Welcome to the second in our series of Colombia Portraits. These are a series of interviews we have conducted with expat professionals here in Colombia. We’re interested in knowing just what these people are doing here. Why did they move to Colombia of all places, and what is their life like now they’ve moved.
Christian Petersen is the founder and manager of Bogotá Graffiti Tours, which is an up and coming tour company in Bogotá focused on the artists and history of street art and graffiti in Colombia’s capital.
Introduce yourself… What’s your name, where are you from and what do you do here in Colombia?
I’m Christian Petersen from Australia. I run Bogotá Graffiti Tours, a free (almost) tour covering Bogotá’s vibrant street art scene.
And how long have you been here?
Well that sort of depends. I came here about 10 years ago on my travels and stayed for a while, but then went travelling again. I ended up coming back here a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back since!
Why Colombia, and why, specifically, Bogota?
Well, in all my travels I never really came across anywhere that I totally felt at home with apart from Colombia. It’s not like life is perfect here, but the country is so varied and beautiful and the people are so nice that you just feel extremely welcome. Not to mention the country has some great business opportunities, if you can get over the red tape involved.
What sort of red tape?
Oh there’s just a lot you need to do if you want to move here, it doesn’t make it completely ideal but then on the other hand there are so many opportunities that it makes it completely worth it. My Bogotá Graffiti Tour, for example, is pretty much the only tour exclusively focused on that scene in the city.
What were people’s reactions like when you said were coming to Colombia?
Honestly I’ve been travelling for so long I don’t think anyone was particularly surprised when I said I would settle abroad! Maybe a couple of people wondered ‘why Colombia’, since it’s image is pretty bad abroad but they knew I’d visited so I didn’t get too much resistance.
What keeps you here? What is it that makes it a place you’ve stayed for so long?
Well really what keeps me here is my girlfriend and soon-to-be-born baby, which might not be the answer you were looking for but that’s the truth! That and the great travelling opportunities.
And what would you change? What do you find frustrating?
In Bogotá, traffic and weather without a doubt.
What are some of these travel opportunities you’ve been talking about?
Well obviously you should start any trip off with a Bogotá Graffiti Tour, but after that there is so much to see. The variety of Colombia is what really makes it incredible: snow-capped mountains, paradise beaches, deserts, modern cities and some incredible jungles. Not many tourists go to Providencia but they should, it’s incredible.
I’ve been here ages now and I still haven’t exhausted the travel opportunities, so if you’re coming and want to see everything bring a lot of time and a lot of money.
Any final comments?
Colombia is a great country and if you’re reading this deciding whether to go or not, just go. You won’t regret it.