There’s not a yard you can walk in Colombian cities without being asked
for money by a beggar or to buy something you don’t need. In some cases
you want to just give him or her 200 pesos, in other cases –when the
glue is still sticking to his or her nose for example– you may want to
Many people disagree whether giving money to beggars is even a good thing, because you’re not sure what that little money will be spent on. To avoid having to worry your pesitos will be spent on drugs or other things you don’t want your money to be spent on, you can always buy the man or woman an empanada, a cup of coffee or –if you are near the supermarket– some aguapanela.
Spending money on vendors is different, they are actually working for their money, even though some jobs (selling shoelaces on buses or being the 30th in the same street to try to sell you chicklets) are a bit silly and are closer to begging than being an actual entrepreneur.
The good thing about Colombian beggars and vendors is that they’re generally polite (the Caribbean coast excluded). Often they will start saying “I am sorry to bother, but” or “excuse me, but would you collaborate with?”, which, compared to other countries in the third world is an actual delight.
If you decide to say no, there’s friendly ways and there’s rude ways. A simple check at the Poorbuthappy forum produced a number of tips to be taken as seriously as they deserve to be.
The nice way
The not so nice way