Ustedes son todos monos?
I looked puzzled at the old man which supposedly should led me to my taxi. I had just arrived to the airport of Bogota; exhausted, and tried. All my senses were at their maximum alert. I had no clue whether this man was an authorized taxi driver or not. And the least, I wanted was to be caught up in an airport scam.
I tried to politely ask him how one could see the difference between authorized taxis and non-authorized. He answered briefly that the authorized ones would have a name tag in the window, and then return to his initial question:
Ustedes son todos monos?
Was he really asking what I thought? I had learned mono means monkey in Spanish – and my Spanish isn’t bad at all. So, was he really asking whether everyone in Denmark is monkeys? How rude was it to ask whether everyone in my country is monkeys?! Wouldn’t that also indicate that I was a monkey, or what? Was I really acting that blond and stupid…
I paused for a bit, not wanting to seem too insecure about the situation, and kept the polite tone as I answered. I didn’t want to annoy this man as I still had not figured out whether or not I had been a subject to an airport scam. I replied that well, for me we are pretty normal people.
He didn’t seem that satisfied with my answer, and repeated the question. “Well, no, we are not!”, I answered. I don’t think he believed me but at least he gave up on me.
Minutes later we were at the second floor taxi parking where an officially looking yellow taxi was waiting for me. Everything was nice and in order. No airport scram. And the taxi driver was a nice and chatty guy. However, I kept on being puzzled about the monkey thing but didn’t really wanting to ask the taxi driver about it either.
Days later I learned that in Colombia mono is used to referring to a white person! Not a monkey!
So, remember to check out these 5 usefully phrases before you travel to Colombia!
My Spanish is terrible because I’m just learning it but I would have thought as well that he was talking about monkeys. I really want to go to Colombia next year so thanks for sharing that story at least you didn’t get scammed 🙂
Hi Becky! Thanks for your comment!
Yeah, I know, it was such a confussing situation! But I though it was important to share since I can only image how I would have freaked out if my Spanish was less than it is (I study solely in Spanish at the university..). I’m happy to hear that you liked the story, and found it useful! And look forward to visiting Colombia, it was AMAZING! It you have time when you are there, try to make it to Jardin, a small “pueblo” in the mountains outside Medellin. That was one of the most magical experiences when I visited (will be posting about it soon).
Good to know that in Colombia I’m a mono :-). I may make it to Colombia next year and should I meet that old man, I will think of you.
Exactly, right? I was so confused!! You should definitely go to Colombia if you have time! It was a great country to travel in!
Because you are a woman you wouldn’t be a mono as that is masculine, you would be a mona (feminine). If you are referring to a group than yes you would use the term monos.
Hi Liliana! Thank you for your visit to the blog and for your clarification! You are, of course, 100% right! 🙂
Hi Rebecca, I’m actually from Colombia and would like to clarify something…. When we say “mono” refering to a person we mean that the person is blonde…. Not necessarily white… And since you are a woman you would be “Mona”. Hope you come back to my beautiful country!
Thank you so much for dropping by my blog! And thanks for the clarification! Of course, I would be a “mona”, however, the driver asked about Danes in plural, therefore I quoted “Ustedes son todos monos”. I highly appreciate your clarification. I hope to come back to Colombia one day too! Saludos