Giving Papaya & the Malicia Indigena

While browsing PoorButHappy Colombia, I came across the subject for the previous post (cutting in line) as well as the subject for this post, which has been split into two concepts revolving around awareness and both share similar origins.

Dar Papaya

There’s a common phrase in Colombia that says “a papaya dada, papaya partida”. Basically it means, “what has been given, can be taken”, so take care of your belongings (that advice isn’t meant to scare you, it’s merely thinking smartly)! Papaya in this case can be anything and everything that has or is perceived to have value. While I haven’t noticed the papaya dicho (saying) being played out in front of my eyes in Colombia, I’m more than sure that a lot of Colombian papayas have fallen on the Brazilian side of the common border the two countries share (that is to say, Brazilians have their own phrase – dar mole – which means the same).

In the “Dar papaya” post, the following rules are laid out…

“The papaya rule consists of two simple sentences but underneath these lie a lot of interpretations. First let’s take a look at the rules:

Rule number one: You cannot give papaya to anyone! Rule number two: If you see papaya you have to take it! These are the rules as simple as they look. But lets take a closer look at the two.

First of all the word papaya is not the main thing in the sentence. It could have been any fruit or any other object for that matter. I’m not really sure why it was papaya and not something else that was chosen, but no importa as we say.

Papaya in this context means more or less everything and even situations!

You should not do anything that lets other people take advantage of you. Here we are back with the miniskirt. If you are a girl and you wear a short skirt you are giving papaya to all the guys who look at your legs! Don’t leave your house without locking the door, don’t park your nice car in the center of town at night and don’t leave your wallet unattended.

Why not? – because you are giving papaya!

These are a few examples of more or less material things, but the rule also applies to things that you say or do. If you tell your friends that you did some really stupid thing the other day and they laugh at you for the rest of your life it is your own fault. You gave them papaya, and according to rule number one you cannot give papaya.

Well you can then say that the friends who laugh at you are not really good friends, but that is not true. They are your best friends and will stay your best friends even after that.

Here we get down to rule number two. It clearly states that if you are telling your friends that you did something stupid they HAVE to make fun of you. They simply have no choice other than do so. If not – they will break the second papaya rule.”

Malicia Indigena

Perhaps the ‘malicious indigenous people’ were exceptionally good at growing papayas as there’s another popular dicho in Colombia that pretty much means the same thing as the expression above. Let’s go over the explanation given on PBH…

“”Malicia indigena” is a floating concept, but generally meant as a positive kind or awareness and smartness that the indigenous peoples of Colombia posess. It’s quite misleading as there’s not so much malice involved in it, just cunningness, pre-meditation and awareness of circumstances. It’s supposed to be a trait of personality inbred in the population in Colombia, regardless of your color or ethnicity.

Originally, I believe, it was meant as something negative, because the indigenes tend to mistrust the “whites” (for a good reason) and would be extremely cautious and withdrawing in all their dealing with the dominating classes (criollos and later the mestizos). This wariness and lack of trust was misinterpreted as “malicia”. The concept stuck, but evolved into what people nowadays mean by malicia indigena.”