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“You can take the man out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the man.” OK, that old saying doesn’t really apply to me in its entirety.

For Bogotá’s ‘barrios populares’, the working-class neighbourhoods, are still ‘where it’s at’ for me, in a living and socialising sense. So, for better or for worse, I haven’t removed myself from them.

Brendan 'Wrong Way' Corrigan in La Perseverancia, Bogotá, Colombia

At home in the barrio tienda …

Moving on up?
The most significant change in the last few months, outside of the new trial podcast, has been the addition of a full-time, relatively well-paid job, the first time I’ve had a proper 8-6 gig in Colombia (Dolly Parton would have to change the lyrics of her 9-5 hit to suit these parts).

With that new employment have come, unsurprisingly enough, new colleagues.

“Most aren’t from uber-rich backgrounds.”

Now I think it’s safe to assume that none of these, or at least very few of them, are from uber-rich Colombian backgrounds. No, the majority would appear to be associated with that growing — so the government here like to tell us it’s growing anyway, being as it is a sign of a country on the up and all that — middle class.

So in this regard, I’m paddling the same canoe as my new workmates. Earning more than the majority but still a good bit off the strata five and six living.

The thing is, when it comes to socialising, while I’m happier to do that in these aforementioned barrios populares, a lot of my colleagues prefer the swankier and — as far as I’m concerned anyway — unjustifiably expensive parts of town.

Yes, I’ve been banging on this drum for some time now. The situation isn’t going to change in the near future, if ever.

Nonetheless, to restate the point, some people see my reluctance, nay refusal, to socialise in said swankier parts of Bogotá as being tight, ‘tacaño’ as they say here.

“It’s like paying over 20 euros for a pint in Europe.”

I have no problem paying more for something that I feel is worth it. However, when it comes to socialising or more specifically nights out, what is anathema to me is paying multiples, perhaps over five times more compared to what I’d pay in my barrio, for practically the same thing, “la misma miér…coles” as they’d say here. In all honesty, it makes me uncomfortable. And a little bit angry.

Barrio is best
Now just to put that in ‘First World’ terms, when you compare the price in a barrio bar/tienda to Bogotá’s ‘plush’ places, it’s like paying over 20 euros for a pint of beer in the latter. How many of you would be willing to do that?

This isn’t a case of ‘knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing’ in relation to the fancier establishments, especially so when it’s pretty much the same bloody product, often delivered with a poorer service.

Fair enough, the price of this ‘service’, i.e., the extra staff, has to be taken into account. What’s more, there are generally higher utility charges and the like (this is where government action is needed to provide a reasonable middle ground).

That being said, handing over what I deem to be excessive amounts of cash is not my idea of a good time.

This is why I’ll be largely sticking to socialising in ‘my’ barrios for the time being.
Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan – The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz”.

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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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