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What would you like to drink my love?

Posted by Engin Kaban on November 27, 2010

My article that brought me the first-place in the travel writing contest organized by  The winning prize is an all-inclusive holiday in a luxurious hotel — November 2010 —

What would you like to drink my love?

You are sitting at a restaurant in Colombia. A place that is decorated in all its liveliness and accompanied by brisk Salsa music… You finish examining the menu and you are about to order your food. A sexy Latin waitress approaches you and asks, “what would you like to drink, my love?”

If you have spent only a few days in this country, you may easily get excited at an expression like this, or you may feel that you have ended up in a different kind of establishment rather than in a restaurant. On the other hand, if you are used to Colombia, your response may as well be, “bring me a chilly lemonade so that I can cool off, my darling.”

Colombians have unique salutations. I find “mi amor” and “mi vida” the most engaging. They mean “my love” and “my darling” respectively. You don’t have to look for an ulterior motive or expect something different when you are greeted like this. This is because, while you may hear one of these phrases from an attractive young woman, you are just as likely to  hear from a 60-year old hamburger seller on the street, “mayonnaise, my darling?” It is quite hard to predict when you may come across these greetings. You may even think of this as a game, and play it with Colombians according to the rules.

Colombians are also very polite. They greet people with “Señor” and “Señora” more than any other South American country. For example, when you are about to address someone, or when you don’t understand the person talking to you, you say “mister?” “madame?” instead of mumbling “excuse me.” Normally, in Spanish speaking countries,  “Señora” is used only for  married or elderly women, and “señorita” for everyone else. However, interesting enough, everyone is “señora” here.

It is also very easy to make friends with Colombians, with the condition that you pay attention to which ones are real and which ones are fake. People who try to sell you things on the street and who are very interested in the money in your pocket will greet you as “Amigo!” As most of these people are extremely insisting and annoying, it is important not to be involved with every person who talks this way. However, on the other hand, it is just as important to return the kindness and sincerity of  people who can potentially be your real “Amigo” The same word for women is “Amiga.”

After I first set foot on this country, it felt strange during the first few hours, while I was in a small town in the Amazons. The first Colombians I ever encountered in my life called me “boss.” I was thinking to myself, “I became a boss as soon as I arrived Colombia. What a great place.” As time went on, I realized that this expression “patron” was simply another sincere way of greeting people used by the locals in this land.

“Bonbon” is the expression that is used by guys to get attention from attractive girls. From my point of view, this sweet word fits well. If the lady in question is far charming and sexy, than you call her “Oohh Mamasita!!”. It must therefore be an intersesting experience  for a woman to walk on the streets of Colombia. Men in similar situations would be called “Papasito”.

There is another expression that I have heard only in this country: “A la orden.” It means something like “at your service.” You may get the impression that the entire country is dying to serve you when you hear this expression from all the vendors on the street!

Would you like your lemonade with ice?

A la orden mi amor…

Engin Kaban

November 15th  2010 – Bogota

6 Responses to “What would you like to drink my love?”

  1. Piergi said

    Oh my god!

    You brought me back a lot of Colombians memories: I was travelling there with four Spanish girls, the «sabrosas».

    Gracias por el artículo, y ¡siempre a la orden!

  2. Anick-Marie said

    Very nice post, thanks for sharing ! 🙂

  3. Claudia said

    Engin, you have become a Turkish with a Colombian heart. Well description of our culture, people and idioms. It takes just to live and enjoy the country to become in Love of Colombia and the “Colombianas”.

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