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[Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.]
‘Being alone in Colombia is such a waste.’
That was the reaction of one Facebook user to my recent post, ‘Set on singlehood‘. What particularly caught my attention was the inclusion of ‘Colombia’.
‘Quite a catch’
If one very much believes in companionships/relationships then, one would think, the location should have little to do with it — unless we’re talking about a hermit monastery or the like, where the whole idea is to live in solitude.
Exchanging a few messages with the commenter, his general sentiment became clearer. Basically, people from high-income countries living in Colombia aren’t utilising all their “advantages” if they remain single.
It is true that some, nay many, Colombians have a preconception that those originally from the wealthier Western nations live a more comfortable life and have greater access to a host of resources compared to the average local here. (However, as I touched on in ‘Making ends meet in Colombia‘, this is all relative.)
‘It plays into this belief that exists in some quarters that Colombia is a sex-tourism destination.’
Thus, for a Colombian looking to improve his/her lot, on the face of it, hooking up with such a foreigner could pay dividends — not just in monetary terms but in overall quality of life. So, it could be said, the foreigner often gets first refusal in the dating game.
For our Facebook commenter, with this advantage and as long as the majority of the other relationship essentials are in place — no biggy that! — it should be relatively easy for the high-income-nation native to find a partner in these parts.
Mentioning the other relationship essentials and to be fair to our Facebook commenter, he did insist that with his significant other, a Colombiana, it’s not all about money. She pays her way. We’ll take him at his word.
The wages of love
Yet, a male foreigner’s notion that ‘being alone in Colombia is such a waste’ appears to bring with it an innuendo that the country’s women are simply waiting for a “rich” saviour from overseas to arrive and lead them to salvation.
It has little or nothing to do with love and romance, more to do with prudence. (Yes, there’s an element of that at play in all relationships yet in this case the need for genuine affection is hardly a factor at all.)
It also plays into this belief that exists in some quarters — not without reason, of course — that Colombia is a sex-tourism destination.
Most of us have seen those couples, usually an older man with a much younger woman, where love doesn’t exactly appear to be the primary fuel keeping the passions burning.
Such a sight might be more pronounced in the likes of Thailand but it’s certainly not alien to Colombia either (from memory, it did seem more obvious in balmy tourist spots such as Cartagena and Medellín compared to a somewhat frigid Bogotá).
Should I tie myself up here romantically in the near future, I can rest assured that it would not be because of money. With a personality like mine, who needs wads of cash, eh?
I did not, obviously enough, relocate to Colombia with the sole intention of finding a partner. Indeed, for better or for worse — more so the latter in many instances — I came here without any real plan at all.
So being romantically alone — for the record, I do have solid local friendships — is not something I see as a major setback. Right now, my greater concern is in finding a route to a more comfortable living financially speaking rather than hooking up.
Of course, one could lead to the other. I’m less convinced, though, that my current modus operandi in Colombia represents a good chance of either happening, whether that’s a waste or not.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.