27 Lessons I’ve Learned in Colombia

**I just want to preface this by saying these “lessons” are not always true, but definitely things I have experienced at one point or another during my first two months in Colombia. Others are accurate time and time again.

  1. Toilet paper, electricity, hot water, and soap are precious commodities. You will need to carry napkins in your purse, get used to cold showers, and become accustomed to losing electricity at school periodically.
  2. If you’re at least an hour late, you’re on time. If a bus says it will take 2 hours, multiply by 2 and add 10 minutes. Same goes for departure times.
  3. “Pare”, Spanish for “stop”, does not actually mean stop. It’s more of a suggestion. It means maybe slow down and honk to let cars know you’re coming. Or just honk because you feel like it…because that seems to be the thing to do.
  4. You must have small denominations of cash for your taxis, or you’re screwed.
  5. You become accustomed to itching and scratching from all the weird bug bites and rashes you will get.
  6. Problems with drug trafficking are the least of your worries. It’s the traffic itself that will probably get you. Taxis and motos seem to live for nearly running down pedestrians.
  7. You can get a mani/pedi for the same price as a container of ice cream or jar of peanut butter.

    Yes, I have baby nails, but it's not stopping me from getting fun, cheap manicures!

    Yes, I have baby nails, but it’s not stopping me from getting fun, cheap manicures!

  8. You will sweat through at least three articles of clothing a day, including your underwear.
  9. Wearing see through shirts is the norm.
  10. Always have alcohol on hand for bus rides. No worries if the bus is broken while driving on the edge of a cliff at night in the rain.
  11. Que vive la chiva! Party buses in the states are no comparison for a chiva. Hopefully you don’t value your toenails or dignity. What happens on the chiva stays on the chiva….we hope.

    Chiva = Colombian version of a party bus. Way less safe and way more fun.

    Chiva = Colombian version of a party bus. Way less safe and way more fun.

  12. Bus stations are actually just alleyways. Sometimes you will buy your tickets from random men on the street, and you even get a better deal.
  13. You will learn to like aguardiente (“guaro”)….or rather, you’ll drink it yet still hate it.
  14. All food must be kept in the refrigerator or you will have streams of ants in your kitchen.
  15. Bugs are way bigger and will attack.
    A cockroach that kept running toward me and I was spraying with bathroom cleaner. Took way too long to die.

    A cockroach that kept running toward me and I was spraying with bathroom cleaner. Took way too long to die.

    Ant that was crawling across my kitchen floor. But he was no ordinary sugar ant like the hundreds of others we've had.

    Ant that was crawling across my kitchen floor. But he was no ordinary sugar ant like the hundreds of others we’ve had.

  16. Get used to having dirty feet and floors. You’re only guaranteed a clean floor for 10 minutes after mopping.
  17. Air conditioning is a rarity. As are iced coffees…literally just cold coffee over ice is difficult to explain and you’re bound to end up with a granizado anyways (blended coffee).
  18. Allow 30 minutes to download a 20 minute show. Don’t even think about trying to stream a movie.
  19. The weather is consistent and if it rains, it pretty much only rains between 3pm and 7pm.
  20. Going to the pool is a serious affair…don’t forget your cap and you better not wear sunscreen or you won’t be in the water.
  21. Waiting in lines doesn’t follow the same rules as in the states. Be quick and be aggressive.
  22. You can’t be afraid of buying raw meat hanging outside in the heat for hours…or seeing the chicken heads as they tear apart the body on the street in front of you.
  23. Your safety is based primarily on how smart you are with your choices. No railings or cones put out to give warning.

    The buses drive like this...if you're not careful, you may fall out.

    The buses drive like this…if you’re not careful, you may fall out.

  24. Alcohol can be delivered literally to your front door with only a phone call to the corner shop…for a mere 500 pesos extra (~25 cents) and zero ID. Great for those rough days of school when you can’t even leave the house!

    Our (2nd) bottle of wine that was delivered to our door on Monday night for a mere total of $10.

    Our (2nd) bottle of wine that was delivered to our door on Monday night for a mere total of $10.

  25. You must figure out how to use a match and quick, or else singe all the hair off your hand as you attempt to light your gas stove or water heater every day.
  26. Anything you try to do will take at least 3 times as long as originally anticipated. This includes getting things fixed at your home, buying items at a store, going to a bank, and so on.
  27. There are so many fruits that you can’t actually eat. Some even look like slimy snot…but most do make delicious juices.

    Granadilla...I really don't care for it, but I think it's because the texture and seeds get to me.

    Granadilla…I really don’t care for it, but I think it’s because the texture and seeds get to me.

3 thoughts on “27 Lessons I’ve Learned in Colombia

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