Painting Birds in the Sky

Here in Colombia I haven’t exactly been loving the music- Ballenato and Salsa just isn’t my thing. I’ve tried my best and I like a few songs, but nothing has really hit my buttons to be totally honest.

That’s until I heard this. It’s by a band called Yandar y Yostin from Medellín, and it’s super-catchy! I’m determined to learn the words

I love ‘costeñol’, but I miss my favourite Spanish phrases!

I’m sure that every Spanish student who loves learning this magnificent language will tell you that ser and estar can be a nightmare; por and para are a pain in the arse; and that the subjunctive is an absolute bitch- but some of the wonderful aspects of español are the cool idioms and colloquial phrases you pick up.

Costeñol, the funky nickname they give to the Spanish spoken here on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, has lots of cool expressions and words; chévere, bacano, ‘arajo, eche, coge a coge among many more (remember I’m still learning). I’m really enjoying these great new sayings, can’t wait to teach them to my friends at home, and love the hilarious reaction I get when I use them- the barranquilleros I meet are thrilled when they hear me use their Costeñol words… Especially the dirty words. (Seriously I didn’t know how many words existed that mean ‘prostitute’…)

However, due to the huge differences between some of the regional and country varieties of Spanish a lot of my favourite phrases mean nothing here. I don’t know how many times I said “Soy muy listo!” thinking I was sarcastically telling people, “I’m so clever” only to realise just last week that people almost never use this phrase, and probably thought I was just being stupid (“Estoy listo” means “I’m ready” and is used all the time here).

There are 3 phrases I miss more than others.

I learned to say hay mucha marcha, when I was about 14, and it is one of those phrases that just stuck in my head. In spain it means “There’s lots going on” but here in Colombia, it doesn’t really mean anything. Sometimes I still say it, only to be disheartened when I realise I’ve just told someone “there’s a lot of march”.

Me lo pasé bomb, is a nice castellano phrase to say “I had a great time'” (it was a bomb!), but here in Barranquilla it will just confuse people, wondering why you passed yourself a balloon. (Bomba =bomb, and also balloon).

My last phrase is the brilliant, ¿Qué te pasa, calabaza? which is a wonderful saying that means What’s up, pumpkin?. The reason I love this phrase, is because it’s exactly the kind of thing I would say in English. Unfortunately, every time I’ve said it to someone in Colombia they’ve been slightly confused, and asked me if I know that I’ve just called them a pumpkin. Of course I knew, you turnip!

Hasta pronto, tonto!

(Ps, the last part reminds me of when my sister asked the great philosophical question, “Would you still love me if I was a pumpkin?” I’m not sure if it was an idiom or not… But it sure confused me!)

Amor y Amistad

In Colombia September is dedicated to the feast of Amor y Amistad (Love & Friendship), with the actual day falling on the third Saturday of the month. This is the country’s equivalent of St Valentine’s Day- people go out to bars and clubs, couples spend the day together doing something special and workplaces, schools and groups of friends organise amigo secreto games- a sort of secret Santa for Love and Friendship.

In our school lots of the staff joined in with the amigos secretos so I figured this would be a nice way to integrate with the school community and get to know more about Colombian culture. The day before our secret friend lunch I headed out and bought my gifts for Sulamy (The English teacher, who I had been assigned to get a present for). I got a selection of sweets, marshmallows and of course chocolate.

During the lunch everyone was in good spirits. I was too until I saw what the food was- lasagne. (Friends, family and blog-stalkers will know that I really despise cheese) I tried to quietly and subtly say “Cheers, but I’ll be fine with a bit of coke” (Coca-cola! I don’t know what you were thinking.) but once one person had heard a whisper of “no me gusta queso” the whole room was hustle and bustle with an interrogation: “Are you sure you don’t like cheese?” “Have you tried lasagne its really nice?” and “Just try it, you might like this cheese”. Needless to say, a chuckle and smile (of course in my head I’m going “PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I DO NOT LIKE CHEESE, I NEVER HAVE DONE AND NEVER WILL”) kind of got me out of trouble with this one- but apparently some staff members are conspiring to buy me cheese because they’re sure if I just eat some I will like it. I admire their efforts, I really do. They should work for the secret service or something.

We exchanged gifts, had a laugh… Ate lasagne. All was good. My gift was lovely- a selection of different traditional Colombian sweets. They were delicious! Pictures below.


Panelitas de Arequipe 1
Panelitas de Arequipe 2
Bocadillo de Guayaba
Arequipe con Leche 1
Arequipe con Leche 2