Things Colombians Love

I have been mentally composing this list for more than three months. I finally feel ready to present to you, dear reader:

Things Colombians Love

  • Beeping-This can mean anything, from “get out of the way” to “you are a blonde Gringa” to “you are a person on the sidewalk and I am in a car”
  • Erasing-I already touched on this, but I can’t stress it enough. Colombians love erasing, but they don’t always bring their own erasers. Fortunately, Colombians also love sharing.
  • That one ringtone-If you have spent more than a week in Colombia, you know what I am talking about.
  • That one cologne-Ladies, you know the one. Every Colombian guy seems to wear the same cologne. This can be very confusing.
  • Saltines-I can’t explain this one. This is the go-to snack.
  • Asking how you are-This is not as simple as it sounds. No one ever just says “Como estás?” No, it’s more like: “Oye, como estás? Bien o qué? Qué pasa? Qué más? Todo bien? Sí o no? Qué tal tu día? Estás contenta o qué?” etc, etc.
  • Greeting you correctly for the time of day-God forbid you accidentally greet a Colombian “Buenos días” if it’s after noon. They will gleefully correct you “No, no, buenas tardes.” This has made me develop the habit of constantly checking my watch to make sure that, as soon as that hour hand hits 12, I switch to buenas tardes.
  • Bracelets-Honestly, this may have been more of a thing during the World Cup, when I arrived here. But at that time at least, EVERY COLOMBIAN I saw wore at least one bracelet with the Colombian colors. I still think that an unusually high percentage of people wears bracelets, mostly the kind you buy on the street for about $1. I am one of these people.
  • Blinking-This one took a while to understand, and I am still a little confused. Sometimes Colombians make intense eye contact and then blink very deliberately at you, and smile. I eventually figured out that they seem to be doing it at moments when I would consider a wink appropriate. I tried doing the Colombian blink in class recently, and my students thought it was hilarious. But they think all of the dorky things I do (which is most things) are hilarious, so I embrace it.
  • Figuring out what celebrity they look like-I briefly touched on this before, but this is intense, at least among my students. Here is a running list of the people and characters that I can remember my students comparing themselves and others to: Ugly Betty, ALF, Mr. Clean, Bart Simpson, some characters from Dragonball Z, the cockroach from Men in Black (at least they call it a cockroach), Apu from the Simpsons, Tyrion Lannister, and a llama.
  • Carlos Vives-When one of his songs comes on in a club, everyone LOSES IT.
  • True crime TV-They love it! Colombians seem to feel about true crime the way Americans feel about Law & Order SVU. From what I have seen, most of the crime shows are about dumb Americans, dubbed into Spanish.
  • Talking about the weather-Mostly, Colombians love asking foreigners how they feel about the weather. They take a weird pride in how hot and uncomfortable it gets. Also, they can often be seen wearing sweatshirts when it is 90 degrees.
  • Fog-I never heard anyone say that fog was beautiful until I arrived here. Colombians LOVE IT.
  • Brushing their teeth-Colombians love their teeth in general. Pretty much everyone has great teeth, or they are working on getting them, as braces are very affordable here and many adults have them. But they really love brushing their teeth. At lunchtime, the bathrooms are packed with people who crowd around the sinks to brush. I have had several students show up late to afternoon class and brandish their toothbrushes at me by way of explanation.
  • Spelling English words like they are Spanish names-This can take many forms. Some of the more famous ones I have heard of are Usnavy, Usmail, and Onedollar. And then of course there is…



One thought on “Things Colombians Love”

  1. Alf? really? some kid in your class (a) knows who ALF is and (b) thinks they look like him (and as a totally 80s aside – ALF’s real name is Gordon Shumway…believe it, because I LIVED IT!)
    And yes, the teeth thing is pretty crazy for me at work. All the Latinas lined up in front of the sink after lunch…and no travel size nothing…all full sized tubes of toothpaste and real (not foldable) toothbrushes.

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