How to recognize a Colombian – Observations

(it would be easier if they just waved their flag, jeje)

This afternoon, I ran into two cool Colombians at one of my friend’s eateries and it got me thinking about if one can know a Colombian when they see one (ie, picking one out from a crowd). Perhaps it’s possible and in the case that it is, I’m not skilled enough yet to know a Colombian when I see one (with Brazilians, I’m almost an expert at this). The only exception to the rule is when they open their mouths because it’s then that I can do fairly well with my little game.

When it comes to Brazilians, I’m looking at way of dress, way of moving, overall look and of course, accent. When it comes to Colombians, all I have to go on is their accent(s) (unless of course they are wearing something like a sombrero vueltiao) and for some reason, women give away their country more than men do…maybe because women in general are more expressive than men. Sure, Colombians have their own stereotypes about themselves but I need to meet more Colombians from other parts of Colombia in order to understand where those stereotypes come from.

No matter where the Colombians I know are from, they do have one thing in common, a-la-orden-idad (ok, so I made that up but it should be a word). That is to say, they are always open to help you and more so, they want you to enjoy yourself. Should we call this ‘hospitalidad’? Perhaps it fits better.

Anyways, in my 6 years studying Colombia, I’ve never met a Colombian I didn’t like but of course I realize people are people and therefore I can’t generalize although I can’t deny what I’ve experienced either.


Colombian stereotypes…by Colombians

I’m reading a few history books on Colombia at the moment, although I’ve read one before, I like to see the same thing from different viewpoints. The one I’ll reference now is called Colombia: Portrait of Unity and Diversity by Harvey Kline, which paints an interesting portrait of 1983 Colombia.

In one section early on, he quickly makes mention of how Colombians see themselves and that is what I would like to write about.

“A Colombian can usually identify the regional background of another by his way of speaking, and quite often has a stereotype of the way the individual will act. The stereotype might be that pastusos (people from Pasto) are dumb and are the brunt of jokes, as are certain ethnic groups in the United States; that cachacos (people from the Bogotá area) are cold, legalistic and very status conscious; or that paisas (people from Antioquia) are religious, hard-working, and have many children.

Costeños (people from the Caribbean coast) are stereotyped as happy, carefree, capable of drinking large amounts of rum and dancing all night, but not capable of speaking a decent Spanish with final s’s pronounced. They do not take the Roman Catholic religion seriously, nor do they take Colombian politics as seriously as their compatriots from the Andean region. Whether or not these stereotypes are empirically valid, they are part of the mythology that makes up the Colombian world view. “

Most of these stereotypes, minus the one about those from Pasto, I have heard of through the many Colombians I have come across. Never has there been any type of hatred between these groups as witnessed by me but I’m sure the author is correct in his assumption that someone from one area might stereotype how someone from another might act. I couldn’t help but notice there was no mention of the caleños (or those from Cali) but if anyone knows of the apparent stereotype for them, let me know and I’ll add it.