Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia (general)

Following on in the footsteps of Episode 221 where I regaled you all with the first chapter of my novel: "The Mompós Project," I have decided to share with you a further adapted extract from the book. This is entitled, "Sonia and the Gringo," and is the tale of a friendship in Mompós. This extract was also published in the New Orleans literary magazine, the South Writ Large (www.southwritlarge.com). 

I am still searching for an editor and of course a publisher, so please if you know of anyone, please let me know and then send this their way to see what they think.

Direct download: RCC_241.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Canadian expat Delaney Turner sat down over several cupos of coffee with Colombia Calling and discussed his love of Bogotá and the whole Colombia experience. In what is, quite a profound and verging on the philosophical coversation, Delaney and I delve into the issues of identity, belonging and Bogotá. 

We talk about his projects here in Bogotá, his love of photography and writing and how he turned his back on the marketing world to come on down to Bogotá and explore a new lifestyle and plunge himself into the language. 

This is an exciting and upbeat episode of Colombia Calling where we focus on the boom which Bogotá has experienced in recent years and how individuals like myself and Delaney are not only benefitting from it, but enjoying it. Check out his website www.becausebogota.com

Direct download: RCC_240.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06pm EDT

Colombian photographer Gabriel Eisenband performed a great public service when he decided to abandon his career in marketing to pursue his passion and dream of a life behind the lens. 

Now, Eisenband is a journeyman around his beloved Colombia and is the principal photographer for the new Colombia National Parks coffee table book available from July 2018. Having himself visited 41 of Colombia's national parks, he may be the person who has seen the most of this country and so we at Colombia Calling have the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about his latest project and the adventures he encountered along the way. 

Follow him and see some of his photos on instagram: @gaboeisenband
or, better yet, buy the book!

Direct download: RCC_239.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT

On Ep238 of the Colombia Calling podcast, we catch up with Jennie Levitt and get to see her new publication, "The Paris Picnic Club," a delightfully constructed cookbook put together with her business partner Shaheen Peerbhai, and illustrated with paintings by Levitt herself. The result is a collection of 100 mouthwatering and exciting recipes which stem from their student days in Paris and crosses continents to include elements from Peerbhai's native India and Levitt's adopted homeland of Colombia. 

The launch in Bogotá for the Paris Picnic Club is expected for September 2018 and we can expect to wash delicious platters down with cordials or juices from the book itself, or perhaps even, some sparkling fruit juices made by Levitt under the brand Corelia. Available in Bogotá and with flavours of Mandarine, Passion Fruit, Blackberry and Lulo and produced in Chapinero, Bogotá, Levitt's is truly a story of success in Colombia. 

Tune in for a fun and upbeat episode of Colombia Calling.

Direct download: RCC_238.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am EDT

It's always a real pleasure to have the brains behind the Leyenda del Dorado (la-leyenda.com) mountain bike race on the show bringing with them an infectious enthusiasm for Colombia and what they are doing. So, on Ep237 of the Colombia Calling podcast we chat with race creator Brian Murphy and his sidekick Dave Procter based in the city of Cali to talk about this, the third edition of the only race of its kind in Colombia. 

With 250 participants coming from 21 nations for this multi-stage mountain bike race to take on the challenge of volcanic ascents, humid river valleys, colonial towns and coffee plantations in the department of Caldas, this is a UCI certified event which is not for the faint of heart. 

Hear about the news sections to the race, who is coming to participate, how the locals have embraced this event to their hearts and check out the daily updates and drone footage on La Leyenda's website.

Direct download: RCC_237.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:02pm EDT

It's a pleasure to have Adriaan Alsema of Colombia Reports (www.colombiareports.com) back on the show, this time, on Ep236 of Colombia Calling he discusses with us his newfound cult status - he is currently being shadowed by a photographer from the Dutch edition of Esquire Magazine who is doing a feature on him. So, for once the guy who writes the news becomes the news. 

However, the real reason for Alsema's return to Colombia Calling is to talk about the terrifying state of affairs for journalists and social/ community leaders in Colombia. Official figures put the number of deaths of Community leaders across Colombia since Jan 1 2016 at over 300. The worst departments are Cauca and Antioquia, but it is happening all over. 

We discuss this genocide, the problems in reporting and which groups and potentially behind the killings and why. 

Please tune in to this important episode telling the story of a tragic situation in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_236.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm EDT

There's an announcement to be made on Colombia Calling, no the "English Voice in Colombia," is not going away, but, we'll be branching out and there's a Spanish language podcast in the making (yes, I will stumble through in Spanish). There will be more about this in the podcast, so you have to tune in, but, just rest assured Jose Miguel Jaramillo (Ep219) of www.urbanlink.co and myself will be at he helm!

Direct download: RCC_235.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am EDT

It's taken me 11 years to get to the Colombian department of Casanare and it shouldn't have taken this long. But, under the careful guidance of husband and wife team of Julia Buschmann and Andres Gonzalez Perez (www.aventurecotours.com), I took my wife and three year old son out for a "Colombian Safari" in the plains, savannahs and wetlands of Casanare. 

On our bespoke experience, we took in the perfect combination of a slice of the authentic Llanos cowboy lifestyle and saw droves of birds and other wildlife including deer, caimans and chiguiros (capybara). 

Colombia is a country of contrasts and with an embarrassment of riches to which to travel and only recently is this being understood. Casanare has charm, style and substance and oozes all of them and anyone wishing to experience adventure, birdwatching and authenticity should make time to come here. I must also emphasise that at no point did we feel unsafe at all, just embraced by the warmth of our hosts and the destination as a whole. Visit Casanare!

Direct download: RCC_234.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Ivan Duque is the new president of Colombia and will run the country from 2018-2022, what does this mean for the peace agreement with the FARC, of which he has been openly critical and opposed to? 

Instead of striking dramatic blows against the accord, it’s more likely that Duque and his coalition will kill it through neglect. Casting the accord adrift, failing to take action and failing to spend money, will bring much the same end result as dramatically tearing it up.

However, Colombian president-elect Ivan Duque’s first challenge will be to unite the nation, something he has pledged to do whilst on the campaign trail, and recognize that eight million citizens voted for the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro, the first time that a leftist candidate has achieved such a large following in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_233.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:14pm EDT

It's that time again! The football world cup is upon us and it's in Russia and Colombia take a strong team to face the likes of Poland, Senegal and Japan in Group H. So, it's a great pleasure to have South American football expert and journalist Simon Edwards on the line to Colombia Calling from Medellin talking about what to expect from the Colombia team, the likes of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez. 

And not only do we discuss Colombia's chances...should they make it through Group H, they may end up facing either Belgium or England in the knock out rounds, how very exciting, but, we also welcome back Peru to the World Cup after an irresistibly long absence and Panama to the World Cup for the first time in their history. 

So, while my enthusiasm for the World Cup this year is somewhat muted due to the finals being held in Russia and indeed the FIFA-gate scandal, Simon Edwards starts to motivate my enthusiasm once again for the beautiful game.

Direct download: RCC_232.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:56pm EDT

So, Colombia just had the first round of their presidential elections on May 27 and the right-wing Ivan Duque won by a significant margin but not by enough to take him straight to the presidency. In second place was the former M19 guerrilla and Mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro who will now face Duque on June 17 in the second round. 

On this Episode 231 of Colombia Calling, your host Richard McColl will provide you with a summary of what took place and how the voting happened in the first round and what to expect for the second round and the three weeks until then. Tune in to learn more about Colombia's fascinating political spectrum.

Direct download: RCC_231.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range rises more than 18,000 feet from the Caribbean Sea — a height that makes them the tallest coastal mountains in the world. The national park that houses them is also the world's most irreplaceable protected area for the conservation of threatened species and is home to ancient communities and archeological wonders. So, it is with my great pleasure to invite Santiago Giraldo back on Colombia Calling after an absence of a few years. 

Giraldo is the Director for Latin America for the Global Heritage Fund and the Director of Prosierra, a Colombian environmental NGO. You'll remember we discussed the Lost City or the Ciudad Perdida and the 24,000 annual visitors to this sacred site, well, we catch up on what has been going on and explore some of the conservation projects underway in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Direct download: RCC_230.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am EDT

In the light of recent events such as FARC politician Ivan Marquez returning to his jungle hideout in Caqueta and Jesus Santrich under arrest for allegedly cocaine trafficking to the US, I discuss the topics in the news about Colombia this week and it doesn't make for comfortable reading. 

This is an episode put together to bring my international listeners up to speed with what is going on in Colombia, what international hawks are saying about the increasingly fragile-looking peace deal, President Santos' failure to act, the on-going crisis with the ELN, the FARC dissidents and indeed the issues surrounding Marin, Marquez and Santrich....all of this and we are less than 20 days from the presidential elections which appears to be head to head Ivan Duque vs Gustavo Petro.

Direct download: RCC_229.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20pm EDT

Long-time listener Adam Navarro-Lowery contacted Colombia Calling some weeks ago, full of enthusiasm for his upcoming first visit to Colombia...and yet, Adam is half Colombian and with extensive family links to Tolima and Santander. We sit down to discuss his family tree, look over sepia photographs from a yesteryear Colombia and trace his roots. 

In an open and frank discussion, Adam - a native of Dearborn, Michigan - tells us of his reason to join the US military (spoiler alert: the Medellin cartel is involved), his desire at age 39 to trace his roots and learn about his family, and his findings on a trip to Ambalema and Honda in the department of Tolima just beyond Bogotá along the river Magdalena.

Direct download: RCC_228.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Everyone has an opinion on the war on drugs, and here in Colombia, many are far better placed to make educated decisions about its worth and reach. One of these such people is Carlos Villalon who has been photographing the Colombian conflict, its actors and the drugs trade since 2002. Having embedded himself with guerrillas, paramilitaries and more, Carlos has seen first-hand the effect of coca production for its use in cocaine on Colombia, the economy and on a global scale. 

We sit down with Carlos and scan some of the images he has chosen over the length of his career to illustrate his new book entitled: Coca, the lost war on drugs. 

The images are both powerful and thought-provoking and follow the passage of this sacred indigenous plant through its evolution in the comunas of Medellin, the Narco Corridas of Mexico and finally in the slums of the New York's Bronx. 

This book requires funding and could end up being a mandatory text in various classrooms. So, check out the Kickstarter campaign and throw some dollars at an incredibly important project which will show the world Colombia, this sacred plant and how we have damaged something ancestral and otherworldly. 

Link: https://kck.st/2HjoCOC

Direct download: RCC_227.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:41pm EDT

This week we have an incredibly interesting conversation with Colombian academic Diana Maria Valencia about the upcoming presidential elections here. 

On the line with us from my alma mater, the University of Exeter (Devon, UK) where she is studying for a Mphil/PhD in History about food insecurity and agrarian counter reforms in Colombia, she gives us a background of her investigations and a very balanced look at the 2018 elections. 

If we boil down the causes of Colombia's conflict to their most base, then, land rights and reforms are privotal and so Diana Maria is perfectly placed to provide us with a better understanding of the issues in Colombia from her investigations, and then, apply this knowledge to a brief breakdown of what is taking place here before the first round of elections on May 27. 

So, who do we think will come through the first round, Duque, Petro, Vargas Lleras, de la Calle or Fajardo? How can we interpret the opinion polls? All of this and more on the Colombian election special on the Colombia Calling podcast.

Direct download: RCC_226.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

Sitting in the incredible and trendy downtown bar Revellion (Calle 16 #4-23) Colombia Calling sits down with two US expats in Bogota, Victoria Mulgannon and Chris Morfas, to talk about their thoughts on President Donald Trump's impending visit this April to Colombia after the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru. 

Bringing with them a wealth of well-informed opinions - Mulgannon has worked with USAID and the US Embassy and has now opened the hugely successful Revellion bar, and Morfas is a nonprofit leader and government relations professional from Sacramento - this is a fascinating and balanced reflection on the US Presidential visit to Colombia. 

There's time for some laughs, there's jazz in the background and there are some excellent insights and potential predictions for President Trump's visit. And, if all else fails, let's hit up Revellion bar and enjoy a wine tasting or some fine single malt!

Direct download: RCC_225.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

It's a great pleasure to have Juan Fernando Hincapie, one of Colombia's bright new things on the literary circuit. Already known for the books "Gringadas" and "Gramática pura" he has now published a new novela in English entitled "Mother Tongue."

Having read the book and laughed out loud in parts, it was great fun to discuss this Colombian tale which may touch a raw nerve here and there with his countrymen. But, you can relate, as you laugh at the descriptions, family dynamics and hardly unique class system so ever present in Bogotá. 

"Mother Tongue" is to be enjoyed on a rainy afternoon in Bogotá, when the rain only increases in its ferocity and drive and you are obliged to duck into a non-descript and filthy café in an unknown part of town. If you have done this, then you'll understand what "Mother Tongue" is all about.

Direct download: RCC_224.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:34pm EDT

Danny Concha is a filmmaker and a storyteller and he's brought his unique brand of good news to Colombia, and we are the better for it as he has travelled this country far and wide to ensure that his stories go beyond the superficial and show us some of the real Colombia. 

In Episode 223 of Colombia Calling, we speak to Danny - on the line with us from the city of Medellin - and discuss how he came to here in Colombia, what he is doing with the "Yo Creo en Colombia" foundation and how he will be starting the: "Yo Creo en Peru" branch of this positive outreach program. 

For further information about Danny's documentaries and writing, please check out his website: dannyconcha.com and of course his youtube channel too.

Direct download: RCC_223.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:14pm EDT

Only the other day, i read a statistic that claimed that four out of every ten Venezuelans still remaining in that country are trying to scrape together another money to leave. 

Those of us here seeing more and more Venezuelans arriving to Colombia every day, whether they are staying here or moving on to places further adrift such as Ecuador, Peru and Chile, believe we may be witness now to one of the greatest refugee crises outside of Syria.

So, this week on Episode 222, we have invited Venezuelan-born journalist Frank Cardona on the show to talk about the troubles being experienced by the diaspora as they try and seek a new life elsewhere beyond the chaos being wreaked by President Maduro and his followers. 

For an excellent take of how Frank is feeling, read his blog www.frankcardona.com

Direct download: RCC_222.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:53pm EDT

Some of you will know that I have been penning a novel about my experiences in Mompós and throughout my "otherworldly experiences" whilst getting the Casa Amarilla (www.casaamarillamompos.com) hotel up and running, and as the search for an editor continues, I have decided to share chapter 1 of "The Mompós Project" out there with the world...have a read and let me know what you think. Here, I have decided to give you a reading.

Direct download: RCC_221.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50pm EDT

Given that the past week was the huge tourism fair here in Bogotá, Colombia, it seems timely to invite Alex Egerton, author of the new Lonely Planet guidebook to Colombia out later in 2018, here to Colombia Calling to chat about travel in our adopted country, new travel fashion here and of course, off the beaten path travel. 

So, we start with a conversation about the ANATO Vitrina Turistica and how it has changed over the 10 years I have been attending and how travel practices have altered too, including the perception of Colombia. 

And finally, we start to discuss how the country is opening up further to more intrepid travellers wishing to visit far-off jungle areas the Colombia great plains. Tune in to a great travel episode.

Direct download: RCC_220.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53pm EDT

It's always important to me to feature local people whenever possible on Colombia Calling and indeed especially those who are giving back to Colombia, so I was particulary happy when I was put in contact with Jose Miguel Jaramillo. Jose is a Bogotano and the brains behind a small, socially aware company called Clark and Rose (www.clarkandrose.co) which makes a variety of stylish leather bags. 

But, aside from these leather bags, perhaps the most important issue is that Jose is employing people from less privileged backgrounds to work in a responsible company. Some of his workers even include former guerrillas from both the ELN and FARC rebel groups. It's all about being socially inclusive, trust and humility. 

Tune in as we talk to Jose about his company, about his plan and also about his other project, Urban Link, where clients can rent store fronts or available "spaces" for short periods of time.

Direct download: RCC_219.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

This week we speak to Briton Jay Speller who moved to Minca, Colombia eight years ago and opened an eco hostel with a capacity of 10 guests. Today, in 2018, the Casa Loma (www.casalomaminca.com) can sleep up to 60 guests between private rooms, cabins, dorms and more and offers vegetarian meals, yoga courses, views to destroy your soul with their beauty and a place in which to disconnect from life as we know it. So, we talk to Jay about how he came to be in Minca and choose this place, how the business has increased and how Colombia has changed.

Direct download: RCC_218.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:58pm EDT

It's a pleasure to have academic and University teacher Pete Watson back on the show (see Ep185 Football and Politics in Colombia) and talking about his findings from his time in Colombia in 2017. 

Pete discusses how football projects are building a sense of nationhood, society and identity in Colombia and how the yellow shirt of the Colombian national team is more than just a football kit. 

We talk about the politicization of football language in the speeches of current President Juan Manuel Santos and how the Colombian premier has used football to push ahead with his agenda. 

Tune in for a fascinating and in-depth conversation about the evolution of sport and politics in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_217.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:03am EDT

Sitting down and chatting with British journalist Matthew Charles is an education and an eye opening experience into the mind of a brave and selfless correspondent who will stop at nothing to get the story out there. Who better to speak to regarding Colombia's current state of malaise than Charles? Having recorded interviews with members of neo paramilitary groups (broadcast on Insight Crime) and then spent more than a week with the ELN guerrillas, Charles can provide us with an invaluable insight into off-limits Colombia and the work, life and times of a serious freelance foreign correspondent. Tune in!

Direct download: RCC_216.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56am EDT

This week on Colombia Calling we throw you are curve ball and bring on Charles Massey of Ottawa to talk about his experiences in Barranquilla as a volunteer English teacher, but not only do we focus on La Arenosa, but we delve into the world of Bollywood a little too. 

In a fresh and fun episode we are able to broadcast for the first time on Colombia Calling some bollywood songs and they certainly don't disappoint. Tune in and enjoy.

Direct download: RCC_215.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EDT

Here we are, on Colombia Calling, starting 2018 fresh in mind and ready to take on the world...or at least Colombia in this election year which may be a make or break moment on various fronts for the country. 

After such a long hiatus away from Colombia and back in the UK, I have returned - several kilos heavier - and with the desire to take on even more challenges and best them. so, we discuss the elections, the potential presidential candidates, the problems with Colombia's taxes, some positives from 2017 and much more...oh yes, please check out my new walking tour guidebook to Bogotá entitled: "Bogotá through the Five Senses" available now as an ebook on Amazon.com

Direct download: RCC_214.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:30pm EDT

It's a real pleasure to have Briton Hannah Matthews on the show once again and see how far she's come in Colombia. It seems like only a few weeks ago that we had her on the show talking about what it was like to teach English as a foreigner in Colombia. 

Now, she's in the Peace Brigades International and has spent a great deal of time in some of Colombia's most conflicted regions working to preserve human rights. 

As an international observer for PBI Colombia Hannah has had the opportunity to gain experience in the field of international human rights. She has worked in Bogotá, Barrancabermeja and Urabá, accompanying human rights defenders and communities who are being threatened because of their legitimate work in support of justice and peace.

Against a backdrop of political unease in Colombia and the presidential elections of 2018, this is an important and timely interview.

Direct download: RCC_213.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38am EDT

It's a brave man who sets out his stall to bring high school trips to Colombia, but, British travel writer Simon Willis has done just this with his outfit, Kagumu Adventures (www.kagumuadventures.com). 

Fresh off the trail from leading a bunch of eager students from an international school in Chile, who he took out to rural Antioquia and in to the infamous Comuna 13 in Medellin, Willis understands that tourism can be a create positive change in Colombia and indeed fulfill some of the Millennium Development Goals. 

Tune in to hear an inspirational tale of how a guy with an idea - albeit a brave one - can bring about change.

Direct download: RCC_212.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am EDT

Sometimes it's hard to be an international transplant to a small community in Colombia, but briton Matty Sowinski Brown has successfully become an accepted resident in the charming town of Quimbaya in Colombia's coffee region. 

So, this week on Episode 211 of Colombia Calling we get on the line with Matty in Quimbaya (Quindio) to talk about his life there, the rural guesthouse he is opening up soon named "Cascada Blanca", and the delights of a traditional christmas - lanterns and all - in which he is participating this year in his new home town. 

Check out his website: www.cascadablancacolombia.com

Direct download: RCC_211.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

It's a great pleasure in this Episode 210 to welcome back members of the Bogotá Writers to Colombia Calling and sit down with Peter, Caroline and Juan Manuel and talk about their latest publication of short stories entitled: "Voices of Bogotá". 

In this new edition of works by the hard-working group, there are 16 stories all told by residents of the city. They tell of different times, people and places, but the dominant character uniting them is the city itself. Read about the tattoo parlours of Lourdes, the time keepers for bus routes and so much more.

Direct download: RCC_210.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:15am EDT

Surely you didn't miss all the press coverage surrounding this story a few weeks ago after President Trump released some formerly classified CIA documents!? Yes, the story is real, whether or not it's true is something else, so, this week on Ep209 of Colombia Calling we sit down with fellow expat, blogger and interested soul, Stuart Oswald and discuss whether or not Adolf Hitler could have or did spend time in Colombia in the 1950s. 

What we know: The CIA investigated claims that a man who said he was Adolf Hitler was living in a community of ex-Nazis in the 1950s in Colombia. Declassified documents indicate that although agents did not take the claim seriously, they did receive a photo of the man who had a striking resemblance to the German dictator. A former SS soldier, Phillip Citroen, approached CIA agents in 1954 and said that a man claming to be Hitler was living in the town of Tunja. 

Tune in to hear about the documents and our thoughts on this matter.

Tags and Keywords: hitler, adolf hitler, did hitler escape to colombia, hitler in south america, hitler in colombia, hitler in bogota, hitler in tunja, ss in colombia, mengele, nazis in south america, nazis in colombia, stuart oswald, richard mccoll, colombia calling

Direct download: RCC_209.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15am EDT

Have you heard the tale of the poet who drinks three bottles of gin a day!? No, I hadn't and the mere thought of that much booze makes me uncomfortable. Hear about this anecdote and so many more with writer, author, teacher and journeyman Eduardo Bechara as he leaves Colombia to seek out and discover the new voices of South American poetry. 

Bechara's project "En Busca de Poetas" has been many years in the making but as it has developed so has it broadened its reach. We get on the line to Cordoba, Argentina with Bechara to talk about his life as a writer and the most recent spin-off project of a new collection of poetry from the southern cone entitled: "Breve Tratado del Viento Sur". 

Bechara's quest is to unify the South American continent in a literary sense and if you believe in what he is doing, then throw a few dollars at his crowdfunding page on Indiegogo (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/publicacion-breve-tratado-del-viento-sur/x/642296#/). 

So, tune in to hear about Bechara's life, an interesting tale which has taken his from being a Bogotano lawyer to researching being penniless on the steets and now promoting poets across the whole continent.

Tags and Keywords: Eduardo Bechara writer, en busca de poetas, indegogo, crowdfunding, breve tratado del viento sur, beggar for a day, mendigo por un dia, colombia calling, podcast richard mccoll, escarabajo publishing

Direct download: RCC_208.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EDT

From the coffee cultivations in the highlands of the Tolima region, this week on Colombia Calling, we speak to US writer and photographer Michael Evans who has made his home in the small town of Líbano. And so, this week's episode is an exploration of life in a Colombian small town in the heartlands of the coffee region. 

For an idea of the imagery and the ambiance of Líbano, Michael's home and his muse, check out this excerpt from his new book of photography, "My Colombia, the First Seven Years."

"Líbano sits in the middle of the Tolima Department’s coffee region. The Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia has an office and warehouse here, where farmers deposit their harvests and collect their pay. You probably know of Juan Valdez and his trusty mule, Conchita. Juan isn’t just a fictional character in coffee commercials; he’s the trademarked mascot of the federation — invented in 1969 — and through the magic of casting, he always remains young and fit. And although Juan always looks a little too clean and well-groomed for doing manual labor, his outfit is spot on, because Colombian coffee farmers still wear straw hats and ponchos, still strap machetes to their belts, and some still bring their harvests to market on the backs of mules."

Known to some as Memphis Mike, tune in to hear all about the curiosities and beauty of small town Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_207.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

Did you know that over the last ten years, the UK has been the third largest investor in Colombia, with British companies investing confidently across a variety of industry sectors, including energy, mining, infrastructure, and financial and professional services. So, this week in Ep 206 of Colombia Calling we jump at the opportunity to talk with the director of the UK Colombia Trade non-profit organisation Alejandro McAllister. 

In a free and flowing conversation, we discuss the Colombian economy and its needs, where investors and businesses are most welcome and why in this country. With concrete examples of British companies setting up in Colombia, this is a fascinating insight in to how Colombia's economy works even against the backdrop of Brexit, the peace accords and the Colombian presidential elections in 2018.

Direct download: RCC_206.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:56am EDT

While the story and characters in A Reluctant Warrior are fictitious, they are based on events Kelly Brooke Nicholls witnessed first-hand while living and working in Colombia. During this time, she interviewed thousands of victims of paramilitaries, guerrilla and drug cartels. She knows Buenaventura, where the novel is set, intimately, including the most notorious neighborhoods where foreigners rarely venture. She worked closely with the former Andean Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration to help her realistically map the events in this novel.

And, of course, we have Kelly here on Colombia Calling telling us about her experiences in and love for Colombia and the people, how her book came about, opening up about threats hurled at her by a former president and some thoughts on current-day Colombia. 

Tune in for an excellent episode of Colombia Calling which ties human rights, politics and literature all in one in a neat package.

Direct download: RCC_205.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:20am EDT

A paramo is an incredibly fragile high treeless plateau in tropical South America and Colombia plays host to many not to mention Chingaza and Sumapaz both just outside of Bogotá. So this week we sit down and discuss the importance of the paramos to Colombia with three academics from the University of el Rosario. 

Adriana Sanchez, Marius Bottin and James Edward Richardson have between them a wealth of knowledge and together discuss potential outcomes for Colombia's paramos and what is going on in the country regarding environmental protection. What are the risks for the paramos in Colombia? Does mining and illegal mining play a role, what can the government do...and so much more.

Direct download: RCC_204.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08am EDT

Changing things up a little in Episode 203, Colombia Calling heads out to a new cultural event in Bogotá to record at "A Moveable Fiesta." This shindig , hopefully to become an annual event, was the brain child of various authors and artists in Bogotá who felt that it was time to launch something alternative and open which could include Colombians and foreigners alike. 

So, for Ep203, we recorded a three segment show with Seg 1 being a short intro to the event before people arrived, our hopes and fears for A Moveable Fiesta. For Seg 2 I record a short piece of live theatre put on by the Bogotá Anglo Theatre co who perform Edward Albee's "the Zoo Story" in something that is reminiscent of an old BBC radio play, and finally, in Seg 3, it's a frank conversation and some feedback between myself and author Victoria Kellaway reflecting on how the event has been received. 

So, tune in if you want to learn about a new event which showcases new authors, photographers, theatre, chocolate, coffee, painting and so much more!

Direct download: RCC_203.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:54am EDT

This week we step out of Bogotá and catch up with life in the small town of Mompos, Bolivar (five hours inland from Cartagena) with two peace corps volunteers from the US spending two years here. 

Erin from Idaho and James from Ohio make for perfect interviewees and while both are at different stages of their experience here in Mompos, it is rewarding to learn about how they have assimilated into life in a small Colombian town. 

In a free flowing conversation about their lives in Colombia, expectations and trials bested, both Erin and James share with us tales of their day to day life, suggestions of how they themselves have changed along the way and the difficulties of explaining the US electoral college to locals! 

This interview does not reflect the opinions or politics of the Peace Corps but aims to inform potential future volunteers about the challenges and adventures ahead.

Direct download: RCC_202.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am EDT

The Colombian Coffee Connection LLC. was born in April 2017 from a young man’s dream, to share the heart of Colombia with a portion of America that is the discerning coffee drinker. 

Ervin Liz is a young indigenous Colombian, through great efforts by his family and himself he was able to come to America and attend college at Luther in Decorah Iowa. As a young boy, Ervin recalls helping to cultivate, grow and ultimately harvest the wonderful ripe coffee beans that the world enjoys. Ervin attended college at Luther and was an economics student.

As the founder of the Colombian Coffee Connection and a member of the Nasa tribe, Ervin Liz is committed to paying our farmers what is fair for their product while delivering our customers one of the best single source coffees in the world. 

This is an inspirational and fascinating story which comes from the heartlands of the Nasa people and connects you with Iowa and Minnesota, all because one man had a dream. Tune in.

Direct download: RCC_201.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:31pm EDT

In this our landmark Episode 200, we return to the core reason why we created "Colombia Calling", and that is to inform about Colombia and also to allow you the listener to help out as well. 

So, we call on the time and expertise of Maureen Cattieu of Cartagena Paws and Kim Rodeffer of Little One´s Independent Rescue (NY) to talk about their tireless and selfless work in rescuing stray animals from the streets of Cartagena, Colombia and finding them forever homes in the US and beyond. 

Sharing with us emotional and inspiring tales of how they became involved in aiding the plight of these street animals in Cartagena, we find out how you can get involved, either through volunteering, donating, or even being a Flight Volunteer and accompanying a dog or cat on their journey north. 

For more info check out: http://www.cartagenapaws.com

Direct download: RCC_200.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:05pm EDT

On Episode 199 of Colombia Calling we have the distinct honour of being joined by author, Julianne Pachico on the line from Medellin. In this entertaining conversation we discuss her incredibly well-reviewed debut novel, The Lucky Ones, her relationship and strong links to Colombia and about the writing field as a whole. 

To whet your appetite for this episode, check out Pachico's website (www.juliannepachico.com) and read this amazing review: 

“Julianne Pachico takes a hammer and brings it down on the superficial gloss of history, piecing the fragments into a kaleidoscopic collage that tells a deeply observed, stylistically adventurous and emotionally riveting story of people caught up in the violence of Colombia's guerrilla insurgencies. Moving effortlessly between the surreal and the real, sometimes in the space of a single sentence, Pachico delivers one of the most original and mesmerizing debuts I've read in years.”

Direct download: RCC_199.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

This South American nation is edging toward the economic brink after an internationally condemned election last month created an all-powerful congress loyal to Maduro. Since the July 30 vote, the value of the local currency, the bolívar, has fluctuated more wildly than ever, a significant feat for a country saddled with the world’s highest inflation rate. As a result, street prices for staples such as bread and tomatoes have doubled in less than two weeks.

This week on Colombia Calling, we speak about the on-going humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

Direct download: RCC_198.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:57am EDT

On Ep197 we welcome back intrepid traveller, writer, blogger, author of the Pereira City Guide, Erin Donaldson and this time, she's here to talk about her new venture in guiding people in to regions unknown of the Choco! 

It's very exciting and indeed requires a great deal of thought and knowledge of the situation on the ground, but Donaldson walks us through what it required for this guided trip, the levels of fitness one must have and much more. 

So, here you have it, tourism in the conflict zone of Colombia with Erin Donaldson, an unmissable episode of Colombia Calling.

Direct download: RCC_197.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10am EDT

This week we sit down with Angie Hernandez and discuss her memories of joining a high school exchange program in 1975 which took her all the way from Indiana, USA to Cucuta, Colombia. 

In an interesting conversation, Angie and I discuss the reality of the frontier city of Cucuta, it's relevance to Colombia as a whole, reflect on Colombia in the 1970s and finally we discuss what could have been if Angie had ended up on that flight to Japan instead of Colombia!

Direct download: RCC_196.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:33am EDT

This week we welcome back former interviewee Dave Procter to tell us all about the second edition of the Legend of El Dorado mountain bike race here in Colombia. Starting and finishing in the town of Manizales, this race has something for all starndards of mountain biking and we are pleased to be able to promote an initiative of this quality. 

La Leyenda del Dorado is a multi-stage mountain bike race offering adventurous teams of two the opportunity to immerse themselves in the magical landscapes of Colombia and ride their hearts out. 

The meticulously crafted 7 stage route pays homage to Colombia, its astonishing and varied landscapes and rich cycling history. As formidable as it is breathtaking, the Leyenda race route tackles an extraordinary variety of terrains and climatic conditions – scorching river valleys, snow topped volcanoes and everything in between – sometimes in the course of the same day. 

Along the way, full-service, professional rider support will enable participants to focus solely on giving their very best while they discover why Colombia is truly one of the most exciting and challenging mountain bike destinations on the planet, and why La Leyenda is the Everest of Mountain Biking.

Check out the website: https://en.la-leyenda.com

Direct download: RCC_195.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

Brothers Alejandro and Carlos Ospina make a good team and together they are working to show the human side of coffee cultivation and production in Colombia. Hailing from Bogotá but having both spent a significant amount of time overseas, the Ospina brothers decided that it is time to delve into and share the wonders of Colombian coffee with the public by creating experiential tours and a blog (https://www.travesiacoffee.com/blog) detailing their travels and the people they meet along the way. 

These young coffee entrepreneurs don't stop here, the plan is to produce a book "Relatos Cafeteros" for sale in December of this year. The book will illustrate 11 different coffee growing destinations across Colombia and will be written by Carlos. Here's the fix...for the project to fly, a little bit of cash is needed, so if you have a few spare dollars, feel free to throw it at their indiegogo page "Relatos Cafeteros - una Travesía por Colombia" and make sure this becomes a reality.

Direct download: RCC_194.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:36am EDT

This week in Colombia Calling Episode 193 we are pleased to have Simon Winograd back on the show. This time though, we get Winograd, a Michigan native, and Director of Customized Academic Programs for the Colombian Project (http://colombianproject.com/colombian-project-academics) to talk about his work here in-country and also introduce you to Sam Johnston of Victoria, BC, Canada about his internship at the Paloma y Angostura company in Bogotá. Read the blog here (http://www.projectpaloma.com)

Having met in Chiapas, Mexico Winograd and Johnston hit it off and the long and short of it resulted in the latter coming down to work with a Colombian fashion label that seeks to build peace through design by creating jobs for former combatants of the Colombian conflict. How cool is this? Extremely, I'd say. 

So, tune in to hear about how two people are pitching in and making a difference in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_193.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43am EDT

On the back of former interviews with adoptees from Colombia and with Marcia from Plan Angel, I had the amazing fortune of being contacted by Christine Herman from Minnestota, USA. Christine's husband Mike is an adoptee from a very young age from Bogotá and in this intensely emotional episode she shares with us Mike's journey to Colombia with an ultimately happy ending. 

Tune in to hear a tale of persistence and joy and one which shares an overwhelmingly positive image of Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_192.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23pm EDT

On the road as an "enrichment" guide for a group of tourists from the UK and US, your host Richard McColl takes a different look at the recent news in Colombia. McColl on Colombia Calling explores the issues of "fake news", "hearsay" and "rumours" surrounding the Bogotá bombing before moving on to lighter topics such as the route of the trip he has just accompanied through colonial Colombia and then on to answering a question put of him by many people, both foreign and national...."how do you live in Colombia?"

Direct download: RCC_191.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:05am EDT

For this episode 190, as a result of the bomb placed in the CC Andino shopping mall in Bogotá, Colombia on Saturday 17 June, I feel that there is little more than to do a show illustrating the futility of such an action and to lament the loss of three young lives.

Thank you for understanding

Direct download: RCC_190.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41am EDT

This week we get some amusing air time with Brendan Corrigan, author of the blog, Wrong Way Corrigan and host of the increasingly popular, IQuiz - Bogotá Pub Quiz. Read his hilarious entries and personal experiences and scrapes on Colombia's largest national daily newspaper El Tiempo as well as on Fb (https://www.facebook.com/wrongwaycorriganblog)

When he's not busy defending himself from the onslaught of trolls taking offense with his excellent and to the bone descriptions of life in Colombia and the idiosyncracies found here, he can be found travelling to far off parts of his adopted homeland or auditioning for parts as an extra in TV shows and commercials.

Did you watch Netflix's incredibly successful series, "Narcos"? If so, cast your mind back to Series 2 and a scene where a phone call received by a worker in the German Embassy from one other than Pablo Escobar....yes, Corrigan was that German!

So, tune in to hear an excellent take on life in Bogotá and Colombia from a seasoned and engaging journalist. And if you are in Bogotá on the last thursday of the month, check out the Pub Quiz.

Direct download: RCC_189.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:29am EDT

Marcia Engel is on a mission to provide hope and reunite Colombian families who are searching for their children given up (voluntarily or not) for adoption and adoptees seaching for the their families.

Herself an adoptee originally from Bogotá, she was raised in Holland, Engel has grappled and bested the challenge of locating her biological family. After this experience she set up the human rights foundation Plan Angel (http://www.planangel.org) to help others with their search.

Some of you will remember that we had Engel on the show on Episode 158, now we have her back after a very successful visit to Colombia where she was able to meet with families searching for loved ones in Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Cucuta.

We talk about her experiences, the complications of the investigations she undertakes and about how her foundation works. Now, in this ever more connected world Engel has had great success and has been working by getting families to submit their DNA to the Family Tree Center in Houston in the hope of being able to solve more cases.

Direct download: RCC_188.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am EDT

This week in episode 187 we sit down with Colombo-Croat photographer Andre Kanayet and discuss, life, Colombia and the role of a photographer in today's connected society.

As Kanayet has an exhibition of his photography beginning on June 1 and running for the whole month at the EK hotel (Calle 90 No. 11-13) it is appropriate that he is on Colombia Calling to talk about his passion.

In an flowing conversation which covers the story behind how his Croatian grandfather came to Colombia - it involves spies! - and why he moved in to photography and what the industry means today, we learn about what makes Kanayet tick and why he's a success in his field.

Tune in for an interesting and entertaining episode and be sure to check out his work on instagram @andrekanayet

Direct download: RCC_187.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34am EDT

Being more of a grunge and punk aficionado, I cannot speak for the masses of Metal fans out there and their music, so this is why we have turned to freelance music journalist and filmmaker Alex De Moller in the UK today to tap into his ample knowledge on the subject, in particular the metal groups which sprung up in the mid 1980's in Medellin in rejection of the drug cartels, Pablo Escobar and the violence being lived in that city.

Earlier this year, Medellin mourned the loss of Elkin Ramírez Zapata, its first rock superstar. After losing his battle with brain cancer, Ramírez passed away on January 29th, 2017. His funeral brought Medellín to a standstill, and for the first time in its history, the city's Metropolitan Cathedral was packed with metalheads and punks—fans, friends and well-wishers who shed tears and sang together as his band Kraken performed their final concert.

Medellín today is a different picture. It's not perfect, but it's a far cry from the 1980s. Kraken's music still blares from the parches and bars frequented by the city's many metaleros and those who once threw stones now claim to revere the sound of "true" heavy metal.

So, think of the importance and the role that heavy metal played in Medellin during the city's darkest moments...

Direct download: RCC_186.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46am EDT

In this week's show we get on the line to Sheffield, UK to talk with academic and football enthusiast Pete Watson. Currently pursuing his PhD, Watson comes to Colombia Calling with a vast knowledge of Colombia and football here and indeed his dissertation will explore how football has influenced public policy in this country.

We discuss three periods in Colombian history, pivotal for both the politics and indeed football, 1948-53, 1985-94 and the current day. Our conversation takes in the peace process between the Government of President Santos and the FARC guerrillas, the Bogotá bandits during Colombia's "El Dorado" footballing period, Hungarian footballers exiled in Santa Marta, mafia and cartel involvement in the beautiful game and much more.

Football is seen by Watson as a nationbuilding instrument for Colombia and his enthusiasm makes for a fantastic show.

Direct download: RCC_185.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29am EDT

The future of peace in Colombia is far from assured. Three decades of atrocities have left trust a scarce good in the public realm; political negotiation will also neither unravel Colombia’s convoluted system of land ownership nor put an end to the drug trade. Critics of the government’s dealings with the FARC lambast the process as a surrender to international forces out to subvert Colombia’s sovereignty. 
 
So, we have the chance to sit down with Robert A. Karl, Assistant Professor of History at Princeton University and discuss some of the challenges on hand for Colombia and indeed talk about his new book "Forgotten Peace" and discuss some of the most important issues taking place in Colombia. 
Direct download: RCC_184.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:19am EDT

Author Tom Feiling joins us once again on Colombia Calling to talk about his new book entitled: "The Island that Disappeared. Old Providence and the Making of the Western World."

In a fascinating discussion we explore the history of the Colombian Caribbean island of Providencia, how the Puritans settled there in the 17th century, what the island has become and what the history means to today's island population.

Feiling is the author of two previous excellent books related to Colombia, including the Candy Machine about the cocaine trade and Short Walks from Bogotá, exploring a little of the contemporary history of this complex country.

Tune in to hear about the themes of Pirates and Puritans and how they affect both Britain and Providencia and a frank discussion of the island today. Then, buy the book on Amazon!

 

Direct download: RCC_183.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:56am EDT

The global “war on drugs” has been fought for several decades now and without preventing the long-term trend of increasing drug supply and use. Beyond this failure, the UNODC has identified many serious negative “unintended consequences” of the drug war – including the stigma and discrimination faced by a range of populations.

So, this week on Ep182 we get international finance expert Luc LaPointe on the line from the southern Colombian city of Cali where he is studying the possibilities of changing the image of marijuana and coca in Colombia to include an awareness of their traditional and medicinal properties.

We talk frankly about what needs to be done, how medicinal marijuana can be a force for change for the campesinos in the region, the politics, the meetings being held and beyond. Certainly, for LaPointe this is a challenge on a day to day basis and one which definitely merits listening to.

Direct download: RCC_182.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am EDT

Having grovelled, begged and possibly lost a couple of friendships in the process, I managed to secure permission to visit Colombia's FARC guerrillas at their temporary camp in Las Colinas, Guaviare.

This is my summation of events and my take on what is going on in Guaviare, one of Colombia's most problematic regions. It's here we have coca growing, demobilizing FARC guerrillas, paramilitary groups, dissident groups of the FARC, little Colombian state presence and huge areas of land covering strategic rivers which lead to neighbouring Brazil and Venezuela.

Who did I meet with and what was the experience like? Well you'll have to tune in. But, I can let you know that I had a long conversation with El Medico Mauricio, a high-ranking guerrilla who was present at the peace dialogues in Havana, Cuba. It was quite the experience.

 

Direct download: RCC_181.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:28am EDT

In an dynamic and fun episode we get together with Suzie Q (Hoban) of the Colombian Chocolate Club (https://www.colombianchocolateclub.com) and Karen Attman of Flavors of Bogotá (http://www.flavorsofbogota.com) to discuss two of my favourite vices....Chocolate and Coffee.

Both Attman and Hoban are working hard and have succeeded in expanding the offer available to visitors coming to Bogotá with both coffee and chocolate experiences. But, Episode 180 is not just about what these entrepreneurs and experts in some of the finer things in life can offer you, but also what you as a consumer can offer to the small coffee and cacao producer in Colombia by purchasing their products.

We take a Colombian geography lesson through the different regions of Colombia and the Chocolate and Coffee offerings they provide us with and the resulting episode is not only for foodies and travellers, but for those interested in the far-reaching importance of a quality and locally sourced product.

Be sure to check out their websites and of course, purchase Attman's popular book entitled: "Permission to Slurp", all about Colombian coffee and now available on Amazon.

 

Direct download: RCC_180.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am EDT

Did you hear the story about the young economist from the Czech Republic who decided to give up a stable job in Prague, come to Colombia and teach himself how to make chocolate?

No, well it's not suprising since Jiri Petrak's tale is one of derring do up there with the most impressive of stories. Self-educated in the world of cacao and having gleaned how to make chocolate (in his Colombian girlfriend's kitchen when she is away on business!) from youtube.com, Jiri has become a regular feature negotiating with Cacao farmers in Granada, Meta and selling his impressive product in the cafés of Bogotá's colonial Candelaria district.

Tune in to this Episode 179 to be inspired by a story of stubborness and creativity in the world of Czech "punk" chocolate production with www.checao.co

Direct download: RCC_179.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

This week we get to sit down with Joelle and Alexander of Peaceworks - a Swedish NGO - which works in the empowerment of young people in Colombia with a focus on sustainable peace and a non-violent approach.

Perhaps their most important task is to provide youth organizations by giving them methodological and judicial advice and additionally providing micro funding to organizations that have a project or an idea related to creating a culture of peace and to strengthening young and marginalized people in Colombia.

So, we get to chat about the future plans being organized by Peaceworks, the details of a 20 person exchange program they are organizing for ex combatants in Colombia and further information about what they are so admirably doing here.

Check out their website and donate here! http://peaceworks.se/colombia/

Direct download: RCC_178.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29am EDT

With Colombia's President Santos lauding the possibilities for tourism growth in post conflict Colombia, we take a look around the recent annual Anato Tourism fair in Bogotá and share our thoughts on the future of this growth industry for the country.

Certainly, tourism will increase now that some of the inaccurate and negative perceptions and images of Colombia are being laid to rest such as those of terrorism, violence and kidnapping. But, are the political powers that be addressing an appropriate brand management for Colombia? Are the strategic infrastructure challenges being addressed and how does the price of the US dollar come in to play?

In 2016 Colombia received 5,100,000 tourists and in 2017 we are aiming for 5,300,000. Is there are robust plan in place? Will corruption continue to stifle growth? How will the tax reforms affect tourism and will the country's bureaucratic miasma continue?

This is an informant piece where the questions are asked and discussed by your host Richard McColl

Direct download: RCC_177.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26am EDT

This week on Colombia Calling our guest host Laura Brown is back and is talking to Janelle Gray, a Texan author living in Bogota, about her new book.

Entitled, "Echoes of the Struggle" Gray's work is about the civil rights movement in the United States. It takes the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement and places it in 2014 among the deaths of unarmed Blacks and racial divide.

According to Gray, this juxtaposition of injustice forces the conversations we should be having within our interracial communities thus fostering a better understanding of the effects our history continues to have on our present.

The author also touches on race issues in Colombia and how they can be compared to those in the US, while acknowledging that our host country is far more welcoming to foreigners than is the case in the US.

Read more about Echoes of the Struggle or purchase the book from http://www.echoesofthestruggle.com/

You can also join the conversation by contributing to the blog at the same address.

 

Direct download: RCC_176.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02pm EDT

Hailing originally from the Yukon in the great Canadian North, Anna Vogt has seen more of Colombia than most Colombians and has gained an insight into this country that is both profound and appropriately sympathetic. We sit down with Anna in Bogotá and discuss her work with the Mennonite Central Committee and their Colombian partners and how she is here working, on the ground, on peace building, relief and development issues.

Dawson City to Mampujan in the Montes de Maria is a huge chasm to breach, but Anna first spent two years in the very heart of this community - not too far from Cartagena - which had been displaced from their ancestral lands by the AUC paramilitaries. Now she is based in Bogotá but enjoys frequent travel all through the region.

We discuss the issues facing Colombia in the future, the hopes we both have for this country and indeed the issue of conscientious objectors to the mandatory military service here.

Check out Anna's blog at https://thellamadiaries.com for more insights into her life in Colombia and the work performed admirably by the MCC.

Direct download: RCC_175.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23am EDT

When I first met Stephany, I knew she had a story to tell and I am thrilled to be able to have her on this episode discussing her family's departure from Colombia in 1998 and the circumstances around her return to this country to live in 2016.

In a frank and descriptive episode, Stephany talks of the hardships she encountered in moving to the USA, her upbringing in Houston and her search for an identity now in Colombia with her husband and two young children.

We conduct the interview in the Social Coffee House (http://socialcoffeehouse.com.co) which Stephany runs with her husband Alex...bringing a little piece of Austin style to Bogotá in the form of high quality coffee and great vibes.

So, I insist you head on down here for a brew either of coffee or craft beer (coming soon), check out their coffee tasting experience or perhaps some live music in the future.

Direct download: RCC_174.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:22pm EDT

This week we sit down with a good friend of mine from the UK who is also another veteran of 10 years here in Colombia and we discuss, from her perspective, the dating scene in this country we call home.

Perhaps you are heading over to Colombia for a holiday or to work, you'd do well to listen to Episode 173 and hear about some of the experiences encountered by one lady and her adventures in the dating arena. At the very least, the stories told may well prepare you for what may be in your future!

So, strap yourself in for a rollercoaster ride of anecdotes, tall tinder tales, cultural nuances and hear all about the experiences of one foreigner here in Colombia in the turbulent waters which make up the dating game!

Direct download: RCC_173.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09am EDT

How corrupt is Colombia?

Alarm bells should be sounding in the presidential palace and across the nation's institutions as the evil beast which threatens to undermine growth and our ability to trust in public bodies, corruption, continues to plague Colombia. Sure, Venezuela is the worst country in the region for corruption and Uruguay may be the least corrupt nation in Latin America, but we are here in Colombia where the long tentacles of influence and payments for contracts by the Brazilian firm Odebrecht have brought down two significant political players. How far will this go and how high will these cases reach?

So, tune in to Episode 172 all about corruption in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_172.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EDT

This week we sit down with Pablo and Leslie of the forward-thinking fashion company based in Bogotá and discuss their incredible business plan. This company named Paloma and Angostura (http://palomayangostura.com) has a great deal going for it. Not only does the team design and produce stylish and comfortable clothes from sustainably produced and organic cotton, but they have taken their altruism to another level by actively seeking out and employing former combatants from armed groups involved the Colombian conflict and aided them on their way to a full reintegration into society.

You'll know from this podcast that I speak often about the peace agreement with the FARC rebels signed in 2016 and the up and coming talks to be held with the ELN guerrillas in 2017 and one of the main questions is how to reintegrate former combatants into society in a dignified and useful manner. Paloma y Angostura is a trailblazer in this effect and is the proof that you can design a business plan and bring about positive change in a society as fractured as that in Colombia.

So tune in and find out how Paloma y Angostura came about and learn from their admirable experience.

Direct download: RCC_171.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21am EDT

"In this World nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Benjamin Franklin.

This week we do an executive summary in an informant style episode explaining the changes which have taken place under the new tax reforms and how they might affect you.

Whether you are Colombian living in Colombia, a Colombian living overseas or an expat in Colombia you'll want to tune in to learn more about what the government has done.

Did you know that if you are caught evading taxes you could receive jail time?

How much tax can a foreign teacher expect to pay?

Why has the price my bottle of whisky increased by so much?

Tune in to Colombia Calling to find out the answers to these questions and more...

 

Direct download: RCC_170.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

We open 2017 with a brief informant style episode giving my breakdown to the year as a "Morrongo" experience. What is a Morrongo? Well you'll have to tune in to find out, but suffice it to say that we are looking at a "two-faced" 2017 here in Colombia as the peace agreements and demobilization of the FARC trundle on against the backdrop of politicians gearing up for a savage presidential campaign period. Who will throw their hat into the ring? What is likely to happen, and how will the Morrongo throng keep the real issues buried beneath gossip and political intrigue?

Direct download: RCC_169.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EDT

In Episode 168, we close out the year with a remarkable interview with sociocultural anthropologist and documentary artist from the US Alex Fattal. To many, Fattal needs no introduction as he is a widely published author, academic and assistant professor at U Penn.

Fattal examines the central role that the media plays in Colombia's armed conflict. With a particular interest in the shifting techniques of warfare in the twenty-first century and the ways strategies, tactics, and practices of representation have come to occupy increasingly important roles in asymmetrical conflicts, he speaks to us about his relationship with Colombia, his two book and one film project in the pipeline for 2018.

If you want to hear about how, as a young Fullbright Scholar, Fattal ended up in the down-at-heal neighbourhood of Altos de Cazuca near to Bogotá to embark on a seven-year project involving photography with the sector's children, tune in. Tune in to hear of his book and movie projects and for a perfectly balanced understanding of the Colombian conflict.

Here's to 2016 and looking forward to a great 2017.

Direct download: RCC_168.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EDT

This week is yet another good news story and one which I am particularly pleased to bring you as we sit down with Diego Avila, a Colombian marine biologist who, with his brother, developed the www.seak.it App and social network in order to increase an understanding and appreciation of the marine world.

Seak (i.e. Sea and Seek) encourages users to locate, photograph and map marine species using Google Maps and to collect basic data about the sea (temperature, visibility, depth etc.) that will help to enable people anywhere to have access and learn about the sea.

Based on a community of users who are continually building a database that integrates common and scientific knowledge into a single communal view of the sea. Seak becomes the eyes under the sea for those who don’t know what exists below water.

And, the Avila brothers have not stopped there, they now have www.selva.la as well so that you land-based folk can participate too in photographing and mapping wildlife species.

 

Direct download: RCC_167.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29am EDT

In this week's show, I do an "informant" style piece and only subject you to a 16 minute dialogue about what "peace 2.0 with the FARC guerrillas" in Colombia really means.

I know that sometimes it can be too much to read the ins and outs of a peace agreement, to know a little of the intricacies of Colombian law and follow who approves and who is in opposition and so, as a student of this peace process, I try and keep it simple and clear and lay it all out for you, my listener.

What are the impacts of the new peace deal? Who will benefit? Why is the government of President Santos pushing for a "fast track" and more, all here revealed in Episode 166.

Direct download: RCC_166.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20am EDT

As the eternal city of Colombian tourism, Cartagena hardly needs any introduction, but how does one go about visiting this city and really understanding the culture, the vibes and its energy? Well, for starters you need to get in touch with the effervescent Australian Kristy Ellis and her team at Cartagena Connections to sort you out.

It's a rare thing for an expat to be fully integrated into a foreign society, but Kristy has managed just this in Cartagena and has set up Cartagena Connections to ensure that she can share her enthusiasm for this colourful city with as many people as possible.

Where to find Kristy? If at first you don't succeed via her website (http://www.cartagenaconnections.com) then you can probably find her being pulled up on stage to dance champeta at a local concert! Yes, Kristy is "tu llave" when you come to Cartagena.

Direct download: RCC_165.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:29pm EDT

In episode 164 we explore something very close to my heart and the principal subject for my doctoral thesis, the Sabana Train station in central Bogotá.

We discuss the upcoming significance of the centeniary of the Sabana train station 1917-2017 and why an industrial and growth area of the city has slid into such decay? Has it been solely due to a political ill-will towards the area that the elites in the country are prepared to maintain this once vibrant and cosmopolitan sector of the city - including hotels, theatres and more - isolated and hindered from progress?

Tune in, listen to my intervention, compare it to that of what has taken place around London's Kings Cross and imagine the same for the Estacion de la Sabana and her environs.

Direct download: RCC_164.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:39am EDT

Building of the popularity of recent shows dealing with the Colombian peace agreement and dialogues surrounding this, this week we teamed up with South African journalist Laura Brown (you'll remember for hosting Ep155) to talk about some of the comparisons between her native South Africa and Colombia.

In what is an open and informative conversation Laura tells us her about life in South Africa, similarities between there and Colombia and of course, clarifies some of the factors surrounding the peace agreement in South Africa and how studying this can help us in Colombia better understand the peace deal here.

Please tune in for what is a revealing study of South Africa but set against her knowledge of Colombia and the political and social realities found in both.

 

Direct download: RCC_163.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:02am EDT

It's always a thrill to be contacted by a listener and in particular one with a great story to tell and this is how Episode 162 came about with Puerto Rico born/ NY-based photographer Miguel De Casenave.

De Casenave has a significant career as a photographer under his belt but we have him here on Colombia Calling to talk about his recent trip and previous trips to the Sierra Nevada on the Colombia Caribbean coast to photograph the people of the ancient Kogui culture.

Don't think for a moment that just any person can stride on up into the sacred lands of the Kogui people. De Casenave speaks of how he has grown attached to the Kogui and how the Sierra Nevada "has taken him". We learn of the Kogui's customs and his recent visit of no less than one month in their company.

Tune in to Episode 162 to hear of De Casenave' respectful approach to photography and gain an insight into one of the most fascinating and unknown regions of Colombia.

And in the meantime, check out De Casenave' excellent photography: http://www.decasenave.com

Direct download: RCC_162.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25am EDT

Meet Tommy Manuel Dutton, a driving force behind a creative and new way of showing visitors and nationals a good time in Bogotá. Find out why this native of Alice Springs, Australia ended up spending nine months of the year in Bogotá and the remaining three as a guide in the Kimberley.

With his agency Bogotá and Beyond (www.bogotaandbeyond.com) Dutton not only offers tours of Bogotá, Zipaquira and the Chorrera waterfall amongst other things, but he has created an innovative way of showing off his adopted city, with the Septima Challenge.

Tune in to Episode 161 to hear about the Septima Challenge scavenger hunt and how it allows visitors to the city to enjoy better the culture and curiousities found in Bogotá...and then sign up!

Direct download: RCC_161.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EDT

The New Face of Colombia- La cara nueva de Colombia, is an exhibition whose theme is change. Today as never before Colombia, is going through an extraordinary period of change social, political and cultural. The aim of this exhibition is to highlight those changes, one might say to look at the new faces and visions of the country and its people through the variety of stories told by the participating artists using their own particular mediums of expression.

And for this reason, we get to talk to Colombian artist Omar Castañeda (known for hsi work with panela) and art curator Sandra Higgins (interviewed here on Ep117) on the line from London about this new collective.

The exhibition will be held over the three floors of the Art Bermondsey Project Space Gallery, a new not-for-profit creative platform promoting the fusion of art, photography and culture located in the vibrant area of Bermondsey in London.

Each artist in his or her own way provides a different take on that story of change and the New Face of Colombia will include works by Omar Castañeda, Piers Calvert, Gwen Burnyeat, Claudia Fischer, Maria Cárdenas, Lorena Cervera Ferrer and selected guest artists to be announced.

Tune in, or better yet if you are in London - be sure to go to the event!

Direct download: RCC_160-2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:02pm EDT

In Episode 159 we take a short breather from the political upheavals taking place in Colombia and get South African journalist Jacqui de Klerk on the line from her adopted home in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast.

Wiith Jacqui, we talk about the environmental issues affecting Colombia's Caribbean and focus in particular on the Cienaga Grande. The Ciénaga Grande is one of Colombia’s most surreal places as the inhabitants of this large inland wetland live in a town built on stilts – Nueva Venecia. But ‘New Venice’ is not palatial, rather a menagerie of palafitic wooden huts where the only way locals can reach the most essential of services is by canoe

But all is not well in this coastal setting. Two of the biggest environmental catastrophes of the Ciénaga Grande are the massive mortality of the mangrove forest and the significant decline in fishery resources. The major factor responsible for these is the disruption of the natural movements of water between the Magdalena River, Ciénaga Grande, and the Caribbean.

The disruption began more than a century ago when farmers needing water to irrigate their crops, began to re-direct and block the natural flow of small tributaries, and the Magdalena entering the Ciénaga Grande – unintentionally modifying the rivers’ original shape and reducing the flow of fresh water into the lagoons.

Tune in to hear about this issue firsthand.

Direct download: RCC_159.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:09pm EDT

In an intensely personal and powerful interview, Marcia Engel shares with us the story of the discovery of her adoption, her long and heart-wrenching search for her biological family and her quest now to reunite adoptees with their families.

As a two-year-old girl Marcia was brought to the Netherlands where she grew up with her adoptive parents and this was not always easy, to say the least. And the story behind her adoption will shock you to the core.

"When I was a little girl I was often sad, I felt different, misunderstood. At that time I didn’t even know that I was adopted. Only at the age of 11 my adoptive mother told me. It was as if the ground beneath my feet disappeared. I began even more to struggle with my identity and questions like 'Who am I?’ and ‘What is my existence for?’ kept running in my head.

To get some answers about my roots, I started searching for my biological parents, so I could continue with my life. What followed was a difficult search for many years in which all doors remained closed until I went to pay. Then suddenly I found my parents within four months...

So much effort and so much money to find my own parents! The right to have contact with his parents is a right that every child should be given! At that moment I thought to myself: this should be different, I am going to help people. And this should go beyond searching for birth relatives. I want to make people aware of their rights and opportunities.

Now, Marcia runs Plan Angel which has helped more than 40 adoptees find their biological parents in Colombia. She is also trying to raise funds in order to register the DNA of as many as 300 Colombian couples whose children were taken for adoption.

Check out her website and donate some money to help

http://www.planangel.org/?language=en

Direct download: RCC_158.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04am EDT

Colombia is undergoing change and nothing is more polarizing than the peace agreements between the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian Government. While peace was formally signed between the sides on September 26 2016 in the Caribbean city of Cartagena before 2500 people after the successful outcome of negotiations dating back to November 2011 in Havana, Cuba it all comes down to a democratic vote on October 2.

So this is why on this Episode No.157 we get Kevin McCaffrey - originally from Northern Ireland - on the line from Cali to talk about the parallels between Ireland and Colombia with regards to peace processes and draw on his own personal experiences as a boy growing up in violence and seeing the Good Friday agreement signed in 2008.

We start the interview talking about Cali, Kevin's life in the city and his passion of being a singer songwriter (https://soundcloud.com/mccaff07) before plunging into the more profound topics of peace, power sharing, pardon and forget which continue to be at the fore of all current debates in Colombia.

Direct download: RCC_157.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34am EDT

It's always a pleasure to have the Director of Colombia Reports, Adriaan Alsema on Colombia Calling and we know from experience that it's going to be an interesting, informative and colourful experience!

So, buckle up and settle down to Episode 156 where we discuss the city of Medellin, Netflix's series Narcos and the problems facing Alsema's adopted home city.

The reason for the topic of this show was that I just had the opportunity to visit Medellin and was a little affected by what I saw. I happened to be in the company of the owner of a top end luxury tour operator who is considering bringing tourists to the city and Colombia in general, and when we were in Medellin, his feeling was that, "the money generated from the drugs trade continues to permeate every level of Medellin's society."

We may of course be wrong, but this is why we sat down with Alsema for 156 to talk about the reality of Medellin. Is Narcos educating people about or glorifying Pablo Escobar, what is the problem in Medellin and beyond?

Be sure to check out www.colombiareports.com for independent news about Colombia and if you have some spare cash lying around, donate to this good cause.

Direct download: RCC_156.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53am EDT

It is a great pleasure for me to introduce South African journalist Laura Brown as the guest host of Episode 155 "Birdwatching in Colombia with expert and joint founder of Andes EcoTours, Chantelle du Plessis".

Andes EcoTours believes that travelers are looking for a deeper understanding of the land and the people they encounter. The aim to bring their visitors to the homes, farms and landscapes of those that represent Colombia’s bio-cultural diversity.

Chantelle was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and was trained to locate wildlife from a young age (skills that come in handy when you want to see cool stuff on your tours). When she was older, she moved to the United States where she fell in love with photography, salsa dancing and Colombian culture. Check out the website at http://www.andesecotours.com

Direct download: RCC_155.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14am EDT

Dutch national Nathalie Rietman, director of Foundation La Vecina, tells us why she founded La Vecina. Basically, this is another good news story out of purely altruistic desires of helping the most needy, in this case the children of Cartagena's La Boquilla area. It is heartwarming and inspiring.

Far from the sophisticated boutiques of the Walled City and further away from the luxury apartments being constructed on the road leaving Caratgena towards Barranquilla, is La Boquilla, one of the city's many impoverished areas.

In episode 154 we talk to Natalie and find out what motivated her to get involved in this area, how it affected her personally and how she now has the most popular school in the region. Tune in to find out how you can help the children of La Boquilla through Natalie's foundation www.lavecina.org

Direct download: RCC_154.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:35am EDT

It's always a thrill to be contacted out of the blue by a listener of the show with something worthwhile to promote and imagine my suprise when I start receiving messages all the way from Sydney, Australia from Lorenzo Perafan, a native of Popayan, now living Down Under and who is exporting Kogi Coffee from the Sierra Nevada on Colombia's Caribbean Coast to specialty coffee enthusiasts.

The Kogi people consider themselves to be the guardians of the earth and harvest their wild coffee according to those ancestral beliefs, making it one of the most sustainable and unique in the world.

The Kogi Coffee co imports the beans directly from the Kogi themselves and roast them locally in Sydney to maximise their uniquely earth flavours and aromas.

In Episode 153 we talk to Lorenzo on the line from Sydney about the Kogi and how he came to fall into this business. But, given the important issues to have come into being in Colombia regarding the peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, we also speak to him as a Colombian citizen a long way from home and how he feels about these landmark declarations.

 

Direct download: RCC_153.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:07am EDT

We've had Briton Dave Procter on Colombia Calling twice before as the Legend of El Dorado cross Colombia mountain bike race was coming into being, this time, we welcome him back on this Ep152 to talk about the phenomenal success of the race. So, it's a real pleasure to get to speak with him in person in Bogotá about the future.

Can you imagine? 60 mountain bikers from all over the world came over and called it a "life-changing race". Others referred to it as the "Everest of Mountain Bike races" truly inspirational if you ask me!

So, this seven-day cross country mountain bike race has been a success beyond their wildest dreams and we are here discussing what was incredible, the peaks, the troughs and what will be in store for the race in 2017.

To find out more about the race you'll have to tune in or check out the website at http://legendofeldorado.com/en

Direct download: RCC_152.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

Jorn Ludvigsen and his wife Nohra Peña are on a mission to bring luxury and top-notch service to the Colombia Coffee region, leading by example from their exclusive boutique hotel El Lugar (http://hotellugar.com) just outside the city of Pereira.

We'll chat about the hotel and restaurant business in Colombia, what the Coffee Region has to offer and why Dane Jorn decided to move with his Colombian wife Nohra to this area and set up El Lugar.

Amidst an interview of anecdotes and frank tales of Colombian and international tourists, Jorn provides us with insightful opinions into the business, his 10 year plan and how he sees Colombia developing touristically in the future.

Direct download: RCC_151.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EDT

Sometimes it all just falls into place for an individual and this is what we can say for US citizen Christina Kuntz. Having applied successfully for a Peace Corps posting several years ago she was sent to Cartagena, Colombia. And the story does not end here!

In my mind Cartagena is the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site with incredible colonial and republican buildings of bright colours and with bouganvilea spilling from wooden balconies! Of course, where the Peace Corps go is very different! It's hard graft.

So, we hear about Christina's experiences as a peace corps volunteer and how she ended up marrying a Colombian from Cartagena and indeed returning to live in the city as well as setting up the Domino Volunteers program (www.dominovolunteers.com).

So if you or someone you know is interested in perhaps volunteering in Colombia, this is the show for you. Tune in and find out what you could be doing to help other less fortunate people in Caratgena.

Direct download: RCC_150.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:39am EDT

As an architect, Juan Rincon sees a fair share of interesting buildings and this is how the Feria del Millon came about. Asked to design loft-style flats in an abandoned factory in southwestern Bogotá, he advised his client on something different, a space for artists and their work...and hence the Feria del Millon was born.

Once a year (29-31 Oct 2016) the Feria del Millon is a space for some 50 artists to showcase their work and sell each item for around about the One Million Peso mark, roughly US$350. Each artist must submit an application which is scrutinized by art experts around the world before being accepted.

This Feria has been groundbreaking in that it has started a process of inclusion for this working class barrio of Puente Aranda into the psyche and imagination of the rest of the city and has made quality art accessible to everyone not just collectors and art critics.

Tune in to listen to Juan Rincon talking with a passion for what he is doing by taking the Bogotá art world by the scruff of its neck and shaking things up. Check out the website: http://www.feriadelmillon.com.co

Direct download: RCC_149-1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53am EDT

At first you'd be forgiven for thinking that this week's interviewee Ashley Bening lives a charmed life...but it becomes clear that she has worked tooth and nail to reach this place. We caught up with Ashley at the Gitana del Mar (http://gitanadelmar.com.co) ecolodge on the Colombian Caribbean coast at Buritaca to find out how this San Franciscan ended up teaching yoga with unrivalled views over the turquoise Caribbean, palms shifting in balmy winds and basically living the dream.

In episode 148 we learn about health and wellness and how Ashley became an expert in the field and what she does back in East Palo Alto with the long-suffering children of that area. Applying what she learnt on the job she has brought her positivity to Colombia and will be spending time in Buritaca, Cali and even Bogota.

So, if you are interested in yoga and it's healing qualities, something Colombia needs in gallons right now, then tune in to hear a heart-warming story of altruism and positivity.

Direct download: RCC_148.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54am EDT

Having lived in Pereira for three years, being married to a Pereirano and mother to a Pereirano baby, US writer Erin Donaldson (www.openmindedtraveler.com) has identified a gap in the market a need for a real product/ publication about the city which is her home.

So, this week in Episode 147 we get on the line with Donaldson in the city of Pereira, the heart of the coffee axis, and discuss the merits of publishing the first ever city guide to Pereira in English. We discuss the challenges, the trials and her future plans to publish in Spanish and soon to produce a second edition in English.

Of course, you want to know all about Pereira's "Nake Statue Tour" don't you? And if not, why not?

Get your hands on a copy now, available on Amazon.com for only $2.99 until the second edition is released! http://www.pereiracityguide.com

Direct download: RCC_147.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm EDT

What does the peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas mean for the tourism industry in Colombia? Who and where will benefit from this agreement and cessation of the conflict? This week, Colombia sits down with one of the authors of the Lonely Planet guide book for Colombia, Alex Egerton and discusses the potential ramifications of peace with the world's oldest guerrilla insurgency.

On the line from Managua, Nicaragua, Egerton discusses various regions which will directly benefit in the short term from the peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, why this is so and where needs to improve. Of course there are issues to discuss and opinions and advice to share.

But, as Egerton so succinctly puts it, the issue of a "long-running conflict" in Colombia has been hindering and hanging over the country for decades now and that the country's largest guerrilla group looks set to sign a final agreement in late July is a propaganda coup for the government and the tourism industry.

Tune in to hear the opinions of a true expert in the field of tourism and how you too can enjoy a trip to Colombia in the future now that more regions are set to open up and be "conflict-free".

Direct download: RCC_146.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35am EDT

Sitting down with us across the pond in Berlin is Colombian architect Roberto Uribe who gives us an insight into his artistic intervention along Bogotá's infamous Calle 22. To give you a further idea about the importance of the Calle 22, the street extends around 2.5km from the foothills of the Andes Mountains known as the Cerros Orientales, down through Colonial Bogotá, crossing through bohemia, 1950's era expansion, through some down at heal barrios and out into the Sabana de Bogotá. In short, the Calle 22 offers what could actually represent a microcosm of Colombia along one street in the capital.

All the while you can follow Calle 22 and the architecture, but it's not just about this, it is also about the people who have come from different areas of the country by choice or forcibly displaced to be here. You'll find traditional Bogotanos or Rolos, people from the Pacific Coast with their restaurants and hair salons, others from the southern plains with restaurants and beyond. Everyone is represented.

So, we get the chance to sit down with Roberto and talk about his project, the reasons behind the art interventions, how he went about doing it, what the experience was and the outcomes. For more info please see his website www.calle22.org and see what the team is up to and thinking of doing next.

On a personal note, I have been studying this area of Bogotá for some time and it is of great interest to me. Hopefully some of my enthusiasm for this kind of interview comes across in our open and fun conversation.

Direct download: RCC_145.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:15am EDT

In an exclusive first interview with the press as the new Director of the Colombian National Land Agency (Agencia Nacional de Tierras) Miguel Samper Strouss sits down with Colombia Calling to give us the inside track on land issues and transitional justice in Colombia and the peace dialogues with the FARC.

Son of former Colombia President Ernesto Samper (1994-1998), Miguel Samper has followed his father into the world of politics having worked in various roles including that of the Vice Minister for Justice amongst others.

To have been able to gain access to a politician of such calibre, rank and note has been nothing short of a coup for Colombia Calling and you'll enjoy the open dialogue which we enjoyed with Miguel Samper on this occasion.

Why is this interview of interest? Well, to understand the nature of the long-running Colombian conflict, to understand the on-going peace dialogues with the FARC guerrillas in Havana, Cuba and the very real expression of a spiritual connection which Colombians have with the land, are all tantamount to understanding the Colombian psyche. That's why we feel so privileged to have been able to record an interview with someone as notable as Miguel Samper Strouss.

Direct download: RCC_144.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Given that our television channels are inundated with food-inspired shows of every shape and size it is for this reason that we have decided to explore the world of food tours in Colombia with Nicole and Jeremy of La Mesa Food Tours (www.delamesa.com) with their offerings in both Medellin and Bogota.

La Mesa Food Tours are gastronomy-inspired adventures to discover the history, culture and cuisine of a country! Our local food experts act as your culinary guide to authentic flavors and hidden food gems while uncovering the unique character and sights of incredible Colombia.

So in this fun Episode 143 we sit down and discuss Colombian cuisine, the opportunities to explore street food and high end offerings in Bogota and Medellin and why Colombia is perhaps experiencing something of a culinary renaissance.

But, La Mesa's tours don't end there, (additionally they run a tour in Antigua, Guatemala) but there's also the option to enjoy a tour of a coffee hacienda and see all of the processes from the picking and harvesting to roasting and tasting, just down the road from Medellin.

Tune in to Episode 143 with Nicole and Jeremy of La Mesa Food Tours and explore another side to Colombia's tabletop culture.

Direct download: RCC_143.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EDT

Simon was born in Bogota, Colombia and was raised in Detroit, Michigan. He's been working in the International Education/Meaningful Travel field for over 10 years. After graduating from the University of Montana with a degree in Rural and Environmental Sociology, he found himself volunteering internationally in Trujillo, Peru. He credits this experience as the springboard into the world of International Education and Meaningful Travel.

And now he's back in Colombia tracing his heritage (more about that during the show) and setting up a program so as to bring US students down to this country. Tune in to hear about Simon's life, his plans and support him in this quest to bring meaningful travel to Colombia.

www.simonwinograd.com

Direct download: RCC_142.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:43am EDT