Colombia Calling - The English Voice in Colombia (society and culture)

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

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

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

Viviana's professional website is:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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