Being Colombian is a glorious thing. Colombia was deemed the happiest country in the world – twice, so we must be doing something right. We truly wish people knew more about our country and people, outside of the negative stereotypes; the best way is by sharing our culture with the world. Here are 15 things that Colombians will relate to, which will give fellow paisanos a sense of nostalgia, and everyone else a glimpse into what it really means to be Colombian.
It’s Colombia, not Columbia.
We have eradicated diseases, are working on traveling to Mars, and are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence. However, many in the world haven’t seemed to grasp the concept that it’s Colombia – not Columbia. It’s the bane of a Colombian’s existence, but not as bad as the following issue …
The stupid drug jokes and other stereotypes.
Another widely accepted thing is telling Colombians drug jokes, even when meeting them for the first time. No, I am not a drug dealer. No I don’t have a cocaine hookup – I haven’t even used cocaine – ever. While we are tackling stereotypes, all Colombian women aren’t overly sexualized, easy women either, toppling over from fake boob and butt jobs, and we aren’t all crazy, drunk partiers.
These flag colors are hard to wear fam.
You know Colombians love their country because we agree to wear the three primary colors – yellow, blue and red together,on a regular basis. Bright yellow just isn’t super flattering on everyone. It’s gorgeous on our flag, but looking like a banana isn’t necessarily what we have in mind.
Explaining to people what aguardiente is.
Aguardiente, which translates to “fire water,” is Colombia’s national drink. It’s made with sugar cane and anise, and we usually lose people when we say it tastes like black licorice. But it’s tasty, strong, and almost always the precursor to a fun night of partying Colombian style.
Pointing things out with your lips.
The Colombian Lip-Point 🇨🇴 😙🔜 This is one the amusing cultural quirks that I learned about while in Colombia. Instead of pointing in the direction they want to indicate, many Colombians will instead point using their lips. It is a fascinating idiosyncrasy to a foreign eye. pic.twitter.com/H1nAQum1Ha
— Eddie White (@EddieWhiteJr) September 3, 2020
Colombians will point towards things with pursed lips, which really saves time if you think about it, since we just speak and point with the same part of the body.
Our obsession with potatoes.
Papas criollas, papa rellena, Papa chorreadas. We love potatoes. We use it in the soup known as ajiaco, and it is a constant on the dinner plate, alongside rice and meat. My mom is a “papas, arroz, y carne” kind of girl, and so are most Colombians.
Not needing an excuse to party.
We don’t party every single day, but a lot of Colombians love to find an excuse to. There are hundreds of festivals in Colombia every year, celebrating everything from jazz in the park (in Bogotá) to the Festival of the Wayuu Culture (in La Guajira) to the Exposición Internacional de Orquídeas (International Exposition of Orchids) in Medellín.
Ay que pereza.
Ay qué pereza salir de la cama 😑…Buenos días pic.twitter.com/cJADyOnNRI
— ℕ𝕠𝕖 🤍 (@noeminist) August 1, 2019
We say this. A lot. On autopilot. It means “oh what laziness,” and we say it when we don’t want to do something, are lounging around (but still feel guilty about doing so), or are apathetic about something.
Our immense pride in coffee, emeralds, flowers, birds, etc.
Don’t try to tell a Colombian that we don’t have the best coffee in the world, because we do. Or at least, we are fully convinced of it. We will also proudly mention that 70 to 90 percent of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia, we are the second largest exporters of flowers in the world, have the most species of birds in the world, and are tied with Thailand for most Best National Costume wins at the Miss Universe pageant.
Regálame: literally “gift me,” but is used to mean “give me”
Loba: literally means “wolf,” but is used as a word for a tacky woman
Vieja: not only an old lady, but can also mean a woman, your mom, your “old lady,” i.e. esa vieja, mi vieja
Plata: literally means “silver”, but also is used to denote money
Vaina: literally means “sheath”, used to say “thing”
Gordo/Gorda: literally means “fat”, but is used as a term of endearment, even if the person is skinny
A La Orden: literally means “at your order.” Means “at your service.”
You can find more words Colombian words here
We love to use diminutives.
It’s not cafe. It’s un cafecito. Not un beso, rather un besito. We like to use diminutives, which is adding an affix of ito or ita to the end of a word, which makes it the small version of that word (and thus makes it sound cute), or adds more emphasis to the word, i.e. ahorita (right now). We’ll even go an extra step and make the word ahoritica (right, right now).
Explaining hot chocolate with cheese to people.
It’s so delicious, we swear. Maybe it’s because the chocolate is bitter instead of super sweet, and gooey cheese (which balances the sweet with salty) is usually a good idea in anything, but Colombian hot chocolate is the ish. Every Colombian kid remembers the hard blocks of chocolate, the aluminum chocolatera, and the rapid whisking of the chocolate and milk (or water) with a molinillo between the hands. Throw a buñuelo, arepa, and/or pan de yuca on that saucer and call it a day!
Explaining that accordions are cool.
Some people think of Steve Urkel or polka music when they think of accordions, but for Colombians, it’s the essential ingredient of our music, and our culture. It is the center of the storytelling vallenato genre. Nobel Prize winner, novelist, short story writer, journalist, screenwriter and national treasure Gabriel Garcia Marquez said that his masterpiece, Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) was a vallenato of 400 pages, and that the accordion has the ability to communicate something visceral that “wrinkles our feelings.” Don’t believe me? Watch this video (I’m currently all misty-eyed right now).
Our medical miracle cures.
We have fabulous doctors, hospitals and the like, but Colombians will always be about the old-school, abuelita medical cures. Aguapanela con limon (sugarcane water with lemon), caldo (soup), Vick’s Vapor Rub, 7-Up, and honey with lemon are some of the traditional remedies when feeling under the weather.