19 Surprising Things About Colombia Which You Probably Didn’t Know…Until Now

Before I came to Colombia, I didn’t know too much about this incredible country. In the nearly two months I spent traveling around, I was constantly exposed to something new, whether it be an interesting phrase, a fact about a new place, or simply something I considered odd, but was really common place in the day-to-day life of Colombians. I wanted to share some surprising things about Colombia which I learned along the way, to give you a heads up for when you visit this amazing place!

1. “Don’t Give Papaya” is an expression Colombians use to say don’t make yourself an easy target. “Close your purse! Don’t give papaya!”

2. “Monas” and “Monos” are people with lighter colored hair.

3. Toilet paper is usually found outside the bathroom stalls, and typically there are no toilet seats.

4. “Chivas” are open-sided colorful school-bus shaped busses which are packed with either people or cargo.
Chiva bus in Colombia

5. In the 90s, Medellin was known as the “Murder Capital of the World”, and in 2012 it was voted “Most Innovative City in the World”. It is inspirational to see how far the people and the city have come. Age of Terror Colombia

6. “A la orden” is a saying you will hear over and over as you walk past or enter shops. It essentially means that they are there to serve you.

7. Yogurt is so liquidy that it’s always drinkable, and there is something similar to yogurt called “kumi” which is worth a try.

8. You will see signs all over the place for “minutos” and there will be telephones with chains attached to a cart, or a person wearing a vest. Colombian payphones

9. “Cuántos cuotas?” is something you will be asked if you pay with credit card. They are asking over what period of time you would like to pay off the bill.

10. Hot dogs are very popular, and often they are eaten sliced and out of a pop-top tin can.

11. Cigarettes are available for individual purchase in many corner stores. Cigarettes for sale

12. Hot chocolate is a popular morning drink, and is served in a bowl which you drink out of.

13. A special treat is to have hot chocolate, or “agua panela” with a piece of queso (cheese) in it, which you eat with your spoon as it starts to melt.

14. Arepas, round cornflower tortilla-but-thicker things, are a staple part of the meals. They are typically eaten with eggs (huevos pericos = eggs with diced up tomato and onion) or cheese for breakfast, and sometimes come with soup. Arepa con queso

15. Soup is included as part of your meal with a typical lunch or dinner, and comes before the main plate.

16. There is a famous artist from Medellin, Fernando Botero, who makes all his figures chubby, but he preferred to call them “voluptuous”. Fernando Botero

17. Valle de Cocora is the only place in the world where you can find the towering wax palm trees, Colombia’s National Tree.
Valle de Cocora

18. Colombia is known as a “world in one country” because they have access to both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, and you can find nearly any type of weather and landscape here, from mountains, to deserts, to beaches and rivers and waterfalls. It is phenomenal!

19. Colombia’s slogan for tourism is that the “only risk is that you won’t want to leave'”… And it’s true. Colombia is amazing! What are you waiting for? Come check it out now :) Santa Barbara Colombia


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