Sunday, January 16, 2022

Traditions & Customs in Colombia

South AmericaColombiaTraditions & Customs in Colombia

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Colombians are aware of their country’s bad reputation, and any indelicate remark about the history of violence may earn you a derogatory remark (probably about your country of origin) and an abrupt end to the conversation. However, Colombians are eventually willing to talk about these topics if they feel comfortable with someone.

Colombians are more formal than many other Latin Americans. Make a point of saying “please” (“por favor” or “hágame el favor”) and “thank you” (“muchas gracias”), no matter what and to whom. (“muchas gracias”), no matter what happens and to whomsoever. If you are addressed, the correct response is “¿Señora?” or “¿Señor? In some parts of the country (notably Boyacá), Colombians can be formal to the point of anachronism, addressing strangers as “Su merced” (your grace!) instead of “usted”. The only (much) more informal part of the country is along the Caribbean coast, where it is more common to simply call people “chico” – but follow the lead of those around you.

Race is not a hot topic in Colombia because whites, criollos and mestizos (mestizos) mix naturally with indigenous and Afro-Colombians in everyday life (education, housing, politics, marriage). The differences between white foreigners are not discussed: Expect to be called “gringo” even if you are, say, Russian. Unless the context involves anger, it’s not meant to be offensive. If you are black, you will probably be called “negro” or “moreno”, which is also not considered offensive at all. Asians are usually called “chino” (Chinese), regardless of their actual origin. Colombians in the interior also sometimes confusingly call children ‘chinos’ (‘children’); this usage comes from the indigenous Chibcha language. More confusingly, Colombians call blondes and redheads ‘monos’ (monkeys). This may sound insulting, but in fact it ranges from neutral to affectionate.

Colombians have a habit of pointing at objects with their chin or lips; pointing at a person or even an object may be considered impolite or less than discreet.

Avoid giving the height of a person with the palm facing downwards, as this is considered to be reserved for animals or inanimate objects. If you must, use your palm facing sideways, with the bottom of the hand expressing height.

Colombians dance a lot. Everyone will be happy to teach you to dance, and they won’t expect you to do it well because they have been practising every weekend for most of their lives. Colombian nightlife is mainly dance-oriented, and sit-down or stand-up bars are less common outside the big cities. Despite the sensual moves, dancing is not generally meant to be a means of flirting. It’s the same as in Brazil: an almost naked “garota” dancing the samba at carnival is not inviting you to have sex, but to have fun, to be happy, to join the party, to shed your inhibitions in an exuberant way.

Gay and lesbian travelers

Most Colombians are Catholic, but you will find that young people are quite relaxed about religion, especially when it comes to social issues. Public displays of affection are rare, however, and can provoke awkward looks. Verbal and physical homophobic violence is not necessarily unknown, and unfortunately less aggressive homophobia may be more prevalent than politeness masks. Overall, Colombian attitudes towards homosexuality are quite similar to those in the United States.

More liberal areas (at least as far as LGBT issues are concerned) can be found in Bogotá’s Chapinero neighbourhood. It is home to perhaps the largest LGBT community in Colombia and is the focal point of Bogotá’s (and indeed the country’s) community nightlife, with explicitly gay-friendly establishments such as Theatron (arguably one of the largest discos in South America) [www]. LGBT pride parades are held in some of the larger cities in late June and early July. [www]

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Colombia since April 2016.

How To Travel To Colombia

By airRegular international flights serve the major cities of Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Pereira and San Andrés, as well as other smaller cities on the borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Brazil.There are daily direct flights to and from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Spain,...

How To Travel Around Colombia

By airThe main domestic airlines in Colombia areAvianca (Colombia's main national airline)VivaColombia (the cheap Ryanair-type airline). This airline offers the cheapest fares, but the worst booking system for foreigners. For 2014, foreign credit cards are not accepted to book a flight. VivaColombia has no offices and hardly any tour...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Colombia

Citizens of most Western countries, including most European countries, all South American countries, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Bhutan, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore do not need a visa...

Destinations in Colombia

RegionsAndinoRugged Andean landscapes and altiplanos with Colombia's two largest cities, Bogotá and Medellín, as well as beautiful national parks and coffee plantations.Costa NorteColombia's vibrant Caribbean has much to offer, with both historic and modern coastal towns and opportunities for diving, trekking and exploring the jungle and desert.OrinoquíaThe endless eastern...

Things To See in Colombia

A large part of Colombia is located in the Andes, which means that there are beautiful mountain landscapes. On the other hand, there are also beautiful beaches in the lowlands. The height of some of the peaks allows you to see snow even though they are in the tropics.

Things To Do in Colombia

There is a lot to do in Colombia and you can find parties and celebrations everywhere you go. Colombians especially love to dance, and if you don't know how, they will be happy to teach you. Colombia is known for its exciting nightlife.There are many groups and agencies that...

Food & Drinks in Colombia

Food in ColombiaIn many parts of Colombia, it is common to eat buñuelos (fried cornmeal balls with cheese in the batter) and arepas (fairly thick corn tortillas, often made with cheese and served with butter) with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Bogotá and the central region have their own breakfast...

Money & Shopping in Colombia

CurrencyColombia's currency is the Colombian peso, but the symbol you will encounter is the $. Most banks and exchange offices accept major world currencies such as the US dollar and the euro.ATMs are widely available, with different withdrawal limits. The banks with the highest limits are Citibank, (1,000,000 COP,...

Festivals & Holidays in Colombia

Colombia has 18 public holidays (12 Catholic and 6 civil), plus Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. The city of Barranquilla has two additional holidays to celebrate Carnival Monday and Tuesday.The following days are public holidays in Colombia:Año Nuevo / (New Year's Day) (1 January)Día de los Reyes Magos /...

Internet & Communications in Colombia

PostThere is no government postal system in Colombia. However, the private company 4-72 is Colombia's de facto postal service, although it tends to be somewhat slow and unreliable. Residents rarely use the 4-72 service and usually turn to courier services such as Servientrega, which has many more branches than...

Language & Phrasebook in Colombia

The official language of Colombia is Spanish. Some indigenous tribes in rural areas continue to speak their own language, but almost all people from these tribes will be bilingual in their own language and in Spanish.If you have recently learned Spanish, you will be relieved to know that the...

Culture Of Colombia

Colombia lies at the crossroads of Latin America and the wider Americas, and as such has been affected by a wide range of cultural influences. Amerindian, Spanish and European, African, American, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cultural influences are all present in modern Colombian culture. Urban migration, industrialisation,...

History Of Colombia

Colombia was inhabited by many large indigenous cultures such as the Muisca, Tayrona and Quimbaya. Some indigenous groups, such as the Caribs, lived in a permanent state of war, but others had a less warlike attitude. The region that is now Colombia was conquered by the Spanish through alliances...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Colombia

Stay Safe in ColombiaWARNING: Although security in Colombia has improved considerably, drug-related violence is still evident in some, mainly rural, areas of the country. In particular, the kidnapping of foreigners for ransom - although not as great a problem as at the beginning of the millennium - still occurs...

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