unas observaciones

  • It might have something to do with their turbulent past, but Colombians are incredibly optimistic. About everything. Rather than seeing problems, they seem to think in solutions, and as a rule are all willing to join in solving a problema when one sticks its nasty head up;
  • This optimism also counts with regard to distance and time. If a Colombian tells you something will be a 20-minute walk, you can be sure it won´t be any less (as is often the case in any other place you ask as a tourist). If you buy a ticket for a busride, count at least 1,5 hours extra than the official time stated, and sometimes even double it (no matter how many times a ride has proved to take 5.5 hours and not 3, the ticket officer will still assume the best-case scenario);
  • Colombians don´t mind noise. The volume in most bars is turned up so high that you’re hardly able to speak at all (also in bars that are not for dancing). Every morning at 7 the whole block (and probably the three next blocks as well) is woken up by the same teacher praying through the speakers of the primary school that is just around the corner, followed by morning gymnastics on the same jingle played over and over again (pampampam, pampampiedam – it even follows me in my dreams now);
  • Commercials are equally loud and bulky. Advertisimg is done in a manner that may remind Europeans of advertising in the nineties (in an exaggerated voice and with many ahhh’s and rolling RRR’), and blasts from the radio, megaphones, and mobile caddies everywhere you go;
  • Colombians LOVE sugar. If something is sweet, it´s TOO SWEET. It´s hard to find tinto (coffee), yogurt, and bread that is not sweetened. There´s sugar in EVERYTHING. I swear that they even put sugar in freakin´ cheese sometimes.
  • Sugary goods often also contain butter. Colombians LOVE butter. Again (surpriiiiise), like sugar, there’s often butter in bread dough;
  • Basically, food often comes in three options: heavily sugared, heavily salted, or fried.
  • And pretty much every meal contains rice, meat, and often one type out of the wide variety of papas (potatoes);
  • It won´t come as a surprise that Colombians in general don´t mind a bit of extra body-fat. It is seen as a beauty trait. Also the girls with not perfectly slim waists proudly show their belly. Good for me, because it is IMPOSSIBLE to stay skinny in this country;
  • `A la orden,` is without a doubt the most often-heard phrase in Colombia. It basically means ´at your service´ and is used by vendors at the side of the road (especially by male vendors who are just trying to catch your attention), as well whenever you enter a shop, again at the cash desk, and then one last time after you´ve paid.
  • ´Con mucho gusto,´ definitely comes second. It can mean ´you´re welcome´, ´nice to meet you´, or something like ´the pleasure is mine´, etcetera etcetera;
  • Pavements are incredibly (ridiculously! unnecessarily!) high in this country (but hey, good exercise to get off those extra calories);
  • And last but not least: whereas in Europe the world of cuisine is mostly male-dominated and there exists a silent understanding that men are better suited to handle the stress that goes together with this kind of work, the kitchen staff of many Colombian restaurants mainly exists out of women (and YES: the head of cuisine is often a woman too). Eat that, Europe.

(This article intends to single out some general cultural tendencies. Of course there are many exceptions to the statements made above; by no means they are ever to be taken as absolute.)

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