Colombia is a big country, not so much for its square miles, but
definitely for the time it takes you to get to another part of the
country. Because of these distances the country has several distinct
cultures. One of these cultures is that of the Paisas, the proudest of all
But a Paisa — living roughly in the cities Medellín, Pereira and the surrounding rural areas — isn’t exactly proud to be Colombian. He is proud to be Paisa. Some Paisas go as far to say they are not Colombian, but Paisa. Some even are in favor of the Paisa territory (the departments Antioquia, Risaralda and parts of Chocó and Córdoba) as a separate country (likewise there are other Colombians who would welcome that idea).
A good example of this Paisa regionalism you will see in soccer stadiums and talking to Medellín taxidrivers.
At the beginning of each soccer match the Colombian anthem is played. Paisas will politely stand up, show their respect for the national tricolor and maybe sing along a little. But at a Nacional or Medellín home game the national anthem is followed by that of Antioquia and there is no singing along a little. Instead there is singing along a LOT.
The taxidriver example is equally typical. There’s an 80 percent chance the Medellín taxi driver will ask you what you think of ‘Medallo’, not so much to hear your opinion, but only to hear you confirm it is great. In many cases the taxi driver will then tell you what you may already know: how the climate is the best, how the women are gorgeous, how the people are friendly, etc., etc. Generally there is little left to do other than just wait until the taxi driver is finished praising Medellín, Antioquia, the Paisas and the food.
The taxi drivers — even if they are lacking any reference whatsoever — generally are right though. The Medellín women and weather are stunningly beautiful and the people indeed are very friendly.
The only thing that seriously sucks about Paisaland is the food. It lacks imagination and flavor. Besides, eating rice, a slice of meat, beans and salad every day isn’t exactly the variety you may be used to at home. Lots of Paisas, maybe because of the food, suffer serious gastritis.
The funny thing about dealing with Paisas though is that you won’t be able to convince them that Japanese food actually is much better or that Russian or Venezuelan women are equally pretty as or maybe even prettier than the Paisa beauties. You certainly are better off not saying you prefer Bogotá, because it’s more cosmopolitan or has a better nightlife.
Dealing with Paisas isn’t very difficult, because they are easy-going, friendly and hospitable people.
And even if they are 20 percent wrong about the superiority of their land, they still are 80 percent right and a discussion about the food or the women serves no purpose and only causes awkward situations.