In Colombia you will notice a great disparity between the wealthiest members of society – who live a lifestyle akin to that of their counterparts in Europe’s capitals – and the rest of the population: the poor city residents who live in dangerous neighbourhoods, and below them on the poverty scale the rural poor, particularly those who live in isolated areas where armed conflict still goes on.
When interacting with Colombians, Westerners will note that sincerity in expression, often expressed via good eye contact, is valued more highly than the typical steady stream of pleases and thank-yous.
Tipping ten percent at mid-range restaurants is the norm; some establishments will ask you if you’d like for the tip to be included when you ask for the bill, while some add it on automatically. For short taxi trips, round up to the nearest thousand pesos.
The machismo often ascribed to Latin American culture is present in Colombia, though a significant number (around 30 percent) of politicians and diplomats are female. The country’s Catholic roots run quite deep and are apparent in sexual attitudes among both men and women, though there is some flexibility – and contradiction – in views toward gender and sexual orientation.Read More
Colombians take much joy in their particular style of linguistic acrobatics and slang. Colombians freely convert verbs to nouns and vice versa, so take each word as a fluid concept.
(n), camellar (v) Work, or working. A good way to refer to a particularly trying task.
(adj) Used to describe a situation or thing that is wonderful. Roughly synonymous with the youthful American usage of “awesome”. Variations include “Qué chimba!” (“Nice!”).
(n) Body odour. A crass but still useable term.
(adj) “Cool”, loosely. Used to describe the subset of cool things – or happenings – that’s particularly classy, well executed or elegant. Think football passes or a good outfit. Chevere and bacán are other words for “cool”.
(adj) “That really sucks”. Used in response to a comment or situation that’s aggressively bad or heavy.
(n) Cocaine. Regional translations include scrambled eggs, coffee with milk or (as here) a parakeet.
(adj) Common response to a question like “How was your day?” that means “Good!” or “Perfect!”