Very Colombian

10 Things That Are Very Colombian

In Colombia, independence day is celebrated every July 20th. What better way to celebrate this mighty South American nation than to take a look at several things that are very Colombian?! We’re talking about great music, delicious food, and natural Colombian beauty below.

Cumbia

 

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Una publicación compartida por El Fresko (@_el_fresko)

While Mexico has a grand love affair with the genre of music known as cumbia (and we Colombians, in turn love our rancheras and mariachi bands), it originated in Colombia. According to MasterClass, “traditional cumbia uses a blend of African, Amerindian, and European styles and uses musical instruments such as drums, flutes, maracas, and accordions.” All we know is that it’s a fundamental soundtrack to any Colombians life, played at parties, turned up in cars, and as Colombian as our yellow, blue, and red flag.

Hot Chocolate con Queso

 

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There are certain things from your country of origin that you may have to explain to others. They simply come across as odd, but are, in fact, amazing. One of these things for Colombians is hot chocolate, which comes with cheese. Yes, cheese. Like Thrillist mentions, the chocolate used is more bitter, which makes the idea of having cheese in it more palatable. Either way, Colombian hot chocolate is simply delicious, a perfect mix of sweet and salty, and an ooey gooey bit of indulgence that we reach for again and again.

Changua

 

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Okay, this one might need more explaining for non-Colombians to jump on board with. Changua is a traditional Colombian soup that is made with milk, eggs, bread, cilantro (of course), and other ingredients (you can check out the full recipe at My Colombian Recipes). Like the other soups that Colombians opt for on the regular, changua is filling, soothing, and just hits the spot. The question is, are you daring enough to try it?!

Shakira in All Her Hair Color Phases

For the most part, Colombians are very tied to music. Usually, we love to dance, listen to music, and use it as a lifeline that connects us permanently to the motherland. And we love our Colombian superstars, including Shakira. Sure, the world knows Shak as a blonde, yodeling, hip-shaking icon, but Colombians have known about Shakira through her entire career, which can be segmented into phases and albums that came out while she sported different hair colors. Pies Descalzos and Dónde Están Los Ladrones? Raven-haired Shakira. That fire MTV Unplugged album? Fiery red hair. And of course, we know her most-famous current blonde phase.

Aguardiente

Every country has their signature alcohol, and ours is aguardiente (although we also love our rum). Aguardiente, “firewater,” or guaro is made from water, alcohol, anise, and sugar, per The Unconventional Route. The polarizing thing about this national treasure is its similarity to black licorice. But, most Colombians love it, and take shots of it when it’s time to party (and, if you look at the number of festivals we throw, you know that’s often).

Coffee

Ask any Colombian, and they will probably tell you that Colombian coffee is the best coffee in the world. According to Planet Coffee Roasters, its “rich, mild flavor” is due to the coffee beans being grown at “the perfect climate and elevation.” Colombia is the third-largest exporter of coffee, so you know we take our cafe very seriously. Whether it’s a tiny cup of tinto, or a huge iced coffee to get us through the morning, know that for us, anything having to do with coffee is very Colombian.

Emeralds

 

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Sure, diamonds are great, but emeralds are truly a Colombiana’s best friend. These glowing green precious gemstones are a major symbol of the South American nation, and justly so. Up to 90% of the world’s emeralds are estimated to have come from Colombia. You’ll see many Colombians with emerald earrings, necklaces, rings, and more proudly displayed on their person at any given time.

Bird Diversity

Perhaps you don’t automatically associate birds with Colombia. But you should. Did you know that Colombia has the most species of birds in the world? The multicoloured tanager, toucan barbet compás, and the crested bobwhite are only a few of the types of birds you’ll find there. Per Whitehawk Birding and Conservation, one-fifth of the world’s birds can be found in Colombia–at least 1,954 species, in fact. The birding website goes on to also mention that this ecologically diverse nation also has “the highest number of orchids, and the second in the number of plants, amphibians, butterflies, and freshwater fish.”

Obleas

One of the best things about a country is its delicious desserts. One of the most popular sweet treats to come out of Colombia is the oblea. Obleas are thin, oversized crunchy wafers. You usually take two of these obleas and spread arequipe (or dulce de leche as it’s also known) spread between them to create an epic sweet sandwich. As Taste Atlas explains, you can also add other ingredients to the mix, such as fruit jams, chocolate sprinkles, and (not shockingly) grated cheese.

The River of Five Colors

Colombia is full of natural wonders. One that stands out in its colorful beauty is the Caño Cristales River in La Macarena. Due to its macarenia clavigera plant, the body of water gives off vibrant colors, which has earned it the name “The River of Five Colors,” and the “Liquid Rainbow.” Want to see more colorful nature in Colombia? Then you can also check out the epic Amazon River Dolphins, which are a unique pink.

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V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi is a writer at BoldLatina, Refinery29, LatinaMedia.co, and Mission Local. Her work focuses primarily on fashion, beauty, and Latinx culture. She has also written on San Francisco for a number of publications including the San Francisco Examiner, Bob Cut Mag, 7x7, and The Bold Italic. Alex recently co-founded the Latina Writers community.