Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia

Can you imagine an experience as enriching as taking a secondment from your 9 to 5 grind in an office setting in London and moving to Colombia for six months to work with an NGO?

This is precisely what Briton Sarah Hornby has done and through her job at GSK she now finds herself nearing the end of a six month stay in Colombia which has seen her travel into some of the most remote and off-limits parts of Colombia to aid local communities with Save the Children.

Telling her story and sharing her effervescent love for Colombia one wonders how easy it will be for Sarah to return to London after an experience such as this. Tune in and find out about some of the projects that Sarah has been involved in here in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_122.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

How does a young man from Bonn in Germany end up in Colombia, living in Bogota and starting up a new internet platform to facilitate the purchase of real estate here in Colombia for international investors? Well, this and many more are the topics for a lively conversation with Michael in Episode 121.

The idea behind Hallo Casa ( is to create a space where people can get in touch directly with vendors and indeed real estate agents and then rate the quality of service provided. I for one have seen a need for some new blood and new ideas in the property market here since international investment is increasing, yet, the way real estate is brokered on the whole, remains very folkloric. This is where Michael comes in!

So, if you are interested in hearing Michael's story and indeed are interested in the Colombian property market, this is a show for you.

Direct download: RCC_121.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EST

In this Episode 120, the English voice of Colombia, Richard McColl, takes the opportunity to share some thoughts about some worrying situations afoot in Colombia. First, McColl discusses the plight of US-Colombian citizen Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, the star of the documentary "" who has been jailed in Colombia for accusations of security fraud in the US and is awaiting extradition to NY in the horrific conditions of Bogota´s La Picota jail.

And then secondly, McColl challenges the Mayor elect of Bogota Enrique Peñalosa to make good on promises, explain to the people why he will not be investing in an underground metro system which the country´s capital is so desperately in need of, and ask him how he plans to improve the city´s security situation.

McColl has declared that "he will eat a hat shaped cake" if Peñalosa is able to turn the fortune of Bogota around.

Direct download: RCC_120.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:12pm EST

How comfortable would you be signing up to a list, paying a fee and dining with 10 other strangers? Well, there's a new culinary and social movement which is opening up private homes as venues for dinner parties. This is exactly what Sara Lisa Orstavik (a one time employee for the World Food Program) in Colombia is doing.

So, tune in to find out how Sara Lisa - with her Italian and Norweigan roots - came to be in Bogota and creating the underground dining event known as BogotaPopups.

If you are curious and want to know further details, of course tune in, but also check out the website at

Direct download: RCC_119.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am EST

Netflix's hit series "Narcos" chronicles the rise of the Medellin Cartel and the U.S.-led manhunt to bring down its notorious kingpin, Pablo Escobar. Finally, as a foreigner living in Colombia I grew tired of the show and that's when I read Steven Cohen's excellent piece for the New Republic magazine.

Cohen has spent time in Colombia, two years in Medellin working for the Colombia Reports news site, and has clearly seen the damage done by this perpetuating of the Escobar myth and so it is a breath of fresh air to read and enjoy a coherent article about the series.

Listen to the show and read the article

Direct download: RCC_118.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:56pm EST

In Episode 117, I am well out of my depth talking with the renowned Art Advisor and Curator Sandra Higgins who has recently moved to Colombia from London to pursue various projects here for the next six months.

Sandra is an expert in the field but exudes a humility unbecoming of someone so professional and well-known. Check out her websites here:

We discuss the influence and techniques used by many artists here in Colombia and some of the issues they face working in a country in conflict and heading towards a possible peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas.

Be sure to tune in to learn more about contemporary Colombian art. Just one more thing, there's not one mention of Fernando Botero!

Direct download: RCC_117.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:22am EST

This week we shake things up a little and talk to marketing expert and entrepreneur Viviana Cardozo de Rubiano a Bogotana who moved from her home city with her family to Los Angeles a little under a year ago.

We explore how Viviana has adapted as an expat in her new home and how she is faring as a location independent business owner. Check out her businesses ( and designed at improving English levels in Colombia.

Viviana makes for a great interviewee and she talks openly of the challenges that she has encountered in the USA and what she misses from home and hopefully this interview will appeal to our Colombian listeners who are now living far from home.

Viviana's professional website is:


Direct download: RCC_116.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 8:05am EST

So who is Brian Ward and why is this current resident of Sacramento, California writing a book about his experiences in Colombia? Episode 115 offers a frank and at times revealing chat about Brian's new book available on Amazon: "48,000,000 Colombians Can't Be Wrong: Finding Love In The Land of Shakira, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fernando Botero and Sofia Vergara."

Brian comes up against up it in Bogota in his quest for true love, he falls into work as an extra in some Colombian soap operas, travels some of the country and from what I could tell, plays a fair amount of ping pong in a downtown hostel before he meets a young lady from Cartagena who becomes his wife.

Tune in to hear a tale of do's and don'ts in Colombia and check out Brian's book.

Direct download: RCC_115.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01pm EST

This week we receive a very welcome return to the studio by Dave Proctor, a Briton who has been based in Cali for some years, and who, with his team have successfully launched the cross Colombia mountain bike race called: The Legend of El Dorado.

Dave talks us through the seven stage race - not for novices - which takes in some of the most spectacular scenery that Colombia has to offer from deserts, to high altitude vistas and volcanos, jungle and coffee plantations.

This has been a labour of love by Proctor and his team and we wish him all the success necessary to make this one of Colombia's cornerstone mountain bike events. It's about showing off the country, biking and pushing tourism and sporting events to a whole new level.

For further information check out their website at:

Direct download: RCC_114.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:17pm EST

In the light of the agreement reached by the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government on Wednesday September 23 to sign a definitive peace accord on March 23rd 2016 bringing 51 years of conflict to an end, an interview with the Director of Save the Children couldn't have been timed more appropriately.

We get to sit down with Director Jez Stoner in the NGO's Bogota offices and talk about the possibilities of a post conflict situation in Colombia and learn about the realities and complexities of the Colombian conflict in an area as isolated and overlooked as Guapi on the Pacific coast.

Direct download: RCC_113.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:20pm EST

It will not have escaped anyone's notice here in Colombia that more and more shows, series and films are coming to these shores to film and one company deeply involved in this process is Screen Colombia ( run by Briton John Paul Lancaster and his Colombian wife Luna. Together they scour the land and beyond for ideal places for film sets.

In fact, I can only imagine that most of you out there have indeed watched some of the shows produced by Screen Colombia - without perhaps knowing that they were filmed here - because they include series such as Naked and Afraid and Banged Up Abroad.

So, I am thrilled to be able to share this interview with you and to be able to provide you with an insight into how Colombia is moving forward, why people are coming to film here and what's in the pipeline for the future.

Direct download: RCC_112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02am EST

Sometimes you get the experience to explore a city to a profundity that is unexpected and last week I was able to visit the off-limits (drugs, prostitution, homelessness and misery) areas of Santa Fe and Martires to attend some presentations given by the Colombian department of National Heritage at the Teatro San Jorge. 

We can take the Teatro San Jorge (which opened her doors in 1938) as a central architectural piece displaying how the centre of Bogota has fallen into decadence since the 1940s. It's a socio economic change that has come about through communication, transportation access, the change in the economy and more...all issues and topics for discussion in Episode 111. 

If you are interested further in some of Bogota's hidden stories you can check them out here on my blog:

Direct download: RCC_111.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:17am EST

All too often friends and loved ones move away and in this case it's the turn of Tara Daze and Rafael Santamaria to bid us farewell. 

This couple, having met in Manchester UK and then married and moved across the world together, Colorado and Bogota amongst their homes, are now starting a new chapter of their lives in Houston, Texas. 

Listen to this Anglo Colombian couple speak of challenges bested in Bogota and their love for Colombia, the adventure ahead and more on this Episode 110 on Colombia Calling.

Direct download: RCC_110.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:21pm EST

Taking the reins and enjoying his newfound fame as "The English Voice of Colombia", Colombia Calling host Richard McColl takes the show all alone in this Episode 109 talking all things Colombian. 

Having taken a short break in Miami Richard is back in Bogota and rearing to go, he discusses Tom Cruise's visit to Medellin to film yet another movie about Pablo Escobar, and apparently Sylvester Stallone is on his way too to look for places to film an inexplicable fourth instalment of The Expendables. 

The economy and the devaluation of the Colombian Peso are also a hot topic this week with the exchange rate swinging dramatically in favour of those wishing to invest funds from overseas into Colombia or to come and visit the country. 

And finally, we discuss the implications of the recent diplomatic spat between Venezuela and Colombia as Colombians living in Venezuela become the latest scaegoats of the Maduro regime. 

Tune in and enjoy!

Direct download: RCC_109.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EST

Canadian surfer Brian Rea is living the dream. 

Having dropped out of university, he became a beach bum with a difference in Colombia. Using his skills and his brother Colm's knowledge they started the Costeno Beach Surf camp ( along the Colombian Caribbean coast near to the pristine beaches of the Tayrona National Park. 

And the success story continues, running almost at full capacity all year round, later in 2015 these Toronto natives will be expanding their operations to include further palm frond huts and facilities for their guests in their corner of heaven.

Can it get any better you ask? Well, at the end of August Brian will be getting married to a Colombian pop star! People dream of this kind of lifestyle! Check out his fiancee Liliana's band Bomba Estereo when you get a chance. Described as psychadelic cumbia they are one of the most popular groups in Colombia at the moment ( 

But, it could have all gone terribly wrong just a few month ago as Brian was attacked by a huge crocodile after a surfing trip. Fortunately, he made it out alive and is here on Colombia Calling to share the tale with us. It's a jaw dropping account of survival, not to be missed!

Direct download: RCC_108a.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

I for one believe that there is a dearth of quality contemporary literature out there available about Colombia and while author Tom Feiling would clearly shy from the accolades at having successfully started to stop this gap, a routine search for informative and interesting books about this country would inevitably lead you to him. 

Feilings books "Short Walks from Bogota, Journeys in the New Colombia" (2012), and "The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over the World" (2010) are two fascinating books and are highly recommended. So we track down Tom in London and get to discuss his latest project set for publication in 2016 all about the history of the Colombian Caribbean island of Providencia. 

Check out Tom Feiling's website here ( and inform yourself on Colombia before coming to visit!

Direct download: RCC_107.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38am EST

Joining us this week from Asheville, NC is David Seth Miller. To most travellers David will need no introductions as he's a familiar face on the travel writing scene as Matador's Senior Editor and Director of Curricula at MatadorU. Check out the Matador page if you don't know it and reap the benefits of some serious inspiration!

David is the winner of two consecutive Lowell Thomas awards for excellence in travel journalism (2010, 2011) and we get the opportunity to pick his brains about the travel writing industry, Matador and of course his new book out there available on amazon: "23 Writing Prompts that Make you Work Smarter: a radical approach to skill building for writers of all kinds". 

It's a real pleasure to listen to David's insights and this show is highly recommended for anyone possibly considering living the dream and becoming a travel writer/ blogger and so on. Find out how David broke in to the industry. 

And yes, buy the book!

Direct download: RCC-08-04.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:19pm EST

Sitting down with Karen Attman is an education of encylopedic proportions, she knows her subject matter and so it is a delight to have her on the show. Her website is an unmissable resource for those coming to Colombia and those already here wishing to enjoy some of the finer cuisine on offer in Bogota and the rest of the country. 

But, this episode is not only about food, Karen brings with her a wealth of knowledge about northern latin america having lived in Venezuela for over a decade. I do not want to spoil the suprise, but we talk about jail time in Venezuela (both her and her Colombian husband!), travels and more.

Direct download: RCC-2015-07-28.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:16am EST

It's not every day one gets to chew the fat (apologies, this is cockney rhyming slang for "chat") with a Franco Vietnamese expat in Colombia and less so when she's the author of the highly recommended website! So, settle back with a good drink and tune in to listen to a fun chat with Jade Longelin on Colombia Calling who is making the most of her move to the Colombian capital city. 
Hear Jade and myself talk graffiti, identity, architecture, networking and more as we discuss her life in Bogota, the reasons for being here and indeed the reasons behind her website. If you are curious, drop her a line. 
Direct download: RCC-2015-06-29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:28pm EST

We know that Colombians love to party and what's more they are good at it, if not the best, but what about taking a look at Colombia's carnIvals, fiestas and ferias from a more academic perspective? 
When I heard that long time colombiaphile and Briton Charlotte McKenzie had actually written her Masters thesis on this very subject taking three celebrations to study from the Caribbean coast, I knew we had to get her on the show. 
Tune in and listen to journalist Charlotte waxing lyrical about the Vallenato Festival in Valledupar, the Carnival in Barranquilla and the fiestas in the small town of Cienega. This show offers a unique insight to what may be a Colombian obsession with partying.
Direct download: RCC-2015-06-22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

This week we sitdown with the Australian master story teller, Barry Max Wills. Were he a Colombian and were his stories fictional, he would be referred to here as a cuentero, but no, Barry's stories are true and told in a fashion that makes one want to pull up a chair and listen for hours on end. 
An international citizen, Barry has lived in his native Australia, France and England, but is equally at home on his coffee finca called Rancho Grande out in Colombia's Eje Cafetero coffee region. As you can imagine, much of his humour and love for his adopted homeland stems from almost unbelievable tales about running this farm "out in the bush" as he likes to say.
Rather than spoil the show by revealing too much of the content, just suffice it to say that Chapter One of the collection of non fiction essays we published a couple of months ago "Was Gabo an Irishman? Tales from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Colombia," ( was penned by Barry. We discuss his book in the works, "Letters from Colombia"....oh and did you hear the one about russian roulette? No, you'll just have to tune in.  
Direct download: RCC-2015-06-15.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Colombia Calling is tackling a sensitive but very newsworthy subject this week and it is that of adoptions from Colombia. Some months ago I was contacted out of the blue by Alex Westendorf, a Colombian by birth who was adopted at a young age and subsequently grew up in Iowa, USA. 
Now married and with two children of his own, Alex has started to investigate his past and is searching for a little more information about his identity. After having scoured the documentation available regarding his adoption he decided to come down to Bogota to have a look around, meet with the various relevant government bodies and try and trace a little of his background. 
We get to speak to Alex once he has returned to the US about his experiences in Bogota, whether he was able to trace his roots, find the orphanage where he lived and so on. 
This is an intensely personal and emotional interview this week and I hope that anyone out there who may have been through the same experience might reach out to share their findings in a similar situation.  
Direct download: RCC-2015-06-08.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Who would have thought that little old Colombia Calling would reach 100 episodes?! It's thanks to you the listeners out there for inspiring us to keep on going and keep on improving, 7000 plus downloads a week and growing!
This week to celebrate this landmark 100th episode, we have frequent guest, political analyst, Kevin Howlett to the show to discuss with us the realities and the concern abounding about the on-going peace dilaogues between the FARC rebels and the Colombian government in Havana, Cuba. 
Howlett's work as a Colombia expert can been seen here and his insight into the actual situation is second to none. Expect a conversation taking in the issues of the FARC guerrillas, mentions of the ELN rebels, the political cllimate in Colombia and indeed potential outcomes for the situation.  
Direct download: RCC-2015-06-01.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

What does an Australian ex accountant do when he comes to Colombia? Why, set up a food appreciation experience of course! This week we speak to Loon Lio of the highly recommended website and talk to this stranger in a strange land about his new venture into the world of Colombian cuisine. 
Out to prove that Colombian food is anything but bland or insipid, Loon gives us an insight into how he came to create the Bogota Foodie website and indeed the Bogota "Food Safari" for the discerning visitor to the city. 
This "Food Safari" is described as offering something different say, "Anthony Bourdain with a dash of James Bond." We put Loon to the test and talk to him on Colombia Calling about how he came to appreciate Colombian food, why and how he is converting others to join the cause via the safari. 
Get in touch with Loon if you are interested in a fun-filled gastronomic journey through Bogota, the city's culture and cuisine.  
Direct download: RCC-2015-05-25.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20am EST

I have to be bluntly honest and say that I knew almost nothing about Creative Mornings, but now, having had the opportunity to sit down and chat with one of the organizers of the Bogota chapter (, Maria Linares, I am hooked. 
Well, to keep it short, Creative Mornings was started in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenbery out of a desire for an ongoing, accessible event for New York's creative community. The concept was simple: breakfast and a short talk one Friday morning every month. Every event would be free of charge and open to anyone. 
The Bogota chapter was created in February 2013 and has gone from strength to strength encouraging people to come each month to an interesting venue to participate and listen to creative people. That Bogota should have a chapter is more than appropriate as the city is full of young enterprising and altruistic people and speaking to Maria Linares, one gets a feel for the potential here. 
Linares herself is an established musician and has composed for a vast array of projects including film, documentaries, theatre and television. She'll also be releasing her own album soon. Get in touch with her here
Direct download: RCC-2015-05-18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:45pm EST

Why the change? Well, to keep it brief it would be facetious to interview myself and so along with my two co editors I am interviewed by guest host, author, diplomat and former interviewee himself (Dec 2014) Ian McKinley. 
What is the interview about? Well, Ian gets to pose a number of questions to Victoria Kellaway, Caroline Doherty de Novoa and myself about our recently released book, the collection of non fiction stories entitled: "Was Gabo an Irishman?: Takes from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Colombia."
So, hopefully this interesting take on Colombia Calling freshens things up and just maybe the powerful and insightful questions asked by McKinley might make us squirm uncomfortably, but this is the game and we are playing it! You are bound to enjoy it!  
Hear all about our book which sold out at the Bogota Book Fair, has been featured in the Colombian and international press and which is available to buy on Amazon (   


Direct download: RCC-2015-05-11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm EST

This week we sit down once again with British Risk Management Consultant Ben Hockman (first interviewed on 1/9/14 here in Bogota and discuss the implications for security in Colombia should a peace agreement be reached with the FARC guerrillas. We explore the significance of the recent spate of bombs placed by the country's second guerrilla group, the ELN, in Bogota, the support networks that both guerrillas retain in urban areas, the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire now since the dialogues with the FARC have been on-going since November 2012. 
Of course, no discussion of this nature would be complete without addressing the savage attack on a military outfit in the southwestern department of Cauca by the FARC two weeks ago that left 11 soldiers dead and placed the dialogues under severe strain and led to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to lift the suspension of aerial bombing on the FARC. Does the guerrilla group actually want peace? 
And finally, if a peace agreement is reached, how is Colombia prepared for a post conflict period. We discuss what took place after Guatemala's peace accords and the fallout from these poorly executed negotiations. 
Direct download: RCC-2015-05-04.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21pm EST

The other day I was able to interview a hot-shot Colombian start-up entrepreneur Alex Torrenegra over the phone to San Francisco. I had been alerted to Torrenegra’s existence through a Wall Street Journal piece and then a startlingly and refreshing article he has written on his website (Read: It’s Difficult to innovate in Colombia, Especially when the Government does more harm than Good.). At the end we discussed the fact that Colombia should be attempting and striving to create its own “Arepa Valley” and not mimic poorly the actual Silicon Valley.

And he’s right, but then Torrenegra is a shining example of a new and refreshingly altruistic generation of social entrepreneurs, just read the tagline on his website:Working on enabling humankind to reach its full Potential.

We also talk this week about the Bogota Book Fair and launching our book "Was Gabo an Irishman? Tales from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Colombia" and how you can win a copy.

Direct download: RCC-2015-04-27.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:59pm EST

Far be it for me to be facetious and announce that the most important event in my life has taken place on April 9 2015, that of the birth of my son. It's just that he was born on an incredibly poignant day in Colombian history, something which we explore to greater depths on today's show for April 9 1948 is a day that lives long in infamy as the date upon which Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assassinated in downtown Bogota. The resulting violence which razed much of the centre of the city to the ground is now known as the Bogotazo. 
But, rather than simply dwelling on this historically important date, we also take a look today - since it is so fresh in my mind given that I have survived of late regarding the birth of my son James - at the realities of the healthcare system in Colombia and what you might require as an expat here in the country with regards to your health insurance. It is complex and at times very unpleasant and incredibly costly so pay attention! 
Direct download: RCC-2015-04-20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:27pm EST

I don't believe I've ever met anyone from Newfoundland before so imagine my delight at getting to chat to Newfoundland native Beverley Caddigan here in Bogota! An expert in the Canadian legal system we discuss some of the differences between laws in her homeland and in Canada. 
Find out what brought Beverly here to Colombia and learn all about her business here ( Beverley worked for years as an advoctae and as an adjudicator with the provincial government in Ontario, Canada. In her tenure in this system she became an expert in many facets and apsects of law.
If you are thinking of coming to Colombia, if you plan on working here, this is an episode to tune into as you'll want to hear all about the legal system, the reliability of contracts and the miasmi which is known as "la tertulia". 
Direct download: RCC-2015-04-06.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49pm EST

This week we discuss the new project being launched by Mancunian Dave Proctor who has been based - working as a teacher - in Cali for six years. When Proctor is not introducing the delights and cultural magnificence that is the English pub quiz to the sometimes confused yet good folk of Cali (where's the salsa dancing?), playing cricket for the Cali cricket team or playing in a football league he's planning a new mountain bike route across Colombia. 
This is the Legend of El Dorado ( and the idea is to revolutionize the mountain biking calendar in Colombia. 
This eight stage race will begin in Zipaquira (home to the world famous Salt Cathedral) and then continue down the Magdalena River Valley through Guaduas before then making a huge ascent over the Nevado de Ruiz volcano and then down through the city of Manizales and taking in the national heritage town of Salamina before ending near to Medellin. How about that for a cross country mountain bike adventure across Colombia? 
For more info about Dave Proctor and his projects check out his blog:
Direct download: RCC-2015-03-30.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32pm EST

This week I am thrilled to have anglo french citizen Marie Quinney on the show live from the southern economic hub of Cali talking to us about finding a job down in her city, working and living there and indeed her thesis on the issue of "Fatalism and Povery in Cali" while studying at the London School of Economics. 
We'll discuss the class system and segregation in Colombia, how she conducted her research and interviews and how her life is developing in Cali and how she came to be in this city. 
What is most exciting is that Marie is an academic who is determined to shirk away from the sugarcoated blogs about parties, attractive women, sun and salsa and write, from her educated perspective, about life in Colombia. Check out her ruminations here:
Also, she is leading a funding drive to enable her partner Juan Felipe to be able to go and study at Cambridge University for an MPhil in Neuroscience focusing on addicition. Get involved people!
Direct download: RCC-2015-03-23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36pm EST

In the light of recent events and announcements made by both the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian Government regarding the on-going peace process, we have taken the time to discuss the significance of Transitional Justice here in Colombia. 
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the suspension of all military bombing raids on FARC rebel camps last week. This was the most recent declaration that has gone a long way to securing an atmosphere of trust between the two sides. Remember, just a week ago, the announcement was that of FARC guerrillas working alongide official military in aiding the eradication of landmines in Colombia. These are major steps forward and so we discuss the repercussions and importance of the peace dialogues and the real meaning of transitional justice. 
Also on another note, something which has been dominating the headlines has been the government's complete capitulation to the yellow taxi unions in Bogota by outlawing the private online taxi service of Uber and UberX. We talk about what this means for the city's beleaguered consumers and our right of choice in the matter. 
Don't forget! March 17 is our to chance to protest on what is no being called a: "No Taxi Day" to promote the right to choice and to fair competition. 
Direct download: RCC-2015-03-16.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm EST

Rather than cornering a travel blogger to wax lyrical on the tropical fruit available in Colombia, this week we speak to Briton Francesca Tarrent, a keen observer of Colombia. We talk about Francesca's recent journeys around Colombia which have taken her to the haunting and harrowing ruins of Armero, where, 30 years ago this year a massive landslide brought about by a volcanic eruption killing almost 20,000 people from a population of 29,000. 
After Armero, Francesca visited the former country mansion of someone you might have heard of, Pablo Escobar, the former global godfather of international cocaine trafficking. His finca, Hacienda Napoles, located near to Puerto Triunfo was once an opulent structure where he housed tropical animals and entertained his visitors. Only this week, the main building collapsed putting paid to the possibility of an authentic museum to illustrate the havoc wreaked by Escobar. 
And finally, our conversation turns to that of the elitist nature of Colombian society with a discussion about recent events involving a character named Nicolas Gaviria which has dominated debate with the hashtag #ustednosabequiensoyyo (do you know who I am?) in the Colombian national press. For more information about this story, read on
Direct download: RCC-2015-03-09.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:19pm EST

Recording this show made me want to give everything up, pack it all in and spend my savings on a 4x4 and go on an adventure. Although, any adventure I take would pale in comparison to that achieved and being undertaken by dutch couple Karin-Marijke and Coen. 
Karin-Marijke, Coen and their Toyota Land Cruiser BJ45 have been on the road in Asia and South America since 2003. They are often characterized as the slowest overlanders in the world but for them it’s all about staying in places and connecting with people. Can you imagine my excitement to be able to sit down and chew the fat with Karin at a coffee house in Bogota and hear about their adventures in Iran and in Colombia and beyond before they headed off along a little known route to Puerto Carreno at the far end of the Colombian Llanos bordering Venezuela! 
Read more about their incredible lives here on their website: and tune in to the show to hear a first account of life on the road. 
Direct download: RCC-2015-03-02.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:13pm EST

Having first cut my teeth in journalism working the news desk at an anglo newspaper in Costa Rica back in 2000, I am always impressed by those who decide to launch an enterprise of this type. So this week on Colombia Calling we sit down with the Bogota Post's director Emma Newbery and staffer Azzam Alkhadi to talk about this venture and how it has gone for them as they approach the 1 year anniversary of their launch. 
We discuss the rise of the internet, the death of the newspaper, their readership, aims and dream and of course, above all, Colombia. 
Tune in to find out why Newbery decided to plunge into an adventure of this type, why she is here in Colombia and where the Bogota Post will go from here. Learn about the machinations of a newspaper trying to bridge the gap between anglo and local news and make a success of it. 
Direct download: RCC-2015-02-23.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 11:59am EST

This week we head out to talk with Juan Carlos Caicedo, a US born Colombian, watershed management expert and ecologist to talk about some of the studies that he has conducted here in Bogota regarding the natural environment of this city. 
By studying the immensely popular Virrey Park and the flora and fauna found in this 2km stretch of green found in this dense city, Caicedo has charted 65 different species of birds, hundreds of insects and a whole variety of trees. His plan is to continue to do studies of this kind to better inform Bogotanos of the importance of environmental awareness. 
We talk about pollution, we talk about the city's growth, we talk about environmental policy, in fact, no stone is left unturned in this vivid conversation with a realistic, studied and well-travelled environmentalist. He's not here to shove doctrine down your throats, he's here to highlight and help us understand the needs of a city. 
Tune in for a fascinating discussion about an overlooked subject in Bogota. 
Direct download: RCC-2015-02-16.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

In today's show we get to explore a little more about the situation of scarcity of household goods in Venezuela. Last week it was condoms and so as a first on Colombia Calling we have launched a competition to find the best or most appropriate or most amusing name for the state funded condoms which President Maduro is promising to produce. 
After tackling this lightweight topic, we move on to the issue of tourism and being a tourism operator here in Colombia. This is based on jy own experiences operating a hotel here in the small town of Mompos. As we have the big tourism fair coming up in Bogota at the end of the month I am talking about what to expect and how to survive it and the difficulties we face in this industry in Colombia. 
And finally, in the last segment of the show I provide you with snippets from my interview with the infamous Christopher Kavanagh or "the Mick" who I interview with the aim of writing a story about him. Some of you may remember him as being the subject for the new novel "Mad Outta me Head" by Colin Post featured on this show some months ago. The Mick was imprinsoned in Colombia in 1986 for trying to smuggle cocaine bback to Ireland and he has remained in a legal limbo ever since. For the first time, I sit down with for a beer or seven and interview this legend of Bogota's underworld. 
Direct download: RCC-2015-02-09.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:07pm EST

All too often perhaps we can allow ourselves to get wrapped up in the great lifestyle that one lives out here in Colombia and forget about the day to day realities of life. So, with this in mind we invited Briton Claire Austin back on to the show to talk about how it has been raising her son here in Bogota and finding out the reasons why, after just over three years, she will be returning to the UK. 

In a fresh and personal interview, Claire shares with us the trials of raising her son, her hopes and feelings about having to return home and indeed the issues raised by the UK government about trying to secure a visa for her husband Juan. Frankly, once you listen to the difficulties encountered by this young Anglo Colombian family. you'll immediately sympathise with Claire and Juan and their predicament which, I am sure you'll agree, is far from unique but all the same no less shocking. You can read more about Claire's experiences on her blog:

As a future parent, this show is of special significance to me as well and I find myself wondering if I want my son to be raised here, to attend school here and thinking about other issues such as healthcare. These are things which I took for granted back in the UK and now, they are very real considerations. 

Tune in for a fantastic interview about the culture of the family and the issues of raising a bilingual child in Colombia with Claire Austin.

Direct download: RCC-2015-02-02.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 3:16pm EST

This week's show takes a different tack and instead of focusing on literary or travel stories we are plunged into the world of entrepreneurship and that of Startups here in Colombia. The term “startup” has been bandied around with increasing frequency over the past few years to describe scrappy young ventures, hip San Francisco apps and huge tech companies. But what is a startup, really? And what is the situation here in Colombia? How is the national government promoting a quiet revolution in aiding small scale businesses and individuals across the country to break into this new world of entrepreneurship? 

We sit down with Juan Novoa, an innovator and analyst for the Colombian Ministry of Technology and Information, to talk about several fascinating stories that have taken place here in Colombia. There are tales of failure and success and from every region of the country from the northeastern deserts to urban centers such as Bogota, Medellin and Cali. 

One thing we can all agree on: the key attribute of a startup is its ability to grow. A startup is a company designed to scale very quickly. It is this focus on growth unconstrained by geography which differentiates startups from small businesses and through the Ministry's focus and promotion and their website APPS.CO Colombia has become a leader in this innovation. 

Tune in to hear some good news stories in Colombia with Juan Novoa

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2015-01-26.mp3
Category:society and culture -- posted at: 8:47am EST

This week we sit down on Colombia Calling with Briton Naomi Dalton, the author of the a fabulously informative website entitled: "How to Bogota." (

How to Bogota is divided into seven helpful categories including those of, Life in Bogota, Transport, Money, Enterntainment, Food, Shopping and finally, Safety, must be giving the guidebooks on Colombia a run for their money. Dalton writes it as she sees and experiences it as each entry and chapter is both instructional and personal making it an enjoyable page to read and indeed re-visit. 

This is a fascinating interview with someone making a life here in Bogota and who has set out her stall to help others in the same situation. You can read her pieces on how to procure gainful employment, the ins and outs and the bureaucracy of renting an apartment and how to avoid being a target for common crime in the city. 

Dalton's website is highly recommended and is a must read for anyone thinking of coming to Bogota for an extended period of time. I only wish that she had set this up back in 2007 when I had to take on all these challenges alone!

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2015-01-19.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30pm EST

Finishing up the series and Episode 81 of Colombia Calling in Mompos, we sit down this week with Briton Chris Bell and discuss the finer things in Colombia such as the differences between birding, birdwatchers and twitchers, Radamel Falcao's move to Manchester United, traveling in Colombia and what 2015 possibly means for the peace dialogues. 

Hailing from rural Shrewsbury we discover what has brought Chris Bell to Colombia and how he became the editor in chief of the See Colombia Travel blog ( - voted best blog of the Americas in 2014. The Colombia Travel Blog, the most visited travel blog about Colombia in English and Spanish, was created to smash the widespread and long outdated stereotypes about this astonishing country. Their team of international travelers are passionate about sharing their fresh perspectives about traveling and living in Colombia, traveling around the world and keeping you up to date with what you're missing by not being here.

So, tune in for a frank, enjoyable and amusing chat with Chris Bell.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2015-01-12.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21am EST

Clearly, we are all aware that Colombia's Nobel Prize Winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez did not, in fact, hail from Ireland, but, in the first episode for Colombia Calling in 2015, we discuss with authors Victoria Kellaway (Colombia: A Comedy of Errors) and Caroline Doherty de Novoa (Dancing with Statues) a new collection of "Gabo" inspired essays written by Colombians and foreigners alike and due for publication in April of this year.

With submissions from all over the globe and with a number of heavyweight contributors, this new homage to Gabo will be launched at Bogota's Book Fair which runs from April 22 to May 4 2015, and be edited by the aforementioned authors and myself and published by Papen Press. 

Noting the change that is taking place in Colombia, the new year ahead and new challenges for the country, the three of us sit down in the garciamarquian setting of Mompos ( and discuss the inspiration and the reasons behind this new book, who it is aimed at and why it should appeal to anyone interested in Colombia. As yet, we are still sifting through the submissions but it is so interesting and exciting to have personal articles from a true variety of backgrounds, countries and contexts and all of which are very different from one another.

Listen in here to an exclusive sneak peak of "Was Gabo an Irishman" and whet your appetite for a fresh look at the magic realism of Colombia.

Direct download: Colombia_Calling-2015-01-05.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:38pm EST