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The first step in solving a problem, so it is said, is realising you have one. It pretty much stands to reason really. You’ve got to know what you’re trying to fix before you begin to fix it.

Yet, for some things, what one person sees as a problem, or at least feels it is an issue that needs modifying, may not be a cause for concern for another.

Carlos y Wrong Way, Fernando's (Las Panelas), La Perseverancia, Bogotá D.C.

Home from home: Having a laugh with the locals in La Perseverancia. Good man, Carlitos!

Take my well documented like for socialising in Bogotá’s working-class barrios, or more specifically speaking La Perseverancia, as has predominantly been the case over the last year or so.

For some expats and well-heeled locals, they see such behaviour as somewhat of a problem. And it’s not all to do with safety reasons, where they may have valid reasons on occasions (but where is that not a concern in Bogotá or most major cities?). No, it’s more to do with the social aspect of it.

Don Oliver's, La Perseverancia, Bogotá D.C, Colombia.

Don Oliver (pink shirt) runs one of La Perseverancia’s more ‘upmarket’ tienda bars.

That is to say, as a relatively young (I’ll still class myself as such), single guy, I am doing myself a disservice by spending time in such places.

The chief reason being, gauged on the advice from other ‘classier’ men, is that I won’t find appropriate women in these locations. The way they see it, I’m wasting valuable time in the ‘quest’ to find my true love by frequenting Bogotá’s ‘dives’.

OK, they have a point. It’s unlikely I’m going to find ‘the woman I’ve been looking for’ (eh, who?) in the likes of La Perse, especially when the chicas who live there don’t appear to socialise much. For it must be said there are some fine, if a little cold and flaky, ladies in these barrios. Do note that as regards flaky, there isn’t really a class divide in these parts for that particular trait.

Yet, trips to the fancier ends of town don’t yield greater results or, as far as I’m concerned, a better quality of woman. Indeed, paradoxically in a way, they often throw up types who are more concerned about money and image than those from the poorer neighbourhoods, with a dollop of arrogance thrown in on top.

Notwithstanding that, the chief reason I continue to hang out in working-class barrios more so than others is that, and this surprises some, I actually enjoy it; a feeling that thus far hasn’t shown signs of dissipating.

Don Fernando The Great

Service with (kind of) a smile: The very amicable Fernando in his tienda bar in La Perseverancia.

This comes down to the fact that I find the people very friendly. From a La Perseverancia perspective – although it’s not exclusive to there – it has a community vibe to it. It’s what you might call ‘el campo en la ciudad’, ‘the countryside in the city’. And being a countryman by birth and at heart, I feel at home in such places in the midst of a chaotic city.

In contrast, in La Candelaría/Las Aguas, where I currently live, it’s a little bit more solo in this regard. A big reason for that is because it’s the city’s tourism epicentre and to have a foreign face here makes it more difficult to become part of the place or an ‘accepted’ local.

Many Colombians in La Candelaría see no difference between a flying visitor and somebody here on a longer-term basis. (It must be said that after over three years floating around the historic city centre, this is now less so the case for me. However, the process of assimilation happened much quicker and with more depth in La Perseverancia.)

As for Bogotá’s exclusive locations, well they just tend to leave me cold, and, at times, angry.

‘Romance’ wise? I’m single and enjoying life, things are fine. That ‘single ship’ is rocked on occasions, but there hasn’t been a really strong reason to jump from it just yet.

Now where’s the problem?
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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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