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How to live like a Paisa (the Medellín type)

Posted by on in Coffee Region Colombia
Having brought you the definitive guide to living like a Rolo, we proud to present to you some top tips on bringing our your most Paisa self.

Before you follow, educate yourself and check what is actually a Paisa.

You might think to yourself that living like a Paisa is easy. The weather, the women, the general friendliness of the people... It all sounds like a breeze to those of us used to inhumane amounts of rain, women in Ugg boots and people that keep their gaze firmly focused on the ground.

[caption id="attachment_824" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Rooftops of Manizales Rooftops of Manizales


Don't be fooled, however.

If you want to live like a true Paisa, there's a number of important rituals, behaviour patterns and habits you need to be aware of. If you don't cross off at least most of our list below, we're sorry, but you're just not a Paisa.

Be proud.


[caption id="attachment_822" align="aligncenter" width="300"]100% Paisa 100% Paisa


Like really proud. Some may say verging on arrogance, but a Paisa would no doubt retort that it's not arrogance if your self-belief is well-founded. A true Paisa believes that there is no better place on the earth they could have been born. In fact, they're slightly bewildered as to why you weren't born in Manizales or Medellín or anywhere else in the region. Be prepared to wax lyrical about the weather, the women (and don't worry about being sexist, even the women love to talk about the beauty, sultriness and assets of other Paisa women), the industry and of course the public transport. In turn, be sure to complain endlessly about the weather and people of Bogotá, just to drive your point home.

Always remember that this same pride, while at times overwhelming, also helps to maintain cities like Medellín the way they are. There is, in general, a sense of ownership in the city, and so most residents take good care of it.

Believe in independence, sort of.


A true Paisa will happily relay to an eager (or not at all eager) audience that, if the region was independent, it'd be rich, progressive, and just about the best country in the world. However, you can't truly commit to a belief in this idea, only open peoples eyes to its reality, lest you be considered unfriendly or obnoxious. Paisas are friendly people, they wouldn't force such ideas upon people!

Eat horrible arepas, but love them.


Any foreigner will know that arepas are a source of intense debate. Some of us hate them, some of us love them. The truth is that the quality of an arepa varies from region to region, but it's fairly agreed upon that the worst you can get are in Medellín. So, avoid them, right? Wrong. Eat them with every meal. Every. Meal.

Party like it's 1999, every time.


Partying is important in Medellín and the Paisa region. And thank the Lord, because no-one parties quite like the Paisas. Aguardiente flows like water from the tap while the locals embrace the night with complete abandon. You have little option but to join in, and you should, because wherever you choose to party you'll be welcomed with open arms and a swift shot.

And if you're really in the mood to party, be sure to head to Medellín in December. From December the 8th to the first week of January the city is in party mode, with non-stop fun pretty much what's on everyone's agenda. Same goes for the Feria de Las Flores in Medellín and the Feria de Manizales.

=> ">Medellín Christmas Lights

Pick Nacional, Medellín, Itagui or Envigado.


Obviously this counts strictly if you're from Medellín, otherwise you'll be going for Once Caldes or someone else. Whoever you choose though, be sure to support them with a passion that burns deep in your soul. Football isn't just a game in Medellín, it can define who you are and who your friends are. Pick wisely.

Get a ridiculous hair cut.


[caption id="attachment_821" align="aligncenter" width="259"]Mulletastic (image courtesy of expat-chronicles.com) Mulletastic (image courtesy of expat-chronicles.com)


If you want to go all out Paisa - as in no going back, resident status kind of commitment - you have to get your hair cut. Into a mullet. The more ridiculous the better.

Be friendly.


No more simple "hello"s or short conversations. Your taxi driver, your bar man, your waitress, someone on the street... Just about everyone is willing to stop and talk. Be sure to be extra polite and chatty wherever you go, or else you will be considered rude.

Be too friendly.


So friendly that if someone asks you for directions and you don't know them, tell them some directions anyway. Right or wrong, you simply couldn't stand to think that they'd walk away without any directions at all.

Look good.


In university cities such as Manizales things may be more relaxed and, of course, if you're heading to more hipster venues in the City of Eternal Spring you can stick with your Converse. But, generally speaking, if you're thinking of wearing flats in Medellín you better think again. High heels, tight jeans, low top, lots of jewellery. If you don't want to get plastic surgery we recommend a healthy dose of tissue and socks stuffed down your top and your backside.

Work hard, reap rewards.


One thing that will eternally be to the credit of people in this region is that they are exceptionally hard working and industrious. Most the biggest chains in Colombia come from the region, and if the skyscrapers and bright lights of Bogotá look impressive, you have Paisas to thank.
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