As I noted in my last post, after almost two months here, I’ve identified a few things I think the US should adopt from Colombia and vice versa. (I later added a second list.) Here’s the second part of the list—things that Colombia should import to improve life here.
Disclaimer: These posts are about the small things. I’m not getting into the large picture needs of Colombia, such as increased rule of law, decreased corruption, building and vehicle inspections, etc.
From the US to Colombia
Yellow Lemons: Despite the many different types of citrus fruit available, Colombia does not have lemons. They have a fruit called “limon,” which I originally learned means “lemon.” However, at least in this country, it means lime. I’ve heard that occasionally there are yellow lemons at a few grocery stores, but they are outrageously expensive. Even if true, I certainly can’t plan to bake lemon squares or serve chicken piccata for dinner because I can’t be sure I’ll be able to buy the most important ingredient. Also, Colombians love acidic fruits, so I think they would like these too.
Access To Books: Colombia has a literacy rate of about 94% and vendors sell pirated books on the street, usually spread out on a blanket. However, all of the books are shrink-wrapped in plastic. The same is true in book stores, of which there are many. It makes me wonder how people can peruse a book and decide whether to buy it.
Better Designed Traffic & Pedestrian Signals: I have a whole new appreciation for the placement of traffic lights. Next time you’re driving, note whether the traffic lights hang in the middle or are on the far side. In Bogotá, the traffic lights hang from poles that are way before the actual intersection that pedestrians at the corners can’t see the lights. To compound matters, most intersections do not have Walk/Don’t Walk signs. Combined, these two factors leave pedestrians making wild guesses about whether it is safe to cross. I’ve taken to jaywalking* in the middle of a few streets on my way to school because that’s the only way I can see whether any cars coming. The corners are just too dangerous.
Seat Belts (In The Back Seat): As I mentioned in my post about my surprisingly pleasant airline experience, the law here only requires that seat belts be used in the front seat, so no one wears them in the back seat. Those of us who are afraid of being injured in a car accident and want to use them in the back seat are SOL—usually, the buckles are inaccessible having fallen back into the innards of the car.
*Technically, jaywalking means violating pedestrian traffic laws. I’m actually not sure what the law is here about crossing in the middle of the street. I take comfort in the fact that I’m one of many people doing the same thing.