Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nice to meet you, I’m a Kyrgyz nuclear physicist

No matter where I go in Colombia, conversations almost always start with the other person asking me where I’m from. Even before I open my mouth to reply and my gringo-tinted accent reveals my foreign origins, my blond hair gives me away.

I tend to be most inundated with this question when I go dancing with Colombian friends in spots rarely frequented by foreigners. When I get asked to dance by an unknown Colombian, the first phrase out of his mouth is always a question about where I'm from. That is quickly followed by a comment on how well I can dance (though without saying what he's surely thinking: that I dance well…for a gringa), then by questions about how long I've been here, what I'm doing here, and if I like Colombia.

After dancing a few songs in which the dialogue is always the same, I often find myself getting bored, if not with the dancing then certainly with the conversation. To spice things up, I’ll sometimes invent a new identity for myself, saying that I'm from Sweden, or that I'm a psychologist.