Category Archives: Medellin Information

Tourist killed this week, TWO MORE !! Australian & Japanese tourist


Two more tourist were killed this weekend in Medellin, 4th and 5th this 2016 year.    Today is November 22nd, the news paper links below will tell the sad story.

The Japanese tourist had is money and cell phone stolen, decided to chase after the robber, where he was shot.  Mind you only a few house in the city too, sad day for all of us living in Medellin.

The Australian was found two bullet holes in the head.

here are the links, read the local news.



NO MORE UPDATES- Go to Ecuador not Colombia

Hello, after a long journey of trying to help others come to Colombia, the time has come to CLOSE THIS WEB SITE.

My goal was never about making money from this site OR any of the dozen or more books I now give for FREE, all for information only, not to make money, never was about money.

Books are still available on these links:

Colombia Expat Guide 

Colombia Food Guide & Five Days Trips out of Medellin 

Here it is in black n white:   I have never sold Real Estate or Rented apartments for anyone coming to Colombia, I have MADE ZERO $$ no money ever off any person coming to Colombia, I do not give tours nor do I receive any referral fee from anyone. I do have a few people whom I pass along your request to, but these services are not by me or any company I own.  Too much of many of the reader of this site say otherwise, my personal friends here in Colombia whom know me, know this statement is true.

I decided to close any future referrals to anyone for anyone, your coming here, good luck your on your own.

TRY GOING TO ECUADOR !!   Much better cities, cheaper, way too many expats all ready there to share your stories with, better and easier methods of getting low cost health care too.  If your reading this do some research on Ecuador, you may find this a country better than Colombia.

If you still decide upon Colombia, I am easy to find, glad to share a cup of coffee share world travel stories and photography & video tips.

My best to all  Rusty

Tourist robbed and shot on Poblado Ave at MacDonald’s

Editors note:  This is on the main road in front of MacDonald’s which is next to Olivera Mall and across the street from Santa Fe Mall.  This is a “safe as it get’s” area.  The news below was translated from the local newspaper today.  This happen in daylight hours 5:30pm.  The update from the local police is gangs now are getting more bolder.  Someone saw his “expensive watch” phoned the two on motorcycle to rob him in the process of this robbery he was shot in the leg.  I personally am in this McCafe one to two times a week, this hits home to me, way too close !!  Medellin is not safe. 

news paper translated below into English.

Colonel Carlos Alberto Wilches, deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police confirmed Saturday that the US citizen injured last Friday at 5:30 pm by two men on Avenida El Poblado with South 6th Street, it was for stealing a watch high end.
“We know that the tourist came out of a mall, [Olivera Mall] which was making a purchase own family activities together. Unfortunately it is approached by two men on a motorcycle coming to steel his watch.

Abroad in this case it seeks to prevent theft be and is what causes the offenders violate their integrity. He is taken to a hospital and there is stable, in good condition. The National Police are currently investigating the perpetrators of this fact, “Wilches said.
As indicated by the authorities, the US was an engineer and had arrived a week ago to Medellin to business issues and now is recovering from a shot in one leg at a clinic in this sector.
“Faced with the modality of the freight costs, we have shown that these bands are attached to the criminal gangs engaged in theft, extortion and micro-trafficking,” he added Wilches on freighters bands that transgress in El Poblado.

Killing of three foreigners the past two weeks

The killing of three foreigners the past two weeks in Medellín is causing alarm in Colombia’s second-largest city as it struggles to leave behind its reputation as the one-time murder capital of the world.

Danish tourist Tomás Willemoes was shot and killed last week at close range by an unknown assailant in a popular plaza [Park LLeras] in the city’s most upscale neighborhood Poblado.  His murder came just days after an Israeli and Mexican, both of whom apparently were living in Medellín, were also killed.

Authorities are at a loss to explain the three killings, which came as the city was showcasing security gains to hundreds of business executives attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Latin America. But at least one victim, the Israeli, appears to have been connected to a criminal ring that promoted sex tourism with prostitutes, prompting an energetic defense from the city’s new mayor.

update:  They were into underage girls advertising sex tours of Medellin, reason for killings as reported in local newspaper. 

“Any homicide is regretful, regardless of the reasons,” Mayor Federico Gutiérrez told journalists on Monday. “But it’s very important to say that Medellín can’t be a place for sex or drug tourism.”

Medellín’s murder rate has fallen sharply since the 1980s, when the city was under siege by Pablo Escobar’s army of killers. But it’s ticking up again this year and authorities worry that it could spoil a nascent tourism boom.

So far this year there have been more than 225 murders, an increase of around 10 percent from 2015, according to Security Secretary Gustavo Villegas. In May alone homicides spiked 80 percent.

Andres Munera, an independent travel guide in Medellín, shares the mayor’s outrage and says he’s had to turn away foreign customers who came to the city looking for drugs and prostitution. He says the demand for such activities is strong and undercuts the efforts of residents who’ve worked hard to clean up their city’s image as a haven for criminality. Rare among many travel guides in Medellín, his company, Land Venture Travel, doesn’t offer tours of the haunts made famous by Escobar’s Medellín cartel before the fugitive capo’s death at the hands of the police in 1993.

More than 210,000 foreigners visited Medellín last year, a 34 percent jump over 2014, according to the city’s tourism board. Key attractions include the giant bronze statues by famous son Fernando Botero, nearby farms and a thriving cultural scene. The area where Willemoes was shot last Thursday night, Parque Lleras, is home to the city’s fanciest restaurants and bars.

“I’m sure this will have an impact,” said Munera, referring to the murders. “The multiplier effect of bad press is always much higher than someone who tells their friends ‘ah, what a great time I had in Medellín.'”

courtesy of Fox News


Video: ‘Dutch drug tourist’ escapes kidnappers in Bogota

A chilling video has emerged of an alleged Dutch tourist escaping his alleged kidnappers along the rooftops of Bogota’s most infamous drug area, the Bronx.

Authorities told weekly Semana that the Dutchman had come to Colombia for drugs tourism purposes and visited the Bronx, until last week the capital’s most infamous drug dealing area.

The video was sent to the website just days after authorities raided the area and evicted everyone present.

The foreigner had allegedly spent days taking drugs in the area and was held hostage by the “sayayines,” the gang running the drugs in the center of Bogota, after he was unable to pay for the drugs he had consumed, said Semana.

The tourist reportedly managed to escape his captors and get onto the roof of the house, where he hid precariously on a ledge on the crumbling corner of the building while two masked men lurked just meters away, waiting for their opportunity.

The man’s shouts for help alerted the police who came to investigate and the masked men dared not approach.

A tense stand-off ensued and the whole episode went on for an hour until a firetruck with an extendable ladder was found that could bring the man down while avoiding his alleged captors.

The recent police raids in the Bronx came up with evidence for many more cases of this sort of kidnapping, as well as for drug-trafficking, arms dealing, child prostitution and even the dismemberment of bodies of homicide victims.

This Dutchman escaped with his life. Many others possibly did not.


Homicides in Medellin up 80% as turf wars threaten fragile peace

Homicides in Colombia’s second biggest city Medellin shot up 80% in May after tensions between local crime lords ended years of relative peace between the city’s gangs.

editors note: The tourist area are safe, being downtown late at night or certain hillside barrios is not a place for a tourist at any time of day!  Ask the locals. 

For years Medellin has boasted dropping homicide rates. However, this reduction in violent crime has been delicate, primarily because it was never the result of an effective security policy, but due to a pact between capos of local crime syndicate Oficina de Envigado and neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.

However, for months there have been renewed tensions between the different leaders of the Oficina, particularly in the downtown area where decades-old gangs called Convivir rule the streets.

Additional tensions and spikes in homicides were reported in the east and northeast of the city.

The troubles began in January, immediately after Mayor Federico Gutierrez, a long-time critic of the security policies of his predecessor Anibal Gaviria, took office.

Under Gaviria, the city’s crime lords upheld a truce, allegedly bartered by businessmen and politicians with ties to the city’s underworld.


US Embassy Colombia Travel Warning

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work.  Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali.  However, violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural and urban areas. Despite significant decreases in overall crime in Colombia, continued vigilance is warranted due to an increase in recent months of violent crime, including crime resulting in the deaths of American citizens.  This Travel Warning replaces the previous travel warning released on June 5, 2015.

There have been no reports of U.S. citizens targeted specifically for their nationality. While the U.S. Embassy has no information regarding specific and credible threats against U.S. citizens in Colombia, both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorist groups continue to condemn any U.S. influence in Colombia.  The Department of State strongly encourages U.S. citizens to exercise caution and remain vigilant as terrorist and criminal activities remain a threat throughout the country. Explosions occur throughout Colombia on a regular basis, including in Bogota. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and  criminal elements, including armed gangs (referred to as “BACRIM” in Spanish), that are active throughout much of the country. Violence associated with the BACRIM has spilled over into many of Colombia’s major cities. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery.

Violence associated with crime is a threat throughout Colombia.  During the period November 2014 to January 2016, there were several homicides of U.S. citizens in connection with robberies, including armed robbery on streets and in taxi cabs, public transport, home invasions, and muggings.  The victims represented a mix of tourists, long-term residents and persons with dual U.S.-Colombian citizenship.

The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak in 2000.  However, kidnapping remains a threat. Terrorist groups and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom.  No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors.

U.S. government officials in Colombia regularly travel to the major cities of Colombia such as Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Cartagena without incident. U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia normally are permitted to travel to major cities only by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. U.S. government officials in Colombia and their families are restricted to traveling within certain areas. This includes using the main highways to travel between Bogota and Bucaramanga, and between Bogota and Ibague. Personnel are allowed to drive between Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia and within the “coffee country” departments of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío. On the Caribbean coast, personnel are restricted to driving along Highway 90 from Cartagena, through Barranquilla to Santa Marta.  Travel to all other areas of Colombia is off limits unless specific authorization is granted.  All U.S. citizens in Colombia are urged to follow these precautions and exercise extra caution outside of the aforementioned areas.

For more detailed information on staying safe in Colombia, please see the State Department’s Country Specific Information for Colombia. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). U.S. citizens living or traveling in Colombia are encouraged to enroll with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to obtain updated information on travel and security within Colombia. For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Colombia, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate as listed below.

ZIKA Virus Malaria or Yellow Fever await you in South America

The truth is all of these are here in South America, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama are all the same, close to the rainforest where these insect live.

BRING SEVERAL BOTTLES OF DEET.  50% will last 4 hours, 25% two hours, 100% unto 6 hours. Read the label.

How To Avoid Bug Bites 

  • Cover exposed skin. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats,, plus a cotton neck scarf 
  • Use an approved insect repellent. 100% DEET is only one that actually works. Spray on back of neck, arms, hands, ankles plus spray on your hands apply easy to face. 
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear. These items remain protected after several washings. Check the product information. If treating items yourself, follow the instructions carefully, and do not use permethrin directly on skin.  Hats, shirts, pants, scarf, socks this was made for our military and actually works too, google it, sold on Amazon. 
  • Sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms. 
  • Use a bed net if the sleeping area is exposed to the outdoors. 
  • If bitten, avoid scratching the area. Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion and reduce the itching.

Prior to their journey, health professionals in your own country will advise travelers about necessary vaccines. The U.S. recommends the vaccine for travelers visiting regions lower than 2,300 m in elevation, in provinces east of the Andes Mountains.  Yellow Fever shots are a good precaution.

ZIKA you only need to Google this virus to understand the danger.

The bite of the female Anopheles mosquito transmits malaria to humans.

internet transformed expat life living at coffee cafe’s

Black coffee & computer now the norm at most all Expat Coffee Cafe’s

Editors note:   This past week I wanted to meet a friend at a coffee cafe in Poblado, only to find my two favorite “internet cafe” FULL !!   Now in the last year they have expanded to double the size added more tables took over the shop next door too, all the way when we arrived EVERY TABLE FULL.

The place was full of EXPATS on a computer mixed with the normal Nomad travelers with their notebook computers, iPads and cell phones all typing away.  No place sit and enjoy a cup of joe.

A few years ago this would not be the case, as taking a smaller notebook for work to a coffee cafe was unheard of, let alone now the norm.

My task over the next few weeks was to talk with these travelers and expats, to find out 99% of them were working, WORKING!  Travelers still connected to the office, no one knew they were traveling, and then the others whom this is the new life style.  Working a few hours from remote locations around the globe.

We welcome all internet entrepreneur’s whom share my favorite table street side at a coffee cafe, now move over, that is my table !!  


my best to all Rusty

Tools required:  Small notebook computer, smartphone, VOP service, headphones, ear buds, virtual assistant, freight forwarder mail service, social media.   My toys are Apple MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, SKYPE, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger phone, MagicJack, Sony headphones, Plantronic mic headphones, HP ear buds, Philippines for VA, Caribbean Freight Forwarders [Amazon delivery service to my door], of course keeping in touch via Facebook, instragram, YouTuber personal video messages,  sorry I’m not a twitter fan plus several personal family blogs I keep posting to, also. 

Below is a news article on this subject:

In less than a generation, the Internet has transformed expat life: Is it a danger or a vehicle for international integration

By Cliodna O’Flynn

I am wondering if trying to control the amount of time I spend on the Internet in direct or indirect contact with home, with EU, has become necessary. I am worried that as it gets easier to connect with back home I am both mentally and physically spending less time where I live. Is the internet a danger to integration?

chl internet changeI am no newbie expat, nor am I here to escape the financial crisis or anything else. In fact, my life abroad has coincided with the growth of the internet, social networking, and cheaper and easier connections of all sorts. When I moved out here, initially for a year, it was for personal reasons; some real, some imagined. I stayed, probably for the wrong reasons at the time. Back then, in 1999, the world of computers was only coming into its own as a user-friendly sphere, and the number of people who owned a portal at home for fun was small. Computers at home were pretty much work related.

When I moved here at the age of 37, I still wrote and received letters, and loved them (still have them). Of course I also made phone calls, although this was still at the tail end of the era when calls to a foreign country were considered a luxury and a once-a-week kind of event. So home was abroad, away, far away. I spent fifteen minutes a week talking to parents and sisters and sometimes to friends. I wrote letters.

But most of my time was spent building a life here, learning Spanish, and getting to know people, supermarkets, places, customs, and habits. In other words: integrating, fitting in. I moved here alone, so I was happy to have to go out and make friends. At the first few jobs I landed I insisted that people spoke to me in Spanish, and gradually I learnt the language. Connections of all sorts, not just Internet ones, were slow. When a very close family member was dying I had to endure 4 a.m. connections to make it to the hospital; direct flights only became a reality eight years ago.

I was a journalist before I left home, and very soon the call of the profession was too strong. Within five months I was working full time for a local English paper, but here too we were antediluvian in our internet connections – there were two computers that could go online, and the use was monitored. It would take years before we were all able to log on first thing in the morning. But it meant that I was reading (and gradually understanding) two or three local Spanish papers a day, and interviewing local politicians became a bit easier. However, modernity caught up with us bit by bit.

Just a few years ago there were only a handful of people in our village with online connections – the hotels and the upwardly mobile bright young things – but almost overnight, that changed. Fast forward, and now if you’re not online, hooked up, tweeting out the messages and posting photographs on Facebook faster than you can say “where can I buy a stamp”, you’re not living. In fact, my daughter’s primary school recently organised a trip to the local post office as an excursion, and the kids were taught to post a letter. What a novelty and something very few of them see their parents doing these days.

So, how has the Internet changed my life as an expat? Hugely, and not completely for the best I think, though I am no Luddite. As a result of a recent birthday I am now the owner of an iPad, I am online at home, own a Smartphone, can make cheap calls to anywhere in the world, and am instantly contactable, which is a drag a lot of the time.

The advantages are numerous, I admit. I have watched a cousin get married courtesy of the webcam, and was able to watch, with great sadness, the funeral of another contact live online. I follow politics from home with huge interest and contribute to Facebook chats on Irish issues, despite the fact I haven’t lived in Ireland for years and do not have a vote. I have rediscovered old friends, people who I had cared for but hadn’t written to in years. With the magic of social networking I now know more about them than ever. And interestingly enough some are, I feel, closer to me as friends today than when I left home 14 years ago. Maybe in the intervening years, before we rediscovered each other, we all grew up a little, stopped trying to impress each other, and are truer representations of who we really are – at least online anyway!

Nowadays I listen to Morning Ireland on RTE (Irish national radio) as I am getting breakfast, check the Irish Times online the minute I get to the office, and listen to the News at One on my headphones in work. Keeping in touch is great, but there is a cost involved. The time I once spent watching Spanish news, finding out more about what was going in on my adopted country, is now given over to catching up on the minutiae of life in a place I may never live in again. In many ways, I have become more of an expat than before in recent years. I spend more time talking about and thinking about Ireland because I know more about what is going on, and that of course maintains the notion that some day soon I might go back.

I hope it’s a phase and that I will be able to find a balance. I love both living in a different country and Ireland, and if I am to be truly content with my life here I think I need to wake up a little, sign off, and go out and smell the local flowers. The Internet should be a communications tool rather than an escape mechanism. Real life is outside the front door, not through the square window!

Colombia New VISA Requirements 2016-UPDATED

Colombia Coffee Countryside

Coffee Countryside, image is nursery for baby coffee plants & the mountains beyond

New VISA requirements for Colombia

Hello this is Russell this is really me, I am back now living once again in my loved city of Medellin.   My absents was from travel in Asia, of which if you check my other web sites you can see all about my adventure travels.

Now back I wish to share the new 2016 Colombian Government requirements for the three main type of VISA available in Colombia.

  1.  RETIREMENT VISA the amount is now lower due to the great exchange rate of the Peso to USD,  you need to show $652. to qualify
  2. BUSINESS OWNER VISA, this has a few changes over 2014 to 2015, now in 2016 the paperwork process is still a bit much, all doable, and the best part how they have lowered the funds to $21,749.   This class of visa a part of these funds required can be in your equipment and part in “cash” at hand. If you wish this class of visa we can assist in the paperwork with our staff of English speaking helpers.
  3. PROPERTY OWNER VISA, this too has a lower amount to quality, now $76,123 of a purchase in Colombia.  This can be a apartment or warehouse or commercial building for rental income too.  The new international banking laws now apply to Colombia as well.  Your funds need to be legalised in the purchase process, a step we can help you with in the purchase process.

I have a new REFERRAL FOR ALL MY EXPAT FRIENDS COMING TO COLOMBIA:   This is a VISA help and soon they are going to launch a NEW Premier Colombian Properties web site too, all now in the process of taking video and images of all the properties we wish to showcase now, I am helping them with the video of the properties.


  1.  You can now make an appointment for your Cedula at Migration office, no need to go an wait in line
  2. Migration will now accept a CREDIT CARD, you no longer need to make a bank deposit prior to seeing them.
  3. The old PDF system of seeing if your CEDULA is ready, will soon be replaced with a web based system to check.



Feature the upper range of properties, in Apartments, Homes, Finca, plus vacant land, budding lots, orchards, coffee plantation all offered for sale in Colombia.

Two new services are, one they will have a few pre-vetted apartment for rent on long term without the large upfront deposits as normal with local realtors, the owners know in advance they are renting to a citizen of another country, you can now rent with no Colombian co-signer required, again as other agency do require plus 6 months advance rent, is just silly !!

Finally, we have a few selected properties where the owners are willing to carry the mortgage contact with a minimal downpayment.

The dollar to peso has never been better in a dozen years, now just above the 3,300 mark, your dollar buying power is about 75% MORE than just a year ago, you can now buy more property for less.  The dollar on the street goes a long way today, plenty of bargains !!   Food, restaurants , travel all are now at low low prices, come on down enjoy the Spring Weather of 70’s 80’s everyday.

Look for this new Real Estate site launch soon from Ian Palmer, he is a Expat from Canada. 

my new local cell is 310-828-9599   of course my direct e-mail is


Medellin in 36 hours New York Times video post

The New York Times recently had posted a Travel Video on Medellin which is worth the three minutes to watch.  Interesting places and things to see and do while on holiday or extended longer visits, here are some ideas of what to do.   One of these links below should work !!




Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Coffee Coffee Coffee, can we ever get enough of this wake-up must have everyday drug habit?  YES, this is a drug, a legal one at that too.  Even if it comes from Colombia noted for the Drug Capital of the World, this is their other export product.

Brewing your perfect “cup of joe” as many refer to this brownish liquid take a bit of the science involved.  Taking you back to high school chem lab, is not my mission today, but rather give a few hints to the perfect cup of coffee you can make at home.

Select your jar of Coffee beans, fresh grind to a medium fine grind, 2 tablespoons of ground beans per 8oz cup

Fresh bottle water, minus the chemicals in the tap water, helps too

Water heated to a boil, then wait off boil count to twenty, = 190f or about 90c

pour over grounds, wet first, then continue.  See many Google Post on how to use a pour over

This will equal the perfect cup of coffee, no matter what country your in.

Now if your in Medellin, head over to Pergamino Cafe in Poblado for a cup of Perfect Coffee, my favourite place to sit and watch the world go by, outside patio cafe.

Check out a few images of pour over coffee making PLUS see the BBC news post on making the Perfect Cup of Coffee, of which this reporter decided to visit Medellin for himself, to test the coffee…

I have a few YouTuber Videos on brewing via a Mr. Coffee Jr, making it into a pour over, link click here in a week.


Link to BBC News post on making Colombian Perfect Cup of Coffee 


Link to Serious Eats Science of pour over



2015 Cost of Living Index Medellin is cheap to live

The new 2015 cost of living index has been published, link below to check where your living now as compare to Medellin Colombia or any other city you may think of as your “spot” to retire to.

The bottom line MEDELLIN RANK 38 about HALF the cost living as compare to living in the USA, scores in the 70 to 100 rank Los Angeles, San Francisco Portland Oregon or even New York are more than double the cost to live than a better quality of life in Medellin Colombia.

The factors considered were rent, food, restaurants, etc.

Check the details here, find your favourite city to compare actual cost.

Colombia Food & Travel Guide Medellin FREE DOWNLOAD

Colombia Travel in your plans, coming to Medellin Valley, here is a handy Colombia Travel Medellin Guide for FREE.

Colombia Medellin Food & Travel Guide is free…

My book on Colombia Great Eats called “Colombia Street Food Guide” has five day trips out of Medellin Valley not to miss.  The bonus chapters have self guided direction, maps and photos of places outside the normal tourist spots you should visit while in Medellin.

Medellin city itself has plenty to see too, this guide is for getting you out of the city for a day & Enjoy the Great foods of Colombia too ! 

Absolutely FREE,  chick here to be directed to a download page. 


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

Medellin Apartment for $1,000 a month What is a $1,000 dollar apartment like in Medellin Colombia?

This unit is “vacant” not furnished. To show what you may expect for a rental. Located on the 17th floor of a building a few blocks uphill from Poblado Avenue, in Poblado a prime area, walk to the malls & parks. Medellin living is, life on the “PATIO” you pay for a larger patio that opens from the living room with a wall of sliding glass. Patio living is what Medellin is all about. This is a three bedroom three bath unit, very large bedrooms each with a private bath, double sinks, large glass showers. This building the elevator is key coded to the floor, the elevator opens, you in your apartment.

The Kitchen is a Colombian style, smaller but adequate with gas appliances and oven. Western style large kitchens with centre islands are normal too, in the upper hillside area buildings. There is a fourth bedroom for the maid, it is small, plus a oversize laundry room, two sinks, & washer-dryer will fit. Maids quarters is typical for Colombian upper range apartments.

This unit has a side view of the valley, other units higher on the hillside have panoramic views 180 of the entire valley or some face the mountain view. Similar larger units in either city of Envigado or Sanbaneta in newer buildings start in the $700’s to $900’s, this unit is in the Beverly Hills section of Medellin, where prices are a bit more.

24hr security, a complete gym with all modern equipment plus free weights, nice pool and sauna are all normal for this class of building in Medellin.

Looking for a vacant long term rental OR a holiday fully furnished rental in Medellin drop me a e-mail we can send you what is available. thanks for your interest


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.

Basic Salsa Steps to learn

The best way to meet people here in Colombia, is you need to LEARN SALSA.  Really not hard to learn the “basic” Cali Colombian Salsa steps.  Build on your dance from there.  Several dance studios are in Medellin to help, below are a few YouTube videos to get you stated.  Many of the Salsa Clubs give free lessons prior to opening for a hour at 7:00pm too, come learn to dance, meet girls have a great time for your second life to begin !!  Really, it all starts with a few simple steps.


This next video below is one I found easy to learn from, you will see all the basic steps, now go out to a Salsa Club there are plenty of cute girls just waiting to dance with you “age” is not an item, trust me all the girls will dance with you, give you a chance to meet a lot of great Colombian people too !!

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 !!

Retire Colombia Medellin how to catch a Taxi

Hello everyone today let me show you how easy it is to get a TAXI in Medellin or any city in Colombia all have the same methods.  The Taxi in Medellin is “metered” meaning you pay the actual amount shown on the meter.  A few cities in Colombia there are taxi service however they do not have a meter system in place for a few smaller cities, in that case ask about the fare prior to getting into the taxi !!

Medellin is no problem, stick your arm out flag one down, jump in, the meter should be re-set to 2600 peso, if not ask the driver to re-set prior to your start.  The minimum meter amount to pay is 4400 peso, a very short trip this is what to expect to pay if less than this amount on the meter.  Taxi to the airport is fixed flat rate set  by the government, now at $57,000 peso and includes the toll booth fee, the taxi driver will pay this.

Enjoy the video, for the most part in Medellin or any city in Colombia the taxi drivers are courtesy, friendly group of guys and gals too.

Medellin Colombia Fruit Juice Cafe Tropical Fruit explained

Hello this is Russell to help guide you into the world of Tropical Fruit Juices of Colombia.  Colombia grows over 200 hundred different types of fruit and of these 20 are typical to squeezed into juice and then again of these about 10 are most popular.  Learn about these Top Ten Juice Picks in a two part YouTube video set, this is part one of two.

Besides making squeezed juices Colombia makes Fruit Smoothies blended with a little bit of ice, sugar along with fresh fruit.  My favourite TROPICAL DRINK is a mix of Watermelon and fresh Coconut chunks into a blender with ice to make one great Tropical drink, a Coconut Watermelon smoothie, give this combo a try when in country.

I hope this mini guide will help you order when your faced with a list of unknown words on the cafe restaurant menu, order two to find your best top ten juice picks.


Here is a recent news blog post by the Huffington Post, link click here, on the compare of these two cities as a retirement spot, only you can decide but Kathleen Peddicod points out in her article there is no winner, it is your personal life style you wish.  Read what she has to say, all good, both cities are great spot to retire in for South America. Photo above is Cuenca from Huffington Post.


Cuenca, Ecuador, and Medellin, Colombia, are two of the top retirement options in Latin America right now.

Which is better? Which one might be the right place for you to think about retiring overseas? Trying to answer those questions requires drawing some comparisons.

Both of these cities enjoy great weather, with no bugs, all year. Living in either place, you wouldn’t need to use heat or air conditioning, a big help with monthly utility bills.

That said, the weather is not the same in these two cities. Medellin is warmer, with daily highs averaging around 81 degrees Fahrenheit, lows in the 60s, and minor seasonal variation. In Cuenca, monthly average highs vary from 65 to 71 degrees, depending on the time of year, and nightly lows are likewise correspondingly lower.

Medellin sees more rain (66 inches annually versus 35 inches in Cuenca). At the same time, Medellin sees more sunny days, on average, annually, than Cuenca.

Does either of those descriptions qualify as “perfect weather” for you? As with all retire overseas factors, it’s a matter of your own preferences.

Residency is fairly easy to establish in both Colombia and Ecuador, with low thresholds for visa qualification in both countries. In Colombia, the pensioner’s visa requires an income of just under $1,000 per year, while in Ecuador the level is even lower, at $800 per year. For an investor-type visa, Colombia’s options start at around $34,000, while Ecuador requires but $25,000.

Colombia’s visa, however, is quicker and easier to obtain, with fewer documents required. Also, Ecuador imposes some restrictions on your travel during your first two years of residency in that country, while Colombia imposes no such restrictions at any time.

The cultural scene in Medellin is remarkably similar to that in Cuenca… which is to say that both of these cities are culturally rich. This is surprising because, while Medellin is home to about 4 million people, there are but 600,000 living in Cuenca. Still, in both cities, you can enjoy orchestra, theater, art openings, museums, and a generally sophisticated cultural scene. You’ll pay a modest fee for most of these things in Medellin, while in Cuenca they’re usually free.

The infrastructure is good in both cities. You’ll enjoy drinkable water, reliable broadband Internet, and dependable electricity, water, and phone service.

Also, both cities are very walkable, and both boast excellent and cheap public transit systems. And, if you decide to drive, you’ll find traffic jams equally maddening in both cities.

Real estate is a tremendous bargain in both cities, cheap for the region and on a global scale. Apples to apples insofar as that’s possible (that is, comparing comparable properties in comparable regions of each city), Medellin’s El Poblado neighborhood (the best address in the city and the place where most expat retirees are settling) is the winner. On a per-square-meter basis (which is the only reliable way to compare property prices between two places), prices in El Poblado are lower than prices in the best neighborhoods of Cuenca.

Bottom line, you can buy a nice, two-bedroom apartment in both these cities for less than $100,000.

For the lifestyle you’ll enjoy in Medellin, the cost of living is a tremendous bargain. The same is true in Cuenca–for the lifestyle it offers, it, too, is a great bargain.

However, the lifestyle in one is nothing like the lifestyle in the other, which brings us to the ways these cities differ. (As Medellin is such a big and diverse city, I’ll confine my comparisons to its El Poblado neighborhood, which, again, is likely where you would want to settle if you were to retire here.)

To start, Medellin’s El Poblado offers a modern, upscale ambiance. It has elegant shopping, state-of-the-art infrastructure, attractive new buildings, and many and diverse options for dining out. New, luxury, brick high-rises look down from wooded hillsides. Tall trees line the well-maintained streets and nicely landscaped parks. And El Poblado is only one of many such desirable areas in this city.

On the other hand, Cuenca is one of the Americas’ premier Spanish-colonial cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old Cathedral was built in 1557, the architecture is well-preserved Spanish colonial, and the streets are cobblestoned. You’ll even see evidence of the Inca occupation from the early 1500s. Yet just outside the historic center, Cuenca also offers new, modern high-rises. So you can live in a modern home, yet have the historic center just a short distance away.

El Poblado is a First World environment; you’d be hard-pressed to find a U.S. city that can beat it. On the other hand, Cuenca is part of a developing country, where you see evidence of the Third World… things like sidewalks in poor repair and unmaintained structures.

Access to the United States is easier from Medellin than from Cuenca. You can fly direct to Medellin from Miami (flights are available daily), whereas you’ll need to connect (and probably spend the night) in Guayaquil or Quito when traveling to Cuenca. This adds a day to the trip coming and going, as well as the cost of lodging and taxis.

The expat community is far smaller in Medellin than in Cuenca. You can find expats in Medellin — at a local coffee shop or the Irish pub — if you look for them, but you won’t normally see your fellows around.

In Cuenca, the expat community has grown dramatically in the past few years especially. Today’s estimates put between 4,000 and 5,000 expats and foreign retirees in this city. They are making a cultural imprint. Most of their impact is positive, in my opinion, but whether an expat community of that size is a positive or a negative for you overall is, again, like all retire overseas factors, a matter of choice.

The cost of living is higher in El Poblado than in Cuenca, due in part to currency exchange rates. Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar, so dollar-holders don’t feel the pinch of a weakening currency in this country. Meantime, Colombia uses its own peso. The stronger it gets, the more dollars you need to maintain the same standard of living. Bottom line, your living costs in Medellin would be noticeably higher than in Cuenca.

That said, as I write, the U.S. dollar is at a 16-month high against the Colombian peso, making a real estate purchase in Medellin more appealing right now than ever.

A basic budget for Medellin might be $1,750 per month (food, entertainment, utilities, public transit, taxes, and HOA fees). In Cuenca, figure about $1,250 per month. Neither city is expensive, but Cuenca is definitely more affordable.

All things considered, the winner is?

There is no winner. Neither city is “better.” Manhattan is not inherently better or worse than New Orleans, say, but it’s certainly different. The same goes for Medellin and Cuenca.

I see Cuenca as an adventure, a cultural adventure. It offers a lifestyle that’s as different as you can get from the United States or Canada without leaving the world’s European-based cultures.

Medellin, on the other hand, could be perceived as a reward destination. A pretty, pleasant, comfortable place to live, a place where it’s a treat to spend time. In Medellin, you can embrace a sophisticated, elegant lifestyle, the kind of lifestyle that most retirees wouldn’t be able to afford in the United States.