Bogota Rules – Then and Now

While living in Bogota, Colombia, back in the early 1970s, there were very few non-Latins around, being the mercenaries from Vietnam looking for work with the M 13 or Pablito, draft dodgers, adventurers, and other kids. 

No matter the circumstances of our getting there, we hung out and helped each other stay safe. We had a code called ‘Bogota Rules,’ a series of street smarts and general safeguarding that we applied living in an unfamiliar country and edgy culture.

Puerto Vallarta clearly is not Bogota, however …

When we move out of our old home comfort zones, it is only normal and human to reach out to other people, engage, create bonds, alliances, romances, etc. Mainly because many of us have left lifetime friends, family, and lovers behind when we jumped ship and dropped into this tropical paradise. 

We tend to trust to readily, give up our personal space too quickly, invite into our homes new friends and acquaintances that we know nothing about or where they came from, who they are, and what their motives are.

Naturally, we judge according to our nature and face value and project our own openness. We all want to belong; we all want love and acceptance.

Unfortunately, these same qualities make us vulnerable to situations that may turn out not as pleasantly as one had hoped. Those of you that have been around awhile have heard about these unpleasant, and sometimes fatal situations.

Not only the Gay community has been victimized by so-called ‘friends’ and lovers with over-confident and open attitudes, that some ex-pats reveal.

Okay, here they are, for what it’s worth, and generally applies to singles.

1. Do not invite new friends home; meet in public places and rent a room if you like.

2. Do not give your key to anyone, not even your domestic helpers (They have kids, brothers, etc.), unless you know where they live and their family and they have been with you for a number of years, and then refer to no. 4.

3. Be at home when you have workers in… always, always, always.

4. Change your keys every 6 months and whenever you change residences. I learned the hard way.

5. Avoid live-ins; find out where they live, work, and who their family is before handing over your key. Refer to no. 4.

6. A phone number is not enough background.

7. Do not lend money and expect to get it back; it’s best to give what you feel comfortable giving.

8. Do not hand money over to someone you don’t know thoroughly to administrate, make payment for you, etc.; it gets lost, stolen, or mysteriously disappears.

9. Don’t party alone, take a friend you know.

10. Be discreet with your financial affairs. Avoid being the ‘big spender’. This is a green flag for those looking for an advantage. Keeping a low profile is helpful.

11. Check your house or apartment for security – doors, windows and terraces. Simple security systems like wrought iron grills work well.

12. Do not keep much cash or jewelry in the house; get a wall safe if necessary.

13. Don’t show off your best jewelry except at private parties. Get yourself an inexpensive watch.

14. Use a cross-body purse.

We learned these rules by observing the behavior of the Bogotanos in a rather wild, lawless, and crazy time in South America.

The good news is:

There are still a few of us around that can talk about it.

So pay attention, be observant, listen to your gut, be safe, and enjoy the differences of this culture by taking care of yourself.


  • Krystal Frost

    Krystal earned a degree in Asian Medicine from the University of Guadalajara, then Bastyr University for an acupuncture specialty, and has served our community since 2004. She has written a health column for the Mirror for over 20 years. Many thanks to my readers over two decades!

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