Sancocho, Aguardiente Antioqueño and Vallenatos are just a few things I’ve learned to enjoy over the last seven years.
What am I talking about?
I’ve referred to the fact before in pasts posts that my wife is “pura paisa”, from Medellín, Colombia.
Yes, that’s the former home of the now deceased Pablo Escobar and back in the 80’s a place known as one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. However, that’s all ancient history. I would now consider Medellin one of the most beautiful and inviting cities you can visit in Latin America. I’ve made numerous trips and I can never wait to get back
Certainly, Colombia still has its problems. The drug cartels (but not the Medellín one) are still in force and they have the backing of guerrilla groups, most notably the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). But former President Alvaro Uribe’s hard line stance against them greatly diminished their power and influence and has brought much needed peace to the cities.
In Costa Rica there is a strong Colombian culture. In fact, the people of the Central Valley of Costa Rica and those of the Departamento de Antioquia (where Medellín is located) are strikingly similar on many levels.
For one thing, the women of both locations are drop-dead gorgeous. The dialect is similar. San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city, is surrounded by beautiful mountains, as is Medellín. The two cities and the surrounding countryside look very much alike, although the population of Antioquia alone is larger than that of the entire country of Costa Rica.
But the thing that I like most about Colombia is its unique and vibrant culture, especially that of the “paisas”, or people who reside in the Departamento of Antioquia, a mountainous province in the northwest of the country and the second most populous, behind Bogotá.
Paisas love their traditional music, called Vallenatos, they love their traditional meal, the bandeja paisa, and they love their guaro, or sugarcane based alcoholic drink, called Aguardiente Antioqueño. They are a very outgoing and party loving group, much like the ticos.
It has been a great joy getting to first know the culture of the ticos and now that of the paisas. I guess I am what you might call multi-cultured, although many would assert that I possess no discernible trace of “culture” whatsoever.
On numerous occasions, especially around the holiday season, I get to taste a festive aspect of paisa culture, called “sancocho.” In Costa Rica there is a similar dish called olla de carne.
Of course, like most things paisa, the making of this delicious stew becomes an event in and of itself. We all sit around for hours listening to Darío Gómez, and other paisa favorites, and wait for the sancocho to cook in a large pot over an open flame.
It’s delicious, as always is the company, the music and, especially, the ever-present aguardiente.
Enjoying the culture of Colombia has become part of my existence here in Latin America and just another reason I love this place.
Que hubo pues Colombia!