So we have been in Colombia now for over a month. We have had an awesome time. Cartagena turned out to be the fascinating, historic place we heard about. We have made good friends, both American and Colombian. Our new Colombian friends have helped us understand this very diverse city and country. The fabulous thing about travel to foreign lands, which is the entire reason why we travel, is to see the world through different eyes. They have helped us do that.
Of course this means that as travelers you tend to size up the differences between your country and the one you are visiting quickly, and without much data, despite all attempts to keep an open mind. So one tends to conclude things that are interesting, but when declared out loud in the wrong company (i.e. anyone who knows actual facts about the culture of the country you are visiting,) may come across as asinine. So here we go, let’s watch Mel make an ass of herself for the sake of a travel blog!
Linguistics is interesting. Supposedly the framework of language sets up the framework for thought. Mel has tried to detect the implications of this, but it would probably be easier if she actually spoke Spanish. Colombia is clearly a Spanish-speaking country. Our daily attempts at learning Spanish have left us with the ability to understand about 30% of what the taxi drivers say. I think the other day, as we drove past a political rally for a senator by the Convention Center, our taxi driver said, “He is a bandit. He bought his seat with blood money.” But I am not sure. What is “rojo dinero?” The language requires more vocal energy to produce, which easily yields to statements with lots of exclamation points. Mel quite fancies that. One may extrapolate that this may be why Colombians appear excitable and loud, easily showing emotion (especially happiness.) But maybe Mel thinks that because she has been living in Minnesota? Update: Greg says yes.
Caption for the above picture: The Ziplocs here come in odd sizes — the Colombian one is on the right. Is this due to the metric system or the influence of the Spanish language and Latin culture? Discuss.
Actually visiting Colombia has of course changed our perception of the country. As Americans afraid of encountering those with the “ugly American” stereotype in their minds, we were impressed by how warmly we have been received here, despite the fact that our Spanish is horrible and hardly anyone speaks English. We found the Colombians to be open and friendly, with a healthy sense of humor. In addition, it turns out not all Spanish-speakers like spicy food! Rather than dishes showing off the variety of chilis of the world, we have encountered 103 delicious ways to prepare starch. They have also oddly embraced crepes. And blended Scotch whiskey! There are 4 types of Glenfiddich in the grocery stores. Also, the women here do not dress like Shakira or Sofia Vergara, although they are always perfectly groomed when in public. The style at the moment includes tight jeggings from the waist down, but tops that are colorful and relatively conservative. Well, except for what Miss Colombia wears, that is. But she is universally adored and apparently runs the country, so Mel hopes she just wears whatever she wants.
In a way, Mel wishes she had more false presumptions about Colombia before she came, because it is quite exhilarating to see them completely disproven by experience. She will do her best then to come up with overarching conclusions about Aruba, our next non-Colombian stop. Hmmmm…Arubans are sort of Dutch. They must like pancakes.