I've been traveling again, but this time I went to a new destination: Medellin, Colombia.
Let's talk about some of the Spanish I heard.
As far as greetings (saludos) go, I heard the typical buenos días, buenas tardes and buenas noches, but what I also heard a lot of was simply buenas. I heard it a lot. If you aren't familiar with buenas, it's an informal greeting that you can use anytime of day.
There was another greeting I heard quite a bit, and as far as I know, it is uniquely Colombian. Watch the video. It's all of 6 seconds, so it won't take long. If you don't see the video, click here to watch it on YouTube.
Didn't catch that? Here's the transcript:
¿Cómo tu saludas a los niños de tu jardin?
How do you say hi to the kids in your Kindergarten class?
¿Hola bebé qué más pues?
Hey baby, how are you?
She's so cute, I couldn't help but share that video with you. Now, you may not hear the word "bebé" from just anybody, but without a doubt you'll hear "¿Qué más?" or "¿Qué más pues?". It's really just the Colombian version of "¿Cómo estás?".
Did you notice that pues on the end? It doesn't really mean anything, it's just a word paisas attach on the end of words, like, all the time.
Here are some examples: Chao pues,Vamos pues
I took that photo from the top of the stairs, which is why the sign says baja.
Oh, remember that word paisas you just saw? If you're wondering what a paisa is, let me give you the short version. A paisa is a person from Medellin, a rolo is someone from Bogotá, a caleño is from Cali, and the people from the coast (e.g. Cartegena and Baranquilla) are costeños. And that my friends, is my 1 minute, over simplified and very incomplete lesson on who is who in Colombia. I recommend you talk to your Colombian friends to get the real deal on Colombian geography and demographics. What I just told you will barely help you squeak by.
Other expressions that are nearly impossible to miss are A la orden and con gusto. Let's take a look at these.
It all started the first time I told someone gracias. The response I expected was de nada, but instead I got a la orden. I heard that a few times and thought, I got this, no problem. Then one more gracias later the response was con gusto. Let's take a closer look at the context I heard these in.
From what I recall, I heard con gusto more in restaurants. The mesero or mesera would bring me something and I'd say gracias, and they would reply con gusto. In my hotel if I said gracias to a staff member, the typical reply would be a la orden. Except the bartender. I'm pretty sure I heard him use both. If I asked for something or asked someone to do something for me, like call a cab, they would also reply a la orden.
Now, we're not quite done with a la orden. I also heard this walking past shops when the proprietors wanted to get my attention. In this context it's more like "May I help you?". I have to say it's a nice change from hearing "Pásale amigo" in Mexico.
If you think you're going to Ir de fiesta (go partying) in Medellin, forget it. In Medellin you Ir de rumba! Medellin has a great night life, with no shortage of places to rumba in. And rumba means party if you haven't guessed that by now.
Brain, what are we going to do this weekend?
The same thing we do every weekend, Go partying.
And that is enough for this first installment of my Colombian experience. In the next post I'll talk about some more Colombian Spanish, food, and a few of the places I visited.
By the way, if you're looking for a good Spanish phrasebook for your android phone to help you out when you travel, check out My Spanish Phrasebook, it certainly helped me out of a jam a couple of times this trip.
It was written by me, so you can rest assured it's got all the Spanish you need to help you navigate your way around a Spanish speaking country and communicate with the locals and a whole lot more.
Lastly, if you're interested in learning more about Colombian Spanish then take a look at a book appropriately titled Colombian Spanish.
It's actually a lot more than just a bunch of phrases. It really does a good job of teaching you how to sound like a native speaker and much of what it teaches is true of Spanish in general, not just Colombian Spanish. It will help you improve your Spanish as whole.