Breaking Up with Colombian Spanish

After a beautiful two-year relationship with Colombia and one year with a certain remarkable Colombian, I have now left both. Life can change so rapidly, and mine is no exception. Leaving a place and person that I loved was so difficult . . . is so difficult. Although I had to do so, both are losses that afflict me deeply, losses that bring much grief. Bueno. Now you know.

Although the temptation is to curl up in a ball forever and lick my wounds in a cave somewhere, listening to Silvio Rodríguez all day long, I desire serenity. It would be easy to simply throw in the towel with this blog, seeing as most of its original premises no longer stand– I no longer live in Colombia, I am no longer surrounded by Colombian Spanish and thus can’t lay claim to any kind of “in the streets” stamp of authenticity, and I no longer have that “endlessly patient and self-sacrificing” Colombian boyfriend to answer all my questions and double-check my assertions here. At this point, anything I share about Colombia will be drawn from remembrances. As for what I learn in the future, God only knows where it might come from. Will anyone still care?

Amid thoughts of the relationship, I’ve also thought a lot about my relationship with Colombian Spanish. And, people, all I can say is that I adore Colombian Spanish. I always will. This is the Spanish I imbibed during my long Spanish infancy, the Spanish I nursed on, later cut my teeth on, scraped my knees with, and was shaped and formed by. I hope I never lose my strong Colombian accent. I was so content to have been able to move on from “universal,” textbook Spanish to a regional variant, proudly hanging my hat there to appropriate its sparklingly alive words and phrases and then have them effortlessly flow out of me. It was so relevant and befitting to learn Colombian Spanish because it was what I was immersed in. I lived in Colombia. I loved in Colombia. I spoke with Colombians every day. What did I care about slang in Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, or any other place? I gladly relinquished all of it. It was so wonderful to dedicate myself to this one thing, to box myself in and have focus. And now that box is gone, and I’m cast at sea again. Here in the US, I’ll be surrounded by Mexican Spanish, Central American Spanish, all the other Spanishes, and, yes, Spanglish. It would be silly for me to use the more colorful phrases and words I subsisted on in Colombia. It’s time for me to open my mind a little, open my heart, and let go of my favoritism. I need to become a Jill of all Spanishes, probably a master of none. And . . . big sigh . . . that’s okay.

I have no idea what this will look like, but I will continue to share as I learn. In case you envied me before and thought oh, well sure it’s easy to become fluent in Spanish when you live in a Spanish-speaking country, but not everyone has that luxury, harumph… Well, now we’re on a level playing field. I absolutely had an advantage, no doubt about it. I was learning Spanish like crazy, and it wasn’t easy. And now we’ll see just how well I keep it up stateside and single.

This blog is actually an incredible source of happiness for me. I derive a great deal of satisfaction talking about Spanish, talking in Spanish, sharing what I’ve learned, helping others, showing off a little bit (I admit it), and hearing back from readers. I’m inordinately enamored with Spanish–¿no se me nota? And, thus, to keep myself positive in the next few challenging months, I hope to not fall into a slump but rather kick into overdrive, flourishing with ideas and motivation.

I will still listen to Silvio all day long, though.


17 responses to “Breaking Up with Colombian Spanish

  1. O.O

    I’m tempted to ask “What happened?”, but I guess that you would prefer to keep it private…

    In any case I hope you won’t let your Spanish die. It would be a great waste :(


    • You are right; it is private. I don’t feel like weeping all over my laptop in any case.

      Thank you so much for expressing care and good wishes. Spanish is inextricably intertwined with the deepest part of who I am, so no worries about me “letting” it die. That could never happen, fortunately.


  2. Me siento a leer tus malas noticias. Deseo hacer algo para ayudar, pero acepto que no puedo hacer mucho. Espero que podría seguir este blog. Me gusta tu blog mucho y no quiero decir adios a ti or tu blog. De todas formas, Espero que todo sera bien pronto


  3. whatwhileweslept

    I suppose, like any “calling,” your adventures in/with Spanish will morph into the right forms, wherever you find yourself. Can’t wait to watch those “right forms” develop … so keep blogging, KT.


  4. “Will anyone still care?” I’ll definitely still care, Katie. I’ve been really enjoying your blog! I’m very sorry to hear your news but make sure you you continue Vocabat, albeit with a different spin.

    I can safely assure you that the internet offers an absolute myriad opportunites to continue with Spanish of any type or flavour from a distance. Can’t get much further from países hispanohablantes than Australia! For example, I’m currently working with a tutora excelente from Mexico three hours per week. Favourite word learnt from her recently: galgódromo…. jejeje, makes me laugh just typing it again….


    • Michael,

      Thank you so much for caring. That one simple line nearly moved me to tears. As you are probably the only person who reads this blog to have known me and F, your kindness and compassion mean a lot to me.

      And thanks for the encouragement. Yes, it will be good for me to branch out. Your positive attitude and hard work are such a great example. Cheers.


  5. Above all, continue talking spanish like a Colombian. I believe I’m not the first(or last) to say it is how spanish should be spoken. As for your change of venue; embrace the future and cherish your memories.
    Mazel tov.


    • Normally I would argue and say, oh, come on, let’s admit we’re biased. Today I’ll simply agree with you and say that, yes, Colombian Spanish is clearly superior to all other forms. Pero voy a necesitar de la ayuda de todos ustedes para seguir hablando como una colombiana.

      Y gracias por las palabras reconfortantes. Sí, muchos buenos recuerdos. Y sé que el futuro me va a deparar muchos más.


  6. Sorry to hear about your troubles, but I am glad you are going to continue powering on with Spanish. Coincidentally I have also lost my native Colombian, but am going to stick it out in Bogotá a bit longer. Silvio and despecho for us it is.


    • I’m sorry to hear that, Syd, blogging friend. I hope you keep writing.

      I especially recommend “Te doy una canción.” I will raise a glass of wine in your direction. Un abrazo.


  7. Very sorry to hear the sad news.

    I would love to continue to hear more about the Spanish that you hear, be it Colombian or not.


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