Around midnight in a Colombian city called Barranquilla, I remember getting a text from some Colombian dude named Andres.
Anytime we hung out, it was always around midnight to get beer and talk about whatever.
There were various little corner stores in the area that would be open for people to just hang outside on cheap plastic chairs and have a few beers.
Anyway, I head out to the corner store where he was going to be that night.
And it’s literally just like any other night.
Except there were a few random dudes that neither one of us knew that were occupying the single table available that night.
So we were just standing close to the table while going through beer after beer.
And making small talk with the small group of dudes sitting down at the table next to us.
Over an hour or two of talking, one of the guys grows an interest in why I live in Colombia.
Some very skinny medium brown dude with, if I remember right, some missing teeth.
That’s how I remember him anyhow.
He seemed friendly but looked questionably homeless.
But a friendly dude nonetheless.
And most of his questions are typical of what’d you expect.
“Do you like Colombia?”
“Do you like the women?”
“Do you like the food?”
And, given we were having good vibes overall in this entire hour and with plenty of beer already, I felt more at liberty to say how I feel about the country.
Overall, I felt it was cool to be here.
Plenty of good things to like.
Gave a largely positive review.
Though, being fair, he never really asked any questions that would get me talking about things I didn’t like.
But I wasn’t going to shit on his country anyhow.
Even with plenty of beer, we still realize that’s dude.
Though, as I said, I did feel more at liberty given the context to be more open about my time there.
And when he asked me “do you like the food?”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“Pues, me gustan arepas. Me gusta bandeja paisa. No me gustan los empanadas aquí. Bueno, hay comida que me gusta y hay comida que no me gusta en Colombia.”
I said something like that more or less.
Mentioned a few things I liked and didn’t like.
When I mentioned the empanadas as an example, I remember the dude taking it offensively almost.
Asking me why I don’t like them.
To which I explained “well, they’re not very warm usually in my experience. The meat isn’t well spread out and is a bit lacking in seasoning. It’s not like empanadas in Argentina or someplace like that.”
And, to be fair, mentioning how “Argentina does something better” might’ve contributed to the offense.
After all, I do find some Latinos to be insecure about the perception of Argentina being a better place in some regards.
While Argentina has its own problems, they do make better empanadas without any question!
The best I’ve tried anywhere in Latin America.
But I actually didn’t give the dude a full Gordan Ramsey taste review of empanadas.
Just casually said something short that looked like the sentence above.
It’s been some odd years so I don’t remember perfectly what I said.
But I remember the guy anyway getting actually kinda pissed and we carried the conversation going forward.
Nothing happened though.
I remember mentioning how “I like some things about Colombian food but it often tastes a bit bland. Depends on the food.”
I can’t keep my mouth shut, can I?
Once I mentioned how Colombian food can sometimes be a bit bland, it was like I called his mom a whore.
He didn’t get up from the table to shoot me in the face for implying that I think Colombian food is OK.
Nothing really happened.
Andres said something to him that I didn’t catch well and it soon ended.
We ultimately caught a taxi that night and went to some other bar soon after.
Along the way, I remember Andres asking me funny enough “en serio? No te gusta la comida Colombiana?”
And I swear to you – I said that I did like some of the food!
Arepas. Bandeja Paisa.
That’s about it actually.
Still, he wasn’t that offended but did find it odd.
“How could he not like the food?”
Reminds me of the comment section of this article here where you have some agreeing that Colombian food sucks and plenty of Colombians shitting themselves in raging anger at how foreigners could find faults with it.
"your taste gland are broken you softie american piece of shit, DIE IN A FIRE colombian food is execptionall how dare you call area tasteless its probably tasteless to you because youve had so much of that bread that gave you diabetes that now everything that doesnt have more than 4000 grams of sugar is tastless to your sorry ass"
"This entire article is overly simplified and extremely ignorant. I’m Colombian American and grew up eating Colombian food and was raised in Colombia and this article is EXTREMELY disrespectful. Americans always have to act overly entitled and arrogant when visiting different countries, and acting like they have the authority to speak on a whole country’s food culture just because you lived there for a little bit. Grow the fuck up and learn to be respectful of other cultures."
"Also how are you not going to talk about Empanadas? I know damn near every Latin American country has a variation of it, but Colombian empanadas are definitely top tier…"
Side Note: What? Who likes the empanadas seriously? I found it funny that I saw this comment given what I already wrote. Is this the same dude I met in Barranquilla? Here's an article going into more detail briefly on why I didn't like Colombian empanadas.
Anyway, back to the article!
So that night ended anyway as we got to the next bar and that was it.
But some of the insecurities you find in other moments sometimes comes across as odd while living down here in Latin America.
“Does Matt like Mexico? Give me the Truth.”
A few months ago, I was looking for an apartment in Mexico City near Lindavista area.
The landlord wanted some references to call to make sure I was a good person.
I gave him my sister’s number and she pretended to just be a friend of mine and not my sister.
The interview was kinda stupid to be honest.
As a side point, it almost seemed like some formality the dude wanted to go through but I doubt he gained any real knowledge about how good of a client I would be.
First off, what “friend” of mine (sister in this case) would talk shit about me on the phone to the landlord?
It’s not like he asked for references of previous landlords.
Second, my sister told me that the dude was overly interested in “how much I like Mexico” instead of how much money I make.
Which, even if he asked about my money, obviously my sister would tell him I’m good.
Again – what friend would talk shit to a landlord about you?
So what’s the point of giving this reference anyway?
Stupid formalities done by a Mexican who wants the process to look “well done” when it doesn’t produce any results.
Waste of time for everyone.
And, as I said, my sister told me that he was a bit concerned about “just how much does Matt like Mexico?”
It wasn’t like I was talking shit about Mexico to him either.
He wouldn’t know how I feel about the country – the good, the bad and the ugly.
So why waste a considerable portion of the reference interview asking “how much do I like Mexico?”
Is he that insecure about it?
Still, there’s other moments too that resemble much of the above.
The Salty Mexican
Once in a blue moon, you encounter a Mexican that might have some issue with the US.
It’s not common though for them to take their complaints out onto you.
Most people in the world from Mexico to anywhere else are rationale enough to know that you individually hold no responsibility for the actions of your government.
In the same way that I understand that most Mexicans are responsible for the stupid shit their government does.
Still, if I’m being honest, Mexico has a few more “xenophobic” types against Americans than most Latin countries.
But they are few and far in between.
Most Mexicans are reasonable.
And those who have issues with you don’t have the balls to say it to your face.
The ones who can have issues though come in different forms.
Be it the Mexican who got deported from the US and is still salty about it.
To the literal Mexican incel who hates seeing a foreigner fucking “his women” and might even send her a text saying “hey, you sure you don’t want to be with a Mexican dude of your own kind?” or some stupid shit like that.
Or the Mexican who reads the news more often and takes issue with whatever your government does.
For example, I remember getting into a conversation with some Mexican dude outside some taco spot near Copilco area of Mexico City.
Some white Mexican dude who was young looking and studying physics at UNAM.
He was just some random dude eating at the same taco spot I was and noticed I was a foreigner.
We got talking.
Over the conversation, he somehow brought up the topic of vaccine donations.
And was seemingly taking his frustration out on me verbally regarding how “the US doesn’t do enough to help the world! It should donate more vaccines! It doesn’t do nothing!”
Which, as you can see here, the US has donated 200 million vaccines. Much more than most countries on the planet.
And I knew that fact already and told him that.
Along with me telling him “it’s not our job to save your country to begin with. Got a problem? Take it to your government. You’re Mexico. Not some shit ass country in middle of nowhere Africa. Your country has wealth. It’s one of the richer countries of Latin America. Don’t like how the vaccine rollout is going in Mexico? Take it out on AMLO.”
Which, regardless of your opinion on the vaccines, the general sentiment of what I’m saying here is true.
You do have too many Latinos who just blame all their country’s problems on the US without looking in the mirror and realize that they keep voting in shit politicians that steal wealth and don’t do shit for the country.
That harm the country in many ways.
Anyway, the point here being that, compared to other Latin countries, I find Mexicans are a little more likely to have a stick up their ass about the US.
But it goes both ways.
You also have Mexicans who feel more strongly about the US than most Latin countries because they have family up there or have spent time in the US.
And also because our countries have more cross-cultural exchange.
Suffice to say, you have more Mexicans who can feel very nationalistic against the US or very much in love with it.
And a vast majority in the middle who are normal and aren’t one extreme or the other.
Still, let’s get away from Mexico for a bit and bring up a funnier example.
The Latina Defending the Greatness of Puerto Rican Salsa
Typical of me, isn’t it?
Then doubling down in the argument because I refuse to be proven wrong.
Such is the case when you get arguing with a Puerto Rican gal about who makes better salsa music.
Puerto Rico or Colombia?
Though it’s been some odd years, I think the argument was about salsa.
It was some type of Latino music but I’m pretty sure it was salsa that we were discussing.
One thing you realize anyway is that a lot of Latinos can be overly nationalistic about their country being “the best of Latin America” when it comes to whatever topic.
Costa Rica calling itself the “Switzerland” of Central America.
Argentina announcing itself to be the ones “of the boats” while other countries “come from jungles.”
Mexico or Peru maybe claiming that they have the best food.
Colombia or Brazil taking pride in how hot their women are known to be.
Some countries taking pride in believing that they have “the best salsa” or “the best reggaeton” or the “best x music here.”
Anyway, leave it up to me to get into an argument about how Colombia has better salsa music than Puerto Rico.
In my defense, I believe I was still dating my Colombian girlfriend Marcela at the time so I felt that little bit of “Latino nationalism.”
“Well shit, if I marry Marcela, I’m going to have Colombian citizenship someday. Best step up to the place and defend the honor of my new country! YES, Colombia has better salsa. You think otherwise?”
Either way, all of this could be contrasted with something different.
The Humbleness in Contrast
In contrast to much of the above, you have certain countries like Bolivia for example.
Where, like with any country, you do have examples of nationalism and folks feeling very patriotic or proud of their country.
However, I’ve found certain countries – like Bolivia, Paraguay or Nicaragua – to be relatively less nationalistic than other Latin countries.
At least from my experience.
In contrast, it’s easier to have a more honest conversation with folks from said countries.
Where you don’t feel the need to kiss the ass of their country and say how everything is great without worrying about starting World War 3.
Where the locals of the country are even less likely to have xenophobic feelings regarding where you come from or the actions of your government.
Where you get less of that combative or insecure attitude about your opinion on “x thing” of their country.
Be it the music or the food and whatever the hell else.
When I lived in Bolivia for a short time period, I remember having more open conversations with people about their country.
My likes and dislikes.
And many of the locals seemed more level headed.
For example, there was one guy I knew named Julio that happened to be the boss of this NGO that I was working for.
For one, he didn’t ask me over and over again how I really felt about Bolivia.
That’s a normal question you’ll get in any country but not excessively in some compared to others.
And I remember telling him that it “seems a bit dusty here and a bit of smog from the busses.”
He understood what I meant.
I wasn’t shitting on the country because that obviously gives bad vibes anywhere.
But I gave my thoughts on some of the good and the bad.
Similarly, I remember when I was in Paraguay.
I visited some little village area on the outskirts of Asuncion as you can see here.
The people there seemed relatively pretty humble and very easy to get along with.
No real sense of xenophobia or distrust regarding me as a foreigner.
The same could be said for when I was in Nicaragua as you can read here.
The locals seemed MUCH more down to earth, humble and friendlier overall.
While curious about my thoughts on their country, they weren’t insecure or in denial when I presented any fair and small critiques.
As I was walking to the site where I was supposed to be working one day in a Nicaraguan city called Masaya, I got talking with one older guy.
He seemed very friendly.
“How do you like Nicaragua?” he asked.
Gave plenty of good things to say.
But gave one small critique.
I forgot what it was exactly what I said but it was something about the food.
Somehow we got talking about the food.
He was cool.
He understood what I meant and even gave some suggestions for what I should try in Nicaragua.
Some tastier options that, if I had to guess, were probably some national cuisine that everyone tries when going to Nicaragua.
Or maybe it was something his mom cooked.
Anyway, that’s the contrast of it all.
The point being?
The Overarching Point
First and foremost, I don't see anything wrong to be proud of where you come from and to think your country has the best of something.
It's great to have pride!
But some Latinos, in my opinion, come across more as butthurt or insecure when not every foreigner is as proud of something specific to their country.
In the same way that the gringo should be open minded to the fact that this is how the local Latino was raised and that's why he might not want any seasoning on his Colombian food...
The Colombian or any Latino should also keep an open mind to the fact that we foreigners were raised in our own culture with our own tastes and not find that one specific thing about your country to be as nice as you think it is.
And it comes to deciding where to move to in Latin America for the gringo, it should be remembered that there are various factors to consider.
One of them being how well you fit in with the locals.
But one of those factors that impacts how you fit in will be the more nationalistic attitudes or insecurity that some of the locals might have.
It varies as I said.
From the local who is overly concerned about how much you really like his country or not.
To the xenophobic local who thinks negatively of you due to where you come from or shit your government does.
To the local who is insecure about you fucking his women.
Perhaps the local who is insecure about ANY critique of their country.
No matter how small or big.
No matter how fair or not.
And the local who you somehow got into an argument with as a foreigner regarding how some other country does what their country does better (like salsa or empanadas).
And while I can respect someone who takes pride in where they came from.
Hard to respect a cuck who hates their own roots…
It should also be said that the local who takes things too far in the other direction in the ways described above can also be unlikeable.
And if a particular country has too many of the above, it can dampen the experience a little bit for the foreigner visiting or living there.
Of course, every country has people who get a little bit angry at some critique of their country.
And you have to have the social intelligence of a retard to go around constantly bitching about the country as an outsider to every single local you meet.
But sometimes there’s a social context where a fair critique can be socially OK to provide.
Assuming you know the Latino in question and you two get along and he asks you genuinely what you think about his country.
But some Latinos, like I said, just can’t help themselves.
They feel overly insecure about the foreigner perception of their country.
And, as I implied before, some countries have more cases of the insecurity than others.
With some like Colombia standing out to me more than say Bolivia.
At least in my experience.
And, to be fair, it probably varies even within each country.
For example, I found people in a Bolivian city called Potosi to be more xenophobic and those in Santa Cruz to be more pretentious.
While Argentina is known for this issue, you have folks from places like Misiones or Corrientes that are more chill.
I’m sure there are parts of Colombia where the locals are more chill than others.
For example, I used to be friends with a Colombian dude named Sebastian that, if I remember right, was from Pasto?
Or something south of the country.
And he seemed overall more chill than someone from Medellin for example.
Anyway, there’s not much more to say.
Always have some basic social intelligence to know when it’s right to give a critique or not.
Know who you are speaking with.
Don’t be excessive in any critiques usually.
And know that, as you choose a country to live down here, some Latin countries and particular regions within those countries will have more nationalistic sentiment (or insecurity) among the locals than in other areas.
That’s all I got to say.
Drop any comments below in the comment section.
Thanks for reading.
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PS: While Colombia might not have the best food in Latin America, it does have something to be more proud of: awesome cumbia music. SI SI COLOMBIA SI SI CARIBE
Fiesta Colombiana: Colombia Caribe / Colombia Tierra Querida / Soy Colombiano / Cumbia ...