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@radiobrendan
Right. That’s it. I can’t stay silent about this any more. In fact, if I don’t vent now there’s a danger that if things build up any further, who knows what I might do? So, let Operation De-steam commence.

A Bogotá bus full of 'hot seats'.

‘Watch out! This bus is full of nasty hot seats, all out to get you.’

Good citizens of Colombia please, for the love of the Christian god many of you adore so much, get over your fear of the hot seat. Where on earth did such an illogical aversion come from?

If cramming (should you be lucky enough to actually cram on that is) onto a bus or Transmilenio is part of your daily routine, another thing that you’re guaranteed to see are people hovering, for at least 20 seconds, over a just-vacated seat.

The reason for this is to let the seat cool down and, I imagine, give the new occupier peace of mind that he/she won’t contract some disease that may be ‘hovering’ (sorry) about from the previous person. What difference, though, is a short interlude going to make? If you’re that concerned, from a health/hygiene perspective or whatever, why not bring some disinfectant and rubber gloves in order to give the seat a good wipe down before you take the plunge. You can’t be too careful now, can you? Also, the rest of us have our own concerns, so covering your mouth when you sneeze would be a help.

Now, it could be that the multitude of those who hover are just engaging in a stagnant squat exercise, a simple, effective way to tone the thighs; never miss an opportunity to work out and all. Indeed, looking at it that way lessens my anger somewhat. Fair play to the overweight-bordering-on-obese ‘hoverers’ on making an effort to get their bodies back into shape.

Be that as it may, any benefit gained from the above is cancelled out by some other questionable hygiene hang-ups.

One of those is a reluctance for some to drink out of a real – that is to say reusable and generally more environmentally friendly – cup/mug in a public place. The reason for this is an abhorrence of using a coffee cup that somebody else used, again this being down to a disease/germ fear, even though it has been cleaned. No, they prefer these poor quality plastic cups that practically melt once a hot drink is poured into them. With that they proceed to consume a concoction of coffee and chemicals from the melting plastic; just add cyanide to taste.

The not so 'neat and tidy' Buenaventura.

A typical Colombian beauty & trash mix in Buenaventura. There are a few plastic cups in there. Rubbish aside, it’s a city Wrong Way likes.

There’s also this fussiness about not touching bread with your bare hands. OK, ‘what’s wrong with that?’ you might ask – a good practice to uphold. The thing is, some people dislike seeing you eat your own bread or whatever with your own bare hands. This is despite the fact that bread and such like in most establishments is left uncovered, out in the open, free to mingle with all sorts of airborne material, including regular encounters with those dastardly sky rats, or pigeons if you will. It all just adds to the flavour I guess.

So you’ve a host of these rather puzzling fetishes concerning personal hygiene, yet a large part of Bogotá – and many other urban areas throughout the country – resembles a dump, and in some cases a toilet. A little bit more of a desire to clean up the immediate environment rather than being overly – in a misplaced manner – occupied with self preservation wouldn’t go astray.

That might make us all feel a little better; and healthier.
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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    • beforechrist

      Hi Camilo,

      Absolutely, we Irish have plenty to be ashamed of. Indeed in many ways it’s why I feel at home here! I love this country, but just like my homeland, there are things that annoy me here. I could go along and pretend that everything is great and wonderful and nothing is out of place as some people do, but I don’t live in such a world. Yes, this latest article is very much tongue in cheek — there are far worse things happening in this country that need to be addressed. I’ve touched on a number of them in previous posts.

      It’s good to talk and discuss these things though, not to bury them and pretend they don’t exist or aren’t happening — trivial or serious.

      So cheers for taking the time to read and to leave a comment. Much appreciated. Salud/Sláinte 😉

  1. chespirito80

    Hi Brendan, thank you for your blog. A long entry for really such a small issue. But it is your blog anyways. And despite the fact that we do take criticism it sounds kind of hateful the way you write “…yet a large part of Bogotá – and many other urban areas throughout the country – resembles a dump, and in some cases a toilet”. Although it is true and I really don’t know where you are from, I can assure you that ALL PLACES IN THE WORLD have something to be ashamed of. But, going back to your point, what you are referring to as hovering on the seat, is really a cultural thing that has been in the city, and maybe the country for generations. Is like when Italians move their arms to speak. Sometimes there are things that are hard to explain, so, get over it, it is not a big deal, and tone it down on the way you talk about our country. At least respect the fact that you live in it. I assume, you work in it, eat in it, and have friends in it. Cheers, and relax.

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