Colombia, not Columbia

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  • I went a couple of years ago and whilst Tayrona is good, it is far from unspoilt and the Caribbean coast didn't do much for me compared to the inland. The El Cocuy national park on the other hand was amazing, by far the best place I've ever visited.

  • I've been to Minca foothills of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta trekking. Been around Guatape lake (man made) and up El Peñol in 2014.

    Hoping to visit Vampiros de Rio Claro cave complex and Santa Rosa de Cabal thermal springs near Pereira. Not far from Nevado del Ruiz volcano (national park).

    Only if we can leave Papá for a couple of nights.

  • Original and best cola mixed with beer.

    Similar to mixing colombiana with club colombia beer, only cheaper.

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  • humor más sutle
    regarding inheritance

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  • Los Tombos and street life

    Two years ago when I first visited Medellín I was impressed by the number of police on the streets. Typically riding two up on motor bikes, these guys and girls are everywhere. Plenty of road side checks, day and night. Also keeping the traffic moving. I've rarely seen a police car, maybe two or three tops. It is a comfort to know that the city takes public safety very seriously.

    There is also an army of private security firms, all carrying lethal weapons. At schools, residential complexes (a lot of gated communities in the newly developed areas) and shopping malls.

    The biggest fear in the city is probably kidnapping. Children are shuttled about in small 10 seater vans to /from school / sport activities.

    Culturally and I'm speaking middle classes, here you'd be 20 before going anywhere unescorted. There are plenty of parks, playgrounds and sports pitches, just not frequented daily. Kids today are happy with a smart phone, as long as there is wifi in the mall, restaurant or home. Pretty sad imho.

    I guess this way of life has a price, doesn't feel cheap despite the vast gulf between rich and abject poverty. When we were eating out in Laureles (Donde Dario), a young man passed by asking for some food, it's not uncommon to share stuff from your plate. Always gratefully received, the guy probably shared his food with another homeless guy.

    In traffic we are regularly approached by kids selling fruit from local trees, or a punnet of strawberries, or a handful of sweets. It's only pennies they are after. We seldomn refuse and the taxi drivers always treat them kindly. Just don't tempt them with an iPhone, Rolex watch or jewellery siting next to the driver in the taxi.

    Naturally some barrios are no go, especially after dark.

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  • Moda­tive-colombia/

    Medellín is the epicentre for fashion and beauty in South America. My first ever experience of seeing a paisa girl, was two years ago on a scooter, as we were travelling from the airport to my girlfriends parents via taxi.

    The young woman in question was early 20s, riding solo, commuting to work, great figure, finely dressed, great manicured finger nails (no gloves) and killer heels. I didn't see her face or hair under the sleek crash helmet, but it was an impressive introduction.

    Colombian women take their appearance very seriously. All of the top Euro brands have a presence, as does the cosmetic industry with links to natural beauty products and healthy lifestyle. A lot of high end clothing, accessories and shoes are made here and sold worldwide. Branded clothes and merchandise are not cheap.

    I've never understood the need for breast and butt implants, as the women here are already naturally attractive. With several centuries of fine blending of European, African and Native attributes.

    As for the behaviour of Colombian men, I'd best not comment or stereotype.

  • Murcielago­bats-are-misunderstood­bia-second-largest-biodiversity/

    It's no surprise when I say that we have bats living in our neighbourhood of Laureles. After weeks of heavy rain and thunderstorms, last night was hot and still. There must be around a dozen bats living directly outside our front door among the palm and fruit trees searching for flying insects and feeding on nectar from flowers after dark. These enigmatic creatures have adapted well to urban life. Having them silently swooping above our heads in the evening is a wonderful and totally unexpected experience. The city also has a powerful searchlight that wipes high and wide located at one the famous nightclubs on the balcony road across the valley from Laureles, it's beam like a demented lighthouse.

    Batman symbolism and merchandise is everywhere but not like in Valencia, Spain where city logos adopt this mammal. But it's good to know that children here are taught about bat life in the city and countryside. Bats are closer related to humans than mice or rats. Bats like birds and bees are essential pollinators among the great biodiversity this city has. Through education less concerns about rabies (very rare in bats) and vampires only found away from the city, little threat to humans.

    I've now seen all phases of the moon since being here, and its very different to back home. I can only assume that because we are close to the equator, the moon orientation appears almost horizontal at half full and path during the night travels directly over head, unlike in London where waxing and waning phases are angled and moon path arcs across the London skyline. Alas there is too much light pollution in this valley to see many stars, so the surrounding yellow street lights will have to do.

    Obviously none of this affects bats as they see very clearly using echolocation, the only thing they can't see is colour. There are some bugs that have combated this search and eat strategy by emitting their own sounds to confuse the bats. But being the tropics, no doubt evolution has a knack and sense of order.

    Taking care of a dying man and spending long nights on his balcony, as the city either sleeps, parties or works. I appreciate discovering these small incidental details. However we need to be vigilant as medical complications have and will continue to occur, these are his last days on earth as the cancer is out of control now and spreading across his body. Only morphine can ease his suffering, before his spirit is released and he is one with the celestial beings or bats.

  • Late lunch.. this soup is the best.. made with a small variety plaintain called Guineo, packed with iron. Every Colombian baby will have eaten this as his/her first ever meal. The chicken is always served like a thick steak here with mushroom sauce, the salad and fresh papaya juice, well it's all utterly delicious and ridiculously cheap :)

    All in 2 soups 2 mains 2 sides 2 drinks and 2 small desserts of arroz de leche with tip $68,000 COP

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  • Lucas - Plata

    Current exchange rate €3,600 COP = £1 GBP
    Colombian bank notes make no sense and couldn't find $2,000 and $1,000

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  • humor más sutle
    from Medellín, this is all macho posturing.

    Blokes here are actually shy and timid.

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    Among them are the 3,663 waste pickers who make their living by collecting recyclables in the city – sometimes door-to-door, most times on the streets. The environmental impact of their work is generally not recognised, yet it provides a breather for the city’s landfill and raw materials for industries, improving the lives of the 2.5 million people living in the city. 

    Its Thursday morning and we have a street corner where everyone leaves out recyclable waste for collection. Call it opportunity or exploitation, but these waste pickers (old, young, men and women) are unsung heroes. The streets and pavements around Laureles are immaculately clean. Okay it might be different in the poorer barrios. But somehow it works and it is very noticeable when driving about.

    Public waste bins, commercial waste from restaurant kitchens, supermarkets and shops are also sorted into waste streams. It obviously saves local government money, and benefits in a small way the least fortunate.

    We also have street vendors pulling carts or on cargo bikes selling all manner of things during the day. Hollering their wares, from cleaning products, brooms to fresh fruit and cold drinks. Everyone gives a little and unlicensed daily street trading persists.

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  • More humour from Medellín

    Is the salsa culture still surviving or has reggaeton obliterated everything?

  • reggaeton had ruined modern music here and we have loads of bars and clubs on our doorstep, playing loud music until 3am most nights, including Sundays.

    Hector Lavoe = Puerto Rican but much loved here.

    Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez (Jaunes) is homegrown though.

    Each region of colombia has its unique sounds, but here's a classic pre reggaeton from Cali.

  • Music from the costal region, hence the heavy use of accordions.

  • Pero Hector fué boricua, chacho!

    Although to be fair we're also mostly to blame for the reggaeton.

    Some of the Colombian slang quite resembles Puerto Rican slang, actually. I guess it's some shared Caribbean vocabulary. This is all rather feeding my desire to go visit.


    A transformation took place in the mid 90s that changed the behaviour of drivers and pedestrians in Bogotá. The newly elected independent mayor Antanas Mockus choose some unorthodox solutions to tackle social problems. Employing 420 mime artists to replace traffic police was one of many ground breaking initiatives.

    Mockus recognized that there were significant differences between what the law said, and what people did, which wouldn’t be fixed simply by creating new laws. He realised that ‘the rules’ governing society were partly due to the regulations and threat of punishment, but mostly due to what people had come to view as normal. Litter was thrown on the streets because it was deemed morally acceptable. People committed crimes because they believed they would not be punished for them.

    Imposing ridicule instead of fines being less costly and less time consuming. within two months the city streets had changed. Reducing highway law breaking and careless driving, pedestrians started to obey traffic signals and stopped jaywalking, later cycling become more integrated within highway planning. Ultimate aim was to heal the city and become more considerate towards fellow Rolos. This social experiment was later used in other Colombian cities and other Latin countries with success.

    Today street artists at road junctions (mostly jugglers touting for money) are a distant reminder of what Colombians witnessed in awe back in their troubled times.

  • Do it, it'll bring a smile to your face :)

    Colombia shares many things with their carribean neighbours. Like 'finger slapping' when they want to express themselves a little annoyed or excited.

  • More medical visits today (always in a tower) with great views, posting soon

  • Do they say 'wepa' while doing it?

  • @h2o
    Yep also ayate!! lol

  • Car alarms and ring tones with jungle sounds are common here. The dawn chorus is as noisy as I've heard in the jungles of Natal Game Park or Sri Lankan forest retreat. Bats at night are silent, then a dazzling array of feathered friends to wake us up at 5.30 each morning.

  • Below is the Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus), I've lifted the image from the interwebz, but one of these fellas sat at my table in a food court a couple of days ago eyeing up the sesame seeds on my baguette. I picked off a few and he sat and ate with me within arms reach.

    I might not get to see an Andean Condor, they live west of Medellin at the mountain tops, but in this city I've seen hummingbirds, parrots, toucans, doves and plenty of small variety of sparrow like or cardinal like critters. Even small version of a vulture at one of the storm drains.

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  • The drug barons used to fly Hector and a pick up Fania band over from NY at weekends back in the day to play private parties, it also used to be said that Criollo by Hermanos Lebron was the one album that could be found in every Colombian household with a record player


    Fania CD plays in our kitchen most weekends back in Londres.

    There's a copy here somewhere of Criollo.

  • I didn't know that.

    This thread makes me happy.

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Colombia, not Columbia

Posted by Avatar for almac68 @almac68