|Unlike some 'exclusive' spots, locals actually talk to you in tiendas such as this one.|
We’ve tinkered around this topic on these pages before.* Plus we tend to be very honest and forthright; no, you’re right, let’s not go down that road just now.
In terms of finding ‘love’ (uh-oh, here we go again), where we do a large part of our socialising – see http://bit.ly/17yN8HH for what we’re on about – are not the type of places you’re likely to find the most ‘sought after’ girls in Colombia. We won’t go into the whole argument that such a search is fanciful in this country; or any for that matter. We’re not complete romantic cynics, just yet.
The fact is that for much of our socialising we gravitate towards modest, value-for-money, friendly, venues. You see, we do like to regularly get out and meet people but this also has to be balanced with living within our means. Thus, when you’re in a city/country with such a disparity in prices between different neighbourhoods, from the relatively cheap to the ridiculously expensive, and your own income is pretty average, visits to the ‘swankier’ ends have to be frequently curtailed.
In contrast, most Colombian women around our age, ones with comparable backgrounds/education to ourselves in any case, tend not to like the satisfying simplicity of the tienda bars we regularly frequent. No, they enjoy more the lavish locations – it helps of course when they don’t expect to put their hands in their oversized handbags for much, if not all, of the night. We however are such fans of equal rights where possible that the idea of paying far more than our fair share is anathema to us (for more see The wages of love).
Yet the question remains, are we incompatible with Colombia? Our Costeña ‘friend’ answered this one in the affirmative.** However, putting aside her Colombian nationality, we may be more ‘acceptable’ to, and compatible with, the masses of her country than she is. Her hangouts of choice align with the ‘elite’ minority of the country. Tienda drinkers are the norm, the majority. All understandable really considering the wage difference and accompanied social scene discrepancy between the top earners and the rest.
|Our new home, La Perseverancia; no one even tried to rob our camera.|
Change may be brewing on this front. With a rising middle-class, perhaps places that are now seen as upper-class will in time become more accessible to a greater number of citizens and expats alike. Such a change though is unlikely to happen at any discernible rate, not in these parts.
We may be a long way from the day when a Colombian parliamentarian and the local unemployed alcoholic drink in the same bar and share a conversation, something that you’ll often witness in Ireland. Although maybe that’s not the best example; they’re both similar types in many ways. You get the point though.
One other feature that draws us back time and again to our watering holes, outside of the price, is that we tend to find that the locals there get that almost indescribable thing, the ‘craic’ (or ‘crack’, depending on your spelling preference). A word (not a substance) used in Ireland and elsewhere to describe many scenarios.
In this context understanding and being able to engage in various bouts of slagging/pub banter. Lest there’s still any confusion about the word and its meaning, the only drug that is usually consumed in the presence of craic is alcohol, although it’s not a prerequisite. Not only do they get the craic, but we find that they're usually very good at handing out free beers. Oh they know how to 'play' us.
So while you can point to many areas where we don’t ‘fit in’ with Colombia and her people, we’ve found enough comforting similarities to keep us coming back.
You could say, like the country itself, we’re still a work in progress here, without a fixed completion date.
*For a run through some of the things we've found 'uncomfortable' here, see Lord of the Dance and Colombia’s false friends. The Irish and Colombians do, however, have that strong Catholic background, manifested in different ways albeit.
**'Costeña' ('Costeño' for a man; literally 'coastal' in English) is the term used for woman from Colombia's -- and Venezuela's -- Caribbean coast. It's also the name of a beer in Colombia. (We won't go into the whole 'a beer is better than woman because...' spiel; we could, but we won't.)