It’s that time of the year again in Colombia: that sad time to get back to work.
After Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the ‘Dia de los Reyes’ (6th January – the Three Kings Day), Colombians make their way back into the cities: from the long holidays into the working routine. Always with that very uniquely blend of mild frustration with resignation that is so Colombian. However, Colombians do not have a lot to complain about. Not in this issue, at least. After all, Colombia is officially the country with more holidays in the world.
For foreigners, while at times this may prove to be frustrating (when you want to get things going at work), it ultimately ends up being funny. Just imagine. In a normal day, you get up and think about the work you need to get done, and suddenly a happy face introduces you to this very peculiar reality: “hoy no se trabaja – es festivo” (“no working today – it’s a holiday”). Curiously – and conveniently – enough, most holidays are moved to Mondays (“lunes festivos”), which means that the Colombian year has many longer weekends. What an incredible sense of opportunity Colombians have, right?
It gets funnier and more intriguing, though. If you ask around, in most cases, people do not even know what today’s or tomorrow’s holiday is about. They are just happy to celebrate it – and that’s something that Colombians are really good at. Make no mistake, though. If you think that you’ll find everything closed on a holiday in Bogotá, think again. Many shops, restaurants and supermarkets are open – the same happening on Sundays. Yes, it’s a holiday and most Colombians are happy about it and waste no time at enjoying it. However, contrary to what you could think, many are working and would not even dream about closing their businesses.
Come to think of it, this is not very surprising. Colombia is a country of many contrasts and Colombians are a charming people familiar with contradictions. It’s a holiday, but many Colombians work. It’s time to go back to work, but, while somewhat frustrated, no one gets too worked up about it. Someone is late, but no one gets too worried (or angry) about it. It’s the Colombian way of life: things can be great or not great at all, but everyone just keeps going, making the most of life as they possibly can at any given time. And they did not learn that from the ten best-selling self-help books, or from fancy and expensive meditation seminars. That’s just part of the Colombian culture – and you’ve got to admire that.
Written by: Miggy, check out his site for more from him.