Colombia is renowned for its variety and quality of fruit for very good reason. While South America as a continent is noted for fruit I never found it to be on a par with Asia but it seems I had been to the wrong countries before venturing to Colombia. Along with the ubiquitous papaya and watermelon came a plethora of fruit many of which I had never even heard of let along seen before. Perhaps the most exotic was the lulo, a very tart fruit found only in Colombia and a few neighboring areas of adjacent countries like Venezuela. Even within Colombia, it was not an easy find. In the area around Cali it was abundant but still not as popular as we had anticipated. It is not a fruit that is consumed as it but rather best lends itself to fruit shakes, the lulada the prime example. The fruit's very sour flavor plays off well against the added dulce de leche and/or condensed milk. It's an odd seedy green concoction but once tasted, we were surely hooked and looked for it often in vain thereafter.
Warning! This tip is for adults only.
I wasn't sure whether to include this and I'm sorry if it's inappropriate, but it genuinely is a local custom, and I think it would be helpful for travellers to know about it.
As I was told by several Colombians in Santa Marta, it is common practice in the north of the country for adolescent boys to have sex with donkeys. This is not just a one-time affair, like a rite of passage that a boy has to pass to become a man. Rather, it's more like a substitute for masturbation. Young boys are expected to do this, and they are told by their fathers when they reach a certain age that they should not have sex with the dogs because they could catch a disease, and they must not do it with the chickens because the chicken will die afterwards, but with the donkeys it's just fine. At first I wasn't sure if the guys who told me this were just joking, but a few days later I read the non-fiction book Smokescreen by Robert Sabbag, in which the author recounts how he was told the same thing. And just now a quick google search brought up a scientific article which also cites the same practice.
I guess the moral of this tip is that before you get into a sexual relationship with a man from the northern coast of Colombia, you should consider who (or what) he might have been with before you. This is one tip that I'm quite happy to write without an accompanying picture!
In the Department of Santander, which includes Barichara and San Gil, the locals always use the formal 'usted' to address someone rather than the informal 'tu.' This applies even to family members and to boyfriends/girlfriends. So if you try to befriend the locals and they keep referring to you as 'usted,' don't think that they are being distant; it's just their manner of speaking.
Colombians generally greet eachother by kissing on eachothers cheek once. It's actually not proper kissing but more like just tpuching the other person't cheek with your cheek, usually the right one... Depending on the degree of familiarity this may be accompanied by a hug or just a pat on the back. Depending on the occasion this kind of greeting is alos used when two people are intoduced. The alternative on more formal occasions is a hand-shake.
So don't be afraid that the people are trying to sexually harrass you or hit on you, just go with the flow and you'll soon learn to like this custom :)
Colombians are more polite than Spaniards in terms of how they speak to each other. The most noticeable example of this is if you ask a question and they don't hear you properly or understand what you mean. Instead of simply replying with 'Que?' (which a Colombian would regard as extremely rude) you will hear 'Senor?' or 'Senora?' - even between mother and daughter. It will probably be appreciated if you do the same.
Not only will this be appreciated in a country where tourists are relatively rare, you will find that there may be monetary benefits for you as well if you are able to chat to the locals in their native language (you are likely to get a discount).
To be honest, being able to speak (and understand, which is much harder) some Spanish is really a must, as English is not widespread outside the educated middle classes.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been the most important writer. He has known as “Gabo”. He was born in Aracataca near the Caribbean Sea. He began working for regional newspapers and he was reporter. After he moved to Bogotá and he worked for “El Espectador” and after he was corresponds in Europe. He has written very much stories about the thing’s Colombian. His books describe the life diary, the politics conflicts socials and families and the characteristics typical of my country with the best power the imagination, mystery and real and the unreal of the human. He invented the “World”s Garcia Marquez”.
The most importants books are The story of a Shipwrecked, Chronic of a Death Foretold and the best masterpieces is One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera. The book has been translate in much languages.
On the 1982 he won the Nobel Prize for literature and today he lives in Mexico and he has known as personal friend of Government Cuba. When he was diagnosed cancer he wrote about your life, he book it’s called “Living to Tell the Tale”. The last book it’s Memoria de mis Putas Tristes”.
Fernando Botero is the most important Colombian’s painter. He was born in Medellin, Colombia, on April 19th, 1932. He has two brothers and grew in his city and he studied in Jesuits school. He started painted at 13 years. After he went to study in Europe. The pictures are characteristics by inflated forms and exaggerated human figures, is both living history, and a living legend.
He has paint the culture Colombian, our authority and family symbols of power and authority are present regularly in his work, with images of presidents and soldiers. He condemns “militarists and the morals and manners of Colombia's bourgeoisie.
Today is very rich because his pictures are very expensive. He has donated arts collection, the best famous are in Bogota in Luis Angel Arango library and the Museum Botero in Medellin. When you visit Colombia, you should know these places.
Colombia is a strongly Catholic country and Christmas is cellebrated in all parts. The Streets are lit up, everyone has a tree and, most amusingly, everyone has a nativity scene.
I say amusingly because, while a few are strictly traditional, In colombia, just about every figurine imaganable follows that star to Bethlaham. Baby Jesus is adored by trolls, nights in armor, little army men, it doesn't matter if they are on a whole nother scale, they just want in on that nativity. Even in the churches you find this odd plastic mix. Pios and paradoxical
Driving can be rough in Colombia so the locals have turned to a higher power for help. It is possible to get your car blessed by a priest, there are shops that specialize in statues of the Virgin Mary for the dashboard and on every road there are shrines for protection. Many give offerings of headlights to gain protection for their auto. On some well traveled stretches I've seen over 30 headlights around a shrine
Colombians are rightfully known for their music and dancing. Salsa, Marangue, Vallenato, Cumbia. No colombian party is complete without a dance. If you plan to get anywhere with the beautifully Colombian women you better have the stamina to dance right on through the night.
People are friendly and welcoming, but if you doesnt speak ANY spanish, there will be problems, because very few people do speak english. I dont, but my crazy mixture of portuegiese and spanish worked out just fine. As long as you're trying they'll help you along. So just relax and have a great time. Dont rush anything. Mañana amigo!
Cartagena is a must for visitors to Colombia. No doubt Cartagena is the most beautiful city in Colombia. Stroll down the narrow cobblestone streets lined with balconies of old Spanish mansions such as Bodegón de la Candelaria and Casa del Marques de Valdehoyos. The city was built within thick walls in 1533 along a beautiful Caribbean harbor.
Currency: Peso ($)
Budget meal: US$2-5
Moderate restaurant meal: US$5-10
Top-end restaurant meal: US$10++
Budget room: US$5-10
Moderate hotel: US$10-15
Top-end hotel: US$15++
Colombia is not an expensive country. Budget
travelers can get by on around US$10 per day;
while those staying in more comfortable hotels
and eating at restaurants will spend around
US$20-30 per day. Splurgers should budget
on US$50-70 a day.
Some banks change cash and/or travelers' checks,
but others don't. Some branches of a bank will
change your money while other branches of the
same bank will refuse. This seems to vary from
bank to bank, city to city, day today, and can be
further complicated by a myriad of local factors,
eg the bank may have reached its daily limit of
foreign exchange. On top of that, the banks usually offer
foreign exchange services within limited hours, which may
mean only one or two hours daily; your best chances are in
You can change cash dollars on the street, but it's not
recommended. The only street money markets worth
considering are those at the borders, where there may
be simply no alternative. You can use credit cards (Visa is
the most widely accepted) for car rental, air tickets and
in most top-end hotels and restaurants. Plastic money is
also becoming popular for purchasing goods and payment
for services in many other commercial establishments.
There are an increasing number of cajeros automáticos
(automatic teller machines) which accept Visa and
MasterCard, and will pay you pesos.
In addition to its numerous museums, Santa Fe de Bogotá enjoys cultural activities such as shows, concerts, art exhibitions and conferences throughout the year. The Modern Art Museum, the National Museum and the Luis Angel Arango Library, have exhibition rooms where there is always something worth seeing.
Numerous art galleries display and sell the works of both Colombian and international contemporary artists. Concerts are held in theater halls such as Teatro Colón, Colsubsidio, Camarín del Carmen, Teatro Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, or in specialized rooms such as in the Luis Angel Arango Library and the Léon de Grieff hall at the Universidad Nacional. Their programs include the presentation of symphony orchestras and chamber groups, both Colombian and from abroad, as well as ballet, opera and shows with internationally renowned artists.
Several theater groups are based in Bogotá and present both classical and modern works. The principal groups include the Teatro Popular de Bogotá, Teatro Libre, Teatro Nacional, La Castellana, and La Candelaria. In addition every other year during Easter the Ibero American Theater Festival is celebrated in the capital.
The pre-Columbian Art left in the country real master-pieces that can be see in the gold Museums of Bogotá, Cartagena and Armenia. Important architectural examples, from colonial period are found in Bogotá, Cartagena, Popayan, Villa de Leyva and Tunja. Art Galleries located in the most important cities, show permanently the work of the most famous outstanding painters. Music and theater life is very active all over the country.
THE GUAVIANOS. This ancient tribe located on the Department of Cauca, about 2 hours from the city of Cali. Their cultural life is colorfull and rich in traditions. The handcraft are well know, specially the wool and leathers goods. Their main markets are on tuesdays and sundays.
More Regions in Colombia