Speaking of offensive ways to get people’s attention, I never wrote about one of the most surprising forms of address down here. This would be when I walk down the street and someone asks me for the time, directions, anything, and they get my attention by calling “Mona!” or “Monkey!” Yup, that’s right, I get called monkey on an almost daily basis. And although my first inclination on hearing this isn’t to turn around with a smile on my face, I’ve learned that there is absolutely no ill-will borne with the word.
It’s not a foreigner/local thing either; anyone who is light skinned will likely be referred to as mona/mono. I have no idea what the history behind this term is, but I did recently find out that Colombians actually use a different word when talking about the animal. And I do think that any Colombian leaving the country should be forewarned that referring to people as monkey will likely not be as well-received elsewhere!