1. The ‘chubby’ of Botero
Colombian artist Fernando Botero is recognized for the overweight figures in his art. He paints fat horses, birds, women, men, cats, dogs, and even fruit. Not even the Mona Lisa escaped his vision and paintbrush. His art is found around the world in places as diverse as Florida, New York, California, Europe, Singapore, Dubai, and Japan. In Colombia, Medellín and Bogotá hold his exhibitions in Museo Botero and Museo de Antioquia.
3. The importance of family
Family is a big deal for Colombians. That’s why traditionally we spend the weekends with relatives, go out for lunch, stroll on the outskirts of the city, or eat dessert or ice cream together. Cousins, uncles, aunts, and of course grandma and grandpa, are the first to be invited when we organize birthdays, first communions, baptisms, graduations, Christmas novenas.
Gabriel García Márquez better known as Gabo, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is one of our greatest prides. The fictional town of Macondo of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is as real to us as if it physically existed. Although Gabo died, his books will remain loved by all Colombians.
Arepas for Colombians are as traditional as the indigenous cultures that initially created them, and as diverse as our regions. You’ll find the typical white corn flour arepa stuffed with cheese; the plain arepa paisa, eaten almost as bread; arepa de choclo, sweet with cheese in the middle; arepa boyacense, also a bit sweet and made with cuajada cheese. Further north, on the Atlantic Coast, there is the arepa de huevo, stuffed and fried with an egg inside; and in Santander, arepas with ground maize, pork rind, and yucca.
Colombians and Venezuelans will probably keep arguing about whose arepas are best. All I can say is that arepas are part of our culture, delicious, and they’re a culinary must when you visit Colombia.
6. Our happiness and sense of humor
It doesn’t matter what kind of problem or difficulty we are facing, Colombians always joke about every situation, even making fun of ourselves. Of course, politicians, corruption, and political ideologies hold a special spot in our black humor — we don’t like to take everything too seriously.
7. The coffee culture
Our coffee culture is more than its high-quality beans, usually exported. The Colombian Coffee Cultural Landscape was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its characteristics are green hilly landscapes of wax palms at Valle del Cocora; the dark green scenery of coffee plantations; the colonial architecture of towns and farms, with colorful wooden doors and windows, embellished by bright-colored balconies full of flowers. The idiosyncrasy and kindness of its people and the iconic Colombian coffee excellence have made the Coffee Region or Eje Cafetero a touristic spot worth visiting.
8. Diversity of landscapes
We have rainforest in Amazonia, and desert in La Guajira. We have the Andes mountain range, volcanos, valleys, rivers, and unique páramo ecosystems, but we also have plains at the Llanos Orientales. Colombia lies between two oceans: the Pacific, where whales come to visit and sea turtles live; and the Atlantic, where the colors and music of the Carnaval of Barranquilla join the Tayrona and Wayúu indigenous cultures; the picturesque old town of Cartagena; and the blue and crystalline waters of the best beaches in the country.
We Colombians have developed unsuspected strength in the face of difficulties. Our tough history taught us the benefits of recovering from adversity over and over again — for decades. It doesn’t mean we have to be victims of our history forever, but it certainly made us the strong people we are now.