Summary: they are a little afraid of us. There are far fewer foreigners in Barranquilla than Medellin, Bogota and Cartagena.
Medellin People Don’t “switch gears” When Interacting with You
This applies to Bogota as well. In Barranquilla, I notice that people kind of pause, and consider carefully once they see, or hear, that you are not Colombian. They sometimes mainly stop talking altogether. Sometimes they don’t really respond. They will occasionally clam up. They are really not sure how they should behave around a foreigner. In Medellin, people just keep on trucking: either they don’t pay you much mind, or just proceed in their affairs with you just the way they would have if you had not been a foreigner. I hate the cloudiness of Medellin, and want to affirm that on the whole I DO still prefer Barranquilla to Medellin.
Barranquilla people are really quite “nice and friendly”: they can get rubbed the wrong way by hard-charging First-worlders
They’ve all seen the television and Netflix shows. They’re undoubtedly well-aware that most north Americans live and think in a way rather different than themselves. Is it that they are embarrassed by their simple good natured way of being? I’m not sure. I’m mainly concerned here with the WHAT as opposed to the WHY.
You might be the first foreigner they have ever met or interacted with.
If you have occasion to interact with one on a repeated basis, you’ll notice that once they get the chance they’ve got a thousand questions for you. Perhaps not a thousand, but you catch my drift. An example is one of the small stores near my apartment. After going in three or four times, the owner decided to ask me where I live. I explained just around the corner. And the it was question after question. I believe I was the first foreigner she had ever met.
Some of the young (and old sometimes too) men will feel aggression (it is the other side of fear).
I notice that some of the younger men, will slightly lash out towards you in very minor passive aggressive ways. It could be a titled tone of voice, or failure to acknowledge something you’ve said, etc.. It has been said elsewhere, the Barranquilla is kind of a closed place. That could be so, I’m here on the outside looking in.
People in Medellin have more “cultural self-esteem”, for lack of a better term.
Barranquilla people aren’t sure they’re doing things the way they should. With Paisas, they’re quite content to do things their way, or you can find the highway. In a sense this is a relief, I don’t have to worry about rubbing them the wrong way or stepping on their glass toes, the way I feel compelled in Barranquilla.