1. If your mother calls your name, you certainly don’t answer “¿qué?” (What?)
Otherwise, she will immediately say “Señora, aunque se demore un poco más” (Ma’am, even if it takes a little longer). You learn that you must always respond respectfully.
2. You are familiar with Pony Malta, bebida de campeones (the champions drink).
Most foreigners don’t like the taste of this malt, but Colombians love it. Since we grew up drinking Pony Malta, it’s the kind of flavour that brings our childhood memories back.
3. And your favorite hard liquor depends on the region you grew up.
In Colombia, there are several types of ‘aguardiente’. So your favorite might be Antioqueño, Néctar, Llanero, Tapa Roja or other, and for sure you’ve tried most of them.
4. You are not in a hurry to run away from your parents’ house when you turn 18.
In Colombia, family is a core value. Living with your parents when you are older or until you get married is completely normal.
5. You are always ready to eat arepas.
You can eat all kinds of arepa, any time of day. From the plain one from Antioquia to the sweet arepa de choclo, all are perfect for breakfast, for lunch as a side, as a snack in the afternoon with a nice hot chocolate cup or even for dinner stuffed with beef, cheese or any other ingredients.
6. You consider the best medicine for a cold or the flu is aguapanela with lots of lemon juice.
It is an infusion made from panela, a solidified subproduct from sugar cane. The panela is always present in Colombian households.
7. You know how to dance.
Even if you are not an expert, the rhythm will flow through your blood somehow. You might ever start dancing wherever there’s music, even if it’s not a party.
8. You love fútbol (soccer) and will never get over the 5-0 Colombia vs Argentina.
Once upon a time… Colombia won five goals over zero to one of the favorite teams (Argentina), during the classification round of the 1994 World Cup. You can easily relive that day in your mind.
9. And you’ve celebrated the triumph of Colombia in a soccer match throwing eggs and flour at everyone on the streets.
Plus, you chant after goals is with the song “Colombia tierra querida”.
10. You have danced until dawn and got drunk in one of the many carnivals and festivities of the country.
It might have been in the Carnival of Barranquilla, Feria de Flores in Medellín, Blacks and whites Carnival in Pasto, San Pedro in Huila, Festival Vallenato in Valledupar, Feria de Cali, Feria de Manizales… and those are just the famous ones, there are many many more.
11. You expect to have lots of holidays during the year.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Mother’s Day, Easter, a day to commemorate all saints or a day to celebrate just one of them… Colombians are used to having long weekends and they know how to enjoy them.
12. If you are invited to a friends or family reunion, you will be there at least half an hour late.
In Colombia, it’s normal to arrive late, especially to informal events. If you are on time, don’t be surprised to be by yourself for about half an hour or more.
13. You drink hot chocolate with cheese melting inside it.
What can I say? It might sound odd to foreigners, but for us, it’s just a delicious and very common tradition.
14. You’ve heard your parents say “esto no es un hotel, mientras usted viva en esta casa se hace lo que yo digo” more times than you can recall.
It translates to “this is not a hotel, as long as you live in this house you’ll do what I say”. And they mean it, even if you are already over 18.
15. Christmas season is a synonym of eating natilla and buñuelos.
Natilla is similar to a pudding -with blackberry syrup on top- and buñuelos are fried corn flour balls with cheese. Sometimes, simple does make perfect.
16. In your childhood, it wasn’t Santa bringing you presents…
It was Baby Jesus himself (The Niño Dios). And you never asked how a baby could deliver them, just like other kids don’t bother worrying how fat Santa gets to every household.
17. You remember the “Devil’s Nose” with affection.
In Colombia, family road trips on the curved roads are a big tradition. If you ever went to Melgar, near Bogotá, you will never forget la Nariz Del Diablo – the devil’s nose. I think the only reason that rock with the shape of a big nose is exciting is because it signals your destination is near.
18. You have run around your block carrying a suitcase on New Year’s Eve at least once.
We Colombians believe that’s the way to make traveling wishes come true. We are also supposed to eat twelve grapes, for abundance and prosperity.
19. Even if you don’t like them, you know Carlos Vives’ songs.
You have danced to all his tunes, from the traditional vallenatos to the most modern mixes with pop and other rhythms. You probably remember the songs he started playing in his role as composer Rafael Escalona as well…
20. In Spanish, you express all words in the diminutive form.
We Colombians are obsessed with “little words”. Everything has a “little form”. La casita (the little house), un abracito (a little hug), un poquito (just a little), un amiguito (a little friend), un regalito (a little present)… Just put the ita/ito ending to any word and you will sound Colombian.
21. When you buy something, you ask for a present.
When you are at the store or being served food at a restaurant, the way you ask for stuff is by requesting to be given a “present” or gift. The expression, in Spanish, is “¿Me regala un tinto y un jugo?”. Outsiders shouldn’t be worried: it’s just a way to ask for things, we will pay for it in the end.
22. You make fun of your own problems and you can even laugh about tough Colombian history.
It’s easy to understand why Colombia is one of the happiest countries in the world… We’ve learnt to take it easy.
23. You proudly wear and display a sombrero vueltiao when you live in a foreign country.
You might not do this back home, but living abroad exacerbates your patriotism. The hat with black and beige stripes is one of the most iconic Colombian symbols, and you hold it head high.
24. And you get goosebumps and even cry when singing “Soy colombiano”.
“Ay, qué orgulloso me siento de ser un buen colombiano” (I feel so proud to be a good Colombian) is not just a song to slow-dance to…