About

The name “don’t give papaya” is a translation of a Colombian saying meaning “don’t let yourself be taken advantage of”; that as long as you’re careful, you’ll be fine, since otherwise “papaya given is papaya taken”—you can’t leave papaya out. When people talk about Bogotá being dangerous I just tell them if you’re doing stupid things sure it’s dangerous, but so is any city. Colombia has it’s share of other problems, but they are more often than not blown out of proportion.

We started this blog summer of 2011 when we both moved to Bogotá, but Syd has since had to leave for L.A. and we’ve decided that that’s a natural place to finish. Still, we definitely suggest looking through the archives, there’s tons of information there. Thanks for dropping by. (and don’t be afraid to drop us a line.)

Manu: was born in Colombia but moved to the states as a kid and so still found the move back interesting. She has a degree in physics and has now fortunately moved on to study the more interesting field of philosophy at UNal. She has a music blog here.

Syd: took a gap year to live in Bogotá but has since moved back to L.A. which is thankfully similar in many ways. Syd is studying linguistics; and has a doodle blog here, and a queer movie/food blog here.

questions, comments, whatever: dontgivepapaya@gmail.com

5 Responses to About

  1. Mau (mauricio) Castellanos says:

    I’m a guy who was born in Bogota but lived in the States since i was 3 -almost all of my life, -except for a 4 year stint in the 80s when I worked in my Dad’s jewelry company in the Candelaria. I like your blog but the whole “no de papaya” mentality really bothers me. I think it is more prevalent in La Costa and Medellin and not so much in Bogota, because I think us Rolos have a little more sense of honor. I may be increasingly wrong about that. Anyway, the thing that bothers me is that the “no de papaya” concept makes it the victim’s fault that other people are dishonest. If something is taken from you, it’s your fault because you gave the bad guy license to rob you by giving him “papaya.” To that i angrily respond, NO, I DID NOT GIVE ANYBODY PAPAYA, THAT PERSON IS A THIEF!! I am so adamant about this, I would like to start a nationwide ad campaign called, “La Papaya es una Fruta,.no es una Excusa para ser Deshonesto” What do you think?

    • syd says:

      As with most things, I don’t really think it’s a black or white mentality. We chose to use it because coming from the states people are always asking, “is it dangerous? What will you do there?” the way people who are not from big cities ask about any of them. Yes, cities are dangerous, but you have some control in how that plays out. It is rather victim-blamey, but it is also about just having your wits about you. Sort of the English “fool me twice.” While in an ideal world one could walk down the street alone at night with your cell out, the reality of the world is not there and it is foolish to live as if it is. In my mind, when I got mugged at knifepoint at night it was something I should have been more careful about, and rather than get too bent up about the thief personally I am more concerned about the larger socioeconomic situation that puts people out on the street stealing cellphones for a living. So it’s a larger issue, and less about honor than it is about coping with the world as it is while agitating for change. But I am all for a future of papaya as just a fruit!

    • Manu says:

      Exactly what Syd said. Moreover, it’s obvious you did not live here long enough or in the context to really understand this cultural difference or call yourself a Rolo. That saying I think, really is like a metonym for society here. That person might is a thief, but the whole point of highlighting the saying is to highlight the cultural difference, not endorse it as some kind of absolute.

  2. Mau (mauricio) Castellanos says:

    Obviously one is wise to be aware of one’s surroundings and avoid dangerous situations in which one may fall victim to predators in Colombia and really anywhere. And I have no doubt there are countless numbers of poor Colombians who are in desperate financial situations and may resort to crime in order to feed themselves. Those are not issues involved with my idea of what is wrong with those who take advantage of “papaya.” I am really concerned with the idea that one’s personal property is fair game if one momentarily or through inadvertence misplaces or loses track of it, and that those who take advantage are seemingly absolved of their dishonesty because you “gave them papaya.” It leads to stealing for stealing’s sake, regardless of a person’s economic station. I have experienced this. My problem is that there is no such thing as the lost and found department in any institution in Colombia where the idea “finders keepers, losers weepers” really applies, This mentality leads to the idea that if you can get away with stealing, go for it, you are a “vivo” and a “berraco” and it’s really the guy who was careless’ fault. Therefore, you are required to be hyper vigilant of all these potential thieves with regard to your belongings, because they are just doing what comes naturally. THIS IS WRONG. Colombians need to be reminded that any form of stealing is wrong and that the whole Papaya thing is not excuse for being dishonest. The Papaya thing is a rarely recent phenomenon that came about with the moral collapse of the drug trade and other social vices over that last few decades, it is not a Colombian tradition,

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