Sunday 19 August 2012

Colombia's locas

Of the many strange and wonderful things visitors and expats discover about Colombia, one of those is the various regional traits – quasi-subcultures if you will – that exist here. 

It’s not something you have to find out for yourself – although, spend enough time here and you undoubtedly will – as the locals are usually quick to fill you in.
A twilight scene of downtown Bogotá
'Rolo land' - twilight in Bogotá.
These subcultures are generally city or department confined (for the record, Colombia consists of 32 departments or departamentos in Spanish) and, at the risk of over-generalising, we tend to find that the characteristics associated with each region more or less hold true. 

Of course, you will find that the chief traits of one area are in existence in other locations, but perhaps just not to the same degree. 

A Colombian acquaintance summed up the most common of these regional behaviours thus:

Starting with the capital Bogotá, if you have three Bogotanos or Rolos (Rolas for women) as they are referred to, with you in a room, what happens? Well, they probably won’t talk to you and when you leave their company you’ll discover your mobile phone and other personal belongings have gone ‘missing’. 

As for the people from the country’s second city, Medellín, in the Antioquía department, find yourself surrounded by three Paisas as they’re known and you’re in good business company. 

From the female point of view, they’ll also be fiercely attractive – now that’s saying something, considering this is Colombia – but, as we’ve found out to our cost, they might struggle to find their purse (see both ‘The wages of love’ & ‘Bienvenidos a Medellín – Bangkok Light’ for related stories).  You don't get ahead in business by spending lots of money now, do you?

Get a trio of inhabitants from Colombia’s Caribbean coast, Costeños, together and you’ll be partying and dancing non-stop, with the ladies suggestively rubbing their considerable posteriors in your crotch area. 

Apparently, even the region’s donkeys get to sample these erotic dances – even a bit more if they’re ‘lucky’.
A shot of the very scenic San Gil in the Department of Santander
There's much more to Santander than just the chicas.
The city of Cali’s good people (Caleña(o)s) are best known for their sultry salsa skills – well they have to be good at something, right?

Then you have the Santandereanas – that is the women who come from the department of Santander. 

In the words of our Colombian acquaintance – himself, we must point out, a Santandereano – if you’re in the company of three of these ladies then you’ve got problems, big problems. In fairness, it only takes one to give you trouble, three is akin to a death sentence.

These are Colombia’s quintessential crazy ladies, locas. Again, that’s a big statement to make – it’s not like they don’t have much competition in this regard here. 

Now, being fiery and passionate as these Santandereanas are doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. But these chicas have taken it to a degree that would see Jesus Christ himself reach for the shotgun after only a couple of days, if he survived that long.

If you’re contemplating dating one get ready for one of the most dramatic emotional roller coasters you’ll ever experience. OK, you might say that this is the case with women in general, but we’re referring to heretofore unprecedented levels of craziness here.

Personal experience of all this – not even in a dating sense at that – and the streams of anecdotal evidence from both Colombians and foreigners alike cannot be merely brushed aside as coincidence. So it is, Santander – the home of human ‘Black Widows’.
A Black Widow spider - closely related to some Santandereanas
A Santand..., sorry, a Black Widow spider.
Of course, as we always like to point out after making sweeping generalisations, there are, fortunately, exceptions. 

We have a small number of Santandereanas that we rate as good friends – trustworthy even. The fact that most of these spent some time outside of Colombia has obviously played a significant part in ‘normalising’ them – whatever that actually means. You know who you are.

So what about the perfect Colombian woman, based on the above? 

For us, it would be a Paisa’s looks, the soundness of a Caleña, a smidgen of Santandereana passion and initial friendliness, a Costeña's eroticism and Rola, erm, daring.

We can dream, can’t we?


  1. Dangerously quiet in the comment section...

  2. I know Pieter, I know... I'm watching my back, I can hear the knives being sharpened as I type...

  3. Here one of the Locas with unprecedented levels of craziness! Congratulations for the blog, and I hope somehow you are enjoying Colombia, as I am enjoying Ireland!

    This is a Santandereana living in Dublin, not that dangerous tho!

  4. Hi Sandra! Thanks for reading & commenting - much appreciated!

    What on Earth are you doing in Ireland though?! Is it not too cold for you?! What part of Santander are you from? Bucaramanga? It is a lovely departmento, that's for sure!

    Colombia is being good to 'us', yes. We're still here, so that's a good sign!

    Do spread the 'Wrong Way' word!!

    Gracias otra vez para leyendo :-)

  5. Nice blog, Brendan, ocngratulations! I read your recent column on banking charges in Colombia, I totally agree with you. The middle class is squeezed out with these charges, and that is how banks thank us for their support!

    What are you doing in Colombia? Hope you enjoy your stay!

    Take care,


    1. Hi Andrés,

      Thanks for reading - I saw your comment on the banking story. We're just pawns, eh?

      I've been mainly freelance English teaching here. I'll actually be leaving the country next month though and I'm not sure if I'll be coming back.

      I do like it here but work wise I'd need to find something more stable in order to stay longer.

      Pues, vamos a ver!



  6. eres un inbecil sabes tan poco de Colombia....... inepto ignorante

    1. De hecho, sabemos bastante de Colombia. En el contexto de la tierra, posiblemente más que tú. Y recuerda, la raíz de esta historia viene de sus paisanos. Incluso nuestros amigas de Santander de acuerdo con nosotros.

      Sobre 'imbecil' (con 'm', no?!), quizá necesita mirar en el espejo.

      De cualquier manera, gracias para su comentario.