When Speaking Spanish Doesn’t Serve

Mark is a gringo buddy in Bogota. Joey‘s a friend from St. Louis. Tetona’s the girl I was seeing at the time of this story.

We all went out drinking on August 5. I remember the date because Colombia had just beaten South Korea in the World Cup U-20, which was hosted in Colombia this year. Hosting the tournament was a great honor for this historically troubled country, and the Colombian team had a good squad, so there was a tremendous amount of energy throughout Bogota and Colombia.

Tetona, Joey, and I went to meet Mark at the Carulla at Calle 85 and Carrera 15 in Zona Rosa. They have a giant screen displayed over almost a square block for the masses to get drunk while watching the game. Mark’s from Canada, so I don’t believe he gave a shit about soccer before going expat. However he adopted it and is now a passionate fan. He bought a Colombian jersey he wears every time the national selection plays, and was wearing it on this night.

Joey and I, on the other hand, don’t give a shit about soccer. I like the energy when the national team plays, so I’m down to party. It’s nice to meet a bunch of friends for beer and guaro with the game in the background. But I don’t necessarily want to watch soccer.

That’s why Joey, Tetona, and I were late in meeting Mark at the Carulla. We arrived just as the game ended. Colombia won, so everybody was going crazy and blowing these obnoxious fucking horns. If I could change anything about Colombian soccer fans, it’d be the obnoxious horns they blow. They’re not bad if someone’s not blowing one right next to you. They actually add to the energy and vibe if they’re going off in your exterior perimeter. But if you go to the heart of the action where thousands of fans were just watching Colombia win, the horns are enough to make your temper short.

I had to get away from the horns so the four of us headed south on 15. Six or seven blocks later it was OK. Mark was already wasted from drinking beer and guaro with strangers. Joey and I tried to catch up. We chose a small bar with a patio.

Next to our table were a group of three girls in nursing outfits. I had Tetona but I was trying to help hungry homies, so I started a conversation. Our groups merged. The boys and girls in play included Mark, Joey, a slim OK looking girl, a chubby but cute girl, and another girl I don’t remember at all.

Joey is what I’d call “devastatingly handsome.” Any time you’re out on the hunt and meeting girls, one of the girls is always going to want Joey. It’s inevitable. One night at a salsero I was talking up a couple girls and got bored. I told him to practice his Spanish with them for a minute while I go pour guaro down my throat. I was gone for 3 minutes at most, and when I came back one of the girls was rubbing his arm up and down and staring into his eyes, completely hypnotized by his looks. Some dudes got it like that.

NO HOMO but I’m quite confident women find Mark handsome, but not irresistibly handsome. Women don’t throw themselves at him like they do at Joey, but Mark definitely does well. He’s got game. He’s banged women in bar bathrooms, he’s been with a significant number, he’s no chump.

Chubbs took a liking to Joey, so told me Tetona. She said Chubbs licked her lips while looking at him, and that’s a sure sign. Joey’d been in town a week at most and spoke no Spanish. But if you look like him it doesn’t matter.

Mark, who’s been in South America just over a year, didn’t speak much Spanish when we first started hanging out. But he’s taken classes and been immersed in the language, so he’s starting to speak.

These girls turned out to be gynecology students. Mark started joking about their job. He imitated looking into a vagina, and used his arms to demonstrate spreading the walls and turning his head all about to look around. Latin men, while they can be hilarious to party with, have a different sense of humor. Latin women aren’t used to jokes like that, and these Latinas’ reaction was positive. Slim-N-OK seemed interested in Mark.

Mark’s behavior didn’t let up. At some point he was proclaiming that he worked as a stripper. He stood up and demonstrated what he told them was his main move. He stands over the woman’s head, then he squatted down so his ass came to his ankles. He squatted down several times to his ankles and explained he picks up bills from women’s mouths with his ass cheeks. He mimicked the motion of picking up bills with ass cheeks. I was laughing my ass off. The girls were shocked but excited.

Our server told us the bar was closing. It was time to move on. Chubbs definitely wanted Joey, and Slim-N-OK was interested enough in Mark that she was willing to come with us to the next bar. The Forgettable-One went home.

I chose the next bar, Cafe Sirope at Calle 60 and Octava in Chapinero. It’s a lounge and primarily a date spot. It has hip decor and good music with videos. It’s the kind of music upper-class Colombians listen to (think Manu Chao).

So the six of us – me, Tetona, Joey, Chubbs, Mark, and Slim-N-OK – found a taxi willing to let all of us pile in. I usually sit in front because I’m the tallest, but for whatever reason I had the back-left-window seat with Tetona on my right. Joey sat in front. Chubbs and Slim-N-OK sat to the right of Tetona, and after they’d squeezed in, Mark dove in on top of their laps. His arms rested on Tetona’s lap, his head almost reaching the space in front of me.

As soon as Slim-N-OK, who was sitting next to the right-side window, closed the door, Mark screamed, “AAAAGGGHHHH, ¡¡¡mi dedo de pie!!!”

He kept screaming as the taxi started toward 60 and 8th, “¡Mi dedo de pie, hijueputa!”

Still screaming “¡Mi dedo de pie!” (my toe!), he turned to see the girls under him and said, “¡Voy a cagar!” I’m going to shit!

He went on, “Voy a cagar en tu cara (I’m going to shit in your face) … Voy a cagar rojo (I’m going to shit red) … ¡Sangre, sangre! (Blood, blood!) … Voy a cagar sangre en tu cara (I’m going to shit blood in your face) … Cancer, vas a ver mi cancer! (Cancer! You’re going to see my cancer!) … ” Everybody, except Joey but including the taxi driver, understood everything Mark said.

I implored him in English to chill out. He switched to English, and completely moderated his tone to tell me in English with a straight face, “You have no idea how much my toe hurts.” I said something and he replied, “You see that light that’s on?” I noticed that the interior light of the taxi above our heads was indeed on. “That’s because of my toe,” he explained, implying the back-right door hadn’t shut all the way because his toe had impeded its closing.

His moderate English tone immediately went back to crying out in Spanish for the few more minutes until we arrived at 60 and 8th. I ushered everyone into the spot. It was empty, we had the place to ourselves. I chose a table near the back which had three sofas. Tetona and I settled into the one in the corner. The two gynecology students sat down and I noticed their new vibe – very defensive. They had sat down next to each other on the middle couch.

Joey had bee-lined to the bathroom before I’d even picked a table, and Mark was last to the table. The third sofa had no arms, and Mark stretched out onto it in a lying position with his feet next to the girls’ sofa. He spread his legs out, opening his crotch, and casually laid his head in his hands. Looking at the girls, he stuck out his tongue in a licking motion. I couldn’t hold back my laughter. He was sexually taunting them. The girls didn’t find it funny. Their defenses intensified.

Joey came to the table, surprised and disappointed at the seating arrangement. What can you do? I poured beer into my face.

Mark sat up and Joey sat down. I poured beer into my face. Small talk was attempted. It lasted for a beer or two. The shot clock was winding down, and when Slim-N-OK went to the bathroom Joey made his move. He switched couches to position himself next to Chubbs and slapped his hand down on her thigh. I started kissing Tetona to take some attention off.

There was certainly a peck, and maybe a quick tongue kiss between the two. But soon Slim-N-OK returned and had to sit down next to Mark. Her mood affected Chubbs and it was decided they had to go. We asked for the check. I must’ve gone to the bathroom, because I never heard Mark ask Tetona to put the check box in her purse.

Cafe Sirope is a fine lounge, maybe even a “hipster” place on gringo standards. They have elegant boxes to present the check – I’d describe them as painted “jewelry boxes” in English. Tetona put the box in her purse while I was in the bathroom.

When I came back we sorted out the bill and left. In the taxi, I don’t remember what Mark said but Tetona speaks perfect English. Whatever he said angered her, and she hit him over the head with the box several times. I didn’t know what she was hitting him with. I found out later when we got back to my place she showed me the jewelry box.

When we all got out near my place, Mark got in an argument with the taxi driver over the previously agreed-upon fare. Mark insulted him in Spanish, and the taxi driver insulted him verbally and manually before driving off. The girls were so ostracized that Joey barely got a kiss before they were both in a taxi headed home. Mark was pissed about the taxi and all he spent, but I couldn’t stop laughing. We all went our own ways.

After Tetona left the next morning, I called Mark to tell him how he shot himself in the foot and also how funny he was the night before. He said he didn’t care because the girls were “fat and ugly.”

I returned the jewelry box to Cafe Sirope.

Ever since that night, I’ve sincerely complimented Mark on his progress in Castellano. That’s how, if you’re genuinely an asshole, IT DOESN’T SERVE TO SPEAK SPANISH.

P.S. Mark regularly leaves negative comments on this site under his real name. Feel free to rip him up!

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  1. i had so many more women befre i learned to speak spanish that sometimes i pretend not to speak it. Colin, are you interested in starting a money making expat blog about making money while abroad?


  2. haha I can imagine I might play dumb in some cases, if I spoke spanish but did not want to reveal that.

    “I’m going to shit blood in your face, you’re going to see my cancer…”

    seriously, I don;t know why that shit didn’t work. Those lines get me laid in the states all the time LOL

    Good story man, good job takin care of the homies. I’d love to hear some more about the new girl


  3. If you are reading this blog outside of Colombia, you are getting a false representation of Colombia. All these dirty scumbags hang out in the cheap, backpacker part of town where of course there are sluttly ugly chicks. There IS a rich community of foreigners here…go to the Zona T and you will find buttloads of hot hot hot rich chicks. This website is designed for scummish backpackers who go to a certain bar because the beer is 8 cents cheaper. You get what you pay for. Suck it backpackers.


  4. Steve, def something to not speaking Spanish being more attractive to women down here. When they hear me talk they instantly know I’ve been down here a long time, and that’s almost a turnoff for some of them. It seems we know each other but I have no idea who you are. Send me an email to webmaster at expat-chronicles dot com.

    Will, even if they can afford it, not everybody’s willing to pay for all the drinks and meals for some gringo-hunting brichera. Be like me and start having your girl come out her pocket, see if she still likes you. Pulling ass in a developing country doesn’t change the fact that you’re a geek. Also, estratos 5 and 6 make up 3% of the population. So if anyone’s getting a false representation, it’s those who see only that tiny, affluent bubble of safety and security. FINALLY, what the Colombians in Zona T have in bread, the Colombians in Cafe Sirope have in taste. The crem of Chapinero. I highly recommend the spot if you have the sac to go south of 72.


  5. Zona T is a double winner; more obnoxious than South Beach, and more expensive. It that’s your idea of Colombia, save the airfare and stay in Amerika, at least the food’s better in Miami.


  6. yeah, since i’m on my way back down to peru for a year i’ve been hanging out a little at the expatperu forum, and i just cant beleieve all these guys who are headed to peru to meet the “love of their life”. which, to their credit they freely admit they’ve never met the person in real life, speak no spanish and are using google translate to figure out what is being said.

    i cant explain how much this bothers me. i never say anything to hurt their feelings, but its like . . . “dude, this is how it works in countries with no social security”. i mean c’mon, to get a woman in peru you pretty much just have to go outside; they’ll do the rest.

    in fact i’ve come to the opinion that they will either love you for being a foreigner or hate you for being a foreigner. and that either way the relationship is non-organic. i’m sure thats not true, but it’s hard to notice the ones that are indifferent. a weak person could easily get caught up with the chics that are aggressive and whistle; some of them are pretty hot. but i just smile, act confused, and say dumb things “si, me gusta esta sonido tam bien”. then they look at me like i’m an idiot. women do this to me and sometimes in the presence of men – i never understood that. wouldn’t happen in a million years in mexico.

    this one chic was with a dude and asked if i wanted “foyer” i said “puess . . . porque no? el es muy guapo”. it’s a shame i can’t share all the fun i have fucking with these people.


  7. I think that when a girl likes it when you don’t speak her language, BE CAREFUL. Colombian women are beautiful but they are also vicious ruthless predators… they could very easily use the language barrier as a way to manipulate and squeeze someone for whatever they’re worth….


  8. “¡Mi dedo de pie, hijueputa!”

    “Voy a cagar en tu cara (I’m going to shit in your face) … Voy a cagar rojo (I’m going to shit red) … ¡Sangre, sangre! (Blood, blood!) … Voy a cagar sangre en tu cara (I’m going to shit blood in your face) … Cancer, vas a ver mi cancer! (Cancer! You’re going to see my cancer!) … ”

    me di vueltas en el piso leyendo esto (rolled on the floor laughing at this shit!)


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