What to do

In our resolve to see all of Bogota, Ivan and I took a transmilenio to the south of Bogota’s last week. As I have heard many things about the south (mostly bad) but have never actually gone, this area of Bogota holds a lot of intrigue for me. I don’t know what I expected to find. I suppose it has the same connotations as Southeast D.C., which, in my 20 years of living in Washington, I’ve only seen accidently through a car window while trying to find a club or bar in northwest. The sheltered life I’ve lived…

Anyway, in Restrepo, which is a commerical area around Calle 40 South, Ivan decided to get his haircut. It was only the equivalent of US$3, but I think we were overcharged for being American. You are taxed heavily in Colombia for being foreign. Oh well. But back to the topic. Even though I’m American, I have Latin roots, and this results in me being unashamedly nosey. I can’t help it. It’s in my DNA.

So while Ivan was getting his hair cut (which for some reason took about 30 minutes) one of the hairdressers was talking about her son, who was sent to a psychiatrist because he was acting out at school. The psychiatrist asked to meet with the boy’s mom (hairdresser) and asked her questions such as: What time do you go to bed? Do you have boyfriends? Do you drink? et cetera, et cetera. Girlfriend was not pleased. She informed the manicurist that she told the psychiatrist to go to hell and stay out of her life. Then she told the manicurist (not in these exact words) that psychiatrists are all nosey skanks who get off prying in other people’s lives. Up to there, I didn’t really think much of her comments, a lot of people would react the same way to those kinds of questions.

But then she then proudly tells the manicurist that when she came home, she took out the whipping belt and told her 14-year-old son to meet his new psychiatrist, that he was no longer going back to school and had better get a job because a real man doesn’t talk to someone else about his problems.

Listening to that just made me sad. A 14 year-old kid has problems, and instead of learning to deal with them, he learns to suppress them and go out of his way to NOT get help. Rich people in the United States talk about visiting their psychologist like a suburbanite might talk about going golfing, but in el Restrepo, Bogota, a hairdresser views the psychologist as the enemy. I’d like to think it was an isolated case, but the way the manicurist and the other hairdresser were rooting her on, I’m thinking it’s pretty common. I feel like there’s a lot of child abuse in Colombia. I wonder how you even go about changing that kind of education gap.

Categories: Bogota, Colombia, Colombian culture, Observations, Random, Serious Stuff

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