Safety, Romance and Health in Colombia: Dawn’s Tips
Health in Colombia
Feminine Hygienic Products: What’s available/what’s legal/where to buy them?
All feminine hygiene products are readily available at any droguería or supermarket (Éxitos) at an inexpensive price. They have import brands, but always keep in mind that these are more expensive.
Birth Control: What’s available/what’s legal/where to buy them?
Birth control pills are available at farmacias without prescriptions. Depending on where you purchase them, they cost around 9000 COP for a month’s supply.
Gynecologists: Are there any that you recommend? How, if at all, is a visit different from at home?
In both Medellin and Bogota there are many options for gynecologists, and it isn’t too hard to find one who speaks at least some English if it’s more comfortable for you.
Breastfeeding: What are accepted places for women to breastfeed? Is it accepted to do so in public?
Breastfeeding isn’t very popular in public but is still seen in parks and on buses. It’s becoming more popular as nutrition programs are encouraging women to breastfeed their children for longer.
Romance in Colombia
Dating Locals: What are the norms and traditions? What should women look out for?
Relationships vary greatly throughout Colombia, but often a more traditional style of men initiating relationships is common. Some men are players, and have a girlfriend already but will be very flirtatious. Men in Colombia can be very charming and sweet, just enjoy with caution!
Types of Men: Describe a few “typical” types of men.
Often men are very flirtatious towards women, particularly foreign women, and while flirting is a normal part of culture, be warned a lot of these men may have a girlfriend or even wife and kids at home.
In more liberal areas and bigger cities (Medellin and Bogota) Colombia is LGBTQ- friendly. In the small town of Guatape they even have a drag contest as a part of New Years celebrations.
Women’s Place in Colombian Society
Women’s Rights: Do women have the same position in society as men? How can you tell?
In larger cities, genders are equal, with many business women and leaders. However, outside of larger cities there’s still a prevalent machismo culture of females staying at home to care for children and men providing for families. Women also tend to have children quite young in less urban areas.
Local Women: What are some clear cultural differences between you and them?
In cities, Colombian women are incredibly well dressed, poised and very friendly. In smaller towns, they are very open and often older women are very lively! For the most part, aside from my hair color and lack of fashion, Colombian women are very similar to women in the US, but with much better salsa dancing skills.
Women-Specific Environments: Are there places where only women are or are not allowed?
No, none that I know of.
Perception of Foreign Women: How do local men/women react to you when you say where you’re from?
Both men and women are incredibly friendly and tend to like to practice English when they learn where I’m from. They’ll often ask more questions, and most importantly ensure that I am having a wonderful time in Colombia. Colombians are the most welcoming to foreigners!
Safety in Colombia
Transportation: Any that are safer/less safe for women to take?
Transportation around larger cities (including buses, metro and taxis) are all safe for women. Again, using general caution like not traveling at night alone and using trusted transport services (Uber is popular) is always recommended in cities.
Dangerous area/s: Any specifically for women?
In the larger cities (Medellin, Cartegena and Bogota) there are still areas that aren’t recommended to visit alone as a woman (and more areas at night). There are some parts of smaller, rural areas where more caution is needed, but some cities such as Guatape, are completely safe.
Clothing: What to wear/what not to wear?
Dress nice (especially when in the big cities), the standards for dress in Colombia are very high and you’ll stand out more by wearing your casual traveling clothes. Coastal and rural areas are more relaxed on attire but dress is a person’s first introduction to you, and in Colombia it means a lot.