We were just talking about finding postcards for tourists.
Let’s say you finally got yourself some dainty postcards, and you’ve set aside time to write them. Now, you need to post them.
There’s no postal service in Bogotá. Or, let me correct myself. There’s no efficient and reliable postal service here. The publicly run 472 will take 5 weeks to deliver a few pieces of paper, unfortunately for those of us whose family and friends are on the other side of the world and not in the neighbouring countries. (I have not sent anything to Ecuador, Venezuela or USA before so can’t speak for them. Probably should give it a try and test it out..)
Let’s recall the kind of standard service you might have been lucky to have experienced in your country. You go into your district’s post office branch, pay for some stamps that represent a standard fee for any letter below certain weight to go to certain country, region or continent. You receive a set of beautifully designed stamps, touch each stamp on a wet pad and stick them onto the top right corner of your postcard or envelop.
There’s none of that in Bogotá. At 472, you will get your postal service only after a 15-minute registration at the counter (not including waiting time). You will fill in a form that collects all the info about the sender, receiver and the post’s value/content. A sticker label that has an item code and postal cost is then generated. Then it’ll be stuck onto the envelop. Isn’t it a bit of over-engineering to send some postcards?
Given this practice, you won’t get the chance to check out the beautiful stamps that might showcase the country’s strengths, nature, history and culture. It’s a pity actually, as Colombia would be a great country for stamps collectors, given that it’s the second most biologically diverse country in the world. Imagine the birds, flowers and landscape that could go onto the stamps. Also if you think about it, children don’t get the chance to visit the post office and learn how it works to post a letter.. Well maybe in the internet age, it’s hardly a relevant part of childhood education?
Best go with the coffee.
N.B. Since we’re talking about postal service here, I’ll just point out that you’ll always have your DHL and UPS. The private company Servientrega is also popular.
On the point of stamps – apparently they are available for purchase. But they are not used for posts.. Probably collection grade..