This is a guest post by Roosh Vörek, author of A Dead Bat In Paraguay.
As long as you don’t go to the upper-crust Clinica Las Vegas, chances are any doctor you visit is not going to speak English. If you have kept up with a steady diet of buñuelos, empanadas, super perros, palos de queso, and the mysterious street food that features cow entrails, there is a pretty good chance you’ll have to visit a gastroenterologist for problems with your digestive functioning. Sure you can just say, “Mi estomogo es malo,” but to get the best treatment you want to give very fine details about your bowel movements, including frequency, shape, color, and scent. This means you got to study up!
If you’re staying in Colombia for more than two months you’ll have to visit the DAS. Unfortunately more English is spoken by tribesman in the Brazilian Amazon than your friendly DAS office peon, so get ready to practice your Spanish under interrogation-like settings.
(Interestingly enough, one night I went to a bar in Parque Lleras and I turned around to see three workers from the DAS office talking in fluent English. It was extremely smooth with no perceptible accent or errors, but when I went to say hello a snarl appeared on their faces and they reverted back to a Spanish dialect I could not understand.)
There’s casas and there’s casas. I’m talking about the places where older gentleman callers visit for 30 or 60 minute intervals. Many gringos I’ve spoken to, especially American gringos, have told me that frequenting these casas is great for their Spanish, and is much more economical and fun than paying for a 38-hour block of lessons from EAFIT. This is a great option if you don’t mind that your language study to come with a slight risk of the clap.
You paid how much for that package of cinnamon chicle? Dude, I got it from the same guy last week for 200 pesos cheaper. You got ripped all because you didn’t master the art of negotiation in Spanish. Since most chicle salesmen don’t speak English (for some reason), it’s essential you use the local language to get a killer deal. Sure 200 pesos doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you buy two packs a week like I do that really adds up over the course of a month. (I calculated a savings of a whole American dollar, something my frugal comrades staying in Centro can appreciate. You can buy a palo dequeso with that!)