the night you'll grip that box of Nectar so hard as you pour it lovingly into your friend's cups while belting out every single word of "Oye Bonita".

[caption id="attachment_810" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Act like a local in Paloquemao Market Bogota Act like a local in Paloquemao Market Bogota

Want to live in Bogota for a few weeks/months, get your own flat at :

Got any more? Do let us know in the comments.
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