101 Reasons To Love Colombia

by Stephanie Walsh · 41 comments

in Colombia, South America, Travel Thoughts, Travels

KM 18 Cali, Colombia

Now that I’ve finally booked flights home to Ireland for a visit, I have started to reminisce about my time here in Colombia. I’ve spent a total of 14 non-consecutive months in this country and I have had an amazing time. I dare say, it has even been life changing.

I have met amazing people, saw incredible places and learned so much about this country and its culture. I am proud to call Colombia my adopted second home and I have no doubt that I will be back again soon to continue exploring this fascinating land.

But, when someone asks me ‘what do you love about Colombia?’ (No one has ever asked me that actually), it is hard to put it into words. So in an attempt to explain my growing love affair with this country, I have naturally resorted to making a list of my personal reasons to love Colombia.

 

So here are my 101 reasons to love Colombia:

 

1. Everyone is just so friendly…it’s really true!

2. Beautiful dogs…everywhere!

3. Cheap manicures, pedicures and haircuts.

4. The amazing, confusing and cheap range of delicious fruits and vegetables available everywhere.

5. Life here is an endless summer.

6. Siestas are now essential in my life.

7. The beer is delicious and cheap.

8. Guys are extremely chivalrous.

9. The purchasing of minutes (yes, time) is possible! 😛

10. What seems like a never-ending amount of bank holidays (national holidays).

11. Birthdays are huge!

12. There is always street entertainment at the traffic lights.

13. Restaurants are packed with families every Sunday.

14. You don’t need to be drunk to dance (unlike in Ireland).

15. Women here wear heels…all the time.

16. Saying ‘buenas’ multiple times a day to strangers becomes part of your daily ritual.

17. It’s perfectly acceptable to call someone fat, skinny, black, white, ugly, beautiful etc.

18. Pastelitos from ‘La Locura’!

19. If you like the cold, you can have the cold, if you like the heat, you can have the heat. If you like rain, you can have rain. Even if you like snow, you can have snow.

20. Rent is super cheap (except in Bogota where its ridiculously expensive. Go Cali!).

21. Colombia is so diverse with vast deserts, snow-capped mountains, white-sand beaches, lush Amazonian rainforests, Caribbean and Pacific Islands, tiny colonial villages and huge metropolitan cities.

22. Even a high-security prison was once located on a beautiful tropical island here!

23. PINK DOLPHINS!

24. Coffee and the fact that Starbucks doesn’t exist here. (They could never compete!)

25. Cholados!!

Cholados in Cali

Nothing like an amazing fruit-filled Cholado on a hot day in Cali! Photo: Emilia Martin

26. Obleas!!

27. Everything…con queso!

28. The Pastuso accent and their warmth

29. The Paisa accent and their humour

30. Not understanding Costeños but loving their energy

31. The ‘ayyy nooo’ of Caleños

32. The friendliness and helpfulness of Caleños.

33. The amazing number of National Parks around the country.

34. The creativeness of the young people.

35. Being invited into the homes of indigenous Wayúu and having them *INSIST* on running to the local shop to buy supplies so they could make us lunch…

36. …Also when they came with us to the airport when we were leaving Riohacha and waited there until our plane was in the sky. 🙂

37. Fruit is huge and grows everywhere!

38. It’s perfectly normal to only drink shots of aguardiente all night when you go out.

39. Everyone loves to dance!

40. Music is the lifeblood of the country.

41. The police and army all look about 12 years old.

42. Diminutives…the ‘itos’ and ‘itas’ used in everyday conversation.

43. Everyone’s an entrepreneur.

44. Being curvy is cool.

45. If you’re a woman in a car with other guys….you will always be given the front seat, even if they’re old folk!

46. In Cali, even exercise is done through salsa.

47. Paradise is here…and I’ve been there…

48. I can see hummingbirds and butterflies if I look out my apartment window.

Hummingbird in Valle del Cocora Colombia

This is not outside my window but still...

49. I can also see snow-covered mountain peaks on a clear day.

50. Colombia has the largest variety of birds in the world, and they’re all beautiful and colourful.

51. Colombians are so proud of their country, despite it being far from perfect and despite their troublesome history.

52. Tamales.

53. Fried Sweet Plantain.

54. “Si Señor/Señora” and “A la orden”

55. Family is extremely important.

56. Campesinos, ponchos and fincas.

57. Día de las Velitas (see photo below)

Dia de las Velitas, Cali Colombia

Lighting candles along the footpath for Dia de las Velitas

58. The astonishingly beautiful long Latin hair (Yes, I am completely jealous, but I love it).

59. Going to the pool.

60. Christmas songs…especially this one.

61. Dancing to reggaeton with friends.

62. The sunsets.

63. Watching the frequent lighting storms light up the skies.

64. Wayúu bags.

65. The Carnaval de Negros y Blancos.

66. Salento, Mompos (Mompox), Cartagena, Tayrona, Medellin, Cabo de la Vela, Pasto!

67. The tallest palm trees in the world in Valle del Cocora.

68. Sleeping in hammocks.

69. Juan Valdez cafe, Crepes and Waffles, Ventolini and Mimo’s.

70. Coastal food: Arepas con huevo, arroz de coco and ceviche de camarones.

71. Chocoramo!

72. Devouring a bandeja paisa!

Bandeja Paisa

The epic Bandeja Paisa! Photo: David Bonilla Abreo

73. Colombian Chinese Food!

74. Colombian Weddings!

75. Dancing salsa, reggaeton, vallenato, merengue, cumbia and the champeta all in one night.

76. The hilarious and oh-so-confusing slang!

77. Andrés Carne De Res.

78. The affectionate way Colombian couples talk; “mi amor”, “mi vida”, “mi cielo”, “mi sueno” etc.

79. The many ways to say ‘I love you’: “te amo”, “te adoro”, “te quiero mucho”.

80. The many ways to describe a beautiful woman: “linda”, “bonita”, “hermosa”, “divina”, “preciosa”, “mamasita” etc.

81. Colombians randomly dancing in the supermarket, on the street and at work when salsa comes on the radio (which is always).

82. Burning an ‘año viejo’ at midnight on New Years Eve.

83. The tradition of running around the block with a suitcase on New Years Eve in the hope of traveling more in the coming year.

84. Ridiculous love ballads sang by fat guys with moustaches.

85. The fact that Colombia has a ‘River of Five Colours’ and I will visit it some day.

86. It also has the ‘Sea of Seven Colours’ in the Caribbean.

87. Sleeping on the beach and watching the stars in Cabo de la Vela.

88. Coffee in Colombia is uncomplicated. It’s called ‘tinto’ and it’s served black, in a small plastic cup.

89. Putting your entire meal into your bowls of beans is completely normal and delicious.

90. Chocolate for breakfast.

91. DELIRIO

92. Colombians always look out for the safety of foreigners.

93. You can buy pretty much anything on the street, including cleaning utensils at 9pm at night from a guy on a bike with a megaphone.

94. It gets dark at the exact same time every single day.

95. People are so respectful and polite to older people.

96. People are so polite in general.

97. When people find out you are a foreigner, they will always try to speak to you in English, if they can.

98. The landscapes are simply stunning from the mountainous highlands around Las Lajas in the south to the vast desert peninsula of La Guajira to the north.

99. I still have so much more I want to see and do; trekking through the Amazon, whale-watching on the Pacific coast, photographing the small colonial towns of Santander etc.

100. The longer I spend here, the more I love it.

101. Lastly, but really my number one reason: my lovely Colombian boyfriend. Awww. 🙂

 

 

If that’s not enough Colombia love for one day, then check what these other foreigners, expats and travelers have to say on their opinion of Colombia in this post, ‘Why Do Travelers Fall So In Love With Colombia?‘!

 

Are you a fan of Colombia too? What have I missed on my list (I’m sure there’s a lot!).

 

Let me know what you are your reasons to love Colombia in the comments below!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stef of Food & Photos around the world July 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

I wanna go there! Right now! 🙂
Stef of Food & Photos around the world recently posted..5 Things to do in Queenstown, New ZealandMy Profile

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2 Stephanie Walsh July 15, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Colombia wants you to come here too…she told me! 😛

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3 JDSoler July 15, 2013 at 10:24 am

love it

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4 Stephanie Walsh July 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm

🙂

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5 Philip Salazar-Fajardo July 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

you didn’t mention the Llanos, the eastern plains… fail.

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6 Stephanie Walsh July 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Well this is a personal list and I’ve never been there…

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7 Philip Salazar-Fajardo July 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm

highly recomended, if you like to take pictures, of course… cheers.

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8 Stephanie Walsh July 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Thanks Philip, I will hopefully get to visit some day!

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9 Andrea July 17, 2013 at 6:49 am

Found myself smiling at so many of these. I wish we’d had more time in Colombia – two weeks was not enough!!
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10 Stephanie Walsh July 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Well looks like you need to come back so! 😛 Thanks again for contributing Andrea!

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11 Cassandra July 17, 2013 at 9:23 am

While I haven’t yet had the chance to visit Colombia, several of these items were familiar to me (such as diminutives, slang…basically all of the linguistics notes listed here)!

One thing I wasn’t familiar with was the New Years suitcase tradition! I vote to try that this year, wherever I am.

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12 Stephanie Walsh July 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Haha yeah it’s one of the strangest and funniest customs I’ve experienced here so far. And there are so many more! Apparently you’re also supposed to wear yellow underwear on New Years Eve, in a wish for wealth and prosperity in the coming year! haha 🙂

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13 Guillermo July 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Nuquí, Colombia Pacific Side little jungle town. Check our web site to get an idea, good luck and thank you for speak good things about our country.

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14 Frank July 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Wow, what a list! But I agree with you – I’ve been to Colombia twice and loved it (compared to Brazil which I really didn’t enjoy). For me it boiled down to the people (you’ve covered many reasons why they’re so special) and the amazing geography. I thought it was like visiting a bunch of countries in one.
Great job with that list!
Frank
PS. Some of my photos from Cartagena which is the most impressive colonial city I’ve seen to date: http://bbqboy.net/cartagena-colombia/
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15 juan sebastian August 27, 2013 at 5:47 am

That’s one of the best descriptions ever!!!

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16 flipnomad August 27, 2013 at 5:50 am

Gorgeous pics! I’d love to go one day! Ugh! and the last pic looks very delicious!

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17 Stas August 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Hi, i LOVE this list!! Moving to Bogota in a week and super nervous, after reading this 101 reasons list i finally remember why i’m moving 😀 thanks!

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18 Charles Rahm (@DWJustTravel) August 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Great post which I have really enjoyed reading and Colombia is certainly a very diverse country and one that is well worth visiting. I would love it if you took a moment to read my travel tips for Colombia on my travel blog. Thank you again for sharing your reasons.
http://www.dontworryjusttravel.com/americas/colombia/colombia-travel-tips

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19 Vezira September 3, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Omgosh, Colombia really does seem amazing… I am really hoping to live there for a year and see where it takes me. Maybe I’ll stay forever if I feel happy enough, which is what I’ hoping for. I am ready to have another home in Latin America.

Anyways, I have a question…I hear everyone saying that Colombians are so nice ,but at the same time I have read from some saying they are flaky, fake, lie a lot due their over-politeness, and do not take accountability for something that was their fault. As an anthropology major ,I know these are a major over-generalization /misconception and also that every individual is different. But it still worries me. Though believe me, here in Vancouver the majority get the same label, but I found some amazing people!

But I’d like to know your thoughts on this and any ways of coping with these sort of things in Colombia (if you actually found any of this true of course). I have found it difficult with some dishonest people here in Vancouver (ones who lie with no malice however).

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20 Valerie September 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Wow! Columbia has been on my list of places, and this post has convinced me that I have to plan a trip there soon.
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21 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Yay! Glad I convinced. One down, many more to go! haha

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22 Juan October 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

Parece que andres hizo un buen trabajo, se puede decir que eres caleña
saludos!!

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23 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Jajaja, gracias Juan! Ya solo necesita mis “vestidas de mil colores” 😉
Steph

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24 Teddy Mercer October 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

HeySteph,

I am currently perched near the Colombian border in Otavalo, Ecuador. Reading this post has got me very excited for the next part of my trip!

Cheers,

Teddy.

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25 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Hello Teddy! Sorry for my late reply!! I am so happy to read your comment and for your adventures in Colombia (which I’m sure you’re already enjoying)! I would love to hear how you get on in Colombia. Keep in touch! 🙂

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26 Kate Robson November 28, 2013 at 4:59 am

Great post – I feel nostalgic just reading it! No 99 – I hope you do get the chance to explore the Amazon and go whale watching on the Pacific coast – both are tremendous experiences.
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27 Kate Robson November 28, 2013 at 5:09 am

Just to clarify – I did NOT post the above link. I don’t know how that link found its way in. My blog is colombiadiaries.wordpress.com

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28 Kate Robson November 28, 2013 at 5:09 am
29 Kate Robson November 28, 2013 at 5:10 am

And there it is again! That link that has nothing to do with me! My blog is http://colombiadiaries.wordpress.com/

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30 Rob February 1, 2014 at 1:02 am

Great to know, we have just booked our tickets to start our adventure in Cartagena, we can hardly wait
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31 Jorge May 1, 2014 at 10:12 am

Hi Stephanie and Andres! Came upon your blog and have enjoyed it. I see you don’t mention Barranquilla in your travels there. It is the fourth largest city in Colombia and it’s Carnaval de Barranquilla is second only to Brazil’s famous one. What’s your take on it? Have you been there? I was born there but only spent six years of my life there. I have visited three times and will be returning this year. I particularly enjoyed your post on Tayrona. Unfortunately when we were there a few years back the trail was flooded and there was no passage. We will be returning in December with hopes of finally visiting this paradise! Any tips on traveling to Tayrona with a four year old? Viva Colombia!

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32 jen May 29, 2014 at 11:18 am

Just getting ready to leave Colombia and I agree – it is an amazing place. My husband tried paragliding while we were here – amazing!!
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33 jack July 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

The people in Colombia are so sweet. They have a wonderful culture and a great way of life. The best part though is the beaches… they are always so empty

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34 Jeff August 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

Re: #24 – Starbucks recently opened their first store in Bogotá with plans for a total of 50 stores in the next five years.

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35 Ana August 18, 2014 at 9:25 am

The most important one is the last reason 😉

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36 Bogota to Medellin February 20, 2016 at 12:40 am

I really loved this place and enjoyed here a lot. I have really wanted here. Food, People, Transports, Scenarios are all good.

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