Jan 31

Top 5 weird things we have only seen in Colombia

Valledupar Vallenato

Puedes leer la version en Castellano de este post aqui: 5 cosas que nso parecen raras de Colombia

As you have probably guessed from the picture above, and of course from reading our posts EVERY DAY, the See Colombia Travel team are a good looking bunch of expats (if we do say so) who have decided to call Colombia home. Over the years, days, weeks and months that we’ve been here, we have all witnessed some weird and the wonderful things in Colombia. From bum heat to chocolate-drenched cheese, there are some thing we have only seen in Colombia, that’s not to say these crazy things don’t occur in other parts of the world, they just might, but for us these are things we have only ever encountered while we’ve called Colombia home. From the weird, the wacky and the truly bizarre here are the top 5 weird things we have only seen in Colombia.

 

You’re going to add what to my rice?
You’re going to add what to my rice?

 

1. Paul Giles – Do you want fries with ….everything?

I want you to study the above photograph closely, and I want you to notice at least two things about it. There will be a test, you’ve been warned. The first is that this photo has either been taken in China, or, at least, in a restaurant seemingly frequented by mainly Chinese people. The second is the complete lack of any fried potato on the rice in question. Now, things are a little different in an authentic Colombian Chinese restaurant. I know that Chinese food is pretty much different in every country around the world, but I never expected to find a few crinkle-cut chips luxuriating on a positively enormous bed of “mixed rice” at a Chinese restaurant. Colombia just loves its carbs, I guess. If any meal only has one type of carb – no matter what quantity – it’s just not going to cut it in this country. Not only is cheese everywhere, but potato too.

 

Hot Chocolate and cheese!
Hot Chocolate and cheese!

 

2. JL –Cheese IN hot chocolate!

I have to admit, I’m against soaking ANY kind solid food into ANY kind of beverage, that includes the very common South American custom of dipping bread in your coffee/milk/chocolate. I just can’t stand the sight of it without becoming nauseous, yes, I’m that delicate. So the concept of dipping cheese into ones hot chocolate should in theory really really gross me out. And yes, actually it does, but you know what? For some weird reason it works! I’m not going say it’s my favorite thing in the world, because its definitely not, but sometimes I have surprisingly found myself enjoying this weird combination. OK Marce, I confessed it…

 

Bus tip #1: Hover!
Bus tip #1: Hover!

 

3. Sarah – Bums on seats, or not.

I am a frequent bus catcher, the small busy buses, the big Transmilenio buses, I’m all over it. But what continues to surprise me is the seat-sitting etiquette. When I see an empty seat on the bus, I sit on it. If someone stands up from a seat and gets off the bus, I pounce on that seat like my life depends on it. The buses are always full in Bogotá, you don’t want to be standing pressed up against someone for 20 blocks. What I have noticed, though, is that when a Colombian is faced with the same predicament they don’t sit down once said person has gotten up from their seat. Oh no, they wait, they hover, they stand in front of the seat and wait. Wait for what? I wasn’t so sure, but I’ve started asking around and some people say that a hot seat means germs. Ok, I’m down with germs too, but the bars we hold on to on the bus – germs. The button that we press for the bus to stop, germs. It is totally cool to be anti-germs, germs are bad mmkay! But if I see a seat on a crowded bus I am all over it. To be honest, this weird and wonderful bus-catching custom is really one of the main reasons I keep catching buses in Bogotá. And, I must admit, I do have a giggle every time I see it happen.

 

Bogotá - cold one day, equally as cold the next.
Bogotá – cold one day, equally as cold the next.

 

4. Azzam – Weather Commentary

This might sound strange coming from an Englishman since we complain/talk about the weather almost consistently, but I’m always baffled at just how much Bogotanos in particular complain about the weather. And here’s the thing: it’s pretty much always the same. In England we vary from -5C to 30C, so you can imagine it’s a talking point when, in a week, we change 15 degrees or so. In Bogotá, however, the margin of difference is something like 5 degrees, probably less. This tiny change will ellicit almost constant exclamations of “uuuiiiiii no! Que calor insuportable”, or “Juepucha, que friiiiiiiio!”. Bizarre.

 

5. Paul Fowler – Weird Voices

Colombia is a land of bizarre voices: from baby-talking adults in public places (“hola mi amoooor, sí bien, aquí juiciosiiiiito”) to loud, mullet-wearing bus drivers that belt out vallenato as they drive. The most bizarre of all, however, are those people that sell on the streets. These are the people that yell “AGUACATE! AGUACATE! AGUACATE!!” at 8 in the morning to wake you up. “TAAAAAMAAAAALLLEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS” and “PARAGUAPARAGUAPARAGUAAA!!! A MIL! A MIL! A MIL!” are also two favourites of mine. Their voices range from bellowing cries to robot-sounding monotonous drones to yelps so exquisitely pained they could be on stage.

You could never do this phenomenon justice, but the guys with this video have tried:

 

23 thoughts on “Top 5 weird things we have only seen in Colombia

  1. Shana on

    Old post, I know, but I had to comment. I agree with most of these. In Pereira, there are also sliced hot dog chunks in the fried rice, stir-fried vegetables, and they put the crinkle cuts on the side with some sliced white bread (!!!). I’ve not witnessed the hovering-for-a-bus-seat phenomenon in Pereira. The loud street merchants are common in lots of countries, but the baby voices by adults? This drives me crazy when coming from people I know. Somewhat in relation to that, it’s extremely difficult (to date: impossible) to find greeting cards that aren’t designed with either a) frilly writing/flowers/God mentioned or b) bubbly writing/pink/cartoon characters. No scenic photos, sarcastic humor, or pithy sayings.

    Reply

      JL on

      Haha! Great comment Shanna..thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  2. Eric on

    Chicken wings with gloves. Hell any time I ate chicken anything it came with gloves, even for home delivery & it’s a great idea!

    Reply

      Paul Fowler on

      Haha, it’s certainly cleaner. It does feel slightly… clinical, though.

      Reply
  3. Andy on

    @ #6

    Hahaha. Not as bizarre as you think. We got people yelling “Tahoooooo” or “Pandesaaaaaaaaaal” at 6 in the morning every freakin day in the Philippines. At night time, we hear the familiar bellow of the balut or duck egg vendor while blowing his itty bitty horn on his bike.

    Great list by the way. 🙂 The cheese and hot choco bit grossed me out. Dipping bread in hot choco or coffee, that I do. but cheese?

    Reply
  4. GV on

    I am dying at these comments. It’s all true – particularly #5 – weird voices. Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve visited my family in Cartagena and have been woken up at 8am by the screams of street vendors selling anything. “Bolsaaaaas de bazuras” (trashbags – yes they sell those apparently).

    It’s also interesting to see how other ppl react to our cultural quirks. Born in Colombia but raised in the US since I was 7, it all makes sense now why my friends always thought it was weird that I would dip my bread into my coffee as naturally as a pita chip to hummus. And I’ve been made fun of for trying to eat chicken wings while holding them w/ a napkin. Just realized it was my way of trying adapt our habit of using plastic gloves.

    Ahh memories. Miss my homeland. Can’t wait to visit again.

    Reply
  5. Steve on

    Great list but can I suggest two more things that i found weird… eating chicken wings with plastic gloves on and those full cover face masks that people wear when swimming at Belen outdoor pool. I guess its to protect from UV but it’s like swimming with Ninjas. Oh and the vigilantes blowing their whistles all night long but its those weird and wonderful things that make travel so interesting

    Reply

      Sarah on

      Oh gosh Steve, I am yet to see the full face masks – I so badly want to see a swimming ninja!!

      Oh and yes, eating chicken wings with plastic gloves and often bibs too.. oh the joys of eating greasy food in Colombia – there’s no reason for me to have to ruin a white t-shirt ever again!

      Reply
  6. santibas3@hotmail.com on

    Me gustaria la traducción de estos comentarios, a los colombianos que no hablamos ingles nos gustaria saber de que estan hablando de nuetro bello pais

    Reply

      JL on

      Hola, muchas gracias por comentar! Una de las resoluciones para 2013 es empezar a escribir mas posts bilingues… pero imaginate, escribiendo entradas todos los dias en ambos idiomas , creando contenido tambien para nuestar pagina y nuestra guia ademas de manejar nuestras redes sociales, nos seria imposible traducir cada comentario en ingles 🙂 Un Abrazo!

      Reply

      LeonSand on

      Han hablado mucho de los guantes plásticos para comer pollo asado. ¡Para mí es de lo más normal, ja, ja, ja! Lo otro ha sido sobre caretas de natación en las piscinas de Belén. Ah, y sobre el celador que pasa pitando por las noches.

      Reply
  7. Karyluz on

    I assure you that If you come to Barranquilla you will find even more weird things, We are funnier and more relaxed than the Bogotanos 😀

    Reply

      JL on

      Thanks for your comment, we’ll surely be spending some more time in Barranquilla this year!

      Reply
  8. Mark on

    llama-llama-llama-llama-llama-llama-llama-llama-llama-llama-llamas!!

    Reply
  9. ana on

    Hi Britany, I’m pretty sure you can finde Chocolate con queso anywhere in Medellin, just walk in to an authentic bakery where they sell breakfast and ask for it!! enojoy it

    Reply
  10. Britany on

    Anyone know where I can try this Hot chocolate and cheese combo in Medellin? I’ve kept my eyes out for it but haven’t found any yet! Sounds pretty strange but chocolate and cheese might be my two favorite things so I definitely need to try this.

    Reply

      andres on

      As Medellin got a wonderful weather thats quite difficult to find here, so go up in the hills at any restaurants in Palmas Avenue or just go to the best sight city places parks next to this avenue u´ll be on top of the hills watching the best views of Aburra Valley and having HOT AGUAPANELA WITH CHEESE or your dreamed CHOCOLATE

      Reply

        andres on

        Well also from this avenue u can go further to those cold weather but cutest towns . EL RETIRO, LA CEJA, SAN ANTONIO DE PEREIRA, RIO NEGRO, and yeap you will find many places to have HOT CHOC & CHEESE

        Reply

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