How would our life be without food?

How would traveling be without trying local dishes?

And, how would Colombia be without its flavors?

As Anthony Bourdain said:

“I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable.”

The culture of a society is manifested in a variety of ways such as art, music and food. There is so much to learn by exploring the gastronomic richness of the countries.

Gastronomy (gastronomía in Spanish) is the study of the relationship between food and culture. It’s the art of preparing and serving rich or delicate and appetizing food. It’s the cooking styles of particular regions and the science of good eating.

If you love food and if you are interested in Colombian culture, then this post is for you!

What foods are popular in Colombia?

Colombia is a gastronomical paradise due to its natural and cultural diversity. Our food is a blend of different traditions. It is a blend of indigenous, Spanish, African and Arab flavors.

Each region has its own traditions and its own food. It would take some time -and many trips around the country- to try the flavors of each region.

But, if you want to have a taste of all Colombian regions in one place, then Bogota is your city!

Bogota is known as the gastronomic capital. It offers the opportunity to enjoy the flavors of Colombian, international and fusion cuisine. It’s not a surprise then that Bogota is one of Latin America’s major emerging culinary hotspots.

That’s why Netflix has included the city in the new series “Street Food Latin America”

What are the most popular Colombian dishes?

Colombian food is colorful, diverse and rich in flavor.

If you want to eat like a Colombian, make sure you try these 10 traditional dishes:

  • Ajiaco
  • Bandeja Paisa
  • Sancocho
  • Patacones
  • Arepas
  • Chocolate con queso
  • Aguadepanela
  • Salpicón
  • Tamal
  • Buñuelos

Also, make sure you go to the city’s local markets and try these 15 exotic fruits. You will understand why Colombia, and especially Bogota, is known as a gastronomical paradise.

How to learn Spanish through food?

What if we told you that you can learn Spanish through food?

Yes, it sounds amazing – and delicious-, isn’t it?

Trying new food is not only delicious but an opportunity to learn about new cultures and to learn new languages.

In Colombia, food connects people. When you come to visit Colombia you will have the opportunity to share time with locals while trying new dishes. You will be invited to join family and friends dinners, to visit local markets, and to try street food.

So, while you wait until it is possible to travel again you can learn Spanish online. It will not only keep you busy and motivated during COVID times, but it will prepare you for your next trip to Colombia.

Spanish food vocabulary

If you want to have a deep and meaningful experience, you should learn how to communicate with locals with regards to food.

Here we have prepared a short guide to help you learn the basics of Spanish food vocabulary:

Useful Vocabulary

  • To eat (Comer)
  • To drink (Beber or Tomar)
  • Breakfast (Desayuno)
  • To have breakfast (Desayunar)
  • Lunch (Almuerzo)
  • To have lunch (Almorzar)
  • Dinner (Cena)
  • To have dinner (Cenar)
  • Snack (Merienda)
  • To snack (Picar)

Fruits (Frutas)

  • Apple (Manzana)
  • Banana (Banano or Plátano)
  • Grapes (Uvas)
  • Lemon (Limón)
  • Lime (Lime)
  • Orange (Naranja)
  • Peach (Durazno)
  • Pear (Pera)
  • Pineapple (Piña)
  • Plum (Ciruela)
  • Raspberry (Frambuesa)
  • Strawberry (Fresa)
  • Watermelon (Sandía or Patilla)

Vegetables (Verduras o vegetales)

  • Asparagus (Espárragos)
  • Broccoli (Brócoli)
  • Carrot (Zanahoria)
  • Cucumber (Pepino or pepino cohombro)
  • Garlic (Ajo)
  • Lettuce (Lechuga)
  • Peas (Arvejas or Guisantes)
  • Pepper (Pimiento or Pimentón)
  • Potatoes (Papas)
  • Spinach (Espinaca)
  • Tomato (Tomate)
  • Onion (Cebolla)

Meats (Carnes)

  • Bacon (Tocineta)
  • Beef (Carne de vaca)
  • Chicken (Pollo)
  • Duck (Pato)
  • Ham (Jamón)
  • Lamb (Cordero)
  • Pork (Cerdo)
  • Sausage (Salchicha)
  • Steak (Bistec)
  • Turkey (Pavo)
  • Veal (Ternera)

Drinks (Bebidas)

  • Beer (Cerveza)
  • Coffee (Café or Tinto)
  • Juice (Jugo)
  • Milk (Leche)
  • Soda (Soda o Gaseosa)
  • Tea (Té)
  • Tap Water (Agua de la llave)
  • Mineral Water (Agua mineral)
  • Red Wine (Vino tinto)
  • White Wine (Vino blanco)

What does Sobremesa mean in Colombia?

Another important word is “Sobremesa”. This word doesn’t have a specific translation but it’s very important in Colombia.

Literal translation: “Over-table”
Slang meaning: In Colombia it refers to the drink that comes with the meal.

When you go to a restaurant, the waiter normally asks you:
2¿Qué desea tomar de sobremesa?”

What would you like to drink with your meal?)

While in Spain it refers to the action of spending time relaxing after a meal. It could be drinking coffee or just hanging out chatting at the table after eating.

If you want to know the main differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain read our post: “ Top 5 differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain

Useful sentences and expressions in Spanish related to food

  • I’m hungry (Tengo hambre)
  • I’m thirsty (Tengo sed)
  • May I have the menu, please? (Podría ver el menú, por favor?)
  • What do you recommend? (Qué me recomienda?)
  • I would like… (Quisiera…)
  • May I have some…? (Podría traerme…)
  • Nothing more, thanks (Nada más, gracias)
  • Without….. please (Sin…. por favor)
  • I’m vegetarian (Soy vegetariano/a)
  • Can I have the bill, please? (Me regala la cuenta, por favor)

We hope you have enjoyed the reading. If you want to learn and improve your Spanish language from home join our online classes. And, if you want to learn more about Colombian culture don’t forget to read our weekly blog.

In our previous post, we talked about the different Colombian accents and dialects.

When you visit Colombia, you will meet people from different regions. They all have their own accent, dialect, and slang. So, it’s important you get familiar with the differences.

One of the activities at Our School is to recognize the different Colombian accents.

Listen to the following audios from an activity our LMTS teachers did.

They asked a Paisa, Caleño, Costeño and Chocoano to read the same text and to answer some questions.

Tune your ear!

Paisa accent

Transcript

“Hola amigo, qué vas a hacer esta noche?”
(Hey buddy, what are you doing tonight?)

Transcript

“Los colombianos somos chéveres, alegres, amables. Nos gusta rumbear y tomar café”
(Colombians are cool, happy and kind people. We like to party and to drink coffee)

Transcript

“ – Jueves y viernes santo, en Marzo y Abril. No se come carne y mucha gente viaja.
– Navidad, el 25 de Diciembre hacemos algo familiar.
– Y, año nuevo, el 1 de enero. Ese día todo está cerrado y hacemos paseo de olla”

( – Maundy Thursday and Holy Friday it’s in March and April. Those days we don’t eat meat, and many people go on holidays.
– Christmas it’s on the 25th December. On that day we stay with our family
– And, New Year ‘s on the 1st January. On that day everything is closed. We do “Paseo de olla”)

Costeño accent

Transcript

Cómo son los colombianos? -Los colombianos somos chéveres, alegres, amables y nos gusta rumbear y tomar café.
Qué fiestas colombianas conoces? – El Carnaval de Barranquilla, la Feria de las flores y el Carnaval de blancos y negros.
Menciona tres festivos en Colombia – Jueves y viernes santo en marzo y abril. No se come carne y mucha gente viaja. Navidad el 25 de Diciembre, hacemos algo en Familia. Y año nuevo, ese día todo está cerrado y hacemos paseos de olla.

What are Colombian people like? -Colombians are cool, happy and kind people. We like to party and to drink coffee.
What Colombian traditional festivities do you know? – Barranquilla Carnival, The Flowers Festival and Blacks and Whites’ Carnival.
Name three Colombian holidays?
Thursday and Holy Friday, it’s in March and April. Those days we don’t eat meat, and many people go on holidays.
Christmas, it’s on the 25th December. On that day we stay with our family
And, New Year it’s on the 1st January. On that day everything is closed. We do “Paseo de olla”)

Cultural Tip: “Paseo de olla”, it’s translated in English as “Pot gathering”. In a traditional paseo de olla, families and friends gather together in a nearby natural area -normally by the river-. They bring the ingredients and supplies necessary to cook traditional sancocho soup over a fire.

"Paseo de olla", it’s translated in English as "Pot gathering"

Sancocho de Gallina: Juliocesarat / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Chocoano accent

“Pues un viernes normalmente por la noche se parcha uno con los amigos en la esquina. Las esquinas son como las famosas tiendas de barrio entonces se sienta uno ahí a joder, a recochar, de todo. Y ya si más tarde la cosa se pone buena nos vamos para una barra o una discoteca. Pero eso es lo que normalmente hago en un viernes por la noche; obviamente no todos los viernes pero si uno que otro.”

(On a Friday night, we normally hang out with friends on the corner. The corners are those famous little local shops, we stay there to have fun joking, mess around, everything. Then, if later in the night we are up to do something we go to a bar or to a club. This is what I normally on a Friday night; I obviously don’t do it every weekend but just once in a while”

How about the other Colombian accents?

Now, let’s do another exercise. Let’s watch some videos with other Colombian accents but without English subtitles.

It’s also a good exercise to tune your ears!

Caleño accent

In this video, you can see a very good representation of the dialect spoken in Cali and Valle del Cauca region.

Rolo accent

This video is an old interview from a TV show called Yo Jose Gabriel to Jaime Garzón. He was a Rolo comedian, journalist, politician, and peace activist. He was popular on Colombian television during the 1990s for his political satire.

Opita accent

This is a street interview from a local Opita journalist to a street vendor of the region

Llanero accent

Interview from a young student to a typical llanero man

Pastuso accent

This video is about a local initiative from Nariño region. It aims to promote the dialect, accent and slang spoken in the region.

Insular accent

This is an interview from Carlos Vives to Elkin Robinson. They are famous Colombian artist. Carlos Vives is from Santa Marta (costeño) and Elkin Robinson is from Providencia.

Did you find the differences between the different accents and dialects? Is there any accent you like more?

If you want to learn more about the Spanish language read our weekly blog to learn more about Colombian culture!

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

Colombia is a country that surprises all those who come to visit.

It passed from being skipped for many travelers during their South America trip, to being one of the top destinations of the world.

Colombia is well known for its people, green landscapes and beautiful beaches.

It is also popular for being one of the countries where it is easier to learn the Spanish language.

Still, many don’t know much about Colombia, except what they have heard in the media or from other people.

So, here are some things you probably didn’t know about our country:

What is Colombia’s most famous for?

1. Colombia has the second-highest number of native Spanish speakers

Top 12 countries with the largest number of native Spanish speakers worldwide

Top 12 countries with the largest number of native Spanish
speakers worldwide Source

Around 480 million people around the world speak the Spanish language.

After Mexico, Colombia is the country with the largest number of native Spanish speakers in the world, with over 49 million.

More than 99.2% of Colombians speak Spanish, but there are also 80 different indigenous and Creole languages.

About 850,000 people in Colombia are speakers of native languages.

In  San Andres and Providencia, Creole English is spoken by 20,000 – 30,000 people. A blend between English, Spanish, Kwa from the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo, and Igbo from Nigeria.

Colombia is becoming one of the most popular destinations for learning Spanish.

It is often said that Colombians speak one of the most neutral Spanish in the world. By “Colombian Spanish” people normally refers to the dialect spoken in Bogota.

2. Coffee Cultural Landscape, a World Heritage site

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Coffee

Yes, you know Colombia produces the best Coffee in the world.

It is the third-largest exporter of coffee after Brazil and Vietnam.

Colombia produces around 12% of the world’s coffee.

In 2011, UNESCO declared the “Coffee Cultural Landscape” of Colombia, a World Heritage site.

An exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape that is unique and representative of a tradition that is a strong symbol for coffee growing areas worldwide.

This landscape comprehends The coffee-growing axis (Eje Cafetero), about 1.2% of the Colombian territory, where most of the coffee harvest is produced.

3. Nevado del Ruiz and the Ring of Fire

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Volcano Ring of fire

Colombia is part of the Ring of Fire, also referred to as the Circum-Pacific Belt.

The Ring of Fire is a 40,000 km, horseshoe shape of countries in the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.

Seventy-five percent of Earth’s volcanoes—more than 450 volcanoes—are located along the Ring of Fire. 90% of Earth’s earthquakes occur along its path.

Nevado del Ruiz lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire. This volcano is located 29 kilometers west of the capital city Bogotá and is known for the eruption in 1985, one of the deadliest Volcanic Eruptions Since 1500 A.D.

4. Famous emeralds

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Famous Emeralds

Colombian emeralds are well known for their brilliance and deep color.

It is the world’s leading producer, 60% of the world’s fine Emeralds come from Colombia.

The country has more than 150 mines churning out high-quality emeralds.

The most valuable emerald in the world is The Tena Emerald found in Muzo, in 1999.

Colombian emeralds are also famous throughout history:

  • The Crown of Andes, estimated to be worth $2.5 million and on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
  • The Chalk Emerald, it became the centerpiece of a diamond and emerald necklace owned by Indian Maharani, Sita Devi.
  • The Mogul Mughal Emerald. One of the largest emeralds known. It’ on display at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar

5. Cycle Path Network and Sustainable Transportation

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Sustainable Transportation

Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, has one of the biggest cycle path networks in the world. It is by far the most bike-friendly city in South America.

And for the last couple of years, the Colombian government has been committed to strategic public transport systems.

Take for example Medellin, famous for its innovative sustainable transport and awarded the 2012 Sustainable Transport Award.

6. “Megadiverse” Country

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Biodiverse Country

Colombia is listed as one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries. It hosts close to 10% of the planet’s biodiversity.

There are 17 megadiverse countries in the world and Colombia is the second country with the most biodiversity per square kilometer.

Flowers

Colombia is the second largest fresh cut flower exporter in the world after the Netherlands. 95% of Colombia’s flower production is exported.

It is also the top supplier of flowers to the United States.

Worldwide, Colombia ranks first in orchid species diversity

Birds

Colombia has the greatest bird diversity in the world.

There are 1851 confirmed bird species in the country, equivalent to 20% of the global total.

Humpback Whales

Colombia is the world’s top destination for whale watching.

Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park is one of the favorite places for humpback whales to give birth to their babies.

Annually from July to November, Humpback whales flee the cold South Pole for the warmer waters of the Colombian Pacific.

Wax Palm Tree

Quindio wax palm, Colombia’s national tree, is the world’s tallest palm tree. It can grow up to 60 meters tall.

Tropical fruits

According to the Humboldt Institute, Colombians could eat a different fruit every day for more than a year.

Yes! You are reading well.

We could spend a whole year trying different fruits. In Colombia, there are over 400 edible native species.

If you want to know more about Colombian fruits read our post “15 exotic fruits you have to try in Colombia”.

7. Unique geography

Climate

Thanks to its geographical proximity to the equator, Colombia doesn’t have typical seasons like spring, summer, fall, or winter.

Instead, there are only two seasons, rainy and dry season. This makes the weather stays more or less the same all year round in each region.

Snow-capped mountains with ocean view

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (5,710m) is the world’s highest coastal mountain range.

Páramos (moorland)

The world’s largest páramo is in Colombia. Sumapaz páramo is located just a couple of hours from Bogota.

Paramo is one of the world’s most important ecosystems, nestled in mountains between the treeline and glaciers and one of the fastest evolving ecosystems on Earth.

Colombia is one of only three countries in the world to be home to paramo and more than 60% of these moorlands are found in our country.

Islands

There are approximately 74 islands in Colombia, including oceanic, river and lake islands, cays, and islets.

One of those is the world’s most densely populated island: Santa Cruz del Islote

The Pacific Ocean & Caribbean Sea

Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Amazonia

Amazonia is a vast 643,000-sq-km slice of rainforest accounting for a third of Colombia’s total area – about the size of California – and spread over some eight of the country’s departments.

Most of Amazonia’s area is unreachable and untamed.

8. Other interesting facts about Colombia

National Anthem

It is mandatory for radio and public television in Colombia to play the National Anthem every day at 6 am and 6 pm.

National Holidays

Colombia has 18 National holidays. It is one of the countries with the most National holidays in the world.

It’s Colombia, not Columbia

Most people misspell “Colombia”, probably because some other names are spelled with an “u”, like British Columbia or how the word sounds in English.

Just remember, Colombia is named after Cristoforo Colombo or Cristobal Colón in Spanish (Christopher Columbus in English), the explorer who began the European colonization of the Americas.

The Willys Jeep

Why is the Willys Jeep the most iconic car in Colombia?

Cien años de Soledad

Why should you read “One Hundred Years of Solitude”?

We really hope you enjoyed this post.

Now We’d like to hear from you:

Which fact from today’s post did you find most interesting?

We’d like to hear from you. So go ahead and leave a comment on any of our social media channels. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

 

 

We have talked about Colombia’s diversity in the past.

About its food, people, and music.

And we know, it is precisely our rich cultural diversity one of the reasons people decide to visit Colombia and to learn Spanish.

Colombia is a big country. There is so much to see and so much to do!

If you want to explore and experience deeply our cultural richness you would need to visit all five regions. The Caribbean coast, the Pacific coast, the Andes Mountain Range, the Grassland Plains, and the Amazon Rainforest.

Which requires quite some time…

Luckily, you can visit and live in Bogota. The city where you can get a full immersion into Colombian culture.

Where is Bogota?

Bogota is the capital of and the largest city in Colombia. It is also the third-largest city in South America after São Paulo (Brazil) and Lima (Peru).

With its many universities and libraries, Bogota is known as the “Athens of South America”.

It is the political and cultural centre of the country. It is a place of convergence for people from all over the country and from all over the world.

Every year people move to the capital city to either study or to work. Therefore a good part of its population is not local, and as a result, it is very diverse and multicultural.

Bogota is the country’s beating heart. It is said that it is the melting pot of Colombia.

Here all cultures have a place.

What is Bogota known for?

Bogota brings together the best of the country; its music, its food, its art, its people. The cultural offer is infinite.

There is a broad array of local and international restaurants. There are many parks with concert facilities, and beautiful mountains surrounding the city where you can do day-hikes.

For art lovers, there are around 58 museums and over 70 art galleries.

There are also events such as ArtBo (International Fair of Art of Bogotá), La Feria del Millón (Art festival for both up-and-coming artists and first-time art buyers) and Barcú (International Fair of Arts and Culture).

In Bogota, you can find sounds and vibes from the Caribbean at festivals like Colombia al Parque or night clubs like La Negra. And, the flavours of the Pacific and Amazonia region in restaurants like Petronio or Mini-mal.

You can also find the Colombian best coffees. There are places where you can do coffee tasting, or book stores where you can sit and enjoy a reading afternoon such as Wilborada 1047.

Bogota, cultural heritage

In addition, Bogota was named the UNESCO City of Music in recognition of its rich musical heritage and the innumerable festivals held throughout the year.

Read also our post about Colombian music “10 Colombian music genres you need to know about!”.

In Bogota, you will be 2.600 meters “closer to the stars”.

Yes, it is one of the highest capitals in the world, located 2.600 meters above sea level (8.612 feet).

It is a city that will always exceed your expectations. Check out why:

Cultural diversity in Bogota

Bogota not only attracts people from other regions of Colombia.

It also attracts people from non-Spanish speaking countries who are keen to immerse themselves in the Colombian culture and to learn Spanish.

Rolos, as people from Bogota are known, are reputed to have one of the most neutral and clearest accents in the Spanish-speaking world. They have also an internal reputation for being distant or “cold” -as it usually happens with people from capital cities-. However, you would be surprised by how friendly, polite and open-minded Rolos are.

Tip: In Bogota, many people prefer to use the formal “usted” instead of “tú”, even between good friends and family members.

To know more about the differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain read our previous post “Top 5 differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain

Why learn Spanish in Bogota?

If you want to learn or improve your Spanish before starting your trip around Colombia, there is nothing better than spending some time in Bogota.

Why?

In Bogota you will meet people from Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Chocó, Bucaramanga, Pasto and many other Colombian cities.

You will have time to talk to them when buying street food, visiting local fruit markets, or having drinks at one of the city’s trendy rooftops.

You will get familiar with the different accents, dialects, and talking speeds. Also, you will learn the most common Colombian slang and expressions.

One thing is for sure, you will never get bored in Bogota! A city full of art, fashion, food, culture, history, music, and unique experiences.

See you there!

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

 

It would be difficult to imagine Colombia without music, wouldn’t it?

In Colombia, music is passion, it’s a sensory experience.

As we usually say, music is in our blood -“Llevamos la música en la sangre”-

And, yes, it is literally in our blood!

Our music is a blend of Spanish and European influences with indigenous sounds and African beats. Read also our post People of Colombia, as diverse as their country

In Colombia, we don’t just hear the music, we feel it and we live it.

Our passion for music and our love for dancing is actually one of the things people like the most about Colombians.

“Music is an important part of the Colombian culture. It is a way of expressing emotions, sharing discomfort or showing love to friends and family. It is a way of showing their pride for their roots, and a way of living in the moment.”

Colombian music has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. Every part of Colombia moves to a different sound; each region has its own rhythms.

There are more than 1,025 folk rhythms grouped into 157 different genres. That is why our country is known by “the land of the thousand rhythms”.

It is not surprising, then, that ProColombia has outlined one of the country’s promotion campaign based on our musical diversity. The campaign is called Feel the Rhythm.

Also, in 2018, ProColombia together with UNWTO and Sound Diplomacy released a white paper on music and tourism, called Music is the new gastronomy. It looks at music as a primary driver of tourism.

Now you know, no trip to Colombia is complete without music!

So, if you are planning to visit Colombia, make sure you get familiar with our music and with our language.

There is no better way to enjoy Colombian culture than by dancing our music and talking to our people!

Let us now take you to a Colombian music journey. Discover the 10 most popular Music Genres and Styles from our country:

Caribbean region

1. Cumbia

Cumbia is perhaps the country’s most popular music genre. It originated as a courtship dance among West African slaves.

Initially, Cumbia was performed using only drums and claves. Then, it incorporated other influences from the indigenous Kogui and Kuna tribes (flutes and percussion). As well as from Spaniards (European guitars), and Germans (accordion).

Even if you have not visited Colombia, you have probably heard Cumbia beats and seen Cumbia dance. Shakira, one of the country’s most recognized artists has been a great ambassador of this genre.

The following video explains how and where Cumbia began.

If you want to learn more about Cumbia, watch also videos from Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto.

2. Bullerengue

Bullerengue is a Cumbia-based style traditionally sung by women. It also has African and Spanish roots and influences.

Some of its main characteristics include a strong emphasis in rhythm and improvisation over melody, large groups of musicians, and a call-and-response interaction between the lead singer, known as “cantadora” and a choir.

Two of the most famous bullerengue singers are Petrona Martinez and Totó La Momposina. Thanks to them, Bullerengue recognized internationally.

3. Vallenato

Along with Cumbia, Vallenato is one of the most popular Colombian music genres.

Vallenato is traditionally played with an indigenous Gaita flute, a caja drum, a guacharaca, and an accordion.

This genre is characterized by its literary content and narrative style. To such extent that Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian writer, once said that this music had been woven with the same strand of his novels and that the most famous of them “One hundred years of Solitude” was nothing more than a 300-pages Vallenato.

Vallenato was considered the music of the lower class and farmers. But, after the mid-20th century, it gradually started penetrating through every social group.

In recent years, artists like Carlos Vives have begun mixing vallenato with contemporary rhythms, developing a modern variant.

4. Champeta

Champeta is more than a music genre or a dance; it’s a movement. It began in the early ’80s among Afro-Colombians, mainly Cartagena de Indias.

The word “champeta” originally denoted a kind of knife used in the region at work, in the kitchen or, sometimes, even as an offensive weapon. Then, the term “champetudo” started to be used by the elites of the city to refer to those residents of the more outlying districts of Cartagena, who tended to be poorer and of African descent.

Champeta is a fusion of rhythms from Africa (soukous, highlife, mbaqanga, juju), the Antilles (ragga, compás haitiano), and music of Indigenous and Afro-Colombian origins (bullerengue, mapalé, zambapalo and chalupa).

Champeta also has evolved during the last decades. It passed from being a music genre and dance of the so-called “poor”; to being even one of the favorite music genres of the middle and upper classes in Bogotá.

Pacific Region

Pacific music includes a large number of music styles depending on the region.

Music from the north is more energetic, while music from the south is characterized by a mellow timbre from the wooden marimba.

5. Currulao

Currulao is the most renowned Pacific music genre.

It is mainly played by a group of musicians. The Currulao rhythm is created by striking the skin of the African drum called “cununo” with the one’s hand and tapping the side of the drum with a small stick. But the main instrument is perhaps the Colombian marimba, a wooden xylophone that resembles the African balafon.

Check out the following video and learn how Currulao sounds like

In recent years Currulao has gained popularity amidst young musicians from the region. They have included the rhythms and instruments in their contemporary compositions to promote their region and to show how proud they are of being Afro-Colombians and being from the Pacific.

Watch for instance Herencia de Timbiqui and Choquibtown

Andean Region

6. Bambuco

Bambuco is a folk genre that originated in the Andean highlands. It is pretty much a fusion between Spanish and indigenous styles, although it has some African roots as well.

It is traditionally performed with a bandola, guitar or mandolin and a small 12-string instrument called a tiple.

Rhythmically is related to the Currulao, which is called some times Bambuco Viejo (Old Bambuco). However, Andean Bambuco has a more melancholic spirit.

Bambuco was popular all over Colombia between the 1920s and the 1930s. Unfortunately, its popularity is not as it used to be but its rhythms have influenced many other modern genres.

Interestingly, during the last years, traditional music has gained again some popularity thanks to young musicians. One of them is Katie Jaimes, who was born in south Ireland but when she was two years old her family moved to Colombia where she grew up and lives presently.

Check out one of her latest videos with Spanish subtitles so that you can practice your Spanish!

7. Salsa

Those from Colombia probably are used to hearing “are you from Colombia? So you dance salsa, can you teach me?”

Although Salsa is not originally a Colombian music genre, it is very important to mention it due to its great influence in our culture.

There is not a trip to Colombia without music, there is definitely not a trip to Colombia without salsa.

Colombian salsa started developing in the country during the 1960s when Cali’s upper class organized every year a carnival to commemorate the crop of sugarcane. This music style gained quite some popularity among the “caleños” (people from Cali), they introduced their own steps and speed. Was then when Colombian Salsa or Salsa Caleña was born.

Unlike other salsa styles, in Colombian salsa, the upper body remains mostly rigid, with most of the movement occurring in the hips and legs.

Check out how Colombians dance salsa:

Over the years, like all the other genres, Colombian salsa has also evolved. New subgenres have been born. One of those is Salsa Choke. It is a genre-mixing Afro-based rhythm and traditional salsa with reggaeton.

Orinoquia Region

8. Musica Llanera and Joropo

Joropo is the traditional style from “música llanera” which literally translates to “music of the plains”. It is inspired by nature, landscapes, and the lifestyle the Colombian cowboys.

There are milking songs (canciones de ordeño); cattle driving songs (canciones del cabestrero); calming songs before sunset (canciones de vela); and taming songs (canciones de domesticación).

It is known for verbal contests called “contrapunteo”, the use of the harp as the lead instrument, and the fast-paced maracas.

Cholo Valderrama is one of the most popular artists performing Musica Llanera. Check out the following video and learn how it sounds like:

Insular Region

9. San Andrés and Providencia Islands rhythms

The music of the insular region is even more diverse than the music from the other regions. It also has African and European influences, but it also adds some Caribbean mixes.

The rhythms from the islands include Calipso, Compas, Foxtrot, Mazurka, Mento, Praise Hymn, Pasillo isleño, Polca, Quadrille, Reggae, Schottische, Soca, Vals isleño, and Zouk.

There is not one specific genre from the Colombian Insular region; the “traditional” rhythms are the blend of these.

Check out the following two videos from San Andrés and Providencia artists:

Creole group

Elkin Robinson

Did you hear any different language than Spanish in these songs? Yes, you are right! in this region, people also speak Creole and English.

Amazon Region

10. Amazon Rainforest Rhythms

The Amazon is the least populated and least developed region of Colombia, but it is one of the most biodiverse from Colombia and from the world.

Amazon rainforest is also known as being the Lungs of the Earth. It produces some of the world’s rarest and most unusual fruits and flavors. It is also home to numerous indigenous communities, sounds and rhythms.

There is not a specific genre or rhythm from this region. However, each year, at the end of November, and for three days, takes place the International festival of amazonense popular music finmupa “el pirarucu de oro”.

Check out the latest video of the Feel the Rhythm campaign about this region and let yourself mesmerized by the sounds of the indigenous flute and the images of the rainforest.

We hope you have enjoyed the Colombian music journey. Colombia is a culture that is best understood through its sounds.

We also hope that by watching these videos you are now more familiar with our music, our dances and our traditional dresses. Remember that even though music is an international language, learning Spanish will give you a great advantage when understanding the lyrics of the songs and understanding our culture.

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

One of the things people like the most when visiting Colombia is to discover the different cultures within the country.

Each region has its own traditions, its unique customs, and its own accent.

There is plenty of music, food, and people wherever you go.

We often hear people saying they like Colombians or they like Colombian Culture, but what do they really mean?

Colombian culture is fascinating. It has been the result of the country’s location and the influences of other cultures over the years.

Let’s look back into history!

How did the cultural mix start in Colombia?

Since the “La Conquista” period, Colombia has been an important point of arrival for immigrants coming to South America. For instance, Spanish and Africans. They settled in the country for more than two hundred years.

As a result, three new racial groups emerged:

  • Mestizo, from the mix of indigenous and Europeans.
  • Mulato, from the mix of Africans and Europeans.
  • Zambo, from the mix of indigenous and Africans.

Later, during the 19th and 20th centuries, immigrants from the Middle East arrived in the country. They, and their descendants, are known as Arab-Colombians.

They settled mainly in the Caribbean region and, still today, they have an important influence in the region’s culture (i.e. food, music and traditions).

Now, let’s move to the present.

What races and ethnic groups are in Colombia today?

There are four ethnic groups in Colombia:

Out of those groups, indigenous groups play a crucial role in the country’s diversity. It is very important to highlight the diversity within these groups.

There are 87 different indigenous groups located in almost all departments of the country, 27 out of the 32 departments. Which explains why some demographers say Colombia is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Western Hemisphere and in the World.

Now, let’s talk about languages

Languages also play an important role in Colombia’s cultural diversity. Why is that?

In Colombia, 99% of the population speaks Spanish, yet, there are plenty of people who speak it as a second language.

The exact number is not clear but according to experts, there are about 70 indigenous languages still spoken in Colombia and more than 750,000 people speak them.

Besides Spanish and indigenous languages, there are also two kinds of Creole languages. Creole is a language that has developed from another.

The first one is the Creole spoken in the islands of San Andres and Providencia. It is a blend between English, Spanish, Kwa (from the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo) and Igbo (from Nigeria).

The second one is the Palenque Creole, or Palenquero. It is a blend of Spanish language and Kikongo (from Central Africa, RD Congo and Angola).

With all these influences, you might be wondering how Colombians look like. Don’t you?

Colombians reflect indeed the blend between Spanish, African and indigenous. Some of them reflect as well as their Arabs roots.

Let’s better explain it with pictures. It might give you an idea of the diversity of Colombian people.

As you could see, Colombians are a fascinating blend of people and cultures.

That is why every day more people have decided to visit the country and start their journey with an immersion of the Spanish language.

There is no better way of experiencing a country than by talking to its people!

Are you one of those passionate about world cultures? Let us know on our social media channels @ilikespanish

 

There is no doubt that Cross-Cultural Relationships can be challenging, not only due to language barriers or in cases with long-distance but also because of different cultural norms, traditions, and customs.

Having a Colombian partner is one of the reasons why many people come to the country to learn Spanish and to learn more about our culture. We asked some women and men from North America and Europe who have – or have had- Colombian partners about their joys and challenges of dating or living with a Colombian.

The joys

Before starting, it is important to note that these are not stereotypes but generalizations. Below are 10 favorable characteristics people tended to notice about their Colombian partner or Colombian culture:

1. They are happy people

Colombians are generally seen as friendly, happy and positive people. You normally see them smiling, singing, dancing. Their happiness is contagious.

2. They are grateful

Colombians have the ability to enjoy simple things and to be grateful for almost anything. It might be due to their strong religious background, due to decades of violence and internal conflict, due to the many social and economic problems, or a combination of these.

3. They are spontaneous and authentic

Colombians have the ability to live and enjoy the present moment. Colombians are generally spontaneous and authentic; they are also very expressive you can easily discern their emotions even when they are not talking.

4. They are creative and positive

Colombians tend to see the glass half full, they are very resourceful and always find ways to overcome any difficulty. Never say to a Colombian they can’t do something, they will prove you wrong!

5. They are talkative and have a good sense of humor

Colombians love making jokes, they love sarcasm and they love talking. Colombian Spanish is characterized by its use of slang, local expression and double meaning jokes. They like simple talks but when it comes to deep and meaningful conversation there is nothing more delightful than speaking with a Colombian, they are so passionate when talking.

6. They are affectionate and generous

Affection is very important for Colombians. They are very open with their emotions. If they love you, they say it and they show it. They like cooking for their partners and families, they like giving presents and even dedicating songs. It is important for them to show their relatives and friends that they care about them. They are generous, they love sharing food, drinks, and their time.

7. They are passionate

Colombian men and women are very passionate and expressive people. When talking to them you can feel how passionate they are about almost anything: their career, their dreams, their family, and, of course, their country. You can especially see, and feel, it when the Colombian national football team is playing. Check out the worldwide known Colombian campaign call “Colombia es Pasión”

8. They love music, dancing and celebrations

Music is an important part of the Colombian culture. It is a way of expressing emotions, sharing discomfort or showing love to friends and family. It is a way of showing their pride for their roots, and a way of living in the moment.

It is common to see Colombian women or men dancing and singing around the house, dancing and playing instruments in the streets and even in public transportation. Colombians have the ability to make a celebration out of any situation.

9. They are proud of their country

When talking about their country they can spend hours showing you pictures about the places you should visit, the food you should try, the books you should read if you show some interest in literature, the movies you should watch (please don’t mention Netflix series about drug trafficking), and the Colombian expressions you should learn to have a better experience when you visit the country or meet their families and friends.

10. They love their family

Family is one of the most -if not the most- important aspect for most Colombians. They spend a lot of time with their relatives and there always seems to be a family celebration to attend. They are very close to their family; including their grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews.

When dating and marrying a Colombian you automatically get a whole new family, they will treat you as a son or as a daughter. This in particular is one of the reasons why people who have a Colombian partner decide to study Spanish. They want to be part of the family and friends’ gatherings, they want to be able to fully understand the conversations and to avoid feeling lost in translation.

The challenges

It all sounds very nice, doesn’t it? However, not everything in the garden is rosy. Most of the positive characteristics could lead to frustrations and challenges.

Here is what people find the most difficult and challenging about their Colombian partners and the Colombian culture.

1. They are emotional, sensitive and impulsive

There is drama in simple situations. They might get jealous easily if they feel they are not getting all the attention, they might get upset if you are being too direct with them. They are the sweetest and friendliest people but when they are upset, they can be really, really upset!

2. They exaggerate

It is common to hear words like “never” and “always”. For example, they might tell you: “you never do this” or “you always do that”, even when it is something that was done – or wasn’t done- a few times.

It is also common to hear words like “hundred”, “thousand”. For example: “I called you 500 times and you didn’t answer” even if they called you three times, or “there were like hundred people making the line” when there were just 20 people.

They normally say “Mil gracias” (Literally translated as “thousand thanks”) when they want to say “thank you very much”. So, when talking to Colombians don’t take what they say too literally, try to understand the context first.

3. Their sense of time

The Colombian sense of time is quite fluid. For example, a promise to do something “tomorrow” can often mean they will perform it in the near future, perhaps next week.

When they say “ahora” (“now” in English) they refer to both the present (now) and the future moment (later), it depends on the context. They also use the diminutive of “ahora”, “ahorita” to say “later” but this term doesn’t mean that it is sooner than “ahora”. In conclusion, “ahora” and “ahorita” regularly means later. If they tell you “Te llamo ahorita” (I’ll call you later) they might call you in 5 minutes or an hour.

If you call someone to ask when they are arriving they are known to say “arriving in five minutes” or “I’m already on my way” when they are still home.

The Colombian spontaneity and sense of time can lead to difficulties for planning and frustrations for last minute change of plans.

4. Non-verbal Language and local expressions

Colombians are emotional, expressive, and passionate. They tend to either exaggerate and to use diminutives. They also use many expressions and sayings. Consequently, it is hard for a non-native Spanish speaker to fully understand what the other person truly means.

In addition, there are many gestures such as pointing with the lips to indicate that something is located “there”, or putting the fingers all together when saying that a place was packed (See common Colombian gestures here)

5. Indirect Communication

In addition to the non-verbal language and local expressions, Colombians are also generally seen as being indirect communicators. It is important to understand contexts and to be able to read between the lines, which is sometimes difficult for people from countries where communication is direct.

Colombians rarely deliver delicate information, negative answers, or negative points of view in a frank or blunt way. They tend to avoid conflict or confrontation, and they often take a long-winded, roundabout approach to conveying their messages sensitively and tactfully.

6. They are “always” right

Colombians have a strong character and temper. They are stubborn and even obstinate when making their point clear because they always want to be right.

7. Machismo

Machismo culture permeates everything, from the jokes to the role in relationships and society. Being a deeply Catholic country, there are many taboos in subjects such as sex and sexuality, mostly when it is related to women.

For people from North America and Europe, it is sometimes difficult to understand certain customs such as paying the bill if you are a man or being constantly asked when are you getting married or having kids if you are a woman reaching her thirties, or being judged if a woman is open and act freely with regards to sex.

8. Sometimes too rooted to their culture and their traditions

There is a thin line between being proud of a culture and being too rooted in certain traditions. In some cases, Colombians can be closed-minded in relation to their family, their food and their country.

9. Too attached to their family

Colombians are sometimes too close to their families. In most cases, Colombians live with their parents until they get married. Families are overprotective, mainly towards women. Colombians, for instance, are often not as independent as North Americans or Europeans.

10. They can be very loud

Colombians are happy, enthusiastic, and passionate and it seems that it is one of the characteristics people love the most about us. However, when they get a little too excited about a certain topic they tend to speak at quite loud volumes, especially when in a group or when having an argument.

Have you dated or are you in a relationship with a Colombian? Do you relate to any these joys and challenges? Let us know your thoughts and don’t forget to share this post on your Social Media and to visit our website Learn more than Spanish!

There are many reasons for being proud to call Colombia our home; and our variety of fruits is definitely one of them.

According to the Humboldt Institute, Colombians could eat a different fruit every day for more than a year. Yes! You are reading well. We could spend a whole year trying different fruits because in Colombia there are over 400 edible native species.

Colombia is known as the “gateway to South America”; it sits in the northwestern part of the continent where South America connects with Central and North America. It is famed for its great climatic diversity, including deserts, tropical rainforests, savannas, prairies and mountain ranges. The climates in these mountainous areas are usually categorized according to their elevation, known as “pisos térmicos” in Spanish.

Furthermore, thanks to its geographical proximity to the equator, Colombia doesn’t have typical seasons like spring, summer, fall and winter. Instead, there are only two seasons, rainy and dry, and the weather stays more or less the same all year round in each region. These characteristics are what make Colombia not only the second most diverse country in the world but also a fruit heaven on earth.

So, what kind of fruits would you find when visiting Colombia?

Here are Learn more than Spanish’s Top 15 of the fruits Colombians like the most :

 1. Lulo

Colombian exotics fruits: Lulo

2. Guanabana (Soursop)

Colombian exotics fruits: Guanábana

3. Granadilla

Colombian exotics fruits: Granadilla

4. Chontaduro

Colombian exotics fruits: Chontaduro

5. Maracuyá (Passion Fruit)

Colombian exotics fruits: Maracuya

6. Gulupa

Colombian exotics fruits: Gulupa

7. Guayaba (guava)

Colombian exotics fruits: Guayaba

8. Borojó

Colombian exotics fruits: Borojó

9. Tomate de árbol (Tree tomato)

Colombian exotics fruits: Tomate de árbol

10. Feijoa

Colombian exotics fruits: Feijoa

11. Curuba (Banana Passion Fruit)

Colombian exotics fruits: Curuba

12. Pitahaya (Dragon Fruit)

Colombian exotics fruits: Pitaya

13. Uchuva (Golden Berry or Physalis)

Colombian exotics fruits: Uchuva

14. Zapote (Sapota)

Colombian exotics fruits: Zapote

15. Mangostino (Mangosteen)

Colombian exotics fruits: Mangostino

These are some of the fruits that you might try at least once during your trip to Colombia, likely with new friends or at family gatherings, but definitely in the streets of Bogota and when visiting the iconic local markets of our city.

When buying fruits from street vendors or in the local markets you should be prepared to have short –or even long- conversations with random people. Colombians smile and talk a lot, we’re very friendly and polite but we also use a lot of informal expressions. Make sure you learn some slang and local expressions, so you don’t miss our jokes.

Learn More Than Spanish students visiting one of Bogota's famous local markets

Learn More Than Spanish students visiting one of Bogota’s famous local markets

Are these fruits already exotic for you? For Colombians these fruits are quite normal; we use them to prepare natural juices at home, make fruit desserts and snacks. However, there are some fruits that are exotic even for Colombians: Amazonian fruits.

Although Colombia accounts only with the 8% of the Amazon rainforest (Brazil 60%, Peru 12%, Bolivia 7%, Venezuela 5%, Guyana 3%, Suriname 2%, Ecuador 2%, French Guiana 1%), there are a large number of Amazonian fruits than can be found nowadays in the main cities.

Here the Top 3 Amazonian fruits for Colombians:

1. Cupuazu

Colombian exotics fruits: Capuazu

2. Camu Camu

Colombian exotics fruits: Camu Camu

3. Arazá

Colombian exotics fruits: Arazá

These fruits are not as easy to find as the fruits listed above. However, in Bogotá, for instance, you can find almost everything that grows in Colombia.

These particular Amazonian fruits have been gaining popularity in the capital city since restaurants like Wok and Crepes & Waffles, two of the most important restaurant chains, are using these products for their juices and desserts. As part of their social and environmental program, these local restaurant chains have started sourcing both local and exotic products from all around Colombia for their menus in order to bring city people back to their roots.

If you have visited Colombia you’ve hopefully tasted some of our diverse and delicious fruits, but if not, we suggest you take note of their names and make sure you try them when you visit us again (yes, we know you will be back!). If you haven’t visited Colombia yet now you have another reason to put this beautiful country in your bucket list destination.

Has this post brought back memories from your trip to Colombia? What was your favourite fruit?

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and to visit our website Learn more than Spanish!

 

Given the number of places that Spanish is spoken, differences are bound to emerge, but what makes Colombian Spanish different?