Colombian cultural quirks
Without further ado, here is a list of some of the interesting and sometimes bizarre Colombian cultural quirks that I witnessed during my time there!
13. Bathroom SCAles
Apparently bathroom scales are not a common item owned by Paisas (people from the Medellín region) so what does one do when one wants to weigh themselves? Head on down to the local plaza of course!! Here’s an old guy who was obviously concerned with the amount of food he had consumed over the Christmas/New Year period and wanted to see how much damage he had done to his waist line.
12. Botero Sculptures
These sculptures created by Fernando Botero depict characters with out of proportion features. I’m not sure where the inspiration for these came from but many of the women in Medellín with the oversized ass implants seem to mimic these sculptures. Valued at around 2.5 million dollars a piece, these statues are constantly being sexually abused by tourists who love to touch and pose with them in inappropriate ways. You can visibly see where the statues have received the most attention as the areas turn a golden colour. During my walk through the plaza I bore witness to several laughing groups of lads touching these priceless pieces of art in inappropriate places!
Some of the Paisas men in Medellín love to embrace the loopholes of Christianity. If one were to sin in the eyes of the lord by committing adultery with a lady of the night, then one could simply wash his hands of the deed by visiting the Church next door and confessing their sins. Most of the prostitutes loiter around churches to allow fast sin confessional access for the men. A male suitor selects his bride from a wide variety of women (pretending to make phone calls) and then is taken to one of the many pay by the hour hotels in the area. Shockingly I was told that these women charge between 8000-12,000 pesos ($3 – $5 AUD) which includes a condom and hotel room for the hour!
10. Mobile Phone rental
Making calls from one provider to another in Colombia is more expensive than making calls between the same providers. To combat this issue you’ll find entrepreneurial vendors in the parks and street corners with mobile phones attached to strings hanging from their pockets. It reminds me of the high security technique that banks used to employ with pens to in order to prevent pen theft. I can only imagine the tedious conversations that the Minuteros have to listen to, this woman below looks like she’s discussing what happened in the latest episode of the Kardashians.
9. Snake oil salesmen
We are all concerned about our health and the people of Medellín are no exception. With so many ailments afflicting our bodies, what sort of remedy exists to treat this vast plethora of medical issues? Well, look no further than the healing powers of snail mucus! Some of these flamboyant salesmen peddling the remedies even have pictures of diseased genitalia lining the stage. No snails were harmed in the demonstration of this super cure!
8. Comuna 13 escalators
If there was one place I never expected to see an escalator, the middle of suburbia would be near the top of the list. Not just any old region of Medellín, but one of the most notoriously dangerous neighbourhoods in Medellín! Thankfully the violence has stopped since the pinnacle of the drug wars and we are left with a pleasant ride up through the steep inclines of the mountain neighbourhood. One word of warning though, I was told by one of the escalator police not to walk up the escalator when on it but to remain stationary until reaching the end of my journey.
The mannequins in many Medellín clothing stores look cosmetically enhanced in one of the more unusual Colombian cultural quirks. Apparently they have tamed down the size of these asses in these plastic models in recent years.
6. Juice with an extra kick
You hear about people adding superfoods to their juices but this store is taking things to the next level! Not only do these juices give you a vitamin boost they also give you a “boost” in the bedroom. With packaging labelled with such phrases as “Full Sex Natural” and “Super Sex”, it’s anybody’s guess what kinds of effects these additives would have on your sex drive!
5. trolley drinks
These drink vendors use anything ranging from stolen shopping trolleys, baby strollers to basically anything with wheels to pedal their wares! Some ladies in the vicinity didn’t seem interested by these Colombian cultural quirks, instead opting for an expensive juice.
4. smoking health warnings
I couldn’t work out if this health warning that I saw in the Happy Buddha hostel in Medellín was legit or not. After punching the text into Google translate it came back with “The smoke from cigarettes hurts your ears”.
3. outdoor butcher
This is what I was confronted with before the start of the Lost City trek (La Ciudad Perdida). I couldn’t fit it in the photo but to the right lay the cow’s legs chopped into halves. After seeing this I ordered the vegetarian option for lunch, not the most hygienic place I’ve seen meat prepared!
2. Door to door salesmen
When I say door I don’t mean in the traditional western sense of house door, I’m referring to car door salespersons. In Colombia the goods comes to you! If you’re stuck in a traffic jam or just stopped at the lights a smiling salesperson vending all manner of products ranging from fruit, to mobile phone holders or headphones will be at your driver’s side window!
This Colombian national sport is a mix between Bocce and Discus which involves competitors drinking copious amounts of beer and then attempting to detonate small explosives placed on a horseshoe by throwing a small metal puck a distance of 20m to the target! It’s probably one of the most dangerous games I’ve seen to date as the small packets of gunpowder detonate on impact with the metal disc sending shrapnel flying across the room!
other Colombian Cultural Quirks
If you know of any more Colombian cultural quirks then please comment below to share your experiences!!