A Little About us and Colombia
This newsletter is a little different than previous ones. It covers more of information about us and our thoughts rather than what other media outlets are writing.
Thank you to all who signed up to receive our newsletter. We have many new subscribers since the last time we introduced ourselves. Thought it time to again provide an idea of what influences our perspective on blogs.
Let's begin with us. I am an American who has now lived in Colombia for over 12 years. My wife is a lifetime Colombian. While Spanish is her native language she speaks fluent English. We speak English at home. Consequently my Spanish is not as good as it should be. Our marriage is a second one for both of us, and we both have children from our first marriage. Mine all live in the United States (and have never visited me in Colombia) and hers are spread out over three countries.
We have traveled the world both before our marriage and together after marriage. This provides us comparisons. But we also know what it is like to find value when you travel. No corporation is paying for us to eat at fancy restaurants and we prefer to seek the less touristy areas. This thought process is used when writing about places in Colombia for our readers.
Because of our cultural differences my wife and I sometimes look at things differently. My tendency is to look at things through the eyes of a gringo visitor to the country and compare to the United States or other places. My wife is good at pointing out the cultural or other reasons for what things happen or are done a certain way in her country.
Our age is a big factor compared to other bloggers. Since we are both in our late 60's and really closing in on that 70 mark we no longer climb mountains, carry backpacks, sleep in hostels or look for party bars. Our concern when looking at attractions and accommodations for our readers focuses on safety, comfort and representative of Colombia.
While in Colombia we lived in several different places both small towns and the large city of Bogotá. In smaller towns outside the city our estratos were 2 and 3. Inside of Bogotá our living places have been in estratos 4 and 6. Living in these different divisions provides not just a look into the classes of Colombia, but an experience of what the life is like and what the thoughts of the residents are. Therefore we do not look at things strictly as a tourist might. The idea is to bring to readers a rounded look of the country. Do not know about estratos? Click HERE for our introduction about this unique Colombian way of doing things.
So much for us. Now let's talk about what is happening. Back in 2011 we wrote a blog titled, Visit Bogota Before it Becomes Touristy. Now there is a feeling that you are too late. We have pretty much stopped visiting the gringolandia areas of the city. Restaurants typical of the country have disappeared and given way to over priced theme or chain eating establishments. Hawkers line the areas selling more junk than crafts. And everywhere you hear English. But it is just not Bogotá. We are reconnecting with many of the towns around Bogotá that we visited when I first arrived. Many of them are also turning touristy. However in future blogs we will present places that, at least at this moment, eschew the tourist sham and bring you an insight into a more true Colombia.
Elections are happening in Colombia. The people already went to the polls and a single candidate did not receive the necessary 50% of the votes in order to win. Now the two top runners will face off against each other. Very right-wing and wanting to overhaul the peace agreement is Iván Duque. He received the most votes. His opponent is Gustavo Petro, a political veteran and left-winger. The centrist candidate and former mayor of Medellin, Sergio Fajardo, finished only 1% in votes behind Petro. As of this writing he has not endorsed either of the two remaining candidates.
Interesting to note is that the Colombian media has been using more propaganda techniques to influence readers opinion than the American press used during the last presidential election. For the Colombian people to receive truthful, non-biased information on any candidate is next to impossible. One European publication wrote that no matter which of the top runners wins things will pretty much be the same with the majority of the Colombian people getting the shaft. I just read some of the U.S. news on the candidates. Oh boy, it makes me wonder what planet the authors live on.
An electoral observer stated that the country has failed to fix a flaw discovered in 2014 that allowed for over 250,000 votes to be deleted. While fraud complaints come in from around the country some observors are concerned about employers telling their employees who to vote for if they want to keep their job.
Sorting out all the news is not easy. As for my wife and I, we avoid political conversations. Everyone seems to have their own opinion and very few are based on facts.
Venezuelans are showing up everywhere. With the problems in their country many people from Venezuela are flooding into Colombia. Some reports claim as many as 45,000 Venezuelans a day arrive in the country. Here in Bogotá you find them on the mass transportation, in the streets and even going door to door asking for money. As reported last month in our newsletter the USA has already contributed $10 million dollars to Colombia to help out with the influx of people. But how much of that money actually makes it to the cause and help the people is a matter of debate.
Speaking of Bogotá mass transportation we were in a social gathering the other day. Everyone agreed that the Tranmilenio is getting worse with over-crowding, people harassing you selling things or playing music, not enough buses running, and people jumping the turnstile and not paying their fare. With another view Bogotá mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, did a TED talk entitled, Why buses represent democracy in action. The idea most people I talk with have about it is, "good idea, very poor implementation."
My wife soon heads back to Switzerland to visit with her daughter and grandson. Just like last year when she went, I will be holding down the fort here in Bogotá and taking care of the dog. Don't feel sorry for me. The three weeks will give me time to build my new bench for woodworking. Earlier we wrote the blog,Hobby Woodworking in Colombia – Only for Gringos? We moved to another house since then and things have changed much. A continuation blog on the subject will be forthcoming. I have a few new thoughts on the subject that some may not like.
There is a new Juan Valdez coffee shop on the Avenida 19 near calle 116. This is one of their best yet. An excellent job in decorating and providing enjoyable places to sit and partake of coffee or any of their other offerings. I am glad to see the company expanding this way. Another coffee chain is going the opposite direction completely changing the Colombian coffee culture. They sell poor tasting coffee and overpriced goods then provide limited uncomfortable places to sit. Well, perhaps we will write about them soon.
Thank you for reading. Wishing everyone a great day and that everything goes your way.