August brings the famous “Feria de las Flores” (or “Flower Festival”) to the city of Medellin. While you will find a couple of events which are rather flower-heavy, most are not. Instead, music, celebration and fun take centre stage, all washed down with a healthy serving of “guaro” (or “aguardiente”), the favoured local tipple.
As you settle into your time in Colombia, you’ll most likely find local cultural values and social customs to be at once familiar, and refreshingly different, from what you’re used to back home. Colombian culture contains plenty of contradictions, which means it’s difficult at first to get a coherent picture of what life in the country is really like. But then figuring all this out is part of what makes the place so enjoyable.
In many ways, my choice of the name ‘Colombian Spanish’ for this blog was a bit silly. It’s difficult to talk about an entirely uniform sort of speech across the country when there are so many differences in language use between regions. Nowhere is this clearly than when it comes to the subject of accents. As you’ll soon discover, Colombians from one or other region of the country often pronounce the same words in sometimes very different ways.
Hang around with Colombians for any length of time and you’re sure to notice that religion continues to play a large part in their lives. In fact, faith is so strong, and religious belief so widespread, that many Colombians often take it as read that most everyone they meet will be a Catholic. This is reflected in surveys and polls, where the vast majority of the population report that they are religious.