It turns out that the sex industry in Colombia is off the charts even by Latin American standards. Prostitution is legal in many parts of the country, so much so that Colombia has become known as the "Thailand of Latin America." Hotels not only expect guests to bring back prostitutes but have rules about how long they can stay. Some hotels just rent out rooms directly to hookers, and pocket some of the profits.
The sex work culture is so extensive that people talk easily about status and hierarchy. One of the reasons that the woman in the Secret Service scandal went ballistic is because she was being treated like a "prostitute" instead of an "escort." Quote: "You have higher rank... An escort is someone who a man can take out to dinner. She can dress nicely, wear nice makeup, speak and act like a lady. Thatís me... Itís like when you buy a fine rum or a BlackBerry or an iPhone."
So now you know the difference, and knowing is half the battle. The other half is not getting caught with a hooker because you're too cheap to pay while you're on assignment for the President of the United States. That part's important too. Or just, you know, not doing it. That's also always an option.
[Photo: Alluz / Flickr]