Paisa Customs, Culture Shock

Electronic crosswalk signals are few and far between (photo: David Lee)
Electronic crosswalk signals are few and far between (photo: David Lee)

The following is Part One of a four-part series by John Knox Seagle, an English teacher and five-year Medellín resident from the United States.

Foreigners who move to a new country are bound to encounter new customs. In the case of Medellín, they’re paisa customs, and that can lead to a little bit of culture shock.

I’m not saying either side is right or wrong, I’m simply pointing out adjustments that occur (or fail to occur) between paisas and extranjeros.

The purpose of this article is to talk about what things long-term residents of Medellín find frustrating whenever things like this happen to us.

Not every paisa has these traits, but in my experience each of the following things is fairly common.

This article is also not meant to paint Medellín and paisas in a bad light, rather to bring to light some things that some foreigners find they have to get used to make a life here.

In addition, like all foreigners here, I love Medellín, and I could easily write many more words about the things that one can admire and love about this city. But that’s for a different article.

Que Pena

Maybe it’s because the paisas are fiercely proud, or that a reluctance to involve oneself in confrontations in the interest of self-preservation has been ingrained into the local culture, but they’ll often react indignantly or with pure aggression if questioned or told directly that they’ve done something wrong or unacceptable, even if they’re inarguably in the wrong.

A man who I thought was a friend pleaded me for an urgent loan of 200,000 pesos ($106) for an emergency, and promised that he’d pay me back in a month. I wanted to help, and lent him the money. Then he disappeared.

He stopped responding to my messages and deleted me from Facebook. Two years later, after all my attempts to make contact and ask for the money were ignored, I wrote him something that he couldn’t ignore, something I’ll keep between me and him.

Finally, he miraculously appeared, demanding that I show him “respect” while at the same time admitting that he’d literally stolen from me.

Lending money, no matter the culture, can be tricky. Probably best to avoid it here, where immense pride can make things even trickier.

Run For Your Life

Ask any local and they’ll claim that the crosswalks, or “zebras” are just there for decoration.

The hexagonal red signs that read “PARE” are likewise a mystery for many drivers here, who will advance as far as possible and often stop in the bike lane or crosswalk.

A commonly given explanation for this supposed lack of respect by drivers towards pedestrians or cyclists is that, as cars here are perceived as an indication of an individual having wealth and upper-class standing, some people go on a power trip and feel as if they are “above” everyone else when they are in their car.

After meeting numerous upper-class residents of El Poblado who have literally never taken a public bus or the Metro, I don’t find it hard to believe that some of Medellín’s elite find it difficult to empathize with carless residents.

Car is king in Medellín. Pedestrians beware.

Being “American”

I will happily refer to myself as estadounidense when I’m speaking Spanish. When I’m speaking or teaching English, I am going to say that I am American.


Because the nationality adjective Unitedstatesian does not exist in the English language. We’re stuck with “American” and I imagine it was devised with the same logic that has led residents of the United States of Mexico to be called Mexicans.

We simply don’t have another word in English to refer to ourselves, and any attempt to link that unfortunate shortcoming of the English language to an assertion that estadounidenses think of themselves as better than everyone else, and for that reason “stole” the word American, is unfortunately very misguided.

North American is incorrect. Canadians will get offended if you call them American. Like I said, it’s a different concept, and nothing to get all worked up about.

Ironically, every time that a Colombian wants to promote whatever they’re selling as “the best” or “high quality,” they won’t hesitate to claim that the tires are “llantas americanas,” and the sellers of treats on the buses always make sure to point out that they’re selling “chocolate americano.”

The logic according to Latinos goes, that since everyone in the Western Hemisphere is living in America, that everyone here is American. With that reasoning I draw two conclusions that have left Colombians baffled:

1. If everyone in the Western Hemisphere, from Canada to Argentina, is technically American, then so are the people in the United States, so it’s technically correct for estadounidenses to refer to themselves as American and nobody has the justification for getting upset.

2. If everyone who lives in America is American, and residents of Colombia are called Colombians in honor of Christopher Columbus, then surely everyone who lives in this hemisphere, which was supposedly “discovered” by Christopher Columbus, should by all rights also be called Colombian.

Nevertheless, according to Latinos, a person in the United States cannot call themselves American, nor are we allowed to call ourselves Colombian because that designation already exists for the people in Colombia.

The point is, we mean no harm or offense when we refer to ourselves as American. In fact, we wish we were given a name more original.

Bicycle lanes are for BIKES

Medellín has a lovely network of bike-only lanes around Laureles/Estadio and Belén that are unfortunately not only for bikes in the minds of many locals.

Why numerous people insist on strolling slowly, walking their dogs or even pushing a baby carriage in these specifically designated lanes is beyond me, but many people simply seem to be oblivious to the fact that there’s always a perfectly good sidewalk adjacent to the bike lanes.

People will likewise step out in front of cyclists, crossing the bike lanes without as much as a glance, as if they were jaywalking.

To make matters worse, most people do not react happily when a cyclist calls out ahead to ask for a “permiso” and try to clear the path. For a country so obsessed with cycling, one would think that urban cyclists would be shown more consideration.

If you’re on your bike, be prepared to stop, sometimes unexpectedly.

I’m Eating!

In many foreign cultures there is nothing cruder or more disrespectful than interrupting someone’s lunch or conversation in order to try to sell them something.

Unfortunately if one chooses to eat on the patio outside a restaurant or on a table next to the sidewalk in Medellín, this is par for the course.

DVDs, USBs, watches, grasshoppers made out of reeds… even fishing poles. Diners are solicited mid-bite or interrupted mid-conversation and are (sometimes aggressively) offered anything imaginable, and it is rare for the restaurant’s employees to come to the rescue and request that their customers be left alone.

Just say, “Gracias,” sometimes several times, and they’ll eventually leave you alone. If that doesn’t work, ask for help from the restaurant staff.


The shoe-shiner points to my work shoes as I walk by, tells me three times that he wants to clean my shoes, I tell him, “Gracias,” I like them dirty like this and that I’m in a hurry.

He calls after me once I’m a half-block ahead, asks me if he can ask me a question, I think why not, a bit of cultural exchange would be nice, and so I walk back to the shoe-shiner, who pauses, smiles, and repeats, “Can I clean your shoes?”

Try to be patient with them. They make only 1,000 pesos ($0.50) per customer.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this four-part series next week.


About the Author: John Knox Seagle, an English teacher and five-year Medellín resident from the United States.

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  1. Hopefully as more people in Medellin acquire the wealth to purchase vehicles; they will change their view point about pedestrians as being pedestrians and not just target practice.

    • That’s my hope, but at the same time, it may simply mean more drivers adopt this behavior. I will say it’s not everybody. I always make a mental note when a driver politely slows down to let me cross a street.

  2. Run for Your Life: I don’t think at all that people do not stop at “STOP” signs because they think they’re superior to people walking in the streets, though that might be the attitude of some. When I lived there, we wouldn’t stop at the “Stop” signs literally because we were afraid of being robbed, either of our personal possessions or the vehicle itself. I think its a lot better now though, or so I’ve heard.

    • Jamie – it’s possible that may have something to do with it… a legacy of more dangerous times, but based on my experience as a pedestrian from 2009-2014, and a customer in hundreds of taxis, I think it’s simply impatience on the drivers’ part.

      Late at night, I’m OK with the taxi drivers running the occasional red light as long as they’re slowing down and checking for traffic. Last thing I want is to be in a traffic accident because a taxi driver was either being impatient, or concerned we’d be robbed if we stopped.

      When did you live here?

      • i have friends here in medellin who literlly change personalities when they are behind the wheel, same as many change when they go to the stadium and consume alcohol and get excited for their team.. the lack of patience and consideration drivers here show is sad to see, motos, taxis. bus’s, all are guilty of it. i tried to help an old man with a cane cross a sidewalk and i almost got hit by many people. just how it is.. one of the few things i dont like about the culture.

  3. Well, I agree, there’s a lot to do, it’s always helpful that you tell your close friends how difficult it is to you to walk in a non pedestrian friendly city, that and blog’s entries like this and some time could make a difference.

    The “American” and “estadounidense” issue is also confusing for us (I’m Colombian), it’s clear that in most contexts “americano” means “from the United States of America”, but more educated Latinamerican people might feel excluded as they are also “American” in a continental way.
    I think it’s ok to call people from the United States of America “Americans” but in Spanish it’s definitely better to use the expression “estadounidense”. Making it clear that you’re not intending to exclude anyone, that it is just the word you’ve always used, would be enough too. It’s also helpful to say “Panamerican”.

    • Is “norteamericano” any better or clearer than saying “americano?”

      Geographically, that’d include Canada, Mexico and all of Central America, in addition to the USA, so I guess I just answered my own question.

      • I have found out that most Colombians don’t take too much of an issue with the term “American.” Many of them use it rather freely, and I have been asked “eres Americano” more than once (Americano being from the US, not from the Americas). Many of the people who take offense to people from the US being called/calling themselves American, have a deeper issue with the US and don’t want to know, or don’t know the origins of why the term American is used. The Brits are the ones who began referring to their Colonial subjects as Americans and it stuck.

        Actually, here in Bogota, it seems that people yielding in regards to pedestrians crossing the zebras has recently improved. Drivers making right hand turns, unusually give pedestrians the right of way, and pedestrians that have the right of way are usually respected. There are a few bad apples, but generally the drivers let you cross without having to run across the intersection when you have the right of way.

        I’ll be moving back to Medellin in a month, so I’ll have a better basis of comparison.

      • David, “norteamericano” is definitely not better but could be more accepted as we clearly know we are not “norteamericanos”. And as Dan says, the use of those words among us could be highly ideological.

  4. Nice article. I would like to add one, which is my biggest annoyance :): people trying to jump the queue. I am from the Netherlands and this is the one I never will get used to. Well, I would like to add another one: in the bus everyone wants to sit next to the aisle and refuse to make space by moving to the window. This sometimes makes it difficult for a tall person like me who cannot fit in the place next to the window to find a place.

    I love this country, but there are just some cultural differences you will not get used to, not even after so many years.

  5. I don’t think what you describe in your article has anything to do with culture shock or being a foreigner in a strange new country. I don’t live in Medellin but have visited several times and I don’t any issues with, traffic, rude people or persistent vender that is any different than many cities in the United States. I live in Houston and traveled through out the United States and see the same problems everywhere.

    First, with the issue of loaning money to friends or family. If you loan money to a friend or family should never expect to see that money again. Be thankful if you every get anything back or if you even get a thank you I appreciate. If you enter the transaction with that expectation you will never be disappointed.

    Whether a pedestrian, cyclist or drive is being courteous depends on your perspective. As a pedestrian I expect drivers should lookout for me and I should be able to enter a crosswalk with the expectation that I have the right-away and can safely cross the street. But I wouldn’t push that too far in Houston or another larger North American city. You could very well end up being dead right.

    As for cyclist, I have been chased off sidewalks and seen cyclist hold up traffic because they were cycling down a busy street in the middle of the lane. Sure people should respect the lanes but maybe they are in that lane for a reason and when they fail to yield if could be because the just don’t hear or understand you.

    To survive on the roads in Houston, Texas you have to be aggressive. I tend to get annoyed at anyone that impedes my progress. I recently was rounding a corner in downtown Houston and had a pedestrian jump in front me and then glare at me because I had to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting him. As he was crossing the street giving me a dirty look I thought to myself, I bet you wouldn’t do that in Medellin.

    I am perfectly fine with the rules of the road in Medellin. You will be fine if you don’t expect anyone to make any allowance for you presence, keep a sharp lookout and understand that cars are bigger and more dangerous than pedestrians.

    Whenever I talk with someone from any North or South American country, or any foreign country for that matter, I am very uncomfortable saying I am American. I thinking saying we are American communicates an air of superiority and arrogance. While we may be able to rationalize why it is proper to say we are American, I do think it is offensive to people from other North or South American countries. If someone asks me what my nationality is I simple say I am from the United States.

    Medellin has on corner on the market or rude or pushy venders. I see that everywhere I go and it is not limited to public places. Door to door salesmen are persistent and won’t take no for an answer until you slam the door in their face.

    Everything in your article could apply to many places in the United States or any other major city in the world. I have found the people of Medellin to be very friendly, courteous and helpful. More so than most anyplace else I have been, just don’t expect that to carryover to the roads of Medellin, or Houston.

    • Typical response from someone who has only visited but never lived here. With Colombians, and I suggest most South and Cental Americans, you only want to have a superficial relationaship with them. once you start getting deeper is when you see the other side.

    • Thanks for your comments.

      I agree that nothing in the article has much to do with culture schock, and that the title is inappropriate for the content. Please refer to the editor, who must have had his reasons for selecting that title.

      Unfortunately a foreigner’s experience in Medellín is likely to be vastly variable, depending on whether they’ve just visited a few times, or have lived in the city for 5 years. There are things that a visitor or tourist might believe to be true that a long-term resident will have learned to be anything but. With a heavy heart I must agree with what Des claims, that it’s easy to have a superficial relationship or friendship with someone in Medellín, but after a substantial amount of time here you do unfortunately see another side to (many but not all of) them which is not always nice.

      Regarding the word American, I’m not endorsing its use as a nationality or even saying that it’s correct to use it when referring to someone from the United States. Now I’m on the side of the latinos, that “we’re all American”, and I never introduce myself as “soy americano” when I’m speaking in Spanish. But one cannot deny that we don’t have another nationality adjective in English for someone from the United States, that “I’m from the United States” is not a nationality, and that it’s often very misguided and unjustified that latinos get offended when they hear a person refer to themselves in English as an American. That was what I was trying to communicate, that it’s unnecessary and unreasonable for Colombians to get offended by this, and that most people from the United States who call themselves American do not intend to offend but are often instead just not in-the-know. But I understand it’s an endless debate.

      I do not understand what you said about cycling. I stated that it is very common for people riding their bikes on bike lanes in Medellín to find that said bike lanes have become useless due to numerous people casually walking abreast in the bike lanes, adjacent to an empty sidewalk.

      I know that everything in the article could easily take place in many other cities in the world or in the United States, but the topic is problems that long-term foreign residents in Medellín often have with Medellín. I haven’t lived in the United States for a long time, and I’m not even currently aware of how things are like there. If I live in Houston for five years later in life, I’ll write an article about that city.

  6. Good article. Que pena bang on. Honesty is a problem in this country/continent. I don’t trust any mofo here. Loans don’t exist here, unless with banks. A loan is a gift. Don’t ever expect it back. As for manners, Colombian is a developing country and I say so too are they developing their manners. My motto of “mano firme con toque de aggresion” has fared me well here. Love the country but am jaded by the people.I don’t take shite from ningun mofo.

  7. The shoe shiners make 1,000 pesos per customer… unless you’re unlucky enough to be approached by a shoe shiner in San Fernando Plaza during your first months here, relent and allow him to shine your shoes, and are then charged 20,000 and you pay it because as a recent arrival you have no idea what it should cost… There’s a special place in a chicharron-less Hell for people like that.

  8. A few comments on the author’s post re: using “americano” instead of “estadounidense”.

    I get why Colombians are baffled at the author’s two conclusions. They’re confused by his chop-logic.

    Stating “it’s technically correct for estadounidenses to refer to themselves as American and nobody has the justification for getting upset” is at best disingenuous, even a little smart-alecky. At worse, it comes across as arrogant ignorance. Not a great trait for a teacher.

    We’re discussing nationality o “gentilicio”. It seems to me the point of using “gentilicios” is to CLEARLY indicate the country of origin and/or citizenship of a person or group of people.

    Saying “I’m Mexican” or “I’m Colombian” leaves no room for doubt, as long as the person you’re talking to knows there is a country called Mexico and another Colombia.

    However, when I say “I’m American” I am being vague and imprecise. There are two continents and one region with “America” in there name. Am I saying I’m from North America, Central America, South America? Or am I saying I just returned from spending an extended time in the Americas? Or am I saying I’m a blonde with blue eyes? Or could it be I’m saying I’m from the United States?

    Saying “I’m American” as a synonym for “United States citizen” assumes everyone listening will know what I mean. Why make them guess? Say “I’m a US Citizen” or “I was born in the US”. Better yet, do them the courtesy of using the language of the country you’re living in and say, “Soy estadounidense”.

    About “Estados Unidos de Mexico”: there is no continent called “Mexico”, so the good citizens of that country have every right to call themselves “Mexicans”. There’s no possibility of confusing others by doing so.

    Nowif Mexicans started referring to themselves as “Estadounidenses”, then I can see a problem. Especially if they try it at the US / Mexico border.

    • With all due respect, it seems as if you literally did not read what I wrote.

      I did not proclaim to use or support using “americano” instead of “estadounidense” when speaking in Spanish. I always tell people that I’m “estadounidense” when I’m speaking to them in Spanish, “doing them a favor” when I speak to them in their own language as you put it, because I know that it’s what they prefer. Likewise, I tell Germans that “Ich bin Amerikaner” when I speak to them in German and I tell the French that “Je suis Américain” when I speak to them in French. Sadly, there isn’t an equivalent of estadounidense in those languages either. I guess they’ve figured out that “Amerikaner” and “Américain” must mean that the person is from the United States.

      However, when I’m speaking to someone in English, like in my English classes for example (I speak English to my Colombian students in my English classes), I tell my students that “I am American” and then explain to them that in the English language there exists no other nationality adjective for a person from the United States, they accept that, and then I agree with them that there should be another word but sadly there is not. What would you suggest Americans call themselves when speaking to others in English? What other nationality adjective exists?

      Logically, if according to latinos everyone in the Western Hemisphere is American, then by all rights a person from the United States is also American. By that reasoning, it would be misguided indeed to get offended when a person from the United States calls themself American when communicating in English. If it weren’t so, then it would be a double-standard. If latinos freely opt to call themselves American in order to prove a point, how can they justify getting irked when estadounidenses call themselves American as well? That’s hipocracy. The only reason that Colombians or other latinos don’t refer to themselves as American more often is because they have another, more specific option in their language, whereas in English we do not have another nationality adjective for ourselves.

      Your argument that if a person introduces themself as American that it will not be clearly understood and that there would be “room for doubt” is faulty and a huge stretch, and your assertion that if one were to introduce themselves as American that this terminology would be vague and imprecise is laughable. Though many might not agree with the terminology, a person who introduces themself as American in any part of the world will unquestionably be understood to be from the United States because the nationality adjective American is in fact clear terminology.

      And as stated above, there are even people in the Western Hemisphere who would prefer not to be called American. Canadians would literally get offended if you were to call them American. Why? Because they (the Quebecois too) believe that Americans are from the United States.

      If however, one were to become confused at hearing someone introduce themself as American, and would subsequently wonder if that person is “saying I’m from North America, Central America, South America, saying I just returned from spending an extended time in the Americas, saying I’m a blonde with blue eyes, or saying I’m from the United States”, then I would question that individual’s intelligence and consider them to be completely misguidedly foolish, especially if they were to think that I’ve just returned from an “extended trip” to the Americas and for that reason I’m calling myself American.

      Point being, if a person from the United States travels to literally any continent or region in the world and proclaims in English that they’re American, any listener with half a brain would automatically understand that they’re from the United States. To assert that this would not be true is asoundingly ignorant. I’ve traveled the world, and not once has someone asked me after telling them that I’m American, “yeah, but what part, North, Central, or South America?”

      Likewise, you’ll never see a Colombian or other latino abroad introduce themselves as American because even they realize that people around the world would think that they’re from the United States. Like it or not, for better or worse, the American nationality adjective has stuck and is universally associated with people from the United States. At this point changing the terminology would confuse everyone you talk to, which would be the exact opposite of what you seem to want.

      In addition, there exist several different models or concepts of how many continents there are in the world, and a good number of the people in the world believe (rightly or wrongly) that there does not exist one single continent called America, but two separate continents called North America (Panama and up) and South America. It’s no use claiming that this is ignorance… it’s simply a different concept, and what literally millions of people around the world (and not only in the United States and Canada) learned in school and have grown up believing. Generally only latinos, with some exceptions, follow the “combined America” model.

      By the way, I didn’t know that all estadounidenses have blonde hair and blue eyes (I don’t), nor that they were all born in the United States (I wasn’t), nor that all people who self-identify as American are in fact US citizens (there are literally millions of illegal immigrants in the United States who rightly think of themselves as American).

    • John Knox Seagle was far more generous in his response (though absolutely correct) than I’ll be.

      Get an English dictionary, open it to the A’s, find the word “American”, and read the frigging definition. Whichever dictionary you have, one of the definitions will be, “a person of/from the United States of America” or paraphrased to that effect.

      On a side note, when Colombians ask me where I’m from or refer to my nationality, they use “americano” more often than they use “estadounidense” or “norteamericano”. I agree that it seems to only be an issue with latinos with an ideological axe to grind against the US who have a problem with the word “American”.

    • Anywhere in the world, when an American refers to himself as an American (or when anyone else asks whether one is American), the meaning is crystal-clear; smarmy protests to the contrary don’t change that fact one bit. When we say, “I am an American,” everyone knows what the hell we mean, and if they claim otherwise, then they’re creating a pointless dispute out of whole cloth. Whining about our supposed ignorance and arrogance, and then complaining and insulting us without justification, amounts to little more than picking a pointless argument with an American stranger who is most likely minding his own business.

      And what exactly is the complaint here? That Canadians are Americans too? Tell that to some burly Canadian on Hockey night and see what kind of reaction you get. Are Ticos Americans too? Well, no, they are most assuredly not, and don’t want to be regarded as Americans. Are Argentinians Americans too? And Mexicans? Don’t be ridiculous.

      Saying “Soy Americano” clearly and unambiguously signifies that I am an American (i.e, a citizen of the United States of America). The world is full of pedants who enjoy picking arguments about non-issues such as this. If they disapprove of my supposed “arrogance and ignorance” for referring to myself by my universally-known demonym, well then, I suppose I don’t like them much either.

      This “Americans aren’t really Americans” shtick is an embarrassingly ridiculous non-issue that’s most frequently raised by all-knowing college sophomores, by America-haters with chips on their shoulders, and by lefty academics with little else to do.

      Soy Americano y sabes exactamente lo que significa.

  9. i have been in country for 20 months or so since 2009. i feel what john says is spot on based on my personal experience. you can not argue what someone has experienced or what someone feels to be true. if you feel different and have different experiences, thats great.

    loans – doesn’t surprise me considering here in medellin if you show people money from other countries , offer to get them a beer at the bar just so they dont have to get up, they often think its a gift, its a sad part about the culture “in my opinion”, but all countries have things that are unique..

    bike lanes – i have a bell on my bike, which helps me when i am approaching a group of people who think both lanes are theirs and ignore the perfetly good sidewalk. however , on places like 65 in front of jumbo, i understand it because thats where the shade is on a hot day, but stay to one side wso people can pass.

    American – i sadly feel very uncomfortable with this and john was spot on. its sad that i cant call myself what i am but all other nationalities can do it here. that i had a great event ruined by some girl that decided to make a grand issue abut me calling myself american. i like the ideas expressed above about this topic, and it will help me going forward. i also just say i am from USA or united states, because i dont want problems, but it doesnt feel right.

    agressive/dangerous/rude drivers – Colombia does not own the market for such drivers, but the way people change here when behind the wheel or on a moto is unique in my opinion. some of the kindest people become jerks once they turn the ignition. i found it to be true and many others said the same, that as you move south on this continent, things improve.and i was shocked when people waved me across the street part of the time in Peru , after being in medellin for some time, i had almost forgotten that it was nomal in other places. have also been told that bogota and the “costena” region is worse as is venezuela compared to Medellin. crosswalks are like motorcycle helmets here = there is a law or way you are supposed to act, but its more of a “guideline” and not a real thing. the ´police in green dont care, and the transit police are rarely seen and only on the autopista or oriental typically. when i was on the bus to Tamesis, i asked my friend if it was legal for a driver to be eating food and using phones while driving, and she said NO(especially since he was taking corners at a high rate of speed while doing it, shifting gears, talking on the phone, and turning the wheel at th same time)). she said it was illegal, but that it was very common. i said “in the states, people call the numbers on work vehicles(how am i driving?) if people are driving bad and she replied that it was common here and that “its the culture”. thats the problem IN MY OPINION = people are too casual about it and they justify it. they say they dont like it but dont make an effort to change it. the country is changing in a great way, but some things are slow to change. such is life. PS i am from the states and ride bikes there and have 10 years experience as a delivery driver there including downtown deliveries with lots of sidewalk/crosswalk use, so i have experience and i know it is not perfect in the states, but its different than Colombia and i feel much safer in a crosswalk in the states typically..

  10. The American argument seems silly. We’re called the United States of America. Not just United States. We have America in our name. People from Dominican Republic call themselves Dominican not Dominican Republicanese. For a Canadian to call themselves American wouldn’t make sense. It’s not in their name.

  11. Ohh come on! You talk as if only the wealthiest of the wealthiest owned cars in Medellín, which is far from the truth. Just like in the US, middle class families have cars too, and yes, there are many owners with old and cheap cars. Sure, there is more poverty and poor people won’t be able to afford cars (no matter what country), but you don’t have to be rich to have a car. The bad driving problem is due to other factors, but I admit it is a problem.

    Also, you mentioned paisas don’t like to be told when they are wrong! Lol, I laughed at that because I feel the same about Americans. Maybe that’s just people in general any where. I notice it more with Americans, but maybe it is because it isn’t my native culture so I am more likely to disagree on certain points so there are more opportunies to think of the other as being “wrong”. I’ve had plenty of Americans lie in my face and give me very ilogical responses to arguments. At least the guy in your story admitted he was wrong, but simply felt “disrespected”. In my experiences, Americans have also felt “disrespected” but then won’t admit when they do something wrong.

    Overall this was pretty funny and entertaining to read though, and I liked the arguments you used in favor of being called American. I admit I prefer calling you United Statian, but no one before had presented such logical points to me before. So for that, I applaud you.