Every country has stereotypes that can be only be proven right or wrong only by traveling and experiencing it yourself. Colombia particularly has a strong image all around the world; in a good and a bad way. It is one of the biggest challenges for Colombia to prove that instead of high level of violence and drug-trafficking, it is a country with the most amazing nature, second biggest biodiversity in the world, welcoming people and colorful culture. We have gathered some of our guests’ comments and thoughts all around the world and we’ll tell you if they’re true or false.
“I don’t know much about Columbia, but they have damn good coffee!”
That’s true. Colombia has a reputation for producing the best coffee beans in the world and this can be achieved because of its excellent growing conditions. It is one of the biggest coffee producing countries with Brazil and Vietnam, and exports coffee beans all over the world. Most of the coffee growers are family-based and live in small farms. In 2014 coffee beans production was over 12.1 million bags (of 60 kg each).
A small common mistake here though: Colombia, not Columbia. It is often misspelled especially in United States, where the word Columbia is common: District of Columbia, Columbia University, Hollywood’s Columbia Pictures, Columbia sportswear, etc. Colombians are very strict about misspelling, so as an advice and to avoid irritating them, you might want to use the “o” 🙂
“Colombia is rather dangerous country. It seems corrupted and dangerous, drug capital of the world. It has colorful history and pretty strong culture but when choosing traveling locations, Colombia would not be the first choice for me.”
False. This is one of the most common thought that come to people’s minds when talking about Colombia. Yes, there was a time when Pablo Escobar had a huge impact on Colombia, especially the city of Medellin. Foreigners see a lot of movies and writings about Pablo Escobar, the power of corruption and international drug-trafficking. But this is history. Colombians understand why it is interesting topic for tourists, and like in every country, there are many possibilities to learn about it by taking tours and listening to stories.
One thing you must know: locals don’t want to rewind the topic all over again. Their opinions might be very different than yours; there are people set up an altar with candles to respect his memory and some other who don’t even want to bring up the subject because they’ve lost relatives because of him. Colombians are proud of what they have today, their improvement for the past 20 years and how Colombia’s future looks like. Colombia is actively building its positive image and being innovative. In fact, Medellín was chosen the most innovative city in the world in 2013. To be realistic, there are still drugs and violence in Colombia, but not more than in many other countries in South America. No need to worry. Besides, with Palenque Tours you’re in good hands.
“They come up with some good entertainment, music and novelas. Also, homeland of Shakira.”
True. Colombians could not live without their music. In many other cultures there has to be alcohol involved to dance publicly and enjoy it, but this is not the case in Colombia. Dancing is a way of communication for Colombians and basically everyone knows how to dance salsa since they’re a little child. Many music genres have their origins in Colombia, like Cumbia, Merecumbé, Vallenato, Bambuco and different versions of Salsa. And yes, world’s famous Shakira is originally from Barranquilla, Colombia.
Even though the movie industry in Latin America is pretty small, telenovelas create a multi-million industry with worldwide distribution. Many famous telenovelas come especially from Colombia, and are popular in whole Latin America. You have probably heard about the American TV- serial Ugly Betty? It is originally a Colombian telenovela called “Yo soy Betty, la fea”. In America the goal for an actress is to reach Hollywood and be worldwide recognized, while in Latin America the goal is to become a telenovela star. Although, Colombia is not the most telenovela consuming country in Latin America. Brazil and Venezuela take the lead, while in Colombia 43% of the population watch telenovelas regularly.
“You’re going to Colombia? You’ll drink a lot of tequila.”
False. Tequila is a Mexican alcohol, which has nothing to do with South America. In Colombia we have aguardiente (which literally means fiery water), an anise taste liquor which can contain from 29% to 60% alcohol volume. All parties include several shots of aguardiente, which is also known as a fiery water. Besides aguardiente there are other drinks in Colombia that you might want to try like rhum, beer, Refajo, Chicha and Canelazo.
“People are usually good looking, at least all the ones I’ve met.”
True. Colombia is famous for its beautiful women and high level of beauty procedures and plastic surgery. It is not just Colombians who use these services, the trend has spread worldwide. Nowadays medical tourism in plastic surgery is a growing trend in Colombia as more and more people from different parts of the world travel to have low-priced plastic surgery. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s this beauty trend got its start, believe it or not, from “Narco Novias”: mistresses that wanted to be a part of the luxurious millionaire cartel life. It was the type of beauty far from naturalness. Still today you can identify the same beauty trends; people are obsessed with their looks. Did you know there is actually a program in Medellin that provides free plastic surgeries for poor people?
“People are among the nicest you’ll ever meet. Go now while it’s still relatively undiscovered.”
This is entirely true. People are over friendly. While walking the streets in the center of Medellin, people will shout “Welcome to Colombia!” and ask where you are from. Improving tourism is a sign for local people that the bad days are over. They are genuinely happy to see you, because 10 years ago you couldn’t see any tourists wandering around the streets. People were too afraid to and truth is most of them still are. Year after year the tourism is growing, people is starting to see more in Colombia than just their dark era of guns and drugs. If you were waiting for a perfect time to discover Colombia, this is it. Tourism is still low enough for you to be one of the first persons to visit some areas.
Have you already been to Colombia? Do you agree with our statements?
Share your opinion with us!