Use phrases that translate into completely different meanings in English
If a Colombian calls someone a “parce,” they are not referring to their bed buddy, instead this is commonly used as their version of “bro.” Don’t look perplexed if they ask “que mas” because they don’t mean “what more,” they mean “what’s up.” “Bacano” can’t be found in your translation book, but if you use it, you will be seen as bacano or cool.
“Listo,” is not always “ready,” but instead it is another way of saying “ok.” Add “pues” to any sentence , and it makes it sound authentic (i.e. Chao pues, listo pues). No true Colombian phrase guide would be complete without explaining that in Colombia, hijueputa is said in anger and in complete happiness. For example, you could call the guy who cheats on you an hijueputa, but you could also say, Colombia won the game, hijueputa!!! It fits in so many places.
Walk into the home of any Colombian living abroad (particularly in the USA) and you will find several small shrines to their beloved country and their Catholic roots. Frequently, one corner is dedicated to “la virgencita,” several crucifixes, a Jesus poster, saints statues and candles that are lit every time your mami decides to pray that you will pass a test, find a man, or have a baby.
In another corner, maybe in the same room, their will be a Colombian flag, perhaps a small model Chiva (Colombian bus), a mini-finca (Colombian farm), a traditional black/white sombrero worn to any event where you want to be recognized as colombian, a carriel (man-bag)and maybe the latest Seleccion Colombia poster (national soccer team). At the front door, your papi will probably have a machete in its traditional holder for your “gringo” boyfriend to see when he comes to visit.
Immediately identify what state/region of Colombia someone is from by listening to one sentence in a conversation. Local pride reigns supreme.
Your accent gave it away and your fellow Colombian has deciphered whether you are Paisa (from Medellin), Rola (from Bogota), Calena (from Cali), Costena (from the coast). In that same minute, they have judged you and decided whether or not they are going to like based on your region. For example, Paisas and Rolos have a long-standing feud.
Regional food, traditions, and overall beauty are all valid points of contention, but don’t even try to begin talking about what area has the best-looking women. It is rumored to be the cause of many machete fights.
Drink Aguardiente AKA “Firewater” AKA “Guaro”
Colombia’s national liquor is Aguardiente which literally translates into “burning water” or “fire water.” Since the fiery water is served as a “chorro” or straight shot, it often feels like it is scorching your esophagus. Have no fear! Just chase it with a small slice of salted mango and all is well! After a couple, you will be numb and only feel liquid happiness.
“It’s your birthday? Guaro. Getting married? Guaro. Heartbroken? Guaro. Had a baby? Guaro. Someone died? Guaro. Holiday? Guaro. Team victory? Guaro. It’s Tuesday? Guaro!!!!”
Eat “arepas” for breakfast daily and rice with everything
Tortillas are the “felicias” of Colombian cuisine – they are not needed nor wanted anywhere around. In Colombia, the “arepa” is queen bee. Arepas are flatbreads made of ground maize or maize flour dough. A typical Colombian breakfast consists of an arepa with cheese, chorizo or eggs. Later on in the day, there will always be rice ready to serve with any and every dish, regardless of its pasta, “sancocho” or a “bandeja paisa.” Low-carb dieters would starve in Colombia.
There is a funny meme that says “Colombians be like….Ma, LA AREPA!” – it wouldn’t let me pin it
Drink “tinto” (coffee) all day, every day
Colombians have coffee in their blood (literally, it probably contains dangerously high levels of caffeine). Colombians are proud of their coffee, so the next time you want to introduce your Colombian friend to another country’s exotic coffee – don’t. That would be considered treason. The following provides a snapshot of the coffee/”tinto” drinking schedule of a typical Colombian starting at about age four.
Wake up = drink tinto.
Mid-morning snack = tinto
Lunch dessert = tinto
“Algo” AKA evening snack = tinto
Dinner dessert = tinto
Before you go to bed = “tintico” (small tinto)
Physically hurt when they see Colombia or Colombian spelled “Columbia” or “Columbian.”
Can misspelling a word cause someone physical pain? Nine out of 10 Colombians report chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, and nausea after seeing Colombia spelled with a “u.” If you are guilty of causing these Colombians such physical discomfort, remember, Colombia is a country, Columbia is a brand of sportswear and a University.
Dance at any and every event till the break of dawn.
Birthdays, weddings, baptisms, first communions, baby showers…no party is too small, no religious sacrament is too sacred. “Papi” is drunk, “Tia” is pregnant, the “primos” are fighting and “abuelita” can barely walk – yet, all of them are on the dance floor till 4 am dancing to salsa, vallenatos, or cumbia. Colombians even celebrated scoring all of their world cup goals by dancing – their hips don’t lie