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Retire Medellin Colombia Adventure day trip Travels

Hello this is Russell, today in this video I wish to tell you about all the places you can go starting from Medellin as your “base camp”.   Adventure Travel to other close countries and day trip out of the Valley Medellin to close cities you should visit.  A few hobbies you may wish to consider too, all possible as your new life begins here, today from what I call my Base Camp the Valley of Eternal Spring Medellin Colombia.

Take a peek at this video, the entire list of links mentioned in this YouTuber are listing at the bottom, scroll down.

ADVENTURE TRIPS WITH LNKS BELOW Know a travel spot you have found, send me a photo and note glad to add your adventure to the list.

These are in no special order. My personal list when someone ask “what to do”, we start down the list to decide.

Cartagena old city and Spanish Fort
Bogota Salt Mines Zipaquira and Nemocon
Santa Fe and the oldest suspension bridge in South America worth a visit
Coffee Tour day trip out of Medellin and a longer coffee tour to Armenia
Rio Claro Caves and river fun
Bike riding, road bikes and mountain biking the old rail road trails and tunnels, Friday nite city meet-up tour easy ride
Hang Gliders Para Gliders
Churches, photography, stain glass art windows from Europe, pipe organs
the ROCK
Churches way too many to count
San Andres Island seven shades of blue waters
San Blas Islands over 400 of them just off the coast of Colombia
Turtles La Cuevita Beach
Bird Watching Just out of Medellin is the Warbler Reserve in the coffee plantations, Yellow one name? Red head one too
Sierra Nevada lost city
Death Road Mountain Bike Trek
Chile Milky Way Stars photography tour Atacama Desert
Chile Wine Region
Argentina Wine Region
Peru Train Trip to Machu Picchu & overnight at base cheap hotel
Costa Rica Surf Camp and the best rain forrest ZIP line tours anywhere.
Horse back riding around Medellin countryside
Jardin city more caves, waterfalls, gondola, horses, quad trek
Bolivar coffee day trip
Cuba Havana has daily flight from Medellin, visit for a day n back
Aruba Island flight from Medellin
Flower grower tour “how they get from seed to your supermarket”
Coffee tour what I call “earth to cup” complete coffee plantation tour two days
Wild Bee Honey trek “how to get gather your own honey”
Jeep back country trek
Quad back country trek
Sailing private charter Cartagena to San Blas fly back from Panama
Santa Marta beach park
Amazon Rain Forest & Amazon River origin
Caribbean coast
Mud Baths Volcano hot mud Cartagena and Arboletts
La Miel Beach & Capurgana beach travel ‘white sandy beaches” Sapzurro waterfall
Bahia Solano-El Valle Deep Sea Fishing some of the finest in the world plus Humpback whales with their young
Necocil first city the Spanish landed 1509
Gold Mine Town Marmato 80km north of Manizales
Suroeste Antioqueno waterfall Magaio en Conocordia Church Caramanta inside view

see my book for all most 100 things to do in city Medellin in the book section, photos, maps and details

Retirement Visa to Colombia How to Retire Colombia Cheap

Hello this is Russell.  The YouTuber video below is my introduction of myself and to give you a bit of information on Medellin Colombia so you may discover the Valley of Eternal Spring for yourself, come for a visit you may never leave.

Retirement Visa help is available from several friends locally in Medellin, PLUS I can help you with all your VISA paperwork and Investment VISA services too for 2014. . Retirement Visa for USA citizen in Colombia was free in 2013, now changed to less than $300. for 2014.    Compare this  all most “free” $300. to other retirement places, Costa Rica $2300. Panama $2,000, Thailand $1,000. Philippines will take a CD $10,000 or stay unto two years now on a Tourist Visa in Philippines new for 2014,  Belize now requires a deposit of $24,000 a year, the list goes on, when you can have it all in Colombia, the friendly people, great weather, awesome food and cheap housing all await your retirement to the valley were everyday is “Spring” !

We are in the process of posting over a hundred more “how to move to Colombia” videos.  In the mean time here my BOOK<  Retire Colombia Cheap is in print at Amazon, Barns n Noble, Apple iBooks, use the links on side bar or top menu to get your complete GUIDE TO RETIREMENT IN COLOMBIA CHEAP.  Now when you get my book from Amazon this is enough for a cold locally brewed beer here, thank you and cheers.


Medellin Colombia Apartments you can afford $600 to $700 a month

This is a short video on what will $600 to $700 dollars for a apartment be like.  This is in the Beverly Hills area in all of South America Poblado Medellin.  I take you around to the next closes city for a compare prices and features of a 1 bedroom in Poblado vs a 3 bedroom in Envigado both in a brand new buildings both for the same $700 per month.  Only difference is 5 miles between the two buildings, nothing else.  Poblado vs Envigado.

Vacant apartments rentals in a new building very large 2 to 3 bed in Envigado or Sanbaneta $600 to $900 a month.  The same apartment in Poblado expect to pay $200 -$300 more.   Laurales across the Medellin River is even less, $500 a month in a established older brick walk up building rents are cheaper, still very safe neighbourhoods.   Barrios where you may not wish to live $200 to $400 a month rental factor is common for the typical Colombian, I do know a few retired folks in this class of neighbourhoods, you have to come visit drive around to find your own comfort zone.

My book Retire Colombia Cheap I go over additional cities in Medellin Valley to live along with photos of $300 to $500 a month walk-up apartments in a middle class neighbourhood.  Very nice unit, you only have to see the photos to agree.   You can live here with a great quality of life, perfect spring weather everyday, and do it all on your Social Security too.  Come down to see us, I can have one of the local folks drive you around, help you with your move to the Valley of Eternal Spring, Medellin Colombia.

Enjoy this video, as I tell you a bit more about Medellin.

Colombia Retirement Wall Street Journal on Retirement

This is an interesting news story on the facts of retirement to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize and Panama.  ALL FACTS you should know if your thinking of these countries as to compare to Colombia.  I cover a lot more items from personal friends who have moved to these cities and finally moved on to Colombia the second  retirement choice.  Learn from my personal “learning curve” and my friends too, come visit Colombia, but in reality you need to see the other countries too as you find your sweet spot there also.  Remember no matter what we as retired baby boomers, need to enjoy life, eat well and travel safe !!

 here is the direct link click here: 

Retirees in North America head south to Central America’s hottest real-estate markets, spending big bucks in Panama, Belize and Nicaragua for exotic living experiences unlike any other in the world. (Photo: Bobby Pereira for The Wall Street Journal.)

When Steven and Robin Fine started searching for a place in Latin America to spend their early retirement, they looked at spots in Mexico and Costa Rica, both popular destinations for American retirees. On a trip two years ago, they decided to stop by Panama, too.

The Breeze in Belize

Tony Rath for The Wall Street JournalTom and Tricia Herskowitz had a 7,000-square-foot compound built in a new development called Sanctuary; a view from a rear verando is shown.


“We thought we would like Panama the least,” Mr. Fine, 51 years old, a former communications executive said, “but we liked it the best.”

The combination of luxury apartment buildings, good restaurants and modern hospitals drew the couple to Panama City, where 1½ years ago they spent $1.1 million, plus about $250,000 on renovations, on a 48th-floor penthouse with a view of the Pacific. It is now their full-time home.

The Central American nations of Panama, Belize and Nicaragua are increasingly competing with Costa Rica and Mexico for North American retirees and second-home buyers. New luxury developments, outfitted with spas, restaurants, marinas and golf courses, are on the rise. Builders say they are using more high-end materials and adding upscale amenities designed to appeal to affluent American buyers.

Bobby Pereira for The Wall Street JournalSteven and Robin Fine renovated a $1.1 million, 48th-floor penthouse in Panama City.

These countries offer packages of residency and breaks on taxes and fees that imitate Costa Rica’s pensionadoprogram, which was introduced in 1971 and helped set the groundwork for a boom in retiree emigration from North America. Nicaragua added such a law in 2009, offering foreigners with retirement incomes tax breaks on everything from cars to construction materials. Last year, Panama, which has a long-established retiree program, created a path to citizenship for retirement residents and introduced a new residency program for people under retirement age that has lowered requirements for investment in property, business and other ventures.

“The message of this law is simple,” said Panama City-based attorney Manoj Chatlani of Panama Offshore Legal Services. “It’s ‘Come to Panama.’ ”


The number of Americans who collect Social Security in Panama jumped 65% to 2,164 between 2006 and 2011, the latest year for which there is information. In Nicaragua, the figure more than doubled in the same period, from 595 to 1,322. Belize’s number, too tiny for the Social Security Administration to track in years past, was 560 in 2011.

Panama’s explosive growth—gross domestic product increased by an average of 8.5% annually since 2008, according to International Monetary Fund estimates—has drawn American workers and businesses to Panama City over the past decade. Now, local developers are courting another population, focusing on building amenity-rich planned communities outside the city to appeal to North American retirees.

Boquete, a town about 40 miles from the Costa Rican border, offers high-end gated communities, an established expat community, cool mountain temperatures and tropical-rainforest landscape. Justin Harper, co-owner of Playa Chiquita Development Corp., is developing about 200 acres of virgin land 20 miles east of Boquete. The community, Bella Vista del Mundo, has 76 lots and plans for a boutique hotel, spa, pools, tennis courts and horseback trails. Single-family homes with mountaintop and Pacific Ocean views can be built by the developer for about $400,000.

David Hatton Urriola, 43, moved to Boquete three years ago from Kansas and set up Panama Connection Real Estate, which provides tours, relocation help and real-estate sales to expats. Among properties he is currently marketing is a 6,716-square-foot house on 34 acres, once used as the summer home of Panama’s military leader, Manuel Noriega, who is serving a 20-year sentence in El Renacer prison in Panama City. The house, listed at $2.3 million, is a 25-minute drive from where an international airport is being expanded.

On the east side of Panama City, a 700-acre community called Santa Maria Golf & Country Club is being built to include 4,000 colonial-style houses, townhouses and condominiums, and a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus’s company. The homes, yet to be completed, sell for about $278 a square foot, a “top price” in Panama City, said Kent Davis, broker at Panama Equity Real Estate.

“Santa Maria is a product that hadn’t existed in Panama before: the luxury suburban community—more American-style larger lots,” Mr. Davis said. Most pre-delivery buyers have been Panamanians; local agents say they expect American interest to rise as the development nears completion in five to 10 years.

Belize, a small, English-speaking nation with a population of about 330,000, has been popular for years as a scuba-diving and ecotourism destination. High-end properties had to be custom-built until the early 2000s, when developers started putting up “single homes here and there,” said Hugo Moguel, president of the Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize, which is launching the country’s first multiple-listing service in August.

Now, developers are attempting to sell Belize as a luxury-living place to retire. New developments include Sanctuary Belize, a 14,000-acre development slated for completion in three years that will have 2,000 residential lots, 250 condominiums and townhouses, and a 220- to 250-slip marina. The buildings’ poured-concrete construction meets Dade County, Fla., hurricane-resistant standards, said Luke Chadwick, a partner in Eco-Futures Development. Developer financing is available.

Of the 600 lots Sanctuary has sold so far, 80% of them have been to Americans, he said. The core demographic is “50 to 65 year olds, either in retirement or planning for retirement,” Mr. Chadwick added. Lot prices range from $149,000 to $1 million for an acre overlooking the Caribbean, he said.

Tom and Tricia Herskowitz moved into their 7,000-square-foot compound in Sanctuary this past September, lured by the boat slip and Caribbean access. “The fact that the country is English speaking and is a Commonwealth country was attractive to us,” said Mr. Herskowitz, 68, a retired executive and business-school professor.

Amid growing tourism—and aided by the lowering of a foreigner transaction tax in 2006—there has been a boom in luxury-condo developments, especially on the island of Ambergris Caye, popular with expats.

“There are beachfront condos going up that are going to feature elevators, which didn’t exist in Belize before. Most of the buyers are baby boomers and they are aging,” said Dmitri Ioudine, owner of Coldwell Banker Ambergris Caye Ltd. Local builders say building materials have improved as local suppliers bring in higher-end materials.

Despite their inroads with American retirees, these countries still don’t attract the same numbers as more established destinations, such as Mexico and Costa Rica. In 2011, more than 50,000 Americans collected Social Security in Mexico and more than 5,000 in Costa Rica. But Mexico’s well-publicized drug war and escalating violence are starting to push Americans to look at new places for retirement.

Central America, however, has its own problems with crime. The U.S. Department of State labeled the crime rate in Nicaragua “critical” and the murder rate in Belize “extremely high,” though concentrated in Belize City and not in tourist areas. In Costa Rica, petty crime such as theft and “smash and grab” muggings have increased in the past couple of years, along with home invasions.

In Panama, murders and gun violence have decreased in recent years, but reported rape and theft have increased. “Panama remains relatively safe when compared with other Central American countries, yet crime rates are higher than one would encounter in most of the United States,” says the State Department’s 2013 report.

Dan Prescher, who leads conferences by International Living, a provider of information for people interested in retiring abroad, says urban crime rates can exaggerate safety issues in other areas of a country. Still, he warns that public security isn’t always adequate in the region.

Nicaragua is the latest country to attempt to grab North American interest. In Guacalito de la Isla, a 16,070-acre coastal development—with 600 residences, a pool, restaurant and gym—is under construction. A two-hour drive from Managua’s international airport, the project includes a plan to open a small airport by 2015. The first homes—28 single-family houses—will be turned over to owners in September. The four-bedroom, four-bath pool houses sold for between $700,000 and $750,000, said Jeff Lawrence, director of real estate. A luxury hotel-resort on the property, Mukul, opened in January and has helped boost sales, he said.

“The buyers right now are 85% Nicaraguan and 15% U.S. based,” Mr. Lawrence said. “There is an education hurdle for us to convince people that Nicaragua is safe and is a tropical paradise.”

Write to Katy McLaughlin at

Retirement in Colombia MONEY USNEWS.COM

Here is a news item from US News dot com on Retirement to Colombia I wished to pass along. It is not only me saying this is a great spot to check out but more and more people are finding out why “Colombia” and then Why Not Colombia, as the spot to retire.    Below is the US News item in full.

direct link


Why Medellin, Colombia is a Great Retirement Spot

April 1, 2013 RSS Feed Print

“This is your first trip to Colombia, and you’ve chosen to focus on Medellin? That will save you a lot of time,” our new friend remarked. “This is the place to be in this country right now.”

After spending a little more time in La Bella Villa, as Medellin is known, we decided that this resident American expat knew what he was talking about. Medellin is impressive from the moment you depart the international airport and begin to make the drive down the mountainside toward it, and more so the longer you’re here.

The Euro-undertones are strong, from the way the women dress to the way people greet you in passing on the street. Wandering around Medellin is more reminiscent of walking around Paris than almost any other city in the Americas. If you were to compare Medellin with another city in Latin America, it’d be Buenos Aires, Argentina. Medellin, population about 2 million, is like a miniature version of Buenos Aires, from its annual International Tango Festival to its Botero Museum. However, Medellin is more manageable than Buenos Aires (which is home to about 15 million people), easier to navigate and cleaner. Otherwise, the neighborhoods, parks, downtown shopping areas, antique shops and the arts and literary history in Medellin all remind you of that very European city way down at the bottom of this continent.

Medellin makes a good impression immediately and on many levels. Architecturally, this city is lovely. Built almost entirely of red brick, with almost every structure topped by a red clay tile roof, the place is pleasing in its consistency, especially when viewed from some height. From the windows of one of the city’s penthouse apartments, for example, Medellin appears a sea of red clay tiles and red brick buildings interspersed regularly by swatches of foliage and flowers. The effect is calming and peaceful.

Another thing you’ll notice immediately upon arrival in Medellin is that this city is nowhere near as scary as you might have expected. As every local resident you speak with will assure you with pride and relief, the drug wars are history, not a current reality. I’m sure some drug trade continues, as it does in every city of any size anywhere in the world. But the drug business is no longer a defining part of this city.

Far from intimidating, the people of Medellin are friendly, helpful and hospitable. Traveling across the city on its metro one afternoon, my husband and I stepped out from our train and on to the station platform uncertainly, looking left, then right, then down at our small pocket map. We weren’t sure which way to go next and were moving slowly as we tried to get our bearings. An older gentleman who had been on the train with us, a native of the city, began to walk out of the station but then turned around and came back toward us. Addressing my husband politely, formally, he asked, in Spanish, if we needed help. Lief explained our ultimate destination, and the man walked us over to the big map on the wall to point out the quickest route then personally escorted us out to the street.

Medellin is impressively green, with trees, plants and small gardens everywhere. It’s also remarkably clean. In the central neighborhoods, you see no litter. The metro, another point of pride for the local population, is spotless and like new.

Medellin is a pretty, leafy and clean city that is safe, peaceful and welcoming place. That’s a good starting point. But would this city with such a troubled past actually be an appealing place to plan to spend time in your retirement? I was won over by both the face and the spirit of Medellin within 48 hours of arriving on my first visit. Today, three years later, having enjoyed many return visits since, I’d say that, yes, no question, this would be a very nice place to retire.

One important plus for would-be retirees is the climate, which istemperate year-round. You could say that Medellin’s climate is near-perfect. As it’s situated on the side of a mountain, the city’s altitude ascends from around 1,500 meters to 1,800 meters. The surrounding mountains rise to more than 2,500 meters. Temperatures range from 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit every day of the year. The rainy season is during the second half of the year, but it’s mild. Prolonged rainy periods and flooding are uncommon.

The city’s altitude gives it a gentle, agreeable climate and, as well, means there are few bugs. Some residents I’ve spoken with insist they’ve never seen a bug. I won’t try to convince you of that, but I will say that, living here, you could keep your windows open night and day, year-round, without screens.

Next, Medellin is culturally and recreationally rich and diverse. Living here as a retiree, you’d never want for something fun and interesting to do. On any given day, you could go hiking or bike riding. You could visit a museum or one of the many shopping malls. You could see a tango show or an opera (in season). Come evening, you could dance the night away (tango is a national pastime) and sample the local rum in one of the bawdy nightclubs or enjoy a fine meal and white-glove service at one of the many international-standard restaurants.

It’s not only restaurants in Medellin that can be of international standard. El Tesoro, for example, is as impressive a shopping mall as you’ll find anywhere in the world. It’s a five-minute cab ride up the hill from Parque Lleras, the heart of downtown Medellin and the best address in the city.

Medellin is the second-largest city in Colombia and is known as a major industrial center for the country (main products are textiles, coffee, and flowers). It is also, though, a city of parks and flowers, with interactive outdoor museum-parks, where children can build and experiment, run and play. There’s an aquarium, an amusement park, delightful botanical gardens, a planetarium, a “barefoot park” with a Zen garden and dozens of small parks and treed plazas, all well-tended and even manicured. At every turn, this city begs you to come outside and enjoy what it has to offer.

Medellin is not only an industrial, economic, and financial center for this country, but also a literary and an artistic one. It’s also the base for newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival and an annual book fair. Back in 1971, Medellin was even the venue for Colombia’s answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon.

Among the many things I wasn’t prepared for arriving the first time in Medellin was the developed level of its infrastructure. This is a place where things work. Here in the city of flowers, the roadways are wide and well-paved, and wireless internet is ever-present and free in many places, including at Juan Valdez Cafés, the Colombian answer to Starbucks, with branches all over the city and the region.

Medellin was built in a deep valley surrounded by tall, pine-covered mountains. The domestic airport sits almost downtown, making travel to other cities and regions in Colombia easy. The larger international airport is on higher ground but only about an hour’s drive from the city.

There’s no bad season for travel to Medellin, but some times of the year are more interesting than others, and we’re approaching perhaps the best season to plan a visit. Late June is the International Tango Festival, when the people of Medellin celebrate their love affair with this sultry dance. July is the International Poetry Festival (in Spanish), the biggest celebration of its kind in the world, attracting more than 100 poets each year. And early August is the Festival of the Flowers, the most important event in the Antioquia Province where Medellin is located, when the region remembers one of its most important industries—the cut-flower business. Dating to 1957, this extravaganza features parades of antique cars, flower carriers, and horses.

Retirement in Medellin isn’t for everyone. You would need to speak at least a little Spanish, and you would be breaking new ground. Whereas Panama City, for example, is an established and developed choice for foreign retirees, Medellin is an emerging one. On the other hand, this still very misunderstood city has a great deal to offer foreign retirees with an open mind and a spirit of adventure.

Colombia is working hard to change its image, investing millions in advertising abroad using the catch phrase, “The only risk is wanting to stay.” Once you’ve seen the city for yourself, you’ll understand.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 28 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her newest book, How To Buy Real Estate Overseas, published by Wiley & Sons, is the culmination of decades of personal experience living and investing around the world.

Salsa Lessons in Colombia

Hello, this is a news article form the Los Angeles Times interesting how people think of Colombia, this time is one item I never though of, coming to Colombia on holiday to learn Salsa Dance.  The city mentioned in the article is Cali but here in Medellin there are plenty of Salsa Schools, many of the local Disco offer free Salsa classes too, several have “live bands” for the full Rumba of Salsa.

Come visit or live in the city of Eternal Spring, Medellin where you can feel the music.  Here is the article and photo below.

By Chris KraulJune 23, 2013, 6:00 a.m.

Cali, COLOMBIA — It’s a long way to go for dance lessons, but that’s why French law student Graziella Giacomarra has traveled 6,000 miles to Cali, to learn some of salsa’s most intricate and high-energy steps.

This month at the Sondeluz dance studio on the second floor of a drab commercial building, Giacomarra was hot-stepping to a blistering, brass-driven salsa beat, her feet blurring in close unison with those of her teacher, Luz Ayde Moncayo.

It was the eighth week of classes for the 24-year-old Lyon native who hopes to someday be an agent for professional dancers. The instruction is paying off. She more than keeps up with Moncayo, a former member of a traveling salsa troupe.

“Cali is famous for the best salsa dancers in Colombia, maybe the world,” Giacomarra said. “The rapid steps the men dancers do and the way women move their hips, it’s very cultural. And there is the ambience of Cali. There is something special in the air here.”

PHOTOS: Site specific dance

Inroads of Latin culture and the popularity of TV shows like“Dancing With the Stars” increasingly have put salsa’s sensual moves in the spotlight. And even though the music and dance didn’t originate in Cali, this city of 4 million has become a hotbed and leader in the form, a fact well known to aficionados.

Giacomarra’s trip was no lark; she financed it with earnings from menial jobs as she finished her law studies. She started lessons at another of Cali’s 70 salsa schools but ended up at Sondeluz by word of mouth. Instructor Moncayo said 70% of her students are foreigners who come from as far as Japan,Germany and Peru.

Attracted mainly by the Spanish colonial fortress city Cartagena and Colombia’s natural beauty, international tourists are arriving in ever greater numbers. Last year, the 1.7-million foreign visitor total represented a 7% annual increase, according to Proexport, the country’s trade promotion agency. “Now that people are less afraid of coming to Colombia, we have travel agents and tours bringing people here,” Moncayo said.

For decades, salsa music has flourished in this southwestern city in a valley carpeted with sugar cane. Although Cali is an inland city, it’s warm and sun-splashed climate doused with periodic monsoon rains give it a Caribbean feel. That impression is reinforced by strong influence of Afro-Colombians who have migrated here from the Atlantic coast, often to escape ongoing armed conflict.

It’s only been in recent years, however, that salsa has become an important tourism generator. It’s producing economic benefits for the city’s poor Afro-Colombians barrios where most of the salsa schools are and where the best dancers come from.

CHEAT SHEET: Spring Arts Preview

Travel agent Eleana Rioja of Rioja Pacific Tours said her company books an average of 30 tourists a month, mainly from the U.S., Ecuador and Germany, who come for weekends — or weeks — of classes. She’s made numerous bookings for the World Salsa Festival to be held here in August.

“Cali’s cultural agenda is really fed by the Afro-Colombian presence and history and that has a global appeal,” Rioja said, noting the city is also hosting the Third Annual World Summit of Afro-Descendent Leaders in September, to which President Obama has been invited.

Many tours combine classes with visits to local salsa bars, where foreigners can mix with the locals to pick up pointers and partners. There are also scheduled stops at the several nightclubs with choreographed salsa shows. The most popular is El Delirio, a Las Vegas-style dance and music revue held under an enormous circus tent that has sold out its monthly shows for the past six years running.

Spanish director Chus Gutierrez will soon start shooting a $2-million budget movie about a medical doctor from Madrid who comes to Cali for a medical conference and falls in love with an El Delirio dancer, to be played by Colombian telenovela star Carolina Ramirez.

“The dancers here are unbelievable,” said Gutierrez, who has made several dance-related films. “They’ve converted salsa into an entirely new form. And salsa has given them a way of escaping the crude reality of the barrio.”

PHOTOS: Arts and culture in pictures by The Times

Sixteen of El Delirio’s 180 regular salsa dancers just got back from a tour of China and other Asian countries sponsored by the Colombian government, said the show’s artistic director, Andrea Buenaventura.

“Cali is a multicultural city which doesn’t really have a music or dance style of its own. With salsa, it’s taken on an agglomeration of rhythms from other places, including Afro-Colombians from the Pacific, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and even New York,” Buenaventura said. “It’s been cooking for 20 years, and now it is all really becoming visible.”

Alejandro Ulloa, a popular culture professor at Universidad del Valle here and author of three books on salsa, said that although it did not originate in Cali, the city has become one of its hotbeds. “You could trace salsa’s roots back to Spanish Harlem in the 1960s, to LP records produced in New York and then brought to Cali by sailors via Buenaventura,” a Pacific port city 80 miles west of Cali, Ulloa said.

“Those records were first played in Cali’s red light district but then were bought by collectors or dance clubs to dance rooms in poor barrios. Cali’s salsa is a fusion of all those influences,” Ulloa said.

Ulloa defined the local salsa dance style as “extremely competitive with a lot of new choreography, high-speed dance steps and acrobatics.”

Tentative rather than acrobatic would define the style of Steven Wick, a 29-year-old import-exporter from Arcata, Calif., who was taking beginner classes at Sondeluz. Wick was introduced to salsa on a recent trip to the Dominican Republic, where he was told Colombian dancers were on the cutting edge. He said dancing is one of the features of Latin culture he likes most.

“In the States, we don’t have a culture of dancing with your peers like you do here, and I really enjoy the interaction you get between two people that salsa gives you,” Wick said. “I also like the music. It’s got a push and pull to it that really makes you want to move.”

Kraul is a Bogota-based special correspondent.


Moving to Colombia with Kids

Russell’s comments:    This week I read a Phoenix Arizona newspaper article on a family coming to Colombia as a second home, with their kids.  Interesting how different views of Colombia are present by non-Colombian people, take a quick read, credits given to this story as shown.  All good comments if your brining your family, have small children or even grand children to visit, the points made in this story apply to retiring in Colombia too.


Here is the direct link to the story, content of the story is shown below for easy reading.


Colombia with the kids

Despite its dangerous reputation, country has plenty to offer travellers up for adventure


My wife, our two boys, and I are riding a state-of-the-art gondola up the side of a mountain on a gloriously sunny afternoon. We’re chatting in fractured Spanglish with some Colombian students. But we’re not in Whistler or Aspen. We’re on our way to the neighbourhood which, 25 years ago, was considered the most dangerous part of the most dangerous city in the world. The students aren’t on our turf — we’re on theirs. We’re in Medellin, Colombia. Its nickname is “The city of eternal spring,” and after the drug wars of the 1980s, it certainly does feel like metaphorical spring in Colombia.

“You’re taking your kids where?” That was the slightly horrified response we heard again and again when we told people we were planning a month-long family trip to Colombia. Yup, Colombia. Drug lord Pablo Escobar and his hippos. FARC revolutionaries behind every tree. A “failed state,” completely lawless, with bombings and kidnappings every day. Basically, everything Crockett and Tubbs were saving the world from on Miami Vice, right? So why on earth take our seven- and nine-year-old sons there for a vacation?

Well, Escobar was killed in a rooftop shootout in Medellin in 1993 — 20 long years ago — but stereotypes are persistent. Colombia was a complete mess back then, but it’s had an amazing renaissance. The rebirth can be directly traced to three people — Enrique Penalosa, Antanus Mockus, and Sergio Fajardo, former mayors of Bogota and Medellin. All three decided to invest in parks, libraries, schools, transit, and other public works, all with a strong social- and economic-justice agenda. They hired renowned architects to design the buildings. As Fajardo once said, “Our most beautiful buildings must be in our poorest areas.” The gondola in Medellin — the world’s first public-transit cable-car system — provides transportation to those areas.

In other words, Bogota and Medellin have been living labs, experimenting with the idea that architecture and urban design can have meaningful social and economic impacts. Judging by all the awards, books, and documentaries about their achievements, the answer is yes. That’s why we wanted to visit Colombia.

If that sounds just a bit too nerdy, you have to understand that my wife and I are architecture, urban design and public policy geeks. People like us may not be typical tourists, but our “tribe” is compelled to travel to see interesting cities. The more we looked into it, the more Colombia seemed like an ideal destination.

The historic centres of Cartagena and Mompox are UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their amazing Spanish colonial architecture. Cartagena is on the Caribbean coast, with beaches and average highs just over 30 C year-round. I’ve been trying to learn Spanish for a few years, so we wanted to go somewhere I could practise. We were both lucky enough to live overseas for a year at a time as kids, and we’re trying to provide similar (if shorter) experiences for our children. And we like to visit places that are somewhat off the tourist radar. Check, check, and check.

Cartagena was home for the month. We found a fantastic apartment in the heart of the old city (through travel rental website AirBnB), an ultra-modern third-floor walk-up with flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and an incredible rooftop terrace, all hiding behind an entirely nondescript door in a charmingly crumbling colonial building. We didn’t even realize until the last minute that the apartment came with a housekeeper, who cooked, cleaned, and did laundry every day. Cartagena has the full gamut of places to stay, from hostels to five-star luxury properties, but for an extended stay with a family, apartments are totally the way to go. (A visit to the Hotel Santa Clara for a drink and a chance to peek into Nobel-prize winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s yard is totally worth it, though.)

We found a charming little business ( offering Spanish classes in the daytime and salsa classes in the evening. We spent our first week in Cartagena taking language lessons in the morning, snoozing in the midday heat, and exploring the city in the evening. The first day or two, we acted like paranoid tourists in a dangerous place. By the third day, the kids were happily skipping off in all directions and we were feeling very much at home in the city of Love in the Time of Cholera (an absolute must-read by Marquez if you’re thinking of visiting Cartagena).

By the end of the month, we were regulars, if not quite locals with the people selling astonishingly good coffee, fruit, juices, and food of all kinds on the streets; the bakery where the kids got their chocolate croissants every morning; and the gelateria where we all got our daily cones of amazing gelatos made with the fruits you can only find there (corozo and lulo are the best).

From base camp in Cartagena, we took a few excursions. A day trip took us to the “mud volcano” El Totumo. We spent a few days just before Easter in Mompox. Getting there is definitely not half the fun. Just ask our nine-year-old, who barfed several times on the harrowing, nine-hour overnight “executive limousine” trip from Cartagena with a deranged “chauffeur” careening through the pitch darkness of increasingly dense jungle on iffy roads spotted with random herds of cattle and overladen ancient trucks rounding hairpin corners in the wrong lane at high speed.

The payoff is one of the world’s most incredible Semana Santa (holy week) observances. The Good Friday processions are profoundly moving, whatever your beliefs may be. Large groups of people wearing heavy robes in 35 C heat carry life-size elaborate scenes depicting the Stations of the Cross through the streets, moving from one church to another. The tableaus are mounted on heavy wooden platforms. The worshippers lift the entire thing to their shoulders, take three steps forward, two steps backward, and put it down again. The processions go on for hours, all through the night.

The trip back to Cartagena (much better, thanks to the driver Richard and Alma of La Casa Amarilla in Mompox found for us!) provided one of the most special moments of our entire trip. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, our driver asked if we wanted to stop for breakfast. We said sure, so he pulled in at a shack along the road which turned out to be a mom-and-pop “restaurant.” As we chatted, we learned that the couple also runs a personal “biblioburro” program, entirely on their own initiative. They take their burros (named Alpha and Beta) up into the mountains to deliver books to kids who might otherwise never see one. Being book lovers, our kids adored that story — one they would never hear at the Kids Camp at a “safe” all-inclusive.

Ironically, the only time we felt even slightly unsafe was when Cartagena went into full lockdown for the Summit of the Americas. The police, military, and (foreign) security presence was intimidating and completely sucked the life out of the city. That’s when we made the last-minute decision to hop over to Medellin for a few days.

The kids had an amazing time everywhere we went once both of them (but especially our very tall, freckle-faced redhead) got used to people fawning over them. Throughout the country, people were delighted to see us. At the library in that formerly lethal neighbourhood in Medellin, we got the full VIP tour from a staffer bursting with pride. Colombia has been waiting for years for visitors to start coming back. We ran into a few other travellers, but we were the only family. It is still a bit of an adventure compared to typical vacation destinations.

Yes, much of the world’s cocaine supply still comes from or passes through Colombia. Yes, FARC still exists, but barely. And yes, the Canadian and U.S. governments still have official “advisories” or “warnings” about going there. But we’re not crazy-risk takers. We would never take our kids anywhere there’s real danger. The clever (and risky) official slogan of the national tourism agency ( is Colombia: The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay. The kids floated in a mud volcano, swam in posh hotel pools and a river in the middle of the jungle, saw centuries-old forts and ultra-modern libraries, learned a bit of Spanish, ate weird and wonderful new things, had experiences to remember forever, and still managed to FaceTime with their friends back home. Isn’t that what travel is supposed to be all about?


If You Go

Air Canada and its Star Alliance partner United offer the best flights from Calgary to Colombia, typically through Houston. As of April 15, a Calgary-Houston-Bogotá return ticket cost as little as $955. Within Colombia, the flag carrier airline Avianca (also a Star Alliance partner) provides excellent connections between cities. Flights from Calgary to Cartagena usually require a second stopover in Panama City or Bogota, and cost about $50 to $100 more than flights to Bogota. We recommend sticking to planes, buses, and taxis for getting around.

Until recently, guide books for Colombia were almost unheard of. In the last 18 months or so, there’s been an explosion of them. The Michelin and Footprint guides were published just before our trip, and we found them both very useful. Several more have been published since. The official government tourism website ( is surprisingly good. Two more excellent websites for Cartagena are “This is Cartagena” ( and “Lure Cartagena” (

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald


Original source article: Colombia with the kids

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Colombian Fruit Juices served at the local Cafe

This is a short video to show n tell about the different types and names of the Fruit Juices served in the local Colombian Cafes and Restaurants.  Colombia has over 200 different types of fruit of these about 20 plus are squeezed for juice and of these there are the TOP TEN.  Here are a few to get you started into the wonderful TROPICAL FRUIT JUICES served with every meal in Colombia, watch and take notes OR sign up for my newsletter and get your free copy of my book a Photography Tour on the foods of Colombia has a section with all the names and images, your copy is free for signing up. Photo is a Granadilla, grab a spoon and eat as fresh fruit right out of it’s God given bowl, seeds and all, just awesome !!