This blog is going to be all about topics chosen by my dear readers in my unofficial facebook poll. First off people in Colombia do have tattoos. Not as many as back home in America (this is a predominantly Catholic country and social taboos still very much exist) but yes people here do have tattoos. Obviously any written words would be written in Spanish and the date format is day,month,year instead of our familiar month,day,year . So that is big difference. As far as I can tell most tattoo shops here are reputable,clean and sterile just as most are back home. But, just as in the United States, you get what you pay for.
For my next question I want to address life and love in Colombia. People here are just like people all over the world. They fall in love, they have babies,they get married and they get divorced. The only thing that is different is the language that is spoken and some of the dating traditions. But, I am living proof that a white guy from America can love a Colombian girl. Sure we have a language barrier and cultural differences which makes it a bit harder but we make it work! Not every girl in this country is a money grubbing visa wanting gold digger. My girlfriend is the opposite of all those things. There is a certain reputation that when a Colombian girl dates a white guy she wants something out of the relationship besides just a relationship. Sometimes that is true but not always, as in my case. I am one lucky man.
In many ways life here is different from back home. But, in many ways it is the same. Obviously on a daily basis I speak Spanish instead of English. My girlfriend speaks very little English so it has improved my Spanish greatly. I live in a normal house here,I pay rent and I eat normal food. Colombia is a 3rd world country but it is not like I am 100 years behind America. There is a huge public transportation system here. Air pollution is a bad a problem here as is littering. Most things are cheaper here than they are in The States. The Iphone and high end electronics are NOT cheaper here and they are easily and constantly stolen. Hence my reason for not having one. If you want to spend money in this country you can. I can go out and get lunch for 2 to 3 dollars (a pretty decent lunch I might add) or I can go and spend 50 dollars or more. It is all relative.
There is good food in Colombia. Many many different soups and breakfast items. Things you would find back home such as eggs and bread for breakfast. But, Colombians tend to shy away from spices so they food can be bland sometimes. They love plain white rice with no gravy or sauces of any kind. You will almost always find it with any meal that is not a breakfast meal. I on the other hand cannot stand just dry rice so I always use my soup to wet it or whatever else I have. Colombians also LOVE salt and but not pepper. You will always find salt on any table but almost never pepper. Even if you ask for it, it is rarely available and you will get odd looks. They do have things that we do not have back home such as The Tamal. (Similar to a Mexican Tamale but not the same) It is basically a corn based mushy food with veggies and chicken mixed inside. Be careful they do NOT de-bone the chicken inside. It is then wrapped up inside green banana leafs and cooked. It is one of my favorite meals. As is Banda Hapaisa (spelling uncertain lol) Which consists of beans,meat,rice, a hard piece of fried fat (sounds gross but it isnt) and a slice of what we would call Avocado. Colombians also love their fresh fruit and fruit juice. You will always find them both available and cheap. I do worry about the collective cholesterol in this country. But, luckily for me there is not many Vegetarians :D
The money here comes in denominations of 1000,2000,5000,10,000,20,000 and 50,000 peso notes (there is roughly 2000 pesos in one USD (US Dollar). The coinage is 50,100,200,500 piece coins. They do have a fairly big problem with fake money being passed around here. (Although I have been told multiple times and their money is the most easily detectable money in the world) detectable for fraud anyway. In fact just the other day I got passed a 50,000 and 20,000 peso notes that were fake and I did not know it but I certainly know how to detect it now!
Colombians are average and not super big people both in height and in weight. In fact my shoe size (10 to 11 in American sizes) is the largest you can buy in Colombia without going to a specialty store. There are many many cheap shoes sold on the street here but they are never in my size so I have to go buy expensive imported Nike's or something like that. Colombia as in Thailand or any 3rd world country has a huge "informal economy". What I mean by that is many many goods (both real and counterfeit) are sold on the street for cheap prices. Pretty much anything you could want is available on the street for a fraction of the cost. (Although quality can be questionable). They even have people here "Minute men (and women) who will let you use their phones for a small charge per minute and talk as long as you want to whoever you want. This is just something that is not done back home. They are always full of all the local gossip. I have heard the police even go to the Minute Men to help solve crimes!
Gringos (White guys and girls) such as myself are generally treated with respect here in Colombia. Because there is not that many of us (Colombia is slowly gaining tourism but still has that nasty reputation from 20 years ago) 99% of people here have been nothing but helpful and friendly to me even when my Spanish is not perfect but of course there is that 1% that resents white people in this country. My life has been slightly difficult learning a new language and culture but overall pretty good! Of course security is always a concern but it is anywhere! Realistically these days the worst thing I have to worry about is general robbery which I would have to worry about anywhere. The major killings and kidnappings have dropped drastically. For someone visiting here for the very first time never have left America this country may be a bit of a shock. But, for seasoned travelers this country has very much to offer!
I hope I have answered all the questions asked of me. If you have anymore please ask! take care,Tyler