Breaking News: Santos Liquidates DAS

The President signed an order this afternoon liquidating DAS. The main effect on tourists and non-Colombian residents will be a change of agencies handling visas. This was announced about 1/2 hour ago so I don’t know where these will be issued yet. Will report when I know.


To Catch a Theif

I took my wife to a doctors appointment this morning at the downtown Clinica de Medellin. Just prior to entering the building we heard a lot of shouting coming from the Avianida Oriental about half a block up the street. People we saying, “Catch him.” “Stop him.” “Thief!”

For a short space of time the calls became louder and more frequent. Then they dropped off and changed to”That’s it.” “Way to go!” They caught him.

This was a petty street crime and not uncommon in any city. I have only seen a few similar situations here in Medellin in the nearly 4 years I have been living here. All of them were resolved by direct citizen intervention. All of the resulted in the police being called to handle the matter once the criminal was apprehended. This is a matter of civic pride.

It is good to live in a city where people care about street crime and are willing to get involved to stop it. I am very proud of Medellin and its crime stopping citizens.

The Barranquero: A frequent companion at Finca el Arroyuelo

Great Fish in Downtown Medellin

We went to the Resturante Nuqui for an early dinner the other day.  As we had been there before we were expecting a great fish dinner and were not disappointed.

The atmosphere is cheery and comfortable with a rustic feel and pleasing aquatic color scheme of blues and greens. A nicely done frieze of tropical reef fish brings the high ceiling down to sea level. Nuqui is a small Choco town on the Pacific Coast and the restaurant  reflects the culture and cooking style of that area.

Nubia had a grilled sierra plate. The fish was done to perfection and very tasty. I had their famous Tumbacatre fish sancocho. This is a stew made with coconut, yuca (cassava root), name (yam) and fish.  The flavor rich and not “fishy.” The serving of catfish was generous and the accompaniment of coconut rice and a salad also was delicious. Nubia’s sierra plate also included a small bowl of sanchcho, coconut rice and salad. I had two beers and Nubia drank coconut water. This came to just $COP 43,000 or about $US $22.60 at today’s exchange rate of about 1901 to 1.

Each time we have been there the service has been friendly, helpful and reasonably fast. It’s the kind of place I actually feel like leaving a tip.

The resturant is located downtown at Calle 55  Number 45-83,  less than a block east of Oriental, the main drag.  Calle 55 is also known a Peru. When traveling north on Oriental it makes a sharp curve to the west. If you make the curve you have gone about blocks too far.

They also have a resturant in el Poblado at Carrera 42 Number 10-49. This is a couple of blocks off of Parque Lleras. We have not eaten at this location so I can’t really comment on it.

A Downtown Walk

Medellin’s downtown has two streets dedicated to pedestrian use.


Carabobo between San Juan and La Playa provides a nice corridor sheltered from the diesel exhaust of the the buses.  Lots of shops, eateries and something interesting at both ends. The portion of Carabobo south of San Juan is characterized by shops selling automotive parts. At the intersection with  San Juan you will find the Parque de la Luz and the goverenment complex called la alpujarra.

The architecture of the alpujarra  is interesting in its self. I am partial to the the sculptures of Rodrigo Arenas Betancur in any case and the work that graces the main plaza there is representative of his odes to human aspiration.

The north end of the pedestrian section of Carabobo includes both the Veracruz Church and the Museo de Antioquia. The La Inglesia de la Veracruz is, I believe the oldest church in the Medellin area and was started in 1682 by el Capitán Juan Céspedes de Hinestroza. The Museo de Antioquia houses a collection of art reflecting the cultural environment of Antioquia. They have an excellent permanent collection and host rotating shows of cultural and artistic significance. I love the place!

I also love the museums patio restaurant that overlooks the Botero Plaza.  Nubia and I often enjoy a snack or meal, just sitting watching the people in the plaza. There are lots of tourists both from other parts of Colombia and of international origin in the plaza and enjoying the restaurant. If you want to meet others visiting Medellin this is a good spot.

This entire walking route has the advantage of never being more than a few blocks from the Metro. Stations nearby include, from south to north, Alpujarra, San Antonio, and Parque Berrio.


The second pedestrian corridor is Junín. It can be accessed from the end of Carabobo by walking just two blocks to the east on La Playa. A turn to the left will take you on to Junin where you will find the original location of El Astor. This is a a great place for a snack on excellent pastries and confections. A bit further to the north on the left you will find the Versalles restaurant. Versalles has a great atmosphere typical of its heritage as a gathering place for intellectuals and artists. You never know who you may see here. The food also is good and the pastries sold at the entrance are excellent. I really like the Palitos de Guayaba (Guava Sticks). To date these are just $COP 1000 ( US$ 0.53 at today’s exchange rate) and IMHO the best treat buy in Medellin.

Just a few steps further you will find the Parque de Bolivar and Metropolitan Cathedral.  The park is a bit seedy but the cathedral is beautiful both outside and within. They have a pipe  organ well worth hearing if you get the chance.

Please take advantage of these pedestrian thoroughfares.  They will give you an insight into the vitality and commercial spirit of Medellin and introduce you  to many of the pleasures of the Center City.

Big Food Event October 20 through 23

The MARIDAJE 2011 Foods Festival (EL FESTIVAL GASTRONÓMICO) will take place at the Plaza Mayor between October 20th and 23rd. They will be featuring 5o local resturants and a wide variety of food and drink related displays. This could be a great way to find out about tasty opportunites here in Medellin. There should be several of the better coffee growers represented.

I did not attend their first event but will be  at this one for sure. There are some really great resturaunts in town but which one to try next?

Pleasures of the Countryside

I headed down the trail to buy some corn fritters (torticas de chocolo) earlier this morning.  A couple of days ago we bought some very good empanandas from a lady who has a small stand near the El Arroyuelo trail head about 0.5 kilometer from the house. I found out yesterday that she makes torticas and Nubia said go, you have a mission. So I went.

Mission accomplished. The walk was beautiful.  The trail leads along a singing stream. It rained a lot yesterday afternoon and last night but the creek was clear and bright. Our forests are mossy and this morning the moss was bright green and gave the woods a rich carpeted look.

The torticas turned out to be among the best we have found. They are made of ground or blended whole, fresh field corn. The batter is given a consistency that allows it to be spooned into deep fat for frying. If you like corn you will be hard put to find a simpler, tastier way of eating it.

In addition to a nice walk, and some treats was an opportunity to greet and get to know a neighbor better. People here are very friendly and they always are glad to see you and pass a few chatting. Good way to start the day. Hummm… later today I just might have to go down and get some empanadas…

Humming Birds at Finca El Arroyuelo (Piedras Blancas)

The humming birds have taken to our feeders in a big way. Sometimes it looks like La Guardia on a busy afternoon.

For years we had just one small feeder hung on the front porch. During a recent trip to the States we got a larger one and set it up in May.  Although there was always action, neither attracted a lot of attention until about a month ago. Suddenly the rate at which the birds are taking the sugar water jumped. Now I am refilling both once a week. It may be that the larger one is hanging next to a sietecueros shrub adjacent to the porch. This gives them a staging area where they can wait for an opening. Some of them are very aggressive towards others wanting to use the feeders.

We have four species visiting our feeders. They are:

White-bellied WoodStars,

Bronzy Incas (?)

Greenish Pufflegs.

Green Violetear.

Gregorian Chant in Medellin October 29th

On October 29th the Metropolitan Theater will be presenting a program of Gregorian Chant as part of the VII Annual Medellin Cultural Classical Music Season (VII TEMPORADA INTERNACIONAL DE MÚSICA CLÁSICA MEDELLÍN CULTURAL.) The program will be performed by the Paris Gregorian Chorus and Schola Gregoriana of Bogota beginning at 6:00 PM. The tickets are $COP 40,000, 30,000 and 20,000 ($US 20.89, 15.67 and 10.44). These prices are calculated at today’s exchange rate of about 1914 COP per dollar.

If you have not been to the Metropolitan Theater it is a beautiful venue with good acoustics. For this kind of performance I think even the least expensive seats will be just fine. The Theater is located at the Plaza Mayor just west of the Alpujarra. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the following locations. Ticket office at the theater, Prodiscos (Unicentro), Entertainment Store (El Tesoro), and the following  Éxito supermarkets; Colombia, Envigado, Laureles, El Poblado, Bello, San Antonio, Rionegro. The theaters phone number is 232-2858.

See you there…


I just got back from the Sustainable Coffee Growing Fair and Seminar* in Sabaneta. What a lucky find!  This trade show and conference was wrapping up but the growers were still present and displaying their products. It is a little embarrassing to say but I really had not tasted great Colombian coffee until today.  I only sampled three of the 18 different sustainably grown coffees but what an eye opener.  Flavorful differences ranging from subtle to bold,and all three were among the best coffees I have tasted.

I was especially impressed with San Julian’s product. Ms Maria Victoria Mora, one of the principals, was representing the farm and serving samples. She is a charming and very knowledgeable rep. These folks are in Ciudad Bolivar in the western chain of the Andes. Their coffee was rich and mild at the same time. Very easy to drink. I am going out to visit them in December when their processes are in full swing.

I also sampled the Cafe Turquesa.  Mr. Jaime Valencia serve up their product as expresso. It was rich, mellow and I was thinking seriously of asking for another sample. I also will see about visiting the Turquesa finca.

I can see several trips out into the Southwestern Region of Antioquia on the horizon. It is a beautiful area with lot of things to see and do. I now know another substantial reason to visit there. I think I am going to visit a lot of these fincas (farms) and will be reporting back in both words and pictures.   The story of this coffee deserves to be widely known.

* III Feria Y Seminario de Caficultura Sostenible

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