In the tradition of past travel journals, here’s a list of some things that are different or unique here in Colombia:
1) There are great pastries everywhere. You may not know what they are called, but go ahead and point at them and eat them anyway. Trufas, galletas, palitos, pies, brownies, whatever. They’re all good. Especially with some hot chocolate.
2) Helados are also good. As trendy as Crepes and Waffles is, I have to say that their menu of ice cream desserts is overwhelmingly decadent and creative, such that you salivate just by flipping through it.
3) Water can come in little plastic pouches. You just bite off a corner of the top and squeeze.
4) Mayonesa and ketchup also come in little plastic pouches, except with screw tops on them.
5) Colombians will call each other names quite literally descriptive of what they look like. Such as by saying, “Hey black!” or “Hey brown!” to people dependent on their skin tone. They also have television programs that tell you immediately by their titles that their main character is either an “ugly” girl or an overweight person.
6) People certainly don’t mind staring openly at you. Sometimes it’s mild curiosity or boredom, sometimes open flirtation, and other times just blatantly rude and invasive. Not being someone prone to staring myself, it makes me uncomfortable—except when it’s from a cute girl.
7) Every coffee shop sells various coffee drinks with liquor in them.
8 ) For Christmas, people are very into decorating their cities with lights. There is a competition between the major cities, and there is a decision made in favor of the city with the most creative and beautiful presentation and design. In Cali, they had commissioned 7 different artists to decorate the city.
9) Urinals are little cups that are situated quite higher up than in the States. It is just perfect for the altitude of my particular peepee, but I always wonder how shorter people fare here. They must have to go into the stalls to orinar.
10) Lots of bicycles everywhere. Sometimes there’s even bike paths, but usually the bikers are just right alongside the road, nearly sideswiped by the buses and trucks roaring by. Sometimes a whole family will be on one bike: momma, poppa, and the little baby squeezed in between. Ditto with the ubiquitous motos.
11) In the smaller towns, such as Santa Marta, nearly everything shuts down between 12 and 2. Siesta time. And after 8 or 9 on a weekday night, ain’t no food except the little fried food carts. We learned that one the hard way last night. Plenty of beer, though.