Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia

Jim Davies is the kind of person I want to sit down with and buy a beer or three and listen to his tales of derring do here in Colombia. The incongruity of it all is almost too much to fathom as he regales us in this week's episode with stories about his new friendship with the one and only Faustino Asprilla, his facebook friendship with Dania (of secret service fame, you know who I am talking about!) and further notbale personalities in Colombia. 

But, the real reason we have invited Davies on the show is that he is yet another foreigner in Colombia doing something for Colombia. Every conversation one has with Davies is punctuated with mentions of social projects that he has planned, has executed or has underway. Tune in to hear about the photography inspired workshop which produced proceeds for the more down at heel barrios of Soacha in southern Bogota, about his plan to start a "sponsored rubbish bin" drive in Cali so as to increase cleanliness and environmental awareness. 

Why Davies and why Colombia? How does a picture editor at one of the UK's most prestigious newspapers end up in Cali. Hear it all on this show "An Englishman in Cali."

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-12-29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am EST

Forgive me for saying this from the off, but I am particularly pleased with this show for you with Julia Symmes Cobb. It has the perfect balance between history, Colombia, journalism and quirky eccentricities of the past. So, get this, I met Julia - a freelancer in Colombia for Reuters and the Washington Post - through another journalist and over the months we have become friends, in fact her parents even came down and stayed in my hotel in Mompos...but this was all part of their research into a long deceased relative who travelled the Magdalena River exploring towns and tributories in this region on a search for gold. 

So, Julia's great grandfather was in this very area of Cartagena, Barranquilla, Magangue (all Caribbean areas of Colombia) and even further adrift back in 1900 and until 1902. The diary is a wonderfully embossed collection of letters about his travels and travails with a beautiful turn of phrase that you would expect from an educated individual of the era. We never really learn how the gold dredging business fared for this adventurer but what we are treated to is an unrivalled insight into Colombia during the initial phases of a conflict. References to Conservative forces and Liberal forces litter the text and there are even carefully drawn maps of the river and indeed of Barranquilla. 

Be sure to tune in to learn about a little known period of Colombian history all told through personal anecdotes placed in a treasured diary.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-12-22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:07am EST

Doing his first ever media interview as a writer here on Colombia Calling, we take the opportunity to talk about Colombia and his new novel The Gallows Gem of Prallyn with Canadian diplomat Ian McKinley. 

As always, the interview takes the form of an interesting exploration of the experiences people encounter as they move through Colombian life. And indeed as his new direction in becoming a published author! Perhaps most interestingly, we ask how is it that a career diplomat writes a fantasy novel!

So, tune in to enjoy a free flowing discussion of Ian McKinley's development as a diplomat who writes, from absorbing the atmosphere of the situation of civil war in Angola, to missions to the peace negotiations in San Vicente de Caguán in Colombia, from Guy Gavriel Kay versus Tolkien, to the publication of The Gallows Gem of Prallyn. Check out the book here:

The e-book version of The Gallows Gem of Prallyn is easily obtained through either Kobo or Amazon so be sure to check it out on either of these pages. (

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-12-15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04am EST

Imagine our surprise to find out that the sumptious elixir that is a British cider could be found and enjoyed here in Bogota. So, after attending a launch party hosted by Julian and Emma, the brains behind the importation of Cider to Colombia, I knew it would make for an interesting show to have a sit down with them to hear about their inspiration and the process of importing to Colombia. 

In this show you will enjoy a warts and all description of what it takes to import something of this nature into Colombia and of course a celebration of all things cider, in particular Aspall Cider which dates back to 1728 in Suffolk, England. Check out their website here:

After a lengthy tour of all the most important and indeed conspicuously de rigeur nightspots and events in Bogota to promote their product, we get together with Julian and Emma and talk about the idea behind importing cider to Colombia. As Julian says: "It's a win win situation, if the cider does not catch on here, then I have a great amount of cider to enjoy for myself!"

Join me in appaluding their decision to take this leap and wishing them all the best in the creation of a cider culture in Bogota.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-12-08.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 9:03am EST

Addressing some serious issues of cultural differences and what it is like to be of asian descent and in Colombia, we take the time to sit down with Jessica Wong, the author of the blog 

In a frank and often amusing interview we learn about Jessica's adaptation to life in Colombia, why she is here, what she is doing here and how she is liking life in Colombia. Given that asian people are certainly exotic here, Jessica has found herself stopping anyone of asian origin in the street to see if she can chat to them in her native tongue, unfortunately, more often than not these unknowing participants in Jessica's quest end up often being from Korea. 

It has not been easy and you'll hear about some of the challenges that Jessica has faced here, not least the irate Colombian commentors on her blog, perhaps riled up by a foreigner being able to make an observation or two that is too accurate!

So, lest we forget that Colombia is a diverse land with a great deal of cultural nuances, this show is designed to remind us of just that. Tune in and hear about Jessica and Colombia.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-12-01.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 11:11am EST

Creative writing has hardly ever been my forte, I am a journalist by trade and therefore try as best I may to stay within the limits of creativity as defined by the facts of the story as it is delivered or suggested by a source, so, it was a great pleasure some weeks ago to be invited to participate in a sit down and feedback session with the Bogotá Writers ( I suppose these groups exist all over the place, but this was my first time participating in something of this nature and how exciting to know that something like this exists in Bogotá.

The Bogotá Writers group consists of eight individuals – all of them published authors – who share a desire to write, perhaps to enable them to be lifted away from the monotonous grind of Bogotá’s traffic or perhaps to facilitate an escape from the reality of the 9 to 5. There is the quirky self-proclaimed “professional geek” who seems to be inspired by the more sinister aspects of writing (you’ll have to buy the book), the author who was stifled in her youth by the glaring failures of the English schools system in weeding out an uninspired educator (you know who you are), the ubiquitous Irish writer (we’ve had her on Colombia Calling) and the incredibly well-travelled and well-informed academic amongst others. It’s an interesting group to say the least. In French you would call it a perfect métissage des cultures. 

Tune in to hear of an example of why Bogota boasts such an educated citizenry.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-11-24.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:25pm EST

The ongoing peace dialogues between the FARC guerrillas (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the Colombian government began in November 2012 and so to mark almost exactly two years to the date since they began, we sit down with Gwen Burnyeat and Andrei Gomez, two academics and intellectuals involved in a group called Rodeemos el Dialogo (

ReD is a group of Colombians, and friends of Colombia, resident in the UK and Colombia, who wish to express their interest in, and active support for, the peace negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC.The name of the group – ‘Rodeemos el Diálogo’, ‘Let us surround the dialogue’ – draws its inspiration from a popular Colombian saying referring to the need to provide support to an important cause in difficult times.

ReD is convinced that the path towards the end of the armed conflict in Colombia can only be assured through negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC, which should be based on the principles of truth, justice and reparation. They also believe that a lasting peace in Colombia has to be built on the active participation and wishes of the whole of Colombian society.

I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of their meetings and it has been refreshing to listen to people from all sectors of society voicing their concerns and hopes for peace in Colombia. So, if you want to hear about the peace dialogues and what is going on, tune in!

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-11-17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53am EST

Several years ago author Brian Kevin came through my little town of Mompos and stayed in the Casa Amarilla. I had no idea he was following in the footsteps of one of my favourite authors, the forefather of gonzo journalism, Hunter S Thompson. I had no idea that Thompson had travelled South America in 1962/63 and as a shrewd observer of political events, his journey during the height of the Cold War and during dictatorial latin american regimes was partially reported in the now defunct National Observer newspaper and in his collection "The Proud Highway". 

Kevin speaks to us from Maine where he currently located and tells about the journey in writing this book, his reflections on "the gringo trail" through South America and his reflections on the nature of travel in his recently released "The Footloose American: Following the Hunter S. Thompson Trail Across South America".

Read more about the interview with Brian Kevin on my blog ( and buy the book ( for a fascinating insight into contemporary South America seen through the eyes of someone who clearly has found his voice as a pioneering writer of his generation.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-11-10.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43am EST

This week we sit down with renowned Dutch Photographer and Journalist Fetze Weerstra who has just been to Mompos for the 3rd Jazz Festival as a guest of the Colombian tourism board. Can you imagine that in his time here in Colombia, Fetze was an innovator in creating a line of postcards with which to promote through their sale in major hotels and bookstores. So, in doing this he has been able to provide picture perfect images to the long overlooked tourist public and has been, albeit amusingly, very successful in perfecting an old concept and reconsidering it for the twenty first century. Check out his work here

Of course, taking full advantage of his time to Mompos where, as you well know, I run my own little hotel, I get to discuss with him the various phases of tourism in Colombia and indeed the importance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and how he found the town. As a photographer one hopes that he was able to capture the picturesque and authentic nature of out garcia marquian town.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-11-03.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14am EST

This week we catch up with Maryland native Matt Aaron and speak about how he came to be in Colombia - full time now since 2010 - and his work over the years here. Aaron initially worked for a volunteer project and so we get a good insight into the realities of that world here in Colombia, before experiencing an epiphany and deciding to live his life in a more healthy fashion. 

From 2011 Aaron has been working on creating health food products for both sale in Colombia and for exportation in the United States. His initial plan was to sell coca leaf tablets, but, realising that he faced an uphill battle on this for the obvious reasons, he turned his attentions to panela. 

For those unfamiliar with panela, it is the unrefined whole cane sugar derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice. Aaron has taken the bricks of panela, ground them down and has created a new organic energy drink containing panela and mixed with various fruits such as lulo, passion fruit and red fruits. The result is flavoursome and natural and soo he will be exporting to stores in the Miami area. Check out his product at if you are interested. Aaron can also source exotic products for you via his other enterprise

Direct download: RCC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02am EST

Following our desire to keep on delivering high editorial content here for our listeners on Colombia Calling, we sit down with Boston native Natalie Southwick in Bogota and discuss her life as a journalist in Colombia, as the editor in chief of the new Latin Correspondent site ( and her work in social projects that has taken her all around the country. 

Natalie provides us with a frank yet insightful conversation and insight into the world of journalism, being a freelancer and the challenging yet ultimately rewarding experience of heading a fresh news site dedicated to providing a focused and interesting view of what is going on in the region. In her words, she is sourcing stories and journalists out there who are prepared to research and report on the issues that are perhaps not covered in the mainstream international press. Of course, we think this is fantastic and are betting on Latin Correspondent to become a major platform for informed news from our part of the world which is perhaps a little too overlooked. 

Later, we get to speak to Natalie about her work in the impoverished Pacific region of Colombia. You may have heard of or read about the atrocities taking place in the port city of Buenaventura. Tune in to hear some good news about social advancement!

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-10-13.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 9:00am EST

At this point in time when Colombian politicians are talking only of reconciliation and of a post conflict phase to the situation in-country, we here at Colombia Calling have the opportunity of taking a step back and finding out who are these international people actually investing time and effort into improving the lives of the most humble. Alice Dow and her husband Agustin are two of these people. 

In a fascinating interview we get to sit down with native New Yorker Alice and talk about their foundation Healing Colombia ( and the work they have been doing for over a decade with some of Colombia's most needy communities. What makes this most timely and poignant is that they have been at the fore of launching a mentor program - similar to those in NY and London - where Colombians and/or foreigners can commit to a year of being a mentor with an individual from a marginal barrio in Bogota. 

This has been a roaring success and now Alice and Agustin and their team are embarking on the second phase of the mentor program. Tune in to hear about a foreign couple giving back to Colombia.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-10-06.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36am EST

Can you dance like a Colombian? Sadly I have to admit that even after eight years here I am a poor imitation of any Colombian, so imagine how British writer Neil Bennion ( felt when he decided to train himself up in a six month stay in Colombia and write a book about his travails. 

Bennion begins his journey in Colombia's de facto capital of dance, the city of Cali, takes lessons, suffers, succeeds and then takes off around the country. In what is an informed, digestible and enjoyable travel novel, Bennion details a history of Colombia and her regions through the music discovered and explored. His travels take him through a variety of destinations including Medellin, Bogota, the Eastern Plains and up onto the Caribbean coast where he finds himself in San Basilio de Palenque, a community of former African slaves with their own independent identity separate to that of the rest of Colombia. 

We catch up with Bennion in Poland and grill him about "Dancing Feat: One Man's Mission to Dance Like a Colombian", his first book and find out if, after his lengthy stay here, he is in act able to dance like a Colombian and how this skill benefits him now. Download his book here on Amazon .

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-09-29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm EST

As troubles continue in Venezuela, we in Colombia are becoming more aware of how this is directly affecting life, the economy and our society here. So, it is time to focus on the situation in Venezuela once again and this week we hear from a former officer in the Venezuelan National Guard, Javier Nieto. 

Nieto now runs an executive security outfit ( and is of course up to speed and informed on the security issues currently afflicting our sister country. We speak about the porous borders between Colombia and Venezuela, the influence of Colombia’s FARC and ELN guerrillas within Venezuela and indeed the politics of President Maduro. 

Tune in to listen to a firsthand account of the reality of Venezuela not covered by the mainstream media and form your own opinion of the contemporary ills in this region of northern south america.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-09-22.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 11:59am EST

Did you know that there are psychoanalysts out there treating patients through something known as and referred to as “Geek Therapy”? This week we sit down with Josue Cardona in North Carolina and discuss his role in this emerging practice and his recent trip to Colombia, invited to present Geek Therapy ( to Colombian students, health workers and the like. Given that Colombia is a relatively conservative country in her practices and traditions I am particularly interested to hear how the lectures and workshops were received and how Josue found Colombia on this, his first visit. Tune in to hear a truly fascinating insight into the Colombian psyche and of course all about Geek Therapy itself.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-09-15.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 8:45am EST

Outselling any other guide on the market, the Lonely Planet is the go to resource for anyone thinking of travelling to Colombia. This week we sit down with three-time LP Colombia guide author Kevin Raub ( and talk about the latest edition that he is currently working on and hear about some of the "new" locations to be included in 2015's version. Raub brings his inimitable style to the interview, perhaps becoming of a journalist formerly in the employ of Rolling Stone Magazine and of course positively brims with positivity about Colombia as a fantastic destination for the traveller, be it top end or backpacker. Tune in to hear about Raub's take on the security situation in-country and a few priceless anecdotes.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-09-08.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 10:29am EST

Kidnapping is down in Colombia but other issues continue. This week we sit down with Security and Risk Management Expert Benjamin Hockman and discuss the dangers and realities in the country. How should you prepare before planning a trip to Colombia, who is potentially at risk, what is the state of play in various parts of the country? And it doesn't end there, we talk about Colombia put in the context of Mexico and neighboring Venezuela. We learn about how Hockman came to be in this industry and what it means to work in this field. Not to be missed for an informative and fascinating insight into Colombia.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-09-01.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 9:03am EST

Since Colombia’s peace talks began in November 2012, 14,000 people have been forcibly displaced within its borders each month. This week we talk with journalist Jessica Weiss ( about this horrendous situation and her new project launched on the crowdfunding platform Beacon Reader where, should the pitch be successful, she will publish an in-depth article per month regarding those affected by Colombia's armed conflict. Weiss is a freelance journalist and writer based in Bogota, Colombia, where she is learning about a society in the process of emerging from conflict and writes for The New York Times, Fast Company Magazine, World Affairs Journal, the Associated Press amongst other publications.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-08-25.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 9:00am EST

A 12 year veteran of Bogota and Colombia, floridian Andrew Dier is now the author of the most recent guide to Colombia on the market, the first edition of the Moon Handbook to Colombia ( and we love the end product.

We get together with Dier in the chic environs of the upmarket Juan Valdez cafe in Rosales, Bogota and speak about the guide book, the writing process and indeed his first venture in Colombia, “Colombia Diversa” ( promoting gay rights in the country. With his knowledge of the Colombia and having set up this well respected foundation, Dier is clearly the right person to be speaking about Colombia and it is a great pleasure to have him on Colombia Calling talking about all things Colombian.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-08-18.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 10:20am EST

Had you asked me during my university years whether I could see myself in the future living in Colombia, the ready answer would be "of course not", I can only assume that this is what Lottie Lawrence a young British lady must be thinking now as she is charged with the awesome responsibility of bringing lacrosse to Colombia, setting up a league between private schools and participating in international tournaments. Hers is an adventure that has taken her from teaching in the coffee region to coaching lacrosse in Bogota and accompanying a team to the world championships in Denver, Colorado. It's both heartwarming and exciting to hear of projects like this coming to Colombia and actually coming into fruition, tune in to hear a good news story.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-08-11.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 11:52am EST

When you reduce the interview with Christopher Kirk to its most basic elements, it’s a love story and the blindness that this can produce when an individual is so deeply wrapped up in it all. Listening, you’ll understand what I am getting at, basically, I let go and allow Christopher to chat away sharing with us the details which he sees fit to air, and even if he is self censoring, it’s hard to tell as the story is so gripping and involved. Hear about Kirk's love story with a mysterious Colombian lady named "V", an escort, prepago, drugs mule or misenterpreted entrepreneur and the subject of a newly released documentary "I Touched All Your Stuff".

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-08-04.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 9:53am EST

“The Mick” is an Irishman named Christopher who got started in crime early in Dublin, Ireland. A case could be made that sexual abuse by Catholic priests or his IRA family connections contributed to his path. But he’d admit it all came down to rebellion and love of drugs and alcohol. How did he end up in Colombia and why is he still here? We talk to writer Colin Post ( of St Louis, Missouri to find out more about “the Mick”, his story and of course hopefully give Post a boost on his crowdfunding campaign to get the novel about Christopher, “This Mick’s Life” published. The resulting Colombia Calling show is a rollercoaster ride through Bogota’s underworld and its characters. Not to be missed!

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-07-28.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 1:10pm EST

Briton Carl Meek met his Colombian wife in London some years ago. They decided to move back to Colombia set up businesses and start a family, tune in to find out why, after several years, they ended up moving back to the UK. With two incredibly successful Colombia-inspired ventures, Meek talks to Colombia Calling about his coffee importation company and independent coffee shop in Milton Keynes ( and his project with the Gladney Center in the US bringing adopted children from all over the world now resident in the US down to Colombia to interact and spend time giving back at an orphanage here in Bogota ( Tune in to what is both an informative and inspiring interview.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-07-21.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 12:58pm EST

Have you ever imagined yourself kayaking along Colombia’s most iconic river? With the dynamic team from Awake Adventures ( this is now a reality.

In August Awake Adventures have an amazing opportunity to take you kayaking from Tamalameque to El Banco – to coincide with the Cumbia Festival here – then on to the town of Guamal and then my stomping ground of Mompos. They are looking for bloggers, journalists and so on who want to sign up and come along with them to record this fantastic adventure. Hear about their other plans in Colombia, Cano Cristales, Mavecure, the Pacific Coast and so on. Awake Adventures are strong believers in geotourism and are young Colombians keen on making a difference.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-07-14.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 11:53am EST

Websites come and go and blogs are a dime a dozen and can be an infuriating medium to research but, due to Colombia’s total divorce from international tourism for almost 30 years, some enlightened souls have seen fit to create informed, clean and up to date websites to provide the traveller with the information needed, one of these is Josian Chevallier’ . We speak to Frenchman Chevallier about the inspiration behind his website, charity work in Colombia and his latest and perhaps most exciting project, a web portal for the region to rival the traditional sites . So, if you are researching a trip to South America and need an alternative and are looking for something new, check out this page.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-07-07.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 10:53am EST

Australian writer Sarah Duncan is a regular suitcase packer, professional list maker and travel writer who is happiest when she’s sitting in a busy café with a pot of tea and good book. She writes about travel, food and what it’s like to live in Colombia on her travel but we get her on Colombia Calling to talk about her love of Colombia and then give us an insight into her new and free e-book “How to Quit your Job and Travel the World”. Tune in to listen to this unofficial ambassador for Colombia tell us about her experiences and inspiration found in Colombia.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-06-30.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 7:41pm EST

The Colombian presidential elections have come and gone with incumbent Juan Manuel Santos set to be sworn in for his second term of August 7. This week we break down the results of the elections and discuss, with two analysts Kevin Howlett ( and Mark Kennedy (, what this means for the peace dialogues in Cuba with the FARC guerrillas, the possibility of peace dialogues with the ELN guerrillas and the importance of a strong opposition led by former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. Tune in for a full dialogue on where Colombia finds herself politically at this moment.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-06-23.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 4:30pm EST

Every now and then a young enterprise comes along and shakes things up, this is exactly what I felt when I was invited to experience Bogota through the five senses with 5Bogota ( Theirs is something new and fresh and these vibrant young Bogotanos are out to revolutionize how we discover and enjoy an often maligned city. 5Bogota has turned tourism in the capital on its head and is going about promoting their city in a fresh and interesting fashion. Highly recommended, great fun and a break from the norm. Colombia Calling wholeheartedly endorses 5Bogota.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-05-16.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

It’s our long-awaited World Cup special with football journalist Carl Worswick joining us in the studio before heading off to cover Colombia’s games for ESPN. We’ll be talking about Colombia’s chances against the likes of the Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan in their first World Cup tournament since France 1998. Of course there’s the pressing detail of the second round of the presidential elections on June 15, the day after Colombia’s opening game against Greece. Politics and sports will once again merge here in Colombia. A fascinating take on the game for those interested in following the sporting feats of James Rodriguez and Teofilo Gutierrez in Brazil. Who will be the standout players and who will flatter to deceive?

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-06-09.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 10:43am EST

I am not a gambling man, in fact I’m not very good with numbers, but this week we have a true master of the art on the show. Dan Kaiser, a US citizen, has been down here in Bogota for almost a decade and he is the owner of one of the capital city’s most visited casinos, the Rockerfeller. Listen to Colombia Calling interview Dan Kaiser about the business of running a casino in Colombia, the clientele he receives and some of the anecdotes…ever heard the one about the patron who attempted to gamble away a defibrillator? Well, Dan Kaiser has lived it and it’s not all Vegas bling, this is Bogota.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-06-02.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 5:36pm EST

Given Colombia’s political and social isolation it comes as no suprise that levels of English spoken here are pretty poor, but, things are changing as the game changes here. Companies are seeking employees with language capabilities as the business world in Colombia changes. This week we talk to texan Eric Tabone of Bogota Business English ( who, on seeing a gap in the market for a high quality, top level English institute set up his business in Bogota. We talk about opening a business, how he came to be here, who are his target clientele and how he sees the company growing. Stay tuned if you are thinking of coming to Colombia to teach English as BBE will shortly be launching a teacher trainer program.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-05-26.mp3
Category:Talk-Radio -- posted at: 4:14pm EST

Having just co authored and released the immensely successful book, “Colombia a Comedy of Errors”, Sergio Lievano took the time to chat with us here at Colombia Calling to give us an insight into the inspiration for this new publication. We talked about what it means to be a Colombian, the trauma of the national identity, the language and finally the “beautiful” errors in life that make us take decisions as we do. Alongside former interviewee Victoria Kellaway ( they have created what could conceivably be the blueprint text for all of those interested in learning about this country. There are chapters on the regions, on justice, on famous Colombians and what’s more they tell it as it is. A wonderful read.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-05-19.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 10:24am EST

On Colombia Calling we are continually on the lookout for people really making a life of it here in Colombia and this week we are particularly pleased to have Briton Tom Willat on the show telling us about how he saw an opening in the market while working in Bogota for multinational, subsequently opened his own publishing house and now produces the only spanish language magazine dedicated to the energy sector ( He is also working on a “Best of Colombia” book and in his spare time, with his business associate Jack Ruane, on the road to producing Colombia’s first cider brewery. Talk about making a go of it in Colombia. We’ll be toasting him long in the future should the cider be a flavoursome and refreshing product!


Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-05-012.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 4:09pm EST

This week we get together with US citizen and resident of Bogota, Matt Rines, who, after three years working in a location independent capacity, has decided to take the plunge and open his own restaurant in Cota on the outskirts of the Colombian capital city. We talk about the proposed menu (American), the decor, the setup, his business plan and of course, we get to wade a little through the legal intricacies here in Colombia and the paperwork required of a small business owner. His restaurant, “American Kitchen” can be found on Facebook and will be opening in May, so watch this space and check back on the website ( to find out all of the up to date news and insights about Matt’s new venture here in Colombia.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-05-05.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 1:02pm EST

Are you struggling to understand the miasma surrounding the upcoming presidential elections in Colombia? If so, then we have a warts and all interview with the editor of Colombia Politics magazine ( Kevin Howlett all about how to better undestand the intrigue and complexities of Colombia’s elections. Will it be the incumbent President Santos again or will the Green Party’s Enrique Peñalosa come good. What of former president Alvaro Uribe’s protege Oscar Zuluaga? We’ll be discussing the candidates, the ongoing saga surrounding Bogota’s Mayor Gustavo Petro and further points of interest.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-04-28.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 1:23pm EST

Having met journalist Wesley Tomaselli ( when he passed through my hotel in Mompos some months ago, there was something about his manner and carefully sculpted turns of phrase. You could tell that this guy from a small town in upstate New York had something going for him and I knew he would be right for the show. So, be sure to listen in and hear a fascinating interview with a genuine up and coming writer whose work can be read at the highly recommended Beacon project ( and his newspieces about energy markets for Argus Media.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-04-21.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 11:23am EST

Argentine Lorena Waserman is an expert in the tourism industry and she brings her knowledge to Colombia Calling talking about Colombia, improvements, the cities, what may be done, what has been done and how we can enjoy Colombia to the fullest. As the brains behind the Linkedin Group “Profesionales de Turismo en Colombia” Lorena brings her know how to the show and shares with us her insights. So, for those people involved in the industry and enjoying Colombia this is a fascinating show with unlimited opportunity to hear the informed opinions of Lorena Waserman.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-04-14.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 4:51pm EST

Based in the city of Popayan in southern Colombia, Australian born Alex Egerton ( is a world traveller, journalist, adventurer and Lonley Planet author. Colombia Calling had the opportunity to get together with the author of the Lonely Planet Guide to Colombia over tea on a rare trip to Bogota and chat. We talk shop, travel, security in Colombia and how we can see the evolution of the travel industry here in Colombia. To enjoy a frank conversation with a true expert on Colombia tune in to hear tales from this outspoken travel personality. As they say here in Colombia: “Alex no tiene pelos en la lengua.”

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-04-07.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 3:23pm EST

Speaking with Canadian journalist Mark Kennedy of we discuss the ongoing and troubling situation in Venezuela and how this is affecting Colombia. Being an election year in Colombia, violence and unrest in Venezuela is becoming a campaign issue in Colombia and yet President Juan Manuel Santos has failed to make mention of the tensions in our sister country. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro continues at the helm but could he be be ousted, we discuss this and more with Mark Kennedy and the realities of the situation.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-03-31.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 2:26pm EST

Out of the blue Colombia Calling was contacted by Kai Whiting who enquired whether we would like to hear from a British Muslim in Bogota. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity. So, this week we find out about the Muslim religion here in overwhelmingly Catholic Colombia, do they suffer discrimination, what is the reaction when he tells people that he is Muslim and what are his challenges as a Muslim here? We speak about where to practice Islam in Colombia and where Colombian Muslims come from and if there’s a big muslim expat community here.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-03-24.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 10:04am EST

Sometimes people think it’s all too difficult to start a life overseas and so we take this opportunity to talk to a veritable “jack of all trades”, Hannah Matthews from the UK. A unrepentant Colombiaphile Hannah decided to take matters into her own hands and head out to Bogota by any means necessary. When she’s not rushing about the city teaching English classes, she’s contributing at a national NGO or writing for various media outlets. We talk to Hannah to find out how life is for her in Colombia, why she has moved out this way, about her writing and how to go about finding legal and meaningful employment here in Colombia. We also take the time to hear how this new Human Rights expert views the political situation in Colombia.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-03-17.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 9:38am EST

Can cacao cultivation be the next big thing in Colombia? This week we sit down with Australian chocolatier Suzie Hoban ( and talk about the economy of cacao production, what is required to make upscale and quality chocolate and the regions in Colombia where this is done. Sharing invaluable insights into the chocolate trade, Suzie tells us about the university course she is teaching here in Bogota, about her private lessons and chocolate tasting classes and finally, how she came to be a chocolatier and be in Colombia. Quite simply this show is an example of everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate but were afraid to ask!

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-03-10.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 11:22am EST

This week we have the opportunity to speak to an expert in the field of Colombian tourism, Laura Cahnspeyer. As one of the pioneers in the tourism industry in Colombia, Laura talks about her background, the growth of tourism here, the realities of the industry and the challenges facing tourism to Colombia. Tourism was virtually non existant in Colombia until 2005 and now it is a huge source of income. Tune in and hear us speak about Laura’s various projects, not least as the Dicrector of Acotur (, a society of socially responsible tourism operators and as the owner of a charming tea house in the comfortable Bogota barrio of Chapinero. (

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-03-03.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 10:08am EST

Held hostage by a splinter group of the FARC guerrillas for almost a year in 2000, we get to speak to co author of bestselling book “The Cloud Garden” ( Tom Hart Dyke. In a frank and amusing interview Tom speaks of his and Paul Winder’s experiences in the jungle as hostages of the FARC whilst attempting to cross the famed Darien Gap on foot. We talk about adventure tourism, risk taking and his treatment at the hands of the guerrilla. Tom returned to Colombia for the first time since his release in 2014 and reflects on his welcome here and how Colombia appears to have changed. A truly fascinating and riveting show for you this week.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-02-24.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 9:36am EST

Talking to Nick Pickthall of CPLAromas ( we learn about the intricacies of Colombian bureaucracy when it comes to running a business here. We hear workplace anecdotes, stories of best practice and how to hire staff in Colombia avoiding the inevitable traps of elitism found here. Based in Bogota since 2002 Nick brings a wealth of knowledge and provides us with an informed and humourous show and shares invaluable insights and predictions for the Colombian economy.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-02-17.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 9:22am EST

Having previously worked in regions such as the Congo and Afghanistan we get to talk to the Director of War Child in his office in Bogota. We learn about the realities and the problems facing Colombia's youth which have been caught up and affected by the violence and the creative psychosocial manner in which War Child is trying to give children their lives back. Working with local NGOs War Child is directed at providing an education and protecting and promoting child rights the world over. Shahzamani talks about the peace process and some potential solutions for the Colombian situation and the clear divide between rural and urban Colombia. 

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-02-10.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Having spent a year in Tunja the capital of the department of Boyaca teaching English at university as a Fulbright scholar and working for a local NGO, Kyra Gurney has since moved on and extended her sojourn in Colombia. Kyra is now writing for the City Paper in Bogota and living in the capital. We talk about her articles, in particular about the ongoing peace dialogues in Colombia, the importance of social media to the FARC guerrillas and what is going on with the Mayor of Bogota. Tune in for an informative and thought provoking show.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-02-03.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 9:16am EST

Colombians are known for studying abroad and so what of those foreigners that come to study degree programs in Colombia? This week we talk to Briton Tara Daze who moved with her Colombian husband to Bogota and has been studying for a Masters in Journalism at perhaps the country's most prestigious university. How does it rate, what does she think of the course, has it been worthwhile, how is she treated as the only non Hispanic student in the class? We discuss these issues and her current challenge of learning to drive in Colombia and the bureaucracy involved in taking the driving test. Check out further updates at

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-01-27.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 10:21am EST

Intent on making the most of his imminent move to Barranquilla, the Colombian Caribbean's most dynamic business city, Nicaraguan emigre to Toronto, Canada Will Castillo ( has set about creating an informative and honest website aimed at people thinking of making the move. Seeing a paucity of information in English about the city, Will decided to set up Barranquilla Living ( Offering insights, tips, pointers and even advice on where to live, Will has created a website that could be the framework for many other start ups in cities around Colombia. We talk to Will before the big move, about his hopes, concerns and we plan on checking back in with him in a year and hearing the reality.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-01-20.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 9:02am EST

Dutchman Tim Buendia was so captivated by the town of Aracataca, the birthplace of the Colombian Nobel prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, that he decided to make it his home. Working with local politicians and tourism offices this unlikely Dutchman became the new face of Aracataca, appearing in the national and international press, he opened a hostel (, he started giving tours and making appeals for a more just and inclusive society for the town but now, after years of struggle, we speak to Tim and his decision to call it a day and move on. Tim will not be abandoning Aracataca but he will start to promote the region from overseas. Tune in to hear about the “100 Years of Solitude” affecting Aracataca.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-01-13.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 2:53pm EST

Easing in to 2014 we sit down with British writer and expat Vicki Kellaway here in tropical Mompos (hence the crickets in the background!), better known perhaps as blogger at Banana Skin Flip Flops ( and we talk about the creative process behind writing, how Colombia aids this, her impending book launch at the Bogota Book Fair in March and all about the "Group of 13". Vicki regales us with anecdotes, speaks of her experiences of being a TEDx speaker in Bogota in 2013 and about life in general and her hopes for Colombia in this year of presidential elections.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2014-01-06.mp3
Category:Talk Radio -- posted at: 10:18am EST