ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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IMPULSE TRAVEL TEAM

We are a team of storytellers here to bring you the best Colombia has to offer. On our blog, we answer your most frequent questions and uncover our countries mysteries, culture, and highlights for you.

Stereotypes you may have heard about Colombia can stop you from exploring the country, especially when it comes to safety issues. It’s time to catch up with these misconceptions and shatter them, so you won't longer miss out on one of the most lovable countries in Southamerica. 

More than that, prejudices may lead to making jokes about the wrong topics, which can really offend people. So you want to know how to ask and talk about certain topics. Get to know the most common stereotypes about Colombia, and learn how the country really is.

It is dangerous to travel to Colombia

Safety issues are one of the first thoughts that people have about Colombia. So some may get worried about you, hearing that you plan to travel here. News about drug traffic and the armed conflict have made their way all around the globe. But to be honest, this is not how it nowadays is. Surely, Colombia has faced violence in the past, but since the peace agreement in 2016, the country improved a lot in security matters. Today, tourists and Colombians themselves can visit places and enjoy landscapes, that they couldn’t go to years ago, because it was too dangerous back then.

In case you are still concerned about your safety, there is a saying in Colombia, about not giving papaya: “No dar papaya!”. This means as much as don’t get caught with your pants down or don’t put yourself in a situation where you might attract thieves. Simply don’t walk down the streets, showing around your brand new phone or other valuables, and watch your things while you are out. There are some areas within the cities you should rather avoid, but aren’t there these kinds of neighborhoods in any country? If you use some common sense, you should be perfectly fine during your stay in Colombia.


Visiting Barrio Egipto, one of the former most dangerous spots in Bogotá, on a guided tour

All Colombians consume drugs or sell them

In the past, drug cartels and drug trade were peaking in Colombia, and there are not all issues solved yet, but not every Colombian is involved with drugs. Cocaine is illegal, and in fact, people in other countries consume it more than they do here. Better don’t make jokes about drugs or Pablo Escobar as some people might get offended. In Colombia, a lot of people have lost a loved one or experienced violence due to the drug war, so it’s quite a sensitive topic. The country has a difficult and violent past, but Colombia tries it’s best to overcome those times. Colombians are heartwarming, friendly, and really want to improve their country’s reputation abroad. 

Something you might see is Coca Tea, Cookies or Cocktails sold on markets. These are made of or with Coca leaves. The leaves are also used by some of Colombia’s indigenous people for spiritual ceremonies and for this reason, are connected to their culture. But Coca doesn’t equal Cocaine, as for the drug production there are many chemicals added, such as acetone and gasoline. Today, you can take tours to former Cocaine farms, learn about the chemical processes that happened in the labs and see how the farms are used nowadays.

The cultivation of coca and poppy seed is mainly replaced by growing coffee and cacao, so these plants are connected to the peace development within the country. You can go on our weaving peace tour, to hear people’s stories and how changing the plants they are growing, deeply affected their lives. For more information on this emotional topic you can also check out our blog post on Cacoa - Colombia’s brown gold, going more into detail about the replacement of coca plantations.


Guide on former coca farm explaining about the fruits cultivated nowadays

Colombia is a Caribbean Country

Even though Colombia is a huge country and it has a vast diversity, mostly pictures of Colombia’s beautiful, golden sand beaches and the Caribbean Coast make their way around the world. So it’s not surprising people picture the country that way. But it has so much more to offer! There is also the pacific coast, jungle, desert, and the Andes, with some peaks that are actually snow-capped. More than that, you can visit the large, modern cities of Medellín and Bogotá, that offer many things to discover. Colombia’s climate is just as diverse as the landscapes here. Bogotá, for example, is located at an altitude of 2.600 meters, so don’t assume hot weather here. Bring sweaters and a jacket, instead of shorts and flip-flops for your visit to the capital. 


Cocuy National Park, at more than 4800m a.s.l.

 

Colombian Food is spicy

Mexican food is that much known that people often assume, it’s the only cuisine within Latin America and so many people think the food here is spicy. However, the food throughout Latin America has quite some variety. Typical dishes in Colombia are Bandeja Paisa (a mix of different meats, served with rice, beans, avocado, and plantain), Ajiaco (a soup made of 3 different kinds of potatoes, corn, and chicken), and different kinds of street food. At the coast, you will also find different fish dishes. None of these are really spicy. Usually, you’ll get some Ají served aside, a sauce made of tomatoes, onions, and garlic, which in some cases is spicy. But it is served extra, so you’ll be free to add as much spice to your food, as you like.


Bandeja Paisa

Colombians practice no other sports thanfootball

Some people do believe that there doesn’t exist any other sport besides football in Colombia. Players like James Rodríguez and Radamel Falcao have a great international presence, so people tend to forget about the other Colombian sports talents, that have had international success. A few weeks ago, Egan Bernal, Colombian, won the Tour de France 2019. Nairo Quintana, another Colombian cyclist, was not much behind. The famous boxer Antonio Cervantes comes from a small town close to Cartagena and there are many other talents coming from this beautiful country. So, yes Colombian’s love football and they are proud of their selección, but there are also other Colombian athletics, that do great in international competitions. Colombia even has its own national sport, which is called Tejo and includes beer and explosives.


Practicing Tejo, Colombia’s national sport

 

Colombians only listen to Shakira and dance Salsa

Worldwide, Shakira is probably the most famous Colombian singer, but, Juanes is also very popular and within the Spanish speaking countries there are many more well-known cantantes, who have their roots in Colombia. Actually, some people here criticize Shakira, because, in their opinion, she doesn’t seem to identify that much with her home country anymore.

Considering dances, Salsa is quite popular in Colombia. Especially Cali is known for this dance, and it’s also called the capital of salsa. Many people just love it. However, as anywhere in the world, people have different tastes, so do the people of Colombia. Some might prefer dancing Chachacha or Bachata, others love listening to Vallenato or Champeta, and again other people like to listen to rock or go rumbeando (partying), dancing to Reggaeton. Remember, Colombia is very diverse, and so are the people here. They come from different cultural backgrounds and love various dances and several kinds of music.


Dancing in Bogotá


Surely, what we hear and see in the media, affects our impression of a place. In most cases, this represents only a small part of the truth. The best way to shatter misconceptions about a place is always to get some first-hand experience and travel there yourself. See Colombia with your own eyes and make up your opinion about safety issues, culture, and the people. Chances are that you will simply fall in love with this beautiful place. 


 

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