Day by Day

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Impressions

When we got to Bogota, the first thing that happened after we were picked up is that we all headed to the Embassy for a Force Protection Briefing. That's pretty standard. You go somewhere new, and there's somebody to tell you what the dangers are. When we went to Santo Domingo, the guy there was pretty straightforward. "Crime is high in X area, don't go there. Don't drink the tapwater. We have a problem with Dengue Fever, if you feel X, Y or Z symptoms let us know. Avoid the street food vendors, they're not really safe. Have a great time!"

Bogota? Five page memo, double sided, with maps of where you could go, where you couldn't go, places that you probably shouldn't go to, areas you couldn't go during certain times at night, clubs you can't go to, things you shouldn't do, an entire damn list of things to look out for, and a good half-hour dissertation on the dangers of a drug called scapolomine, which is used by Colombians for everything from rape to kidnapping to robbery. It's like Roofies, only they can mix it into a spray form and it'll get absorbed through your skin. I guess one way they grab people is to package it in a perfume bottle, and then spray you with it under the guise of selling you perfume. "Here sir, would you like to sample our new fragrance, "Bogota Breeze"? spray spray spray And as you're walking away, they have someone follow you. Once you go all woozy, they sweep in and do whatever they have planned.

They can also put it into your drink in damn near any form, or toss it on your food. So we were told to always travel in groups and be very careful.

One of the clubs on the list of "DON'T GO THERE" was in a supposedly safe area, the "Green Zone". So after the briefing, we asked one of the guys what had happened in that club to put it on the banned list. Apparently, some E-6 had gone there to have a drink or two, and someone slipped scapolomine into his drink. He woke up thirteen hours later, butt-nekkid in some park, with a Coca-Cola bottle shoved up his ass.

All the way up there. Yep. And it was one of those old-fashioned thick, glass bottles. He couldn't walk for a couple of days after that.

Oh, and there are swarms of kids in certain areas of Bogota who will run up and beg you for money. Either one of two things happens - either they pick your pocket as you try to fend them off, or they pull out a knife and shank you, then steal your money. Nice, eh?

Now, keep in mind that all this doesn't happen to everybody. Hell, it doesn't happen to the majority of people. But it can happen, so they have to warn us about it. Personally, I didn't have a single problem while I was there. Even got a picture of myself in front of a place called "King David's Pub". I'll have to put that picture up later.

I figure I'll do one more post about the detail tomorrow, and then I'll be done.

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