The Infamous Bird Poop Scam – Robbed in Colombia

This story happened a long time ago, (November, in Colombia) and we debated a lot about whether or not to tell it.  We don’t want anyone to worry about us (we learn from our mistakes!) but we do want to prevent other travelers from going through the same thing.  Without further hype, here’s the infamous bird poop scam – how we got robbed in Colombia and how to avoid it!

The Bird Poop Scam - Robbed in Colombia

It was a beautiful afternoon in Zipaquira, a small town outside Bogota, and Zach and I were meandering through town after our visit to the famous Salt Cathedral.  We decided to sit down on a nice park bench and people-watch.  I took out my iPhone to check if there was WiFi (there wasn’t) and then put it back in my hip pocket.  We were just sitting on the bench, when a minute or two later we both felt something wet hit us on the back.  “What was that?” we sat up straight and looked around.  The next thing you know, a bunch of young Colombian women run up pointing at the sky and telling us that a bird just pooped on us.  “Oh great!”  I thought, “Of all the luck!”

Zach and I started exclaiming and laughing about the situation as these women started thrusting napkins at us to help us clean ourselves off.  “Wow,” we thought, “How nice of them.”  I stood up, wiping my shoulder off (the place where I had felt myself get hit) and then one lady pointed out that I had some on a pant-leg also.  I went to wipe that off and another lady frantically showed me that there was more on my other pant-leg.  The same thing was happening to Zach simultaneously.  With my Spanish in it’s infancy, I just kept saying “Muchas gracias, muchas gracias” and trying to get the nasty liquid off my clothes.  After a quick minute of this, the women pointed us to a bathroom we could go to to clean off more, then ran off across the street.  We were still in shock about how great of a target some bird had made out of us, but we managed to laugh about our dumb luck.  We were impressed with how helpful Colombians always proved to be.

It wasn’t until an hour later, on the bus back to Bogota, that I realized my iPhone was gone.  It became clear almost immediately what had happened.  The whole thing was a stupid scam!  There was no bird, only some loser with a spray bottle of something and a bunch of good actors!  These women must have seen me take out my phone and then put it back in my pocket and realized that it was a perfect opportunity for their little trick.  All of a sudden it was so obvious–how they pulled us in different directions so Zach wouldn’t notice, how they kept pointing at different places on my clothes all at once to keep me distracted while they pick-pocketed me.  Argh!  We felt so stupid!  Then, gradually, we started to feel less stupid.  What an elaborate yet so-incredibly-silly plot!  Despite the reading-up we had done on things to watch out for in Colombia, we had never heard of this bird poop scam !  We were still at the beginning of our trip, having experienced nothing but genuine hospitality from Colombians, and we naively gave these women the benefit of the doubt.  We have since seen written warnings of similar “wet liquid” scams like this becoming more and more common in Ecuador and Bolivia, so they must be on the rise everywhere.


Why did I even have my iPhone with me?  I don’t know…I brought it on the trip to use in places with WiFi and as a backup in case one of our iPods died (which has since happened…but no more iPhone).  On that day though, I really didn’t need it with me.  I definitely didn’t need to be carrying it in a baggy front pocket with no zipper or button closure.  Don’t be as stupid as I was.

The biggest lesson we learned is this:  WHEN ANYTHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS, WATCH YOUR STUFF!!!  The biggest advantage thieves have in situations like this is the element of surprise.  They got us this time, but we now know that the first thing we have to do in any surprising situation is to keep track of each other and our belongings!

In the end, it’s not that big a deal.  What would I probably have done anyway immediately on my return to the states?  Buy the newest iPhone.  Of course we wish it wouldn’t have happened and we do get angry at ourselves for falling for such a stupid scheme.  I mean, bird poop?????  COME ON!!!!  But the only thing we can really do in this situation is learn from it and pass on that knowledge to others.  We’re hoping that this was our one-and-only brush with crime on this trip and at least it’s over with minimal harm done!

What do you think of this crazy story?  Has anyone else fallen victim to “ the bird poop scam ” or other ways they were robbed in Colombia?

Enjoy this post about the BIRD POOP SCAM – how we got robbed in Colombia ?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Colombia – Holy Salt!

The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira was one of the most unique and interesting things I’ve ever seen in my life.  It’s an enormous salt mine in which a large already-mined section is ornately decorated with beautifully carved crosses.  The low-key colorful lighting perfectly installed to complement the crosses helps make a trip through the cathedral an eerie and mystical experience.  I also used it as a great spot to work on some low-lighting photography.

The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Colombia

The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Colombia
It´s a salt cathedral, they want you to lick the walls!

The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, ColombiaThe Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, ColombiaBuses from Bogota to The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Colombia are frequent (only 1 hour ride), and Zipaquirá is easy to walk around.  The main square had some nice colonial architecture and lots of cafes and bars.  If you’re looking at South America on a Shoestring, as we were, just be aware that the price to get into the Catedral de Sal is actually 20,000 COP ($10) and there is NO discount on Wednesdays, as the book suggests.  The basic ticket includes a walk through and a goofy 3D movie, which is skippable.  The cathedral, however, is definitely one of the coolest things I’ve seen in awhile!

We actually got robbed after we went to the Catedral de Sal.  Click to read about the Infamous Bird Poop Incident.

Enjoy this post about The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Colombia? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Bogota – The Big City in Colombia

Our bus came into Bogota late and there was no public transportation to our Couchsurfing hosts’ house.  This meant we had to wait in line for 30 minutes for a taxi.  No taxi driver we have had here yet has ever known where he is going.  Carrie asked him, “¿Sabe donde?” “Mas o menos,” he replied.  To us this meant, “I have no idea where we are going but I will drive around in circles for an hour, hope you don’t notice, and try to charge you for my mistakes.”  Luckily this time we got the price up front so when he eventually did get lost he couldn´t rip us off.  So after the 10 hour bus ride, 30 min waiting for a taxi, then 45 minutes driving around the city lost, we finally made it to our destination.

We woke early the next moring to check out the city.  Jumped on the Bogota TransMilenio, which is a bus system that travels on its own road.  It is very efficient and cheap at 1700 COP (less than $1) each, and an easy way to get downtown from anyplace.  Bogotá is much more ordered with less of the amazing chaos that we loved about Medellín.  The main roads are full of chain shops and car dealerships, sidewalks packed with men in suits reading the daily news.  The first thing we needed was food since we haden´t eaten dinner the night before.  In our Lonely Planet guide book (which has been very unreliable thus far…more on that later) we found a vegetarian restauraunt called Quinoa y Amaranto that we wanted to try.  We wandered through La Candelaria which is very European with its skinny streets, although all the buildings are different colors which gives it that Latin vibe.  Eventually we found the resuraunt.   You walk into a small room with a cash register and behind it a small four-burner stove that they cook everything on.  In the corner is a spiral staircase and you climb that and eat upstairs.  They had a set lunch for 12,000 COP which included soup, juice, spinich pasta with pesto, a mushroom salad, and bowl of cherry jelly sauce for dessert.  Muy delicioso!  Not very Latin, but the best meal we have had thus far.


La Candelaria

With our stomachs full, we walked to the bottom of the hill overlooking the city and took the cable car to the top.  At the summit was Monserrate, a beautiful cathedral overlooking the capital city.  The trip was expensive and the car was full of gringos, but it was well worth it for the view.  The whole city was there before you, with clouds casting shadows and rain in the distance.  We were happy to have a safe spot to break out the cameras and shoot some footage for the film.


Overlooking Bogota from Cerro Monserrate

Enjoy this post about Bogota? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.