Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT