South America

‘Gringo’ trap: Perils of Bogota

Jarrod Sierocki

The family of accused drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury has arrived at Bogota airport ahead of visiting her in El Buen Pastor prison. Video: Nathan Edwards

I fell in love with historic Bogota — but it has a seedy side too.

THE reggae music was pumping, crowds of young people chattered in jeans and stylish tops and our group of Aussies and Europeans were sat at a bar table drinking rum and cokes.

But this wasn’t quite like a night out anywhere else: someone was openly rolling and smoking a joint right next to us.

I was a naive 23-year-old in Bogota back in 2008, just a year older than South Australian accused drug mule Cassie Sainsbury, who is now locked up in a jail in the Colombian capital.

While some were flabbergasted at her cheerful smiles as she peered through the bars of El Buen Pastor women’s prison, I was less surprised.

Your preconceptions fall away fast over there.

I had been in South America for several months, and while I’d vowed I wouldn’t go to Colombia or travel alon…

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