Is Colombia (Medellín) really as dangerous as some people say? …Separating myths from reality

Is Colombia (Medellín) really as dangerous as some people say? …Separating myths from reality

One day while walking down the street in Medellín I started a conversation with a total stranger. Although I speak Spanish with native fluency he was quick to notice that I was not from Colombia because of my Costa Rican accent. He asked what I was doing in the city and told him that I was starting a relocation tour business for North Americans who were exploring the possibility of moving there. He congratulated me and wished me success. The topic then shifted to Colombia’s and specifically Medellín’s image abroad. He remarked that the country’s reputation had demonized by Hollywood and the news media. I could not agree more. In the 1900s Medellín was one of the most violent cities in the world because of the fighting among drug cartels…
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Costa Rica (Central Valley) vs Medellín: a difficult comparison

Costa Rica (Central Valley) vs Medellín: a difficult comparison

I just read an article posted on the Medellín Guru’s website that compares the city of Medellín, Colombia with Costa Rica. Both are the most desirable relocation destinations in Latin America in my opinion. However,  it very difficult to compare a city with a whole country. That’s like comparing apples and oranges. A much fairer and more realistic comparison would be to compare Medellín and Costa Rica’s Central Valley since both have a similar topography in that they are both located in mountain valleys. [caption id="attachment_4926" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Medellin, Colombia[/caption] First I would like to point out that I lived in Latin America for almost 50 years and have visited every country except for Paraguay. I studied in Mexico and hold advanced degrees in Latin American studies and Spanish linguistics. Although I…
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Medellín’s most famous native son and artist

Fernando Botero a famous figurative artist known for obesely bloated and oversized depictions of people and animals. His signature style is known as “Boterismo”. Botero's works can be found in more than 50 exhibits in major cities worldwide including New York and Paris. He has been bestowed with accolades including the First Prize in Painting at the prestigious Salón Nacional de Artistas in 1958, at the age of just 24. He was also given the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture award by the International Sculpture Center in the USA, which recognizes his significant contributions to the medium. Some of his work command selling prices in the millions of dollars like his bronze sculpture, Dancers that fetched more than $1.7 million US dollars at a Christie’s auction. Botero was born in…
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Colombian (Medellín)– Style Spanish Part 1

Colombian (Medellín)– Style Spanish Part 1

Although many of Colombia’s well-educated people speak some English, the majority do not. So what does that mean for an English-speaking foreigner who is going to relocate there? Anyone who seriously plans to live, retire or invest in Colombia, especially Medellín, should know some Spanish — and the more the better. They should at least try to obtain minimum level Spanish survival skills in order to handle most daily situations they will encounter. Frankly, anyone will be at a disadvantaged and be considered a foreigner to some degree without a basic knowledge of the language Part of the fun of living in another country is communicating with the local people, making new friends and enjoying the culture. Speaking Spanish will enable you to achieve these ends, have a more rewarding…
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Medellín Warning Label

Medellín Warning Label

All of us have seen warning labels on products especially on medications. A warning label is a label attached to an item, or contained in an item's instruction manual, warning the user about risks associated with the use of the item. Many people including myself have referred to Medellín as paradise in a figurative sense because paradise really doesn’t exist except in one’s mine. Medellín and Colombia have many wonderful things to offer — much more good than bad. Expats wouldn't living here if they didn’t love the country and believe it was an incredible place to live. For many people Colombia and its amenities can be a solution for what is ailing them. However, living in Colombia, specifically Medellín, can be a challenge and some precautions should be taken…
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In Colombia – Annual Festival Of Lights

In Colombia – Annual Festival Of Lights

Every year for the Christmas season, Medellín celebrates an event is called El Alumbrado, literally meaning "the lighting.” The official ceremony takes place on December 1. There's no better time to visit this wonderful city. The event expected to attract thousands of visitors. National Geographic considers Medellín of the 10 best places in the entire world to view Christmas lights. Lights can be seen throughout the city of Medellín at well over 100 locations: colorful lights adorn famous public squares and plazas such as Nutibara Hill (where Pueblito Paisa is located), not to mention private homes in neighborhoods like Savaneta, and shopping malls. You will virtually see lights everywhere you go in the city. Christmas lights form figures in the shape of angels, Christmas trees, snowmen, wreaths, sleds, Santa, and…
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Bienvenido a Colombia (Welcome to Colombia)

Bienvenido a Colombia (Welcome to Colombia)

The term ¡Bienvenido! means “ welcome" in Spanish. I remember my on my first trip to Colombia I was repeatedly greeted with this phrase. Recently, I took a ride on Medellín’s Metro system and struck up a conversation with a perfect stranger. One of the first things he said was, ¡bienvenido! This attitude of welcoming visitors and the smiles I get when walking around Medellín make me feel comfortable and right at home. Colombians are friendly and outgoing and will often go out of their way to help you even if you do not speak Spanish. They are also very pro-American and love anything American—music, TV, fashion and U.S. culture in general. Probably the best thing about living in Colombia are its warm, friendly and accepting people and one of…
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Colombia’s Famous Paisa Platter

Colombia’s Famous Paisa Platter

As I mentioned in a previous blog, one of the best ways to learn about any country or its culture is through a people’s language and foods.  The Paisa Platter is a perfect example of this. But first let’s look at the meaning of the word “paisa”. In Colombian Spanish, Paisa is a shortened form of Paisano which describes the ‘countrymen’ from the Antioquia region, one of the oldest parts of Colombia in the north-west of the country. The main cities in this region are Medellín, Pereira, Manizales and Armenia. Additionally, the departamentos (provinces) of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and parts of Valle del Cauca (north) and Tolima (west) identify culturally with the paisa region.  The paisas have been considered a genetically isolated population according with researches. They are predominantly European ancestry because it is said that the male Spaniards who settled the region during…
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Obtaining a Colombia Retirement Visa  is now easier than ever

Obtaining a Colombia Retirement Visa is now easier than ever

Retirees who are thinking of relocating to user-friendly Colombia will need a retirement visa to remain in the country legally. Unlike some of the other countries south of the border the process moves quickly in Colombia once you have your ducks lined up in a row. In one country that I am very familiar with the process has taken some retirees a year or more. This should not be the case if you relocate to Colombia. Colombia’s retirement visa is for retired persons receiving a retirement income. It is relatively easy to get with a low-income requirement and only a few documents needed. The Colombia retirement (pension) visa is presently known as the TP-7 visa. This visa is valid for only one year and must be renewed each year. However, Colombia…
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Colombian Buñuelos

Colombian Buñuelos

There is no better way to know a people, their customs and culture than through their language and foods. A buñuelo is a fried dough ball and is usually filled or has a topping, but there are many regional variations of this dish. It is a popular snack in many countries in the Spanish-speaking world including Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala Mexico, Nicaragua. Puerto Rico, Ecuador Uruguay Spain and Venezuela. Latin American buñuelos are often considered a symbol of good luck. In Colombia buñuelos are a traditional Colombian Christmas treat, but they are also popular year round for breakfast with hot chocolate or coffee. It seems that everywhere you go there are restaurants and food stands offering this popular dish. In Colombia they are typically made with a…
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