Friday, October 10, 2008

Hardest Custom to Adjust to in Colombia

This is the second time I've participated in a group blogging exercise over at Just Married Chilean Style website

One of the hardest things for me to adjust to in Colombia was the superstition. My experience with this came directly from the family I was living with so I don't really know if it was unique to this family or if it was a "Colombian" thing.

My Colombian Mama taught me (and had taught her children) that if we ever saw a strange or scary looking man approaching we should hold the thumb and pointer finger of each hand together (sort of like the way you hold your hands when practicing Yoga mediation saying "om") until the threat passed. She assured me that this would ward the evil doers and their nasty intentions off. Although I was skeptical, I had plenty of opportunity to act on this. Was it this pose that kept me safe in Colombia or was it fate? I'll never know.

This very same endearing lady told me that when she was pregnant for her youngest child (about five months along) one day while she was walking she passed by the most horrific looking cow one day. The cow, as she described it, was one of the most horrific looking and ugly creatures on all of earth. It was a dirty yellow cow with a black splotch mark on one of its legs that was so unsightly she could barely stand the sight of it. That was why her daughter was born with the exactly same ugly splotch of a birthmark on her leg!! I played along with this one but it was a really tough one to swallow. But hey, maybe there is something to this?!

Then there was the bean counting deal. I can't remember exactly what this was about but it had something to do with it being a certain Saints day and the (Catholic) tradition was to begin counting beans at a certain hour and continue counting until you reached 1,000 of them or something. If you counted the beans as such, the Saint would protect you for one more year (or something like that).

I do admit that at times I can be a little superstitious. Like my last trip to Chile, when Kyle and I were trying to figure out dates for my visit I had my choice of flying down on Friday, June 13th or the following Friday, June 20th. We both agreed right away on the 20th. But if I hadn't had any other option I would have flown on Friday the 13th anyway.

The superstitions that my Colombian mother exposed me to were a whole new level that I could never quite embrace.


Sara said...

The superstitions you mention sound like something out of Garcia Marquez novel. Did you ask her if she was a fan?

kumichan83 said...

Well Sara, that would make sense since Garcia Marquez got a lot of his ideas from the superstitions and folk tales of his Colombian grandparents!

Hehe, this reminds me of my Chilean mother-in-law. She has some pretty wacky superstitions. She said she saw Spock on TV when she was pregnant with her daughter and started to worry deeply that she would be born with Spock ears and what do you know, her daughter has spock-like ears!
She also told me that my daughter would get sick if strangers stared at her too long. I try to be open-minded and think of these things as cultural beliefs but it gets tough at times!

Shannon said...

ahahah! I love to hear about the strange superstitions. I don't think I have heard anything too weird here in Chile. But, my husband (boyfriend at the time) called me all worried one day when I was in the States and he had just gone to his friend's brother's wedding. He told me, "baby, I have to get married soon! I have to!" I thought he was drunk and asked him what the heck he was talking about, we had only been dating 6 months was he crazy!?! He said, "baby I caught that thing. That thing the bride wears on her leg." I said "so what? that just means you will be the next in the room to get married and that even is just some stupid thing"
he told me no, if he doesn't get married really soon, he is going to have bad luck for the rest of his life and will probably never get married. I just laughed. We are married now and probably soon enough cuz I don?t think he has bad luck!! I can't say I believe this crap though. I stepped in a big pile of dog doo and I'm still waiting for the fortune I am supposed to get!

Emily said...

Haha, I love the story of the cow. I think my only superstition is that I don't like to open umbrellas indoors. Oh, and when someone spills salt, I throw some over my left shoulder. But no strange yoga hands :)

Mamacita Chilena said...

It sounds like the superstitions in Colombia are a lot stronger than in Chile. I mean, there are little things here that Chileans believe but I haven't heard anyone sound as passionate as your host mom sounds about really believing in a superstition.

Anne said...

Hi Rita,

After a little poking around, I was so thrilled to find you here! I read a few of your posts and you still crack me up. I'd love to catch up. Sorry to write here in your comments, but didn't know how else to contact you.

Anne Bohl, your old pal from Stryker

Anne said...

Hmmm, contact info would be good wouldn't it? anne dot bohl at yahoo dot com. Hope to talk to you soon!