Monday, April 6, 2015

Things I will never understand about Colombia

Colombia is a great country but there are certain things I as a foreigner will never, ever understand.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I really, really love Colombia (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C and no doubt there's even more evidence).

It's always quite hard to pin down why exactly I love Colombia, but the country's diversity of beautiful landscapes along with its warm, welcoming and optimistic people and their inherent love of dancing and rumba definitely have something to do with it.

But even though Colombia is probably my favourite country in the world, there are certain things I have never and will never, ever understand about Colombia. It sure is a great place but it also has some particular eccentricities that I'm not going to even bother trying to comprehend.

Let this be a disclaimer: Colombia, I love you and this is in no way, shape or form, an attack or trying to put a downer on Colombia but as an foreigner looking into Colombian culture, these are the things I am never going to understand about Colombia, such as:

Why everyone has to do everything together. I don't need an escort to go to the supermarket, we're not in a Jane Austen novel.

And why Colombians don't understand why you want to do something by yourself. I love spending time with people but I also love spending time on me doing my own thing (because I'm selfish and I love me time).

Why Agua Panela is the go-to solution for when you're ill. It isn't, it's lemon and honey made by your mam, just so everyone knows. I know it may appear almost identical but Lemon and Honey ftw.

Pointing with your mouth. Every time I even attempt to do it, it turns into a bad case of duck face. What is so bad with pointing?

Attempting to point with my mouth turns into duck face.
My awful attempt at trying to point a lo colombiano turns into this

Voice notes on Whatsapp.

Why no one has credit on their phones, ever.

Crocs, everywhere.

Weird English slogans on t shirts that don't make much sense (Drugs in my body, anyone?) or something if you understood, you wouldn't want brandished on your chest, like this fine example:

Simple but Insignificant weird Colombian t shirt.

Why men think it's acceptable to hiss at women to get their attention. Colombian women don't like it. Nor do foreign women. Basically, as a general rule, women do not want to be treated like pets.

Mullets and rat tails. A trend that should never, ever have left the 80s. Cut them off now, or I will.

The obsession with American shopping centres.

Sugar in bread.

Sugar in juice.

Sugar in 'natural' yoghurt.

I just want food as it was naturally intended without the sugary additions. Please, Colombia. Kthanksbye.

Speaking of food, how do Colombian women eat all the fried goodies Colombia has to offer and still stay slim?

One last food-related point - why. no. vegetables.

Bum implants.

How Colombians have not mastered the art of subtly staring at people and unashamedly do so.

Why can't Aguardiente be mixed.
I'm pretty much like this man when I've had a few too many guaros. Image via mario

Why aguardiente can't be mixed. It would make a great Colombian Caipirinha (Lime, sugar, ice and guaro, job's a good'un), I'm sure it'd be similar to Fernet and Coke and it may even taste nice with some tonic water and a good squeeze of lime. It would probably prevent many guaro-related incidents and injuries too (which I'd be eternally grateful for).

And dare I say it, aguardiente full stop. It just isn't my drink of choice (I know this is sacrilege).

On that note, having practically blasphemed, I will leave it there.

I've said it once, I will say it again - I love, love, love Colombia and I will always say in heartbeat that it is my favourite country. However, as the above list shows, there are some particularities I can never get on board with and will always be part of my outsider status here in Colombia.

What particularities did you not understand in Colombia? Have you encountered similar things elsewhere?


  1. Haha at the slogan t-shirts! Gotta love a poor translation!

  2. Honestly, there are times when I want to go up to people and tell them what it actually means. I don't even know where the designers themselves get the phrases from in the first place!

  3. Oh my god, that t-shirt. Hahaha. I see loads of those here in Korea too. They're too hilarious not too buy.

    The sugar thing's also super common here too and I found it the same with Mexico. Whyyyy must you make everything sweet? You can't even buy butter here because they add sugar to it - It tastes like cream. Blergh.

  4. Sugar in butter, oh my days that is sacrilege. But yeah I have to say, I cruelly enjoy the awful English t-shirts but I really want to tell them that they wouldn't want to be wearing it if it was in Spanish. I suppose it's the equivalent of people having Chinese symbols as tattoos and it turning out to be chop suey or something equally as unsexy haha!