- Measuring height: To show someone how tall someone else is, in Colombia you don't put your hand out flat palm facing downwards. Instead, you turn your hand to the side thumb facing the ceiling and little finger towards the floor. To do it the way I'm used to is only used to measure animals! Be careful not to accidentally imply that someone is a pig!
- Pointing: In Colombia, you don't point with your hand or head when you are feeling lazy or don't want to be too obvious, but with your lips. They literally pout their lips in a certain direction with eyes wide open. This results in people looking like they want to kiss you when actually they want you to 'look over there'!
- Come here/go away: In Europe we tend to signal for someone to come to us with our palm up and moving our fingers or hand towards us and for 'go away', it tends to be the opposite, palm down and move fingers or whole hand away for you. In Colombia the 'come here' motion is the 'go away' one I am used to, so when people are telling me to come to them, I think they are telling me to go away!
- Sounds: Colombians are masters of expressive sounds that replace words. My favourites I have picked up on so far are: 'uyyy' meaning 'wow' or 'oh my god'; 'aha' for 'yes'; a very loud, short and growly 'HMM' for an emphasised 'yes' or 'of course'; a high pitched and short 'hm' for 'I don't know', often accompanied with the lifting their shoulders slightly, flicking their wrists upwards and doing a quick upside-down smile; a slow, from low to high 'mmmmMMMMM' (which we may associate with a 'yummy' sound) meaning 'ah I see' or 'oh really'; a high pitched ascending 'oooooOOOO' accompanied with lifting your arm up above your shoulder meaning 'you have no idea', or 'yes, very/lots'; and lastly, what we would see as a 'yes' sound 'mhm' as a sort of greeting when you enter rooms with people you have already seen that day, or to just fill a silence.
- Flicky wrist: The most common gesture in Colombia has to be the flicking your wrist upwards hand gesture. Colombians do it all the time. In fact, below is a photo of the Colombian Miss Universe doing it. They do it just all the time when they are talking, I can't figure out quite why yet. I will keep you posted!
In any culture different to your own, there will undeniably be differences in the way people express themselves and learning a language is not just about the grammar and pronunciation. Since this is the longest time I have spent in a foreign country, I have really got to know the gestures and other ways that Colombians communicate. They really are fascinating and make English speakers seem quite boring!