21 Things I F##KING HATE about Colombia!

12 Feb
Feel my Blogger's Wrath!

Where’s my bloody Christmas present?

Let’s get something straight right from the get-go: I love my life here in Cali and the great things about living here really do outweigh the bad. I consider Colombia like a second home and I have defended and will continue to defend this beautiful country whenever I hear somebody “intentionally insulting” Colombia or its people.

So BEFORE YOU READ THIS ARTICLE,  READ SOME OF MY OTHER POSTS:
Things I love about Cali
Proud to be Colombian
The Cuisine of Colombia

That said, as anyone who has lived in a foreign country knows, there will always be things that piss you off when comparing one place with another. I lived in Japan for four years and I can safely say they were four of the best years of my life. Despite that, there were a huge amount of things that annoyed the hell out of me about life in Japan or Japanese culture in general. It’s one of the reasons why it’s good to have a few expat friends to give you an outlet to vent some international rage.

Living in Colombia is no different and I’m going to consider this post a form of catharsis; a chance to blow off a little tropical steam. I often blow off lots of steam about my native Ireland’s MANY problems and the only reason I haven’t written an article about it is because if I started I don’t know if I’d be able to stop 😉

TO MY COLOMBIAN FRIENDS: This is not an attack on Colombians in general. Some of the things on this list will make you laugh but some touch on very deeply rooted social problems that I and many Colombians are very concerned about.

I AM ALSO AWARE THAT MANY OF THE POINTS I MENTION HERE ARE NOT UNIQUE TO COLOMBIA AND ARE, IN FACT, COMMON IN OTHER COUNTRIES. HOWEVER, THAT DOES NOT DIMINISH THEIR SIGNIFICANCE IN COLOMBIA, A PLACE I CALL HOME.

1. Safety
Colombia is (by international standards) not a safe country. In fact it is the most dangerous place I’ve ever lived in my life. I’ve been mugged twice here myself and I constantly hear of people getting murdered for their phones or jewelery, people getting drugged and coerced into emptying their bank accounts, kidnappings, hijackings of overnight buses… the list goes on. Add to that the threat of paramilitaries in rural areas and it doesn’t paint a nice picture.

With all that said, if you use your common sense and experience you can avoid most of the trouble that life in Colombia presents. Regardless, that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that it simply feels unpleasant to live in a place where you have to think so much about your personal safety. This apprehension comes from kind-hearted locals constantly reminding me to be careful in certain areas.

2. Worlds Slowest Cashiers
I love grocery shopping but I hate going to the cash register in Colombian supermarkets because the cashiers are probably the slowest in the world. One reason for this is people pay their bills (electricity, water etc.) at the cash register and something that should be incredibly quick and easy is drawn out to ridiculous lengths. The cashiers do everything slowly and even get up to find the price for products themselves even though there’s usually plenty of staff around to do it for them. What amazes me even more is that this doesn’t seem to phase Colombians at all; a culture of being late seems to have instilled the populace with the patience of saints.

3. Poverty
I have never seen (or felt) the gap between rich and poor as much as I have in Colombia. There are a huge amount of people in this country living below the poverty line and shanty towns are a common sight in big cities. In contrast there is a small but very visible class of super-rich that would make most well-off Europeans feel financially inadequate. The problem is that a lot of this is “new wealth” and the problem with families who come into new money is that often (but obviously not always) they can be very extravagant in their spending.

I know kids who barely bat an eyelid at breaking the screen of their iPad because they know that mommy or daddy will buy them a brand new one, or kids that show off their collection of Gucci belts and brag about how just one of them is even more expensive than buying a regular suit.

This poverty gap is what fuels social problems like crime and violence in Colombia and the more I become aware of it the more disappointed I feel about the world in general.

4. Phone service
Calling different mobile phone providers is so expensive that everywhere you go you find “minute sellers” on the street. They basically have a cell phone for each operator (usually attached to them by a small chain) and let you make calls to the operator of your choice and you pay after; like a pay phone for mobiles.So basically, people only use their own phone for receiving calls or calling people who use the same operator as themselves. Convenient, right!

This confused the hell out of me at first until I realized that my phone credit just didn’t last when I called other operators. Often you’ll see people who have two or more different phones with different service operators for “convenience”.

On top of that, the line connection is often really poor which isn’t fun if you’re not a master of the language yet and have to guess what the other person is saying (I will admit this has actually gotten me a few dates in the past from being frustrated at not understanding what’s going on on the phone and just asking the girl out so we can talk in person).

5. Postal Service
It’s mid February and I’m still waiting on my Christmas present from home… enough said!

6. Food
I’ve got a whole post coming on Colombian food but IN GENERAL, FOOD IN COLOMBIA LEAVES MUCH TO BE DESIRED and is one of the main reasons that I couldn’t live here long-term. Most readily available food here is uninteresting, unvaried and usually deep-fried. Good food can be found but you really have to look for it and it’s not cheap. There are some foods I love here but they are the exception and not the rule.

7. Inability to use Public Transport
A bus pulls into it’s station. The people outside wait in an orderly line while the people inside get off so there will be more room on the bus. Sounds logical, right? Not in Colombia.

Once a bus pulls into a station here it is a frenzied free for all with every man for himself. Before anyone on the bus can get off there is a chaotic mob pushing against them to get on. Forming a line is not a well understood concept here.

Even worse are the idiots who decide to stand in the middle of the station doorway with no intention of getting on and expect everyone else to go around them. There is a special place in hell for these people.

8. Driving
Many drivers here show virtually no consideration for other drivers as can be seen by people driving over the painted lines separating lanes, almost non-existent use of turn signals and drivers constantly cutting people off.

Even less respect is shown for cyclists (like me) and I have had plenty of close calls on my bike here to testify to that.

9. Time-keeping (or lack there of)
I once had to wait 3 days for a guy to come and install my oven. I had been told each day that he would arrive at a certain time and I waited like a an idiot until he finally came on the 3rd day. This generally doesn’t apply to big business (I honestly think Colombians can be very professional and hard working) but outside of work I have to talk in Colombian-time; the stated time with about an hour of leeway.  I lived in Japan for 4 years where being late means arriving 5 minutes EARLY so this bugs the hell out of me and what’s killing me is that it’s starting to rub off on me too.

10. Prices
OK, Colombia is technically a “developing country” so the cost of living is obviously much lower than in the “developed” (I’m not very happy with this description) world BUT for the wages that most people make here, things are expensive. Electronics are so expensive that rich Colombians often bring back electronics from vacations to the United States. Good food, nice clothes, mobile-phone plans and many more goods are ridiculously expensive and European produced foods are even more expensive than they are in Europe. This means that people are using credit cards more and more which is not good in the long run.

11. Common Courtesy
When you get to know them, Colombians are incredibly friendly and helpful but on the street there is a certain coldness that doesn’t sit well with me. My mam raised me well so I hold doors open for people and I yield when walking in narrow spaces to allow others to pass. One would expect a courteous “thank you” in return for these actions but it rarely comes here in Colombia.

Another thing that bugs me is that people will block narrow passages and even if they have seen you coming will not think of moving out of the way until you ask for permission to pass.

Nor will anyone ever call you to tell you they’ll be late, even if it’s more than an hour. Common courtesy is not all that common here!

12. Dishonesty in Business
This happens everywhere in the world but really pisses me off here just because I have to deal with it regularly. I am clearly not Colombian and a lot of store owners take advantage of that by charging me ridiculous “gringo-prices” when I ask about the cost of something. I’m good at haggling and enjoy it from time to time but when you have to do it regularly it’s just tiring.

13. Things Men say to Women
I have many times seen an attractive woman passing a man or group of men on the street only to hear those men say the rudest, most foul mouthed “compliments” to the woman in a deranged attempt to get her attention. It’s apparently common in all Latin cultures but it is disgusting and if I was a woman I’d be breaking guy’s jaws on every street corner here.

14. Racism
Colombia is a very racially mixed country and has been so for hundreds of years. People here are a mix of European, African and indigenous South American. Despite that I have heard some of the most racist comments of my life here in this country. As I mentioned earlier there is a small but very visible wealthy elite here, most of whom are amongst the “whitest” or most European in the country. In light conversation I have heard wealthy people say some terrible things about darker people and especially Afr0-descended people.

What’s worse is that they pretend everything is all hunky-dory and that Colombians all consider themselves equal. Afro-descendants and indigenous Colombians still occupy the lowest socioeconomic strata here and even if they are not discriminated against because of their skin colour, it’s because of how much money they have. Some of the upper elite really do seem to look down on the poorer classes here.

To make it worse, there is a saying amongst many darker skinned Colombians called “improving your blood” which means marrying someone with lighter skin so that your kids will be lighter and have better opportunities in life. The amount of times I have heard this here saddens me!

15. Guns
The police force in Ireland, called the Gardaí, is unarmed. The only time I saw guns in Ireland was when the military was escorting armored cars with deliveries of cash to banks. Here in Colombia I have the pleasure of seeing security guards walking around shopping centers carrying shotguns. This is something I will simply never, ever get used to especially since thy walk around with the muzzles of their guns pointing upwards, at head height of many people walking by. I’m not sure they even receive any training at all.

16. Potholes
Being from the Irish countryside I have a certain nostalgic affinity for potholes. Colombia, however, doesn’t just do potholes, oh no, Colombia has “craters”! The state of some of the roads, even in some of the nice neighbourhoods is shocking. And the sidewalks are even worse, so bad in my neighbourhood that I prefer to walk on the moon-like, cratered roads.

17. Big Bills
ATM machines almost always pay out in 50,000 peso bills. Unless you try to spend these in a large department store or supermarket the person at the cash register will probably just laugh at you and tell you to go find some change. Seriously.

18. Airing Dirty Laundry
Some Colombians don’t seem to have any problem shouting or arguing on the street. If they have something to say they will let the whole world know about it and it seems to be the national pass-time to stand around and watch as such altercations transpire.

19. Milk in a bag
I know….

20. Lack of Books
Books can be  found easily in Colombia but are unbelievably expensive; new hardback editions can cost more than half a days wages for some people here and that is contributing to a distancing of the youth of the Colombia from the written word which in my opinion is a crime against humanity. This country is trying to educate its populace to create a better future for themselves and yet the majority of people can’t even afford books to open their minds to new ideas.

The cost of literature has even contributed to a strong trade in counterfeit books of which I have had to become a customer. I simply can’t afford to buy original copies here.

21. Missing Toilet Seats
This is probably the greatest Colombian mystery there is. For some reason in men’s public toilets in Colombia the toilet seats are almost always missing. I have never heard an explanation for this and would love to hear why if anyone knows!

I'm convinced there's a flood of stolen toilet seats on the Colombian Back Market!

I’m convinced there’s a flood of stolen toilet seats on the Colombian Black Market!

And breath….

I may not have any Colombian friends left after this and I may have to watch my back for motorbike drive-bys for a while but it feels good to get that off my chest. And you know what? I love Colombia! This is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries on Earth and I am very proud to call it my home for now (despite the things I don’t like).

If you’re Colombian or you’ve been to Colombia before I’d love to hear what you think (no death-threats please).

Here’s a request: If you’re thinking of leaving a hate-filled comment (of which I’ve received many since this article was first published): Stop, read the this article again (CAREFULLY), read my other articles about Colombia and think about what I’ve written here. I wrote this article because I want people to be aware of these issues because it’s only when people are aware of issues that something gets done to solve them. I didn’t write this article to offend people, remember that.

Keep Dancing Folks!

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108 Responses to “21 Things I F##KING HATE about Colombia!”

  1. Yuly Rios February 12, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    There is nothing to be upset about this post, all what you wrote is true, and of course as a Colombian i don’t like to hear or read about this, but is the real life. Actually when i was living in Colombia these things didn’t upset me, but now that i had travel abroad i can see how annoying it can be…one of the things that i don’t miss at all is when men say “piropos” to girls in the street, i hate it so much!!! but actually i lived something like that in Portugal, i guess latin cultures are like that…
    keep enyoing Cali and i hope you find more lovely things that bad ones!!!

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks Yuly. And don’t worry, there are plenty more good things here to keep me happy!
      Te mando un besito!

    • Monica February 13, 2013 at 4:17 am #

      Completely agree with you, when you get to watch from out, you start to find things and think: ¿porqué carajos Somos asi? hahaha …
      Obviously there are many things I cant discuss BUT I really miss my colombian food, not restaurant food let alone business lunch “corrientazo”, I talk about the food in my home, fresh, diverse, strong flavors, lots of love and very very colombian (with lots of fruits and vegetable). mmmmm….

      • The Dancing Irishman February 13, 2013 at 8:33 am #

        Hey Moni,
        Yeah I agree that some Colombian food is great (that’s why I go to the Alameda so much for Sancocho de Pescado hahaha). And the fruit and vegetables here, unbeatable.

  2. gregebersole February 12, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Do you feel better now, Richie? Ha! I pretty much agree with almost everything. Yeah, I’m still waiting for a Christmas card from the states. I’m thinking it’s on the wall somewhere in Bogota or Cali. Racism here really bothers me. I have had Colombians say the most shocking and bigoted things about blacks. And I thought the south was bad in the states. The sense of time or nonsense of time will always bug me, even though I’m getting late at appointments. When in Rome……. And food- I’m used to what’s available here. But, when I get back to the states, I can’t wait to get a great hamburger, cheap spicy hot Thai food, Indian food, gourmet pizza, really good Mexican food that is muy picante, etc., etc. I miss reading new and good books. The large bills bothered me too. Now, I just use them for adding to my MIO card, at the supermarket or at the movie theatre. And, I have to say that I’ve loved living in Colombia and have had some great friends. Many of them haven’t lasted or have moved elsewhere, but I’ve shared some great times with them. I’m thinking that by August, after about 4 years living here, I may be done. I most likely will come back, but for shorter visits. Thanks for the post. Now, I’m waiting to hear from our Colombian friends too.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Thanks Greg, you’ll be more familiar with the things I’m talking about than me. Even though they get to us, it’s the good stuff that keeps us here haha!

  3. globalexplorer1 February 12, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Since Panama and Colombia are neighbors and there is a lot of exchange (usually Colombianos going to Panama City to work), I get the similarities.
    It was a good venting. I feel your pain.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Thanks Mike, it feels great to get it off my chest and I’m sure there are a lot of similarities with other latin countries!

  4. jb February 12, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    i misread the second last one as “lack of boobs”

  5. ArchitecturalBayanist February 12, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Haha! This doesn’t sound ANYTHING like Japan. Hope you’re havin’ a blast, still. Stay safe out there, dude. Keep up the writing, I’m enjoying living vicariously through you in Columbia.

    • ArchitecturalBayanist February 12, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Wait…is it ColOmbia? Can that go in your list?

      • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

        Yes Seth it is ColOmbia. It really gets to me when people mess it up. But you’ve learned now haha!

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

      Yup Seth, they’re polar opposites and that’s exactly what I wanted. I’m having a great time out here. Enjoying the good and the not so good!

  6. Sarah February 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Ohh Richie!! Thank you
    About the racism I akes a question in one of my sociology classes and wondered, why there was only one black kid studying with us and why most afro-colombians visible on campus are working in the cafeteria or cleaning the yard. The class looked kind of surprised and the professor quikly said something like: Most afrocolombians go into science. Yeah.. right!?????

    … being a woman, living in Colombia was a tough call besides what you wrote I would add:
    Competition between girls and distrust –> makes it sooo hard to make female friends and if you manage to have one and she has a boyfriend: WATCH YOUR EVERY WORD AND STEP! or suddenly something you did was “totally inappropriate”
    Machismo –> makes it hard to make male friends (WITHOUT any extras!!), besides the mentioned point of being called names and/or adressed like a dog… Geeemsdfhlsgfsg if you want my attention please come up with something creative! And if you are an officer in uniform behave like one and don’t honk because of a short skirt or tight pants! And if you are a university professor, don’t flirt with your student!! Sexism everywhere and women merryly participate and obey… not all of them, but many!!

    Since you don’t drink: I will mention the terrible Aqua ardiente, which is nice if served really really cold, with lots of water and only for about 3 shots.
    phheeewww.. it certainly does feel good to get it out of the system

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

      I’m glad you were able to get it off your Chest Sarah, it’s nice to vent!

  7. Guillermo Álvarez February 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    I’m agree with you in many asects but not about food.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Yeah Guillermo, that seems to be the most contentious issue for Colombians jajaja!

    • Diego Santis June 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      Everything about Colombian food is terrible. Nothing but carbohydrates and fried food. Can I get some flavor please? Colombian food leaves a lot to be desired.

  8. uncovercolombia February 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Interesting post. There are indeed many issues that the regular Colombian (and the expats) have to endure or get used to as part of their daily lives. Your list is extensive enough but misses some things like the traffic, pollution, etc. It is also sad to see the lack of awareness among some Colombians about the amazing land where they happen to live. Colombia is beautiful but only until recently Colombians decided to travel and explore it and appreciate its real value. However, all-in-all we agree that the balance between the bad and the good still justifies visiting or even staying. All Countries have problems and issues and while this is not consolation it does give us hope that Colombia can eventually become a truly great place to live.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

      Absolutely. That’s a key point you’ve made there. All countries have issues and often we need to step outside for a while to see them. Colombia is a great country and it hopefully has a great future ahead of it.

  9. Mike Knoche February 12, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    If you dislike it so much I must ask why you stay. Much of the cultural differences you point are are ubiquitous throughout Latin America. I understand but it’s all about patience. And then- guns. Where should these guards with guns point them if not in the air?

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      Hi Mike,
      Anyone who reads my blog knows I love living here, I never said I didn’t. I’ve even wrote about all the things I love about my life here. This is just a list of some of the day to day things that bother me. People have issues no matter where they live, I never said they made life in Colombia unbearable.
      As for the guns, one would hope they keep them firmly pointed at the floor where there’s less likelihood of decapitating someone if there’s an accident.

      • Mike Knoche February 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

        I was in Cali for Feria and loved it. It appears I cam across negative and did not mean too. I could be just really jealous. The first rue in gun safety is never pointing at someone and keep the barrel up. The idea is that A.if the gun discharges the projectile does not deflect off the ground and hit someone and B. you never plug the barre. A plugged barrel would be deadly.

        What do you do in Cali if I may ask?

        Keep on dancing.

        Mike

      • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

        No worries Mike. Thanks for the info on the guns, I’ll honestly say I’ve never used one and don’t know the first thing about safety with them. I’m not tall but neither are a lot of Colombians so walking past the business end of gun in a shopping mall freaks me out a little.
        I work as a biology and chemistry teacher and I do some freelance online translation work too.
        I hope you make it back to Cali sometime!
        Richie

      • Mike Knoche February 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

        How did you end up teaching sciences in Colombia?

        I never toted guns growing up but now I have several and am really used to them. I understand the discomfort having felt it before.

  10. Khuya February 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    as a Colombiano i can only say Its funny because its true… at least most of it, and by most I would call an exception on food, it ticks me everytime I hear a foreigner say they’re dissapointed by the food since it is not as rich in flavours as the thai, mexican, japanese or whatever… that my friend is just blatant ignorance and stupidity. Colombian food is adored by Colombians which is the target market. I havent met a single Colombian say “hey thanks god there is this, this or that so i dont have to eat colombian food”… now if you are taking as an example a dish in a cheap restaurant… well again you are doing it wrong thats like expecting instant ramen to be on pair with a ramen in a stand in japan and judging Japanese food for it, but if that’s the case there i will have to agree with you cheap colombian food is BAD I rather have some bread and a coke than a lunch in a “corrientazo”… now the very same dish prepared at home is just a delight from the gods and there again its so hard to say you dont like certain dish when you haven’t tried its different variations from home to home where something as “plain” as frijoles can vary so much.

    the only thing i wonder is whats the deal with the milk in a bag… i mean its just a container i could say the same from milk in a box…but i bet you are okay with it cuz that’s how you are used to see it.

    and well i may have an input on everything else but bleh its overall true the rest is just context. what i keep confirming every time i hear the rants of foreigners about “how colombia is this or that compared to where they come from is that they’re so preoccupied about everything overly conscious of whats going around…

    so stop caring so much and start pickin everything that comes with a grain of humor there are things that you have mentioned that saddens me too some others that are really annoying and really need to change but it wont happen overnight so as in dancing loosen up and let things flow otherwise as we say you have doble work to do: to get mad and get calm again…

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

      Hi Khuya,
      Colombians do definitely take the same stand on food so I won’t argue with you but I will say, after living 4 years in Japan, the quality of Cheap food on the street is fantastic (definitely don’t think instant ramen haha).
      As for the general tone of the article, I really hope you noticed that I love living here and I’ve written plenty in previous about how much. People dislike things no matter where they live (I could write a seriously long list about Ireland or Japan) I just thought it would fun in one way and a serious subject to explore on in another.
      I hope you do read the other articles and see how much I love Colombia. Start with this one:
      https://thedancingirishman.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/what-i-love-about-cali-colombia/

      Take care and thanks for the comment.

      • Khuya February 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

        Ya, no offense taken i mean as I said before most of it its actually true and as you may have already noticed part of our humor here in Colombia is to make fun of our flaws(and then do nothing about them), I already gave a look to other articles and i know its not all hate also I could write another 21 things to hate here but thats not the point of what I said; the things is it looks like you are judging Colombian food by the cheap almuerzos or even worst the street food and as i said before thats like judging jap food by the instant ramen or U.S cuisine by MCdonalds…

  11. Karla Andrews February 12, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    Hola amigito,
    It was a HUGE flashback reading your blog entry! I lived in Cali a few years ago for almost two years. It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life and one of the most challenging. I really did love the dancing and the openness of the people in general but can empathise with some of the points you’ve made above. I was mugged three times in the last six months I was there and reluctantly gave it up…thinking I would return one day. I now live in Laos in SE Asia and realize that many of the gripes about Latin life can be transferred to my current home – bad driving, elitism, racism (or the idealization of white skin), tardiness, lack of queuing, foreigner prices, dishonesty in business, everything liquid in a bag (the overuse of plastic bags in general), missing toilets (and seats ie. hole in a concrete floor), very poor public transport in the city and a slowness of life which generally makes foreigners love it or hate it. I am undecided about whether to stay in Laos but now I realize that many of the things I find challenging here I definitely did find challenging as a Calenita. The thing I miss the most is the music and the dancing – In my opinion the best in all of Latin America. It was really enlightening to read your peeves because I can now see that living in another country means focusing on the bits you love and trying to minimize the annoying parts. Obvious, I know. I hope you continue to enjoy Colombia. I really do think it is an AMAZING country which will forever be in my heart. Great blog 

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      That’s a beautiful comment Karla, thank you. You’re absolutely right, people need to focus more on the things they like about the places they live in and for me, here in Cali that’s the music and dance that brought me here and the amazing friends I’ve made since I arrived.
      I’m sure whatever decision you make about where to live will be the right one for you and if you ever make it to Cali again let me know and we’ll go out for a night of dancing.
      Thanks again.

  12. Alexandra Molano-Avilan February 12, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Hiya, I am afraid to say that I have only briefly skimmed what you have posted and the replies to your post. So apologies if I repeat any comments already made. In essence I agree with you on the following: poverty, misogyny, racism, violence and dishonesty in business. I feel the rest are just down to cultural differences and/or symptoms of the key problems above, perhaps even the dishonesty in business and violence are symptoms of poverty. Dont EVEN get me started on the ridiculous LEGITIMATE trade deals Colombia has with first world nations “esclavitud perpetua!”

    Cultural differences- what with the waiting, waiting, and waiting,and the waiting. It’s brilliant how the culture reflects how people have had to adapt and you strike up great conversations and/or develop lung cancer in an afternoon of waiting for a bus. Although on this regard be happy Colombia is not communist. Ive been to Cuba and Venezuela, where Latin culture and communism take the waiting nexus to another level. Its an evil hybrid for someone in a hurry. That being said, I’ve had some amazing adventures on the road, whenever I start to get annoyed and pissed off I look at how the locals are reacting and if they’ve busted out a bottle of arguadiente then its party time!

    I was born in Colombia but grew up in London since being a toddler, I am possibly too liberal to hack it in Colombia for too long. The place is so racist it doesnt even realise how racist it is, which makes it even sadder when the UK seems to be making a regressive march into the old days when you shouldn’t have to respect other people’s cultures and race. The misogyny is unbelievable, and incredibly a fair majority of latin women are the worst culprits. Cali is the worst, another evil hybrid of everyone getting surgery to have black sized busts and bums, but in “not black” skin. Highest density of women having aesthetic plastic surgery in the world I think. Ridiculous. Especially when you think that Latin Americans are racially the cocktail of the world, given the easy sexuality (natives- racially orginated from Asia, blacks, europeans, arabs through spaniards) what more evidence should you need to get over it. Pff!

    Still it’s a very difficult place to try to work towards social justice because in a lot of areas good meaning people get labelled as leftist and have to scarper. Conversely, because of the dire poverty of some slums, people get recruited easily into right wing paramilitaries. It’s all bloody stupid and frustrating when you think that a) we are in the 21st century now and the hangups of the past 500 years are still affecting countries like Colombia and b) what a wonderful jolly lot we really are and c) what an amazingly rich and beautiful country we have. FOR SHAME!

    Last but not least the misspelling of Colombia does trigger me off into a homicidal rage. 🙂

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      Hi Alexandra
      Absolutely, I’m not even Colombian but when someone spells Colombia with a “u” it drives me nuts too haha.
      Sure Colombia has some problems (what country doesn’t?) but it is an amazing country with some amazing people and hopefully given enough time and effort by the right people a lot of the major issues I spoke about will cease to be problems. A Colombia without racism would be amazing.
      Thanks for the comment.

      • facepalm November 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

        what racism? on the coast on colombia there is not racism. any of it.

  13. DAO February 12, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Cierto! no te discuto muchas cosas, tal vez lo de la comida por apoyar a Guille hahaha.

    Es agradable ver el punto de vista desde los ojos de una persona que ha tomado a Colombia como un lugar para aprender y tener una experiencia de vida.

    Interesantes puntos los que expones, conocidos por nosotros los colombianos, acostumbrados a ellos a tal punto de olvidarlos pero super que lo expreses tú

    • The Dancing Irishman February 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

      Gracias Dili, lo sé que porque no soy de Colombia puedo ver mas claro las cosas que se escapan de las vistas de los Colombianos. Y no solo las cosas malas pero todas las cosas increibles que me gustan tanto de este pais; la musica, la salsa, las tradiciones, la cultura y toda la gente linda!
      Mua

  14. Diana Rengifo February 12, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Wow, there’s some serious shade here.
    Just kidding, most of the things you said made me laugh. What is wrong with liquid things in bags? And the food part, it’s all about getting used to it. And the place you choose to eat also counts. About the safety, no lines, racism, social differences you might have a good point. As a Colombian myself I feel like I’m used to all those things (which is not right) and I don’t find myself annoyed by them. This was a good reminder of how things shouldn’t be. I hope you keep focusing on the good things and eventually, you tolerance level will come up.
    PS Still upset about you bragging around with the pancakes.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 13, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      Haha obviously I tolerate these things, that’s why I’m still here and loving every minute of it.
      As for the pancakes… they were spectacular hahaha!

  15. Javier Bustos February 13, 2013 at 3:04 am #

    Excelente artículo, te felicito por la forma amena en que escribes y haciendo referencia a estas 21 cosas, yo te complemento unas cuantas mas como Colombiano….

    22. El funcionamiento del estado en Colombia es totalmente inoperante, si no conoces la cultura jurídica y operativa de las entidades estatales, puedes perder mucho tiempo y dinero. Por eso en Colombia vale mas una “palanca” o persona influyente que te ayude a realizar un trámite o te diga en camino corto para hacer algo.

    23. El despilfarro de los dineros del estado: Aunque puede ocurrir en todos los países, en Colombia el dinero que debe invertirse en acueductos, escuelas, hospitales, bibliotecas o parques y escenarios deportivos para que las personas desarrollen sus habilidades y se preparen para tener mejores oportunidades; ese dinero es para pagar millonarios salarios y pensiones a funcionarios estatales, como Congresistas, magistrados y demás funcionarios, que no permiten que sean modificadas las leyes para tener un País mas Justo.

    24. Ausencia total de Justicia. creo que es el principal problema de nuestro País. 1. Existen demasiadas leyes y otras leyes que complementan o anulan cualquier ley, es decir que si tienes un buen Abogado puedes hacer lo que quieras. 2. Que si tienes dinero puede pagar sobornos a quien quieras = problema solucionado en un alto porcentaje, aunque reconozco que ha empezado a cambiar esa cultura. 3. Que como victima de un robo o cualquier problema que tengas, no tienes garantía que te ayuden o se logre hacer un proceso formal, donde te sientas protegido. 4. Las Cárceles en Colombia esta sobre ocupadas en un 400%, lo que hace que mucho delincuente este libre. 5. y la más importe es que no existe el temor de hacer actos ilegales, por que no se aplica la ley en Colombia.

    Muy de acuerdo con:
    El tema del racismo me da mucha pena pero por la persona que discrimina, es decir denota que no ha superado esa mentalidad que lo limita como persona, o que no ha tenido la oportunidad de quitarse ese pensamiento, des-afortunadamente es muy marcado en círculos sociales de baja escolaridad.

    Igualmente con el tema del machismo y el racismo, creo que es un tema que aveces surge en doble vía, por la cotidianidad del entorno, las mujeres permiten y aveces exigen ese machismo y permiten que ocurran esas actividades

    Cosas positivas y que van mejorando:
    La cultura de conducción ha mejorado con mas policía de transito con cámaras poniendo multas, mas cámaras en los semáforos y en eso se ha mejorado mucho en el último año.

    De resto creo que he logrado adaptarme y creando situaciones creativas con mucha observación y lo mas importante marcar diferencia con una Gran Sonrrisa y un buen trato a las personas.

    Algunos trucos ara no hacer filas demoradas (Ir siempre a La 14. salir en horas de bajo tráfico y seleccionar los sitios donde me atienden bien, Pero el común denominador es que todo se demora y NADA se puede… Siempre existe un NO como respuesta, que con creatividad se convierte en un SI…

    Me alarma mucho el tema de los libros y la baja tasa de lectura y la alta tasa de TV..

    Dato Curioso
    Algo interesante que he aprendido últimamente con la experiencia del comportamiento de niños en el colegio: Una profesora de niños cambio de escuela donde enseñaba. en el primer colegio los niños se agredían permanentemente y tenían dificultades en el aprendizaje. En el nuevo Colegio, los niños son respetuosos y su nivel académico es alto. Los colegios hacen parte de estrato 1 y 2 en el sector de Agua Blanca en Cali, la única diferencia es que en el Nuevo Colegio tiene formación Católica y tienen muy marcado los valores como seres humanos para los niños y para los padres…. Me sorprendió el resultado.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 13, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Totalmente de acuerdo.
      No quiero empezar hablando de la formación en los colegios porque sería una conversación demasiada larga. Pero, opino yo que algunos padres dejan la responsibilidad de formar sus niños (moralmente) al colegio. Esto simplemente no funciona y esta creciendo el numero de jovenes con valores retorcidos. Es una lasitma grande.

  16. Jana February 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    You know in France, lots of public toilet do not have seat neither….

    • The Dancing Irishman February 13, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      Hahaha and what else surprised me was that there are a lot of squat toilets like in Japan too.

  17. Andrés Reyes February 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Jajaja!…you made my day with the missing toilet seats.
    Cheers!

  18. Ellie February 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    I lived in Colombia for 3 years and most of the things you mention I never noticed while I was in Colombia, but many thing I notice and don’t really like in Perú, where I currently live … so at the crux they’re not national issues as much as they are regional issues, which has so much more to do with the history of colonialism and the current global economic and political system than any cultural identity or national traits. Especially your gripe about poverty and the inequality gap – take a look at the world as a whole and you might see something quite similar and equally unjust. And the very fact you were offered a job at an elite bilingual school and took the job means you’re participating in this system and tacitly accepting the status quo as much as wealthy Colombians. So rather than paying out on a country you supposedly love, why don’t you try and make a difference, for example by sharing your respect and value for women with other men, whether they be friends or strangers. I would suggest being a little more constructive with your criticism.

    And what do you need a toilet seat for anyway? The most hygienic thing to do is not sit anywhere, unless it’s your own toilet in which case the bowl will do. Conclusion: toilet seats are overrated.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Hi Ellie
      Everything I’ve written about is something I have experienced here and the vast majority of my Colombian friends have agreed with me about virtually every point I made. I only say this to point out that I haven’t imagined these things.
      Also, as someone who has been to many different parts of the world, I’m very well aware that these are not just Colombian issues but are common in many other places.
      I also fail to see how working in a bilingual school makes me “accept the status quo”. With all respect, you don’t know me nor the relationship I have my friends and my city. Why would you automatically assume I don’t “share my respect and value for women” with other men here. That seems like a very pessimistic conclusion to jump to.
      And on the contrary, I think this article has been very constructive. It’s started people thinking and talking and that usually leads to greater things 😉

  19. mikespoor February 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    Ahhhh yes, the joys of Colombia….I have adapted to all of it, except one issue I seem to keep having over and over….collecting money. I constantly run into problems with getting paid for my services. It’s the only annoying thing…mostly because I get paid…but I have to damn near make legal threats….what a pain in….!!!!!! I’m learning to get around this problem…..I started out as a teacher, and now I own my own business, therefore I don’t have to get the RUNAROUND for 3 months before I get paid. I also am a musician…I started out playing in pubs and bars…later, I found an agent.

    Lesson learned: be the boss and get paid upfront, in full, no excuses, zero, nada, no bullshit….don’t give a flyin’ F about their problems. When I’m scrapping up coins for food, can’t pay my gas bill and people owe me a sum of 4 million pesos (no lie), there’s a fucking problem. Other than that, I love Colombia.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      Hi Mike, yeah I’ve heard of that problem from many of my friends and it strikes me as ridiculous as many of them work for well respected institutions or even universities. Luckily I’ve never experienced it myself but I have had to pay my rent earlier than usual because my landlord is constantly running short on cash. If it’s not one it’s the other haha!

  20. Joshua February 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Hey Richie,

    It sounds like you needed to let off a little steam in this post. I get it. Overall, I loved Colombia but there were some things that ticked me off as well and occasionally I had to let somebody know as well. Overall the reading was funny as hell because I loved all of that. Just wanted to add a few comments to your week old post.

    First, #23 for me would have been LITTER. Colombia is so beautiful and I have seen a lot of beautiful sites but no matter where I go I can always found litter and trash. The saddest part is that is it the natives who have no respect for there land. They always seem to think that it is someone else’s problem and just trash the most beautiful places. It disgusts me to no end.

    Second, the food doesn’t suck it is just basic as hell. There is no challenge when it comes to Colombian food, its all meat and potatoes (so to speak). Since I loved to cook I thought when I first got to Colombia I would try to master Colombian food. I was done in 2 weeks. It is just that easy. The fruits and juices are the best part for me.

    Finally, your comment on racism was dead on. I think it is one of the worst parts about Colombia. Being that I am brown skinned/African roots foreigner I have seen it from many different sides. I have been to Colombian country clubs and seen families get rejected for membership by other members simply because the family was “black” (the families apply and they post the pictures of family on a board and the other members decide whether this family is accepted). I have been stopped by the cops for being an area that is too nice only to be told “que tenga un buen dia” once they see my US passport.

    I have been lucky enough during my time in Colombia to hang with some of the poorest people and some of the wealthiest. Once I told an African-Colombian women that the brother was the vice president and she nearly had a heart attack. She told me that no Colombian bank hires people of African descent. So for months, I looked and looked (in Cali and other cities) and never saw anyone. I finally started to voice my thoughts to my African Colombian friends and they said that it was true. Later, I asked a friend of mine who is a major player in the Colombian financial sector (a mestizo) was this true, he shook his head and admitted yes it was. It is an unwritten rule in the finance sector to not let Africans handle the money. The main thing I see is that they true to pretend everything is all “hunky-dory” and that everything is equal through cultural events. But this is also how they keep the poor misguided as well. Cultural events keep everyone “happy” and takes your mind off present situation. One more thing on the equality thing is through the media (magazines and tv) the vast majority of actors (commercial actors) are white ass hell (no offense Richie!) BUT if you walk through the Colombian streets the population is of all shades and the major are of a tan/brown shade. Yet most people, even some that are dark brown (but not negro), consider themselves “blanco” but that is likely because they see the people on tv as a reflection of them when they are actually not. When I pointed out the media the comment to a few friends they at first passionately denied it, stating what I said wasn’t true. A few of them came back after a few days and told me that they could finally see what I was talking about. I have a dozen other stories like this, some which are pretty bad.

    But amazing, I still love Colombia, especially Cali.

    Good read.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 20, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      You have hit it home there lad. Racism is a serious problem here that people are trying to hide but it’s very clear that it’s alive and well.
      Are you still in Cali? I’d love to meet up and hear a few more of those stories you mentioned.
      Oh and by the way “he vast majority of actors (commercial actors) are white ass hell (no offense Richie!)” = hahahahahahaha no offense taken at all lad!

  21. matt.kv@gmail.com February 23, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    i dont mind the toilet that has no seat….. but the bathroom has no DOOR ?? whats that about LOL

    • The Dancing Irishman February 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      Haha, thank God I haven’t encountered any of those yet.

  22. John Jairo March 3, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Hello to everyone. I was born and raised in colombia and lived there till i was 18 years old, i served my 2 mandatory years in the military there before i left too. my parents lived here in the united states in new york city where i lived for 10 years then moved out because of the cost of living and also because i serve in the army here too. all i have to say is that despite all the issues that my colombia have, my dream is to some day go back and live the rest of my life there….
    you know, the majority of colombians think that because you live in another country that you are making lots of money and you are rich, but in my own experience i must say that, yeah, we have more opportunities here than we do there, but i feel like you live a sad life here. Now please understand that im not talking about spain or some other country where a lot of colombians migrate to, so i have no clue how life is there. Maybe when i lived in new york it felt a little like home because of the huge number of colombian people that live there and restaurants and bars and nightclubs , etc.
    regardless i would give everything i have now, minus my family, to go back.
    you get a lot of amneties here if you work hard, but you live a miserable life, you cant go to a park and dring some aguardiente with some friends, you dont see people playing parkes outside on flip flops and a wife beater…lol., you dont see an empana stand or chorizo stand where you can buy some food when you go for a walk around the neighborhood, hell you cant even light a candle or burn an anioviejo without the cops, the fire truck and an ambulance showing up. Its funny how they glamour “freedom” so much here, but i felt a lot free when i lived in colombia.
    oh yeah on another note, the comment about the women getting surgery is so true. and i tought colombian women were the most beautiful women from the get go and they go and mess themselves up… but, hey, if doing stuff like that gets you places and gives them more self steem then so be.

    • The Dancing Irishman March 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

      Hi John. Thanks for leaving this comment. I definitely agree with you on this. While I haven’t lived much time in the United States myself, the little bit of time I spent there showed me some of the negative aspects of living there. Excessive control of everything and ridiculous political correctness are definitely some of them.
      The truth is, there is no perfect place to live and there and pros and cons for everywhere. I think it’s fantastic that you want to get back to Colombia eventually and I wish you the best of luck in doing it. Many of the things you mentioned are things I really enjoy about living here myself.
      Thanks for the great comment!
      Richie

    • b4jc May 7, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      Hi John, I am so happy to hear from someone in the east coast of the US. I live in NJ, not far from NYC and totally agree about the “sad life”. I’m a JerseyRican (born in Puerto Rico but raised in Jersey) and my husband is Colombian and lately the “sad life” is getting to us to the point that we are also considering moving to Colombia. Have your parents considered moving back to Colombia?

  23. Steph | DiscoveringIce.com March 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    YES YES YES!!!

    i am so glad I found your blog…I am also Irish and currently living in Cali! Wahey!

    I am also still waiting on a posted letter from Ireland that was sent in November…well I’ve given up actually. :/

    Also so true about potholes, guns, transportation system, everything!

    I would also add one of the most annoying things…PAPERWORK!! endless endless paperwork for everything! Copy of the cedula anyone?

    Where abouts in Cali do you live?

    • The Dancing Irishman March 9, 2013 at 2:37 am #

      Good God don’t get me started on the cedula stuff!!!
      I’m living in San Fernando, what about yourself? What are you up to in Cali?

  24. Fernando March 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Soy colombiano y estoy totalmente de acuerdo con vos, excepto con lo de la comida (la fritanga me fascina pero debo admitir que las ensaladas en Colombia son insípidas).

    Vos tenés la ventaja de que si te quejás, la gente te comprenderá porque no sos de aquí. Pero si un colombiano hubiera escrito lo que vos escribiste ya lo estarían tildando de traición a la patria.

    Lo irónico es que nos educan con el referente europeo: nuestra lengua madre es europea, la religión que predomina es básicamente europea (el cristianismo se forjó en Europa), las buenas costumbres son las europeas, la independencia de nuestra nación se inspiró en ideales europeos, nuestras leyes se basan en las europeas, los buenos modales en la mesa son los de los europeos, usamos cuchillo y tenedor como los europeos, vestimos moda europea (camisa, pantalón, saco, corbata, zapato cerrado) en vez de andar más ligeros de ropas como nuestros antepasados indígenas, pero tenemos que vestirnos como los europeos para parecer civilizados así estemos a 35ºC (para eso inventaron el aire acondicionado) .

    • The Dancing Irishman March 9, 2013 at 2:42 am #

      Gracias por el comentario Fernando. Te cuento que he recibido unos comentarios feos por este articulo pero la gran mayoria de lo que me escrbió la gente es muy buena. Esa gente sabe que solo estoy notando, de mi perspectiva de extranjero, cosas que realmente existen. Espero que el articulo les hace pensar un poquito más sobre su pais, lo malo y lo bueno (que es muy, muy bueno).

  25. andy March 17, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Hi ‘Dancing irishman’:

    After counting to 10 and taking a few deep breaths (best part of a month), decided to put on a comment that wasn’t as negative as as the one i left on your Facebook page (i was the one who called you a “leprechaun”…… Let me start with the point i wanted to state which was overlooked or even not seen at all by my barricade of self defence of ones country, which is that I did not see your blog as constructive criticism, I got the impression that it was more of a rant of a person who is fed up, who is not getting things his way, somewhat spoiled, but since i don’t know you i can’t make that assumption.

    But maybe I’m not that far by saying spoiled, maybe you have been spoiled by the previous cities you have lived in before, but since I have been mugged for looking like a pakky in Ireland sort of puts that idea dead in it’s tracks. There is that of spoiled by choice here, as there is always too much choice for example of supermarkets, restaurants, bars, transport even work, you can choose to not work and the government will help you out even as a bum!!!!

    Going back to the point of constructive criticism, i fail to see how anyone who has not been to Colombia will actually see this as constructive, in fact they will stay the same as before and carry on avoiding Colombia like the plague because of what the cartels did to us. Furthermore, for the amount of Colombians that read your blog and have never left the country, they are now looking at Europe like it was the next best thing something close to heaven.

    Now the racism issue, that is pretty bad, I do wish with all my heart for it to stop, to be abolished, and maybe way of making it illegal and apprehensible as time and time again I have seen people with Muslim back round not get a job here in UK, or fights in the street with Polish people…… and its not the fact that the bank manager is not from a minority ethnic back round because there are, any numtee could become a bank manager, as they can’t even add or subtract….. veering of subject and beginning to make a rant of my own….. racism is everywhere, we need to abolish it and since words don’t work, actions will, I for one (with my other half) will adopt a child in a near future, he will be Colombian and Afro-Caribbean.
    The problem of racism in Colombia arises from how elitist the population is, from an early age we are taught indirectly that difference in class we have with one another, even at home with the maid, she never sat with us on the dinning table, she would eat in the kitchen alone and after we ate no matter of her ethnic back round, something that is now abolished in my household, we all eat or no one eats….we need to tackle this with as much urgency as racism as I think they go hand in hand.

    Now, common courtesy, I have never found colder people than the Europeans specially the British, having said that, there is a special warmth from the Irish and funnily enough the Scots too, many O’ and Mcs have been in my house drinking Guinness, with heated discussion about Aguardiente was better than Scotch (of course it ain’t i just love it).

    Now I found the rest of your list quite mundane and almost lacking importance as the toilet seat (who, as a man, has a dump in a public toilet? seat or no seat is gonna be dirty) or the phone situation (if you don’t like it, get a contract with minutes, they do exist there too) or the big bill notes ( just don’t count the last 3 zeros).
    But something that made me explode (picture a mushroom cloud) was the food comment, and then it dawned on me, maybe you don’t like fruit and vegetables as these taste excellent over there as opposed to how bland they are over here, and for that reason you don’t need a lot of condiments and seasoning in order to make the plate taste good, in fact mum is always telling me that if i use to many condiments i overpower the taste of the meat and veggie I’m cooking….. having that in mind, that is probably why there aren’t that many national dishes, i pictured about 15 in my mind the other day, as opposed to Spain which i only thought of 3 or England which i could only think of 5 and that’s including fish and chips. So lets go to non Colombian foods made in Colombia, I can honestly tell you that the best pizza I’ve ever had was in Cali, ( in Italy the pizza is shit by the way, if you ever go, don’t do the pizza) Best hamburger ever was in Cali, best paella too!!! and have you been to the Chinese takeaway there, ask for the same thing as you would order here and taste the difference as the veggies taste of the actual veggie is supposed to.

    So, asta la proxima, Dancing man, maybe give you an e mail if im around Cali…..

    • The Dancing Irishman March 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      Andy, I’ll keep this very simple.
      I’m very glad you wrote this second message.

      Just to clarify, the mundane things were intentionally mundane, I needed something to lighten the mood in between the heavier points. I love fruits and vegetables and the huge selection that can be bought at markets here (actually I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned it in previous posts).
      I love Cali, that’s why I’m here and I’m very proud to call myself a (fake) Caleño. And finally, the whole point of the post was to get people thinking about certain issues in Colombia and judging by the huge amount of feedback that it received I think that was achieved.

      Again, thank you so much for writing this comment, I really do appreciate it because I know how upset you were at first.
      And hopefully I will get to see you if you’re around Cali in the future.

      Hasta la proxima.

  26. Sita Anna Gartry March 18, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    1. Safety – I agree.
    2. Cashiers – I haven´t found them too slow.
    3. Poverty – I was in India for a few months, I seen far more wealth disparity there.
    4. Phone Service – I just dont keep in touch with people as much anymore, luckily I have great housemates and plenty of friendly neighbours in the village-like San Antonio, so much so that I barely get any time alone 😉
    5. Postal service – agreed.
    6. Food – I´m vegan and I love the amount of fresh, ripe fruit readily available on the streets; mango biche, chontaduro, salpicon, champus, ensalada de fruta, mani, coco, banano, guarapo, mazorca etc. I live in a 10 min radius of 10 vegi restaurants, which is amazing! Colombians can be amazingly creative with food. However, the majority of whats available is Fritanga! Deep fried meats unfortunately.
    7. Inability to use public transport – Yes but i see the same in London
    8. Driving – agreed
    9. Time Keeeping – agreed. Nos vemos ahora – I waited a few hours the first time i heard this, expecting to see them within 10 mins. Ya/De una/ahora mismo means right now, Ahorita means in a bit, Ahora means within a few hours lol
    10. Prices – agreed
    11. Common Courtesy – I´d say the same about london, but I also think that I´ve learned some good manners myslef from the courtious colombians
    12. Dishonesty in business – haven´t noticed this.
    13. Things men say to women – It disgusts me that even the police harrass me, I´m constantly harassed as soon as I leave my house and I hate it, I try not to walk in public as much as possible for a mixture of this reason and the reason of safety.
    14. Racism – Yes, there is lots of it and there are also some amiguously racist words like mi negro – which to perhaps the majority means mate, pal, amigo, but to people who are more educated on racism sometimes causes offense.
    15. Guns – coming from England, where one rarely sees a gun, I will never get used to living in a ocuntry where guns are seen everyday in the hands of police, soldiers and security guards of shops, and of course, some watchimen.
    16. Potholes – avoiding them is inclded in the driving lessons that colombians rarely have, why pay for lessons when u can corruptly pay for your license?! lol
    17. Big Bills – I like the way the cash machine dispenses a twenty note and a ten note on either side of your wad of fifties 🙂
    18. airing dirty laundy
    19. Milk in a bag – I´m vegan so today I´m having rice and hazelnut milk 🙂 tomorrow i got quinoa milk, yesterday i had oat milk
    20. Lack of books – Lets organise a book swap day
    21. Toilet seats – I would love to sit on more toilet seats, i wreckon people don´t bother with them to save money

    • The Dancing Irishman March 18, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Get yourself back to Cali fast love! 😉

      • b4jc May 7, 2013 at 10:42 am #

        To all the expat’s who contributed to this blog….THANKS!!! The reason I found this blog is because my family is considering moving to Cali and since I have never been, reading your comments is helping me paint a clear picture. You see, I live in New Jeresey in the USA; however, I have been totally exposed to the Colombian culture since I married one. Also, there are Colombian neighborhoods close to home and tons of Colombian friends. I sometimes feel like I am the outsider for not being Colombian…I am JersyRican (born in Puerto Rico but raised in New Jersey). All the things you love about the Colombian culture, I know from my own experiences, all the things you hate about living in Colombia, I have actually heard many Colombians in Jersey also complain about them…and many are the reasons they moved to the US. However, what I have learned by being around Colombian immigrants in the US is that many come to the US with a false idea of what the US is like. Many think that jobs are easy to find…not true if you dont speak English, if you dont have legal US status, and if you dont know someone. Also, many dont realize how many Americans stereotype Colombians…is not just the typical stereotypes of the “drug lords”, but many Americans dont realize how many Colombians are well educated and professionals. As a matter of fact, most of the Colombians I know in Jersey were professionals back home in Colombia and now work in non-professional jobs to survive in the US due to the challenges of being an immigrant, therefore, feeding into the stereotypes. Also, as posted by John Jairo, I totally agree about the “sad life” he mentioned. I dont know how it’s like in other parts of the US, but in the NY metropolitan area life is not as fun as Colombians from Cali tell me life is like in Cali. In NYC and Jersey life is like this: you wake up early, go to work at a job where everyone is toooooo busy to even say hello…people ask “How are you?” but they dont mean it, they are just following protocol, they dont really want to know how are you…so you answer “fine” and continue working; that is if they even take the time to say hello. You come home, take care of home life, go to bed and repeat. Weekends, you need to make “dates” or plan ahead if you want to visit or spend time with friends and make sure you fit in their schedule (unless you are Latino…that is another life style). Mondays, repeat the routine. Now, I am basing my example on married life with kids, maybe if you are single it is a bit different. However, almost all of my Colombian friends want to go back because they are tired of the American life style. Most of them are from Cali. Actually, I already know of some that have recently returned. It’s hard for me to make judgment about moving to Cali since I am not Colombian and since I have lived most of my life in Jersey and have not yet visited Cali. I am wondering if there is anyone who can tell me what life is like for an expat that has children. Do you have any info. on schools? Thank you all for sharing!!! Ohhhh one more thing…I find it kind strange that no one posted the strange obsession Colombians have with FUTBOL…I know, that many other countries are the same, but I have yet to go to a Colombian restaurant or home where they are not blasting a Futbol game, if it’s not Salsa, its Futbol!

      • The Dancing Irishman May 7, 2013 at 11:34 am #

        I get the impression from a lot of Colombians with family in the states that many of them want to move back to Colombia eventually. A great life can be had here but Colombia doesn’t have a lot of the opportunities (educational/professional etc.) available in the states. It’s also possible to “live for work” like many New Yorkers, over here too (truth is I just quit a job for reasons similar to that).
        What I’m trying to say is that it’s possible to idealize places when you’re not there (the grass is always greener on the other side). Living in Colombia has it’s advantages and disadvantages just as living in the United States does.
        As for raising kids here, there are plenty of good schools here but you really have to pay a lot for the best private schools (and to be honest, having worked in one of them, I don’t think I would want to send my kids to one because of the mentality it instills from being around so many rich kids). I’d be much happier sending my kids to a good public school in Ireland because I know the standard of education is good and it wouldn’t be an environment of rich kids. I don’t know enough about Colombian public schools to comment.
        As for futbol, being from Europe, the Colombian obsession seems pretty normal to me hahaha

  27. Juanita May 29, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    Hola, soy colombiana y debo decir que estoy de acuerdo con casi todos los puntos que planteas, (la leche en bolsa me da igual pues la vi siempre, Me han dicho que en algunas partes de centro América se encuentra hasta coca cola en bolsa!) pero de resto todos, incluso la comida. Me gusta, pero no me encanta y definitivamente creo que no es del todo saludable. Peleo con kilos de más y creo que se los debo a tanto frito. Estoy sobre todo de acuerdo con los problemas que tenemos de pobreza, racismo, machismo, y los absurdos precios de los libros!!!

    Quería agradecer este post porque los colombianos estamos acostumbrados a que nos digan que somos geniales, pero no es así, y hay cosas que debemos repensarnos. Hay que comenzar a desaprobar ciertas actitudes para generar un cambio. No esta bien que la gente rica sea tan extravagante viviendo rodeado de pobreza! No está bien decir comentarios racistas! No está bien que nos parezca natural que los negros nos sirvan a los blancos! No está bien que nos digan cosas horribles en cada esquina a las mujeres! No es bonito, no nos guata! No está bien que un libro cualquiera cueste un día de sueldo! No es normal que le roben dos veces al mes! Bueno, me altera este tema.

    Debo decir que amo mi país y mi ciudad y me alegra mucho ver que gente de afuera que lo disfruta y lo aprecia. Pero no hay que tener miedo de mostrarnos lo que está mal, es necesario para comenzar un cambio.

    Ps. Llevo tres años esperando un regalo de cumpleaños que me mando un amigo de Alemania y estoy comenzando a pensar que no va a llegar. Pero bueno, yo tengo la paciencia colombiana.

    • The Dancing Irishman May 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      Juanita,
      Muchisimas gracias por tu comentario tan bello. Fue mi intencion hacerle a la gente que viven en Colombia pensar mas en el pais y creo que lo logré. No hay un pais perfecto y la gente de otros partes deben mirar muy bien a sus propios paises tambien.
      Y como dijiste, yo amo a Colombia, especialmente Cali, tambien. Es por eso que espero que se mejoren las cosas que noté en el articulo.
      Richie

      • natirestre June 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

        Como diria una amiga mexicana, “tienes tu boca infestada de verdad”. Leo este post justo cuando mi mente empieza a hacerse la idea de volver a Cali despues de estar viviendo en D.C por dos anos. Y si de algo aprendi de esta experiecia de vivir fuera del pais un rato, es dejar tanto romantisimo por mi pais y mi ciudad que se disfraza con la palabra Patriotismo. Antes de venir aca pense que era poco probable sentirme comoda en otra ciudad distinta a Cali pues de verdad que todas esas cosas negativas se vuelven paisaje cuando tienes amigos y una buena calidad de vida en Cali. El clima, los conciertos, el rio pance cerca, la vista a los farallones, tintindeo, mis largas caminatas (pero siempre algo inseguras) hacian que disfrutara mi cotidinidad alla y por tanto pense que eso no era posible encontrarlo facilmetne y menos en U.S. Pero de nuevo Dios me muestra que siempre hay que tener corazon abierto a los cambios y aprender. D.C me ofrecio tambien largas caminatas y mejor aun sintiendome segura en su mayoria, me dio ademas la oportunidad de andar en bicicleta a cualquier hora y por buenas vias, no tengo los farallones pero tengo dos rios y varios parques bien cuidados, el rio pance sigue siendo unico y sin comparacion y tintindeo sigue teniendo magia pero aca encontre un lugar de solo salsa con banda en vivo siempre que ayuda mucho y con el mismo estilo relajado. Lo que quiero decir es que, quiero volver, nunca lo he negado, pero tambien quiero dejar de hablar tantas bobadas sobre como los Colombianos somos mejores que otras culturas. Dejar de hablar tanto y unirme definitivamente ha acciones que promuevan lo que fui capaz de vivir. Hace una semana una amiga de indonesia compartio esta frase “I was an alien in my own country. My own attitudes had changed so it was difficult to understand my own customs.” – Landis 2004. ojala todos podamos llegar realmente a ver lo que tanto amamos tambien desde fuera, pero mas importante saber que tambien depende de nuestros actos aportar hacer la diferencia. Gracias por este blog!! Ojala sigas en Cali cuando regrese!

      • The Dancing Irishman June 6, 2013 at 10:13 am #

        Nati,
        Muchas gracias por este comentario. Viajar a otros paises tiene muchos benificios pero creo que los dos mas importantes son saber lo que es malo de tu propio pais y tambien… lo que es bueno.
        No podemos vivir pensando que nuestros propios paises son paraísos o sea sin defectos. Semejante pais no existe y cuando creemos que algo no tiene problemas nunca intentamos de solucionarlos o mejorarlos.
        Me encanta que estes feliz en D.C. pero estoy seguro que amas a Colombia tambien aunque te des cuenta a sus defectos. Creo que si mas gente de aca viviera a fuera un ratico y regresara a Colombia para vivir, seria posible mejorar mucho unas cosas de este pais increible.
        Gracias y espero que tengamos la oportunidad de vernos o bailar unas canciones en Tin Tin Deo algun dia!
        Richie

  28. Carito June 14, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Thank you for already having written the rant that I’ve had fermenting inside for several years.

    Otra gracias al señor Javier Bustos por su adición de números 22, 23 y 24 sobre la situación política–totalmente acertada!

    #25: blaring street vendors at all hours.

    There is never a second of silence, as neighborhoods are invaded by megaphone-toting or barrel-chested yelling vendors. I’ve lived in both the comunas and upper-class residential areas and it’s the same noise pollution everywhere. I understand that it’s because of the informal economy and entrepreneurial attitude, and that’s all good, but is there really a need to blast my eardrums to let me know that you’re selling aguacate? Since they come every single day at the same hour, the neighbors will catch on and not need to be alerted. Especially the trucks who park for 40 minutes with their propoganda on maximum volume. Or maybe the sellers feel they have to crank up their volume so high because they know that Colombians are noisy and have their TV or radio on full volume inside the house.

    #26 cordially greeting me by calling me fattie

    In one store I’m “flaca”, in the next I’m “gordita.” If I were to have a body image problem, this would really mess with my head.

    Sometimes I do get a kick out of how I can change my age, marital status and even sex in a span of 5 blocks, being greeted as “doña” then “señorita” then “joven” (I have a slender build and sporty look)

    Sure, it’s nice how they greet you on the street, but a simple “hola” or “buenas” would suffice. Do they really have to call me fattie?

    • The Dancing Irishman June 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      Hahahaha, yeah I’m sure everyone has their own points to add to the list.
      The noise in neighborhoods is annoying but I actually think I’ve gotten used to it now. I think it only really get’s to me if I sleep in in the morning and the ice-cream man drives by blaring classical music hahaha!

    • Bernardo July 5, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Don’t be so sensitive in South America, people say hi to each other all the time like that. Hola negro, negri, marica, guevn, gwey, india, nene, nena, gordo, gordito, flaco, feo, mi reina, mi amor. These all just mean hi, dont be so sensitive and stop the bloody complaining about the country jesus christ.

      • The Dancing Irishman July 5, 2013 at 10:41 am #

        Hi Bernardo, those names Colombians use for greetings are one of my favourite things about living here.

  29. Mauricio July 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Hi,
    I’m Colombian, and I’ve been leaving abroad for a while, and these days I’ve been missing my country. For some reason, remembering about some nonsense stuff about my country ended up cheering me up. I couldn’t stop laughing about the milk bags. I have no clue how we came up with this “great idea”.

    It is nice to see you appreciated more the good things about our culture, than the bad things. Also, not one of the things you say is false; we do have to improve a lot of things, especially regarding social inequality.

    Politeness is not the same throughout Colombia. I had lived half my life in Bogota (city I was born and raised), and the other in Cali, and I must say that is one aspect that differentiate them. People in Cali are more easy going, so they don’t care about saying “gracias” and alike. (although, for me it was also hard to deal with it when I first arrived in Cali)

    It was nice to see a so down to earth description of the negative parts of my country. I think it is impossible to completely love a place (otherwise it wouldn’t be real love). I’m living in the Netherlands and I like here a lot, but it doesn’t mean I like everything. So I felt a lot of empathy while reading your post. So thank you for posting it!

    You did break my hearth regarding food, but I guess our food is not so popular to foreign people; you kinda have to grow with it, in order to like some of our food. (I know it is hard to digest food) I miss homemade food, and a couple of restaurants as well. Do you like “Crepes & Waffles”? (I know is not the everyday kind of restaurant, but I used to go there with my family in the weekends)

    Bye, and I hope you keep enjoying Colombia.

    • The Dancing Irishman July 6, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

      Thanks for the great comment Mauricio. I’m really glad you understand what I was trying to say, I love living here but there are some things that could be improved. I’m also glad you laughed at the things that I intentionally added to be funny (like the milk in bags hahaha).
      I hope you keep reading and I wish you a lot of success with your life in the Netherlands.
      Richie

  30. yamid August 7, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    Yeah I agree, one thing I miss is the food. After a while been in any city you start getting use to the lifestyle. Best thing is the currency change. Have fun

  31. greatest phantom August 23, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    well i agree with u i’m from Atlanta <3, and well i don't know much about colombia but what i know is that there's no safety there's the king of drugs (pablo escobar) but THE ONLY THING I LIKE OF IT ITS the coffe (juan valdez) but all the other things sucks!.

    • The Dancing Irishman August 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      There’s plenty more things to like about Colombia than just its coffee. Also, saying there is no safety here is an exaggeration. Obviously one can leave a perfectly safe life here but you have to take more precautions and be more cautious.
      Also drugs are no where near as big a problem here as they are in the United States and other developed countries. Drugs may be produced in Colombia but the vast majority of them are exported to and consumed in other countries. The days of Pablo Escobar are long gone!

      • Jose August 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

        That is so true.

        Nothing infuriates me more than going on an online chat and everyone asking if I’m a drug dealer or something. By the way, what other cities have you visited? There are a lot of cultural differences and the language itself varies throughout our Country. For example Guaro ( Aguardiente) is not so popular in Barranquilla, we like to drink beers, rum or whiskey.

      • The Dancing Irishman September 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

        That’s actually something I really like about Colombia, the variations from place to place.
        I’ve been to Medellin, Bogota, Pasto, Santa Marta, Salento and a few other smaller towns. I love getting to see new sides of Colombia.

  32. Maria Piastre August 31, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    LOL milk in a bag! I know….

  33. cam September 2, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    The courtesy issue is through the perspective of a European because we do have certain “courtesy rules”, most that I do not agree with but to give you another perspective. This includes being late, it is a cultural courtesy to never be too early it would contradict the “easy going” mood of everyone.You must be dressed and ready to go out, and always look your best. Screaming is an acceptable form of speech to talk between each other, unless of course out of anger. Men believe that women must be admired and sexuality is seen as a much more comfortable and less taboo subject. The wealthy do not involve themselves with the poor in fear of becoming a part of dangerous situations and also because of social status. In Colombia social status determines everything in your life and therefore people must guard it to sustain themselves. A woman is never alone, or should not be. Always accompanied by other females or a man.

    • The Dancing Irishman September 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Yeah, I get the “logic” behind all of them but in reality they’re things that just annoy me on a personal level.

  34. Johana November 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    There are a lot of things here that are true about Colombia. However, it is important to note that it is all about perspective. You don’t like the food, you think is not safe, you think that Colombia is a third world country…If I were you, I would think about the tone of voice used when describing your experience because a foreigner may take your opinions as facts. I’m pretty sure that Colombians are treating you really nicely and showing a great time because that is what we do. So please take that into account.

    Best,

    A calena in NYC

    • The Dancing Irishman November 12, 2013 at 12:36 am #

      Hi Johana
      Actually, I was pretty specific when I said that I still loved my life in Colombia despite the issues. And I definitely don’t think that Colombia is a third world country although it is still underdeveloped in many regions. Colombia, especially Cali is a very, very special place for me.
      Actually, I miss Cali a lot, now I’m living in New York city too. Maybe I’ll see you around here some time.

      • Johana November 12, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

        Ok, so maybe I just read this article and then looked at the rest of your page. I can see that you do love Colombia…which is awesome! Anyway, make sure you get to check-out these places in Jackson Heights(you would feel like you are in Cali again and I’ll probably see you around): Leños, Chango and deseos are good places to dance. Pollos Marios, mi pequeña Colombia and andres carne de tres are good places to eat.

      • The Dancing Irishman November 13, 2013 at 1:13 am #

        Wow, thanks Johana, this is just the kind of information I’ve been looking for. I can’t wait to meet some Colombianos here in New York! Thanks again.

  35. Ricardo Guerrero November 23, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    The toilet seat mystery, is about people standing on the edge of the toilet and squatting instead of sitting, breaking the seat while at it. This is done to avoid filth,and this method is passed from mothers to children. The lack of proper use of the toilet, plus the lack of cleaning, makes toilets very hard to trust. The bathroom owner won’t replace the seat, simply because there is no need for it.

    • The Dancing Irishman November 25, 2013 at 1:50 am #

      Ricardo,
      Thank you for being the first person to actually explain that to me. I really had no idea and no one I asked had a clue either.
      Mystery solved.

  36. carlos November 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I didnt like your article. You start by saying that there are some things about Colombia you dont like. So, as a Colombian I thought it was nice to hear thing we cant see as you mentioned. But soon i felt deceived as a reader because this is not about colombia but about cali. Ive lived in bogota, bucaramanga and medellin so im well aware of certain cultural practices bot positive and negative….however i think youre missing something out of the equation: regionalism. Each region has theirs own ways. So while some of the things you say maybe true for most colombians some others are just not. Say for example getting on buses: what you said is true for a place like bucaramanga but no so much for a place like medellin where not doing lines for taking the bus is not an option. On the contrary, security is an issue in medellin or bogotá but its not so much in bucaramanga. And what about that thing of toilet seats? do you think that happens in Colombia as you said? I mean, in ALL colombia? Also, did you notice that the article you published about Colombia is about what you love about CALI? I think you should’ve done the same with this article ( i mean naming it as things you hate about CALI) because honestly, we, colombians, are not the same and youre treating us as a whole. That may sound logical for anyone but for someone who has been in this country, it should be rather easy to know that in colombia regions are ridiculously different. And why are you always mentioning Japan? I mean I get you have been there, so do I, but talking about negative aspects of Colombia while comparing it to Japan? seriously?
    BTW, i get your joke about motorbike drive-bys, I heard it myself only when I went to medellin- but did you know that many people in bucaramanga wouldn’t undertsand that joke? yeap…the problem of generalizing!

    • The Dancing Irishman November 25, 2013 at 1:48 am #

      That’s a very valid point and definitely important to mention.

  37. Cata December 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Hello, I am Colombian and as much I would love to disagree with your blog, I can’t 😦
    Except for one thing: Colombian food is great! I haven’t been there in years and that’s at the top of the list of things that I miss, second only to my family 😉

    • The Dancing Irishman December 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      There’s nothing wrong with admitting that the country has a few problems (every country does). It would actually be a lot worse if you pretended that the problems don’t exist like a lot of people do.
      I’ll also tell you a secret: I had Colombian food today with a Colombian friend of mine in New Jersey and I was so happy to have it. Yuca frita, maduro, caldo de res… delicioso jajaja

  38. Silvanna January 18, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    Dude 1. Bogota has shit loada of books 2.santander is safe as shit and i have been there 3medellim is cheap on bills as shit 4. Villase leyva is a place where women can walk naked and nothing is to be said , clearly you dont know your country-you know cali.

    • The Dancing Irishman January 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      Hi Silvana
      Yes it’s true I have only lived in Cali and have only visited other places and I agree that the article is an over generalization, but I make that clear too.
      However, Cali also “has” a lot of books just as Bogota does, however the prices in regular book shops make them inaccessible to the majority of people due to the low minimum wage.
      On the issue of safety, regions like Santander (or as another example the coffee region) are still in “relatively” rural areas and have only recently seen a boom in their tourist industries (and here’s hoping they will continue to boom because it improves the standard of living of the inhabitants). However, Colombia is unfortunately a comparatively dangerous country (just like many places in South America) and I have personally experienced dangerous situations in a lot of places outside Cali and native Colombians continuously advise me (out of kindness) of unsafe places. Thankfully, from what I’ve heard, the situation is getting better compared to how it was and I am genuinely hopeful that Colombia will be a very safe country in the future.
      On the issue of prices, I’m not talking as a tourist from Europe or North America who will find everything cheap in comparison. I’m talking about prices in comparison to what the majority of Colombians earn. It is very hard on some Colombian families with the cost of goods (especially imports) as they are, be it in Cali, Medellin, Bogota or Cúcuta.
      As for walking around naked in Villa de Leyva, I’ve never done it myself (I’m too white to walk around naked, I’d blind everyone) but it doesn’t surprise me that women don’t get accosted there, it’s a very traditional, rural town. That wouldn’t be the case in any city in Colombia (just like in the rest of Latin America).
      I hope you understand that this article wasn’t written without a lot of thought and that it definitely wasn’t intended to offend. I also don’t think this is a “stereotypical” article either as the vast majority of the non-latin world know next to nothing about Colombia. In fact, one of the most common preconceptions about Colombia, that of it being rife with drugs, doesn’t even make it into the article… because it isn’t true.

  39. Stephy January 22, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    Hello!
    I enjoyed your article a lot. I differ over the Colombian food. I rather like most of it, but yes, there is a LOT of deep fried. To easc his own right? (:
    Two things that had me cheering and laughing out loud were your description of the buses and the toilet seats (er, the LACK of them).
    Both of these things drive me insane! I have told my husband several times that if I ever lose my temper here in Colombia, it will be over getting onto or off of a bus.
    One morning, I was on my was to work. I was teaching English in Yumbo at a meat packing plant. I arrived at the Torre de Cali station with just enough time to get there if the buses ran right. (ie, I was late).
    The bus I needed arrived at the doors and I mentally cheered my good fortune. Until I attempted to pass through the impenetrable wall of people who were waiting to ride a different bus. It was about 3 people deep, and I was now penned in by other people who were behind me and also didn’t want to ride this bus. So I called out my ‘permisso por favor’ and tried to squeeze closer to the bus entrance. No dice. The perfectly times bus left me behind

    • Stephy January 22, 2014 at 12:24 am #

      (the dog made me hit send in her search for a head pat)
      I was standing there, feeling a bit frustrated by missing the bus–nothing new.
      Then, a bus I don’t need arrives, and we lose a layer of the wall, I get shoved to the side and as people behind me bulldoze through us to get on. I wait for about 20 minutes for the next bus I need to arrive. Of course, in the mean time I am jostled around by the arrival of about 3 other buses. I see my bus arrive and there is only one layer of the wall still between me and my bus. I call out, ‘Permisso’ and the woman directly infront of me (and come up to my nose) looks me directly in the eyes, so I repeat, ‘permisso por favor’. She turns away from me and does not even give the slightest inclination of moving. So, I picked her up by the shoulders (from behind) and moved her out of my way–being sure to steady her on her feet before I let go–and I got onto the bus with a stream of Spanish cursing following me. I was determined NOT to miss another bus.
      I was still late, but isn’t that a bit more interresting to read about than ‘waah waah I missed my bus’?
      As for the toilets…there are not many women’s restrooms that have a complete set of toilets–if they have any at all. Complete mystery. Did someone actually STEAL the seats? Do they not put them out to prevent theft?
      I was recently shown an apartment (was not a nice apartment) and while it had 3 bathrooms, not one of them had a seat. Really??!

  40. Carlos February 3, 2014 at 5:44 am #

    Great post… I, as a colombian who lives in Europa, am agree with you in basically all aspects, even with the food issue, but one… the bag of milk. It is actually an asset, Obviously it may look a bit primitive, but the fact is that in Colombia, you can still find this countryside products as it was in Europe 50 years ago. And is something that makes me proud of the place I come from. I dont know, of course is only my opinion.

    • The Dancing Irishman February 4, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      Hi Carlos,
      Thanks for your comment. I will definitely agree with you that the quality of food produce (vegetables, meat, eggs etc…) is excellent. I loved the fruit and vegetable section of Colombian supermarkets because of the great variety and everything is so fresh. The “milk in a bag” point was added as a joke (I actually think it’s a great way to reduce packaging).

  41. Sebastian Delgado March 10, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    “19. Milk in a bag
    I know….” Omg that killed me of laughter

  42. Emanuel March 11, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    in my opinion, all that you have written is right despite that Im Colombian, and it’s cool that person as you being able to describe whatever without matter the consequence, but you forgot something very important which is talk about the good thing of Colombians.

    Regards

    • The Dancing Irishman March 11, 2014 at 6:52 am #

      Hi Emmanuel,
      Actually, I’ve written many articles about what I love about Colombia, you can check out the rest of my blog or you can check the links at the beginning of this article. Believe me, I have many more good things to say about Colombia than bad.
      Thanks for your comment.

  43. David W McGhee March 26, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    I fell in love with Cali from the very first visit. One thing that always amazes me is that once you leave Cali and head towards Buga, you can smell such sweet smells in the air. I don’t know if it’s from the sugar cane or what, but I love it! Hope to go back in June 2014 to see my friends.

    • The Dancing Irishman March 27, 2014 at 5:59 am #

      I hope you make it back there David. Cali’s a great place!

  44. Gabriella D March 27, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    You’ve made some certainly valid points–and as you mentioned a lot of them are about personal annoyances, (which are respectable, and I don’t need to add that you are absolutely entitled) others things like racism unfortunately I do agree,
    The issue lies that these ideas have been engraved from generation to generation, but I know younger generations like myself are fighting that. I might be generalizing but I’ve found that is not a hatred against people of “lower” classes but a sense of superiority the elites take on.

    Also, I must say, that as much us Colombians have a very unitedt sense of nationalism,(which might explain some passionate responses) we are also as someone mentioned very defined by our regions. Myself. being from the coastal city of Barranquilla can identify with some things you’ve mentioned but some not as much.. As far as the culinary aspect, which is your personal taste, I find a little hard to understand the lack of variety. Colombians are very creative and have fast food chains, that are both affordable, gourmet and or incorporate regional foods in innovative ways (.NOT CORRIENTAZOS, never tried one, but hey maybe I should to have an opinion)

    In cities like Barranquilla, Cartagena, or Bogota(a huge foodie town) we have marvelous restaurants that offer fantastic international food, (Middle eastern food in Barranquilla, is almost as common as your cheesy arepa 🙂 I can’t speak for Cali’s gastronomy in particular since I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed they are very delightful and colorful people.

    I mean no harm, just some vague-ish opinions that came to mind, I’ve lived in DC for almost a year now and as much as I enjoy this city, I certainly find my annoyances from tie to time.

    PS. there is no denying Colombia still has it’s security issues, specially in the 90s…but it happens everywhere, I got mugged for the first time in my life in not the best part of town in DC while somewhat lost…

    -Gabriella

    • The Dancing Irishman March 27, 2014 at 5:59 am #

      Thanks Gabriella,
      I really appreciate this type of comment (well thought out and balanced). Your point on racism being an issue of self-considered superiority is spot on.
      My views in the article are formed fro the places I’ve visited in Colombia and unfortunately that can be unfair on some other regions. In particular, I never got to visit your native Barranquilla. I would have loved to because I’m a huge fan of middle eastern food.
      I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in DC (and stay safe) I’ve heard of the dangerous reputation of some of its neighbourhoods.
      If you ever feel like reading a few pro-Colombia articles, that focus on the good points, I actually have a lot more of those than this not so good one.
      Richie

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  1. You Know You’ve Been in Cali Too Long When… | The Dancing Irishman - April 9, 2013

    […] become home for me. I’ve come to love many things about Cali (even though there are a few little things that grate on my nerves every now and […]

  2. The Dancing Irishman’s First Birthday | The Dancing Irishman - June 5, 2013

    […] I feel especially proud of writing “21 Things I F##KING HATE about Colombia!” which to date is the most popular article I’ve ever written (an exceptionally close second is […]

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