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 Colombia from our vantage point 

American style mall, kidnapping & more

It is probably the most American mall in the city of Bogota, but that does not mean everything is great. Though it has been open about two years my wife and I finally visited Parque La Colina C.C. Located on Avenida Boyaca near Calle 145 the mall is easy to spot. Entering the underground parking structure requires driving around the building. Once inside the glass covered green lobby is impressive. Store showroom areas are larger than at most malls in the city. Places to shop include such U.S. names as Crate & Barrel. They even have a Starbucks inside. Despite the American company's sign saying that they have proudly served Colombian coffee for years what they served me was probably the 3rd worst coffee I have had in Colombia. Evidently I am not the only one who thinks that way. While Starbucks was pretty much empty, at the other end of the mall there was not an open seat at the Juan Valdez shop. And if you are hoping to get great information from the mall's website, you may be disappointed. I found the information there wanting and the search engine for stores did not even work. Despite the downsides it is a place worth checking out especially for the stores inside.

Gringolandia is becoming more gringolandia. There are a couple places in Bogota that I refer to as the land of gringos. One of them is Usaquen. We hear more English spoken there than in any other parts of the city. Now that I think of it I have never heard English spoken on the street outside of those two areas. These are usually areas I avoid. Neither really represents what the country is about. Restaurants in the area serving good Colombian food at a descent price are few. Arts and crafts sellers abound. But my wife and I visit the area once to twice a year. Mostly we enjoy eating at Felinos. This past weekend happened to be one of those times. In the 14 or so months since our last visit more visitors from other countries have infiltrated the area. Twice someone bumped into me and said, "Pardon me," in a North American accent. Looks like more people are finding Colombia as the  place to visit. Don't be scared to come. True, you  never have to leave the gringolandia areas, but we highly recommend that you do. There is much to discover in the country of Colombia.

The kidnapping made news around the world, but I never found any American media reporting it. Criminal elements kidnapped Melissa Martinez near Santa Marta, Colombia. The abductors delivered by phone a  $5 million dollar ransom request. What makes this kidnapping unique is that Martinez is the niece of Colombia's Nobel laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Colombia's anti-kidnapping unit, known by the Spanish initials of GAULA, says they are investigating.

A gentleman in his mid 70's told me the other day, "Don't get old."  Well, since he only has 5 years on me, he is too late in his advice. What reminds me of the condition is my latest trip to the optometrist. Now besides reading glasses I need something to see far away. The glasses make it much easier to see the small signs on the SITP buses as they  accelerate near the bus stops to try and avoid picking up passengers. Anyway, to give you an idea of costs in Colombia, my insurance covered the exam. I have frames from previous glasses but the lenses for both sets of glasses cost $130 USD.

Where is it better to retire, Colombia or Spain? After years of living in a small town about an hour from Bogota an Australian friend returned to his native country for two years. Now with his pension securely instated he returned. But will soon leave to spend considerable time in Spain to check out the feasibility of retiring there. When asked why he stated that he feels better near at lower elevations and those places in Colombia are very hot. Bogota maintains early spring type weather year-round, but it is 8,600 feet above sea level. I agree with him about feeling much better at lower elevations, but unfortunately for me most of my wife's family lives in Bogota. We will keep readers updated with what my Australian friend decides.

Thank you for reading. Sending you wishes for a great day.

Copyright © 2018 Michael and Graciela's Colombia, All rights reserved.

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