Skinheads in Bogotá: How I Avoided Getting Beaten Up (Thanks to Being Stupid)

I love playing the role of a brave, seasoned traveler, but at the core, I am actually quite naive.

My orientation sense got lost on the way (better say, I never had one!) and my intuition wasn´t ever that great in the first place. I also demonstrated a really poor judgment skills when it comes to people – several times. You might wonder – how come she is still safe and sound and stray?

Update 23 july 2017: well, I did run into trouble after all. Read how I survived a car crash.

Well. She just does not realize some stuff.

You remember being told (by one of those annoying motivation couches who only make you jealous of their income and miserable about your decisions)(no? Is it just me?) the life is what you make it? That the world is your oyster  your mirror the way you decide to see it? The cup is half – full or half…ok, you got the point, I stop here.

That´s not the way it works. The trick is simple.

The key sentence goes like this:

Sometimes you are lucky and sometimes you are not. But the real luck is to tell the two apart.

Let me illustrate my point with a story:

It was one of these Bogotan nights, cold, but dry and light. We were having fun playing music in a park when a strange group of people approached us; while we were playing, it was as if the music kept us in a protecting bubble. Once we stopped, they started coming closer.

Read more: Insider Guide to Bogotá, Colombia

All our friends suddenly packed up and disappeared. When these guys came towards us, we were almost on our own.

“You got some beers?” they asked us.

They looked shabby and rough, their punk clothes were torn and their voices rogue. The few of us left there froze. I mean, except me. I cheerily replied:

“Unfortunately, we don´t. But we have this! Do you want some chips?” with that, I offered them a bag with the rest of potato snacks left on the bottom.

Having said that, I offered them a bag with the rest of potato snacks left on the bottom.

“No!” “Yes…” they blabbed.

While the moment of surprise lasted, we swiftly walked away, running after the rest of our group.

“They wanted to kick our ass!” my then boyfriend told me.

“Really? I thought maybe they just wanted to talk…”

“No, they were looking for a fight. You should have run away. Instead, you gave them chips…”

Read more: The craziest places I have ever slept at

It looks like I am really clueless. So I offered papitas to violent neonazis? So it seems. Apparently, they were so startled that they forgot to beat us up.

My now husband likes to point out that this is a perfect example of how love can overcome hatred.

Someone wants to break your neck? Give them food. They might change their decision.

I would add, only try that if you are like Bohumil Hrabal, the author of the following line:

“Even in my bad luck I have always been lucky.”

"By loving we shall win"
“By loving we shall win”

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Stray story seeker. Hungry hitchhiker. Wannabe polyglot. Aspiring travel writer. Currently bumming around in Turkey.
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22 Comments

  1. I can definitely relate.. I tend to be too adventurous and at times naive when traveling. But what good advise to humor the situation with the almighty source of life – food!

    I prefer to ask “Why Not!?” rather than “Why?”

  2. I find it very important to be acutely aware of yourself when traveling, especially if traveling as a solo female traveler. I depend so much on my sixth sense that my boyfriend maintains that I am sometimes super paranoid, like the time that a guy followed me down the entire subway track while making eye contact before lurking outside our train car after walking through almost all the cars on the F train. More generally, this sixth sense has gotten me out of a lot of situations where I’ve been chased, someone tried to pickpocket me, and felt uncomfortable with someone. It’s also allowed me to figure out who to trust. Although it’s great that this situation turned out fine, I hope you get better at reading people as it can prevent a lot of things from going wrong.

  3. Great story!!! I am a bit the same – I always think the best of someone/a place until they do something that proves otherwise. So far I’ve really had any issues on my travels. I think if you are trusting and kind people will want to prove you right. My friends who are more paranoid when they travel are always the ones having things stolen or being ripped off. Be positive and positive things will happen!!

  4. I often end up in those situations. Like that time in Finland I was going to ask something locals in a shop that was opened – what could possibly go wrong? Well, it was Friday evening that could go wrong. And what do Finnish people like to do on Friday evening? Exactly, drink. They were drunk and so I had to run away as fast as I could have!

  5. Hahah we are very similar! I once made friends with a street gang in LA because I was naive and wanted to be everyone’s friend while walking home drunk. They didn’t even know how to react when I skipped up to them and greeted them. They just stood there while my friends begged me to run. Turns out they were friendly back! Yes, love can conquer, be safe though in your travels as it’s not always the case.

  6. Roberta

    Thanks for sharing that story. It has truth in it. I don’t believe in luck tho, I think everything happens for a reason, good or bad. Whatever happens to you you need to learn from it and grow as a person 🙂 Have a great day!

    adventurousmiles.com

  7. I was waiting for a bus once alone at night when a group of punk squeegee kids came up to me and asked me for money. I literally didn’t have any, had lost my job recently and I was living off beans and rice and had just enough for the bus fare. I said, “Sorry, I’m broke, I only have enough for the bus.” They said, “Don’t worry about it, would you like a beer?” And they proceeded to take beers out of their coat pockets and offer one to me. I said, “Ok” and drank one with them. There were 4 of them all guys and pretty rough looking but they didn’t cause me any harm and made my wait for the bus a lot more interesting. I instinctively expect the best from people and I know that may be naive but more often than not, people give me their best sides.

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