Colombia Mailbag

Colombia versus Panama.

A Ms. L. Wall has posted on the self-introductions thread.

She spent last winter in Panama, and wants to spend next winter in Colombia.  Meantime, she is wondering what are the differences between the two countries.


Colombia has more highlands and highlands cities than Panama.  This is important in countries close to the Ecuador.

Medellín (city of "eternal spring") and the Coffee Zone cities are at altitude and thus have mild climates, unlike the humid, sweaty lowlands.  Anyone exiting Panama City for these Colombian metros will likely be relieved by the weather change, unless high altitude negatively impacts such an Expat.

Naturally, some like it hot.  For them, Colombia's coastal cities including Cartagena may be suitable.


Colombia is South of Panama, so flight schedules may add hours to an Expat's itinerary.  The need for connections (sometimes through Panama City) can add to travel time from the U.S. and Canada.


Members, let's use this thread for questions that don't fit elsewhere, especially to conform to the rules of the New Members self-introductions thread (intros only there).

cccmedia, experts team

Jeff and Ronaldo to relocate near Venezuela.

They met in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and now would
like to relocate to near Ronaldo's home country of

I suggest looking into Bucaramanga, which is close
to the Ven border, but not too close.

The weather is milder in the Andes city of Buca
at about 3,000 feet elevation than in the lowland
coastal cities of Colombia -- much more
comfortable for most Expats.

cccmedia in Medellín
Life's complications.

Theresa writes to us, apparently from the States and under the
member name MotitaSr, posting on the members-intro thread.

She and her Colombian ex -- who lived together in Colombia
for a year -- are parents of a young daughter.  Theresa has
since been living half the year in the States, the other half year
in Colombia.

She's thinking about potentially acquiring a house in
Cartegena, where, she has family .. as daughter approaches
school age, which property could qualify Theresa for an
investment visa.

"I'm feeling stuck at the moment and can't make a permanent
move to Colombia," she posted, especially with the
uncertainties apparently surrounding the recent election of a
new Colombian president.

A complicating factor is that Theresa travels a lot
and requires the permission of the baby daddy for
travel with her daughter under present circumstances.


Theresa has acquired complications and obligations in
her life, just as most people do.

Since she prefers life in Colombia and has family here,
the obvious choice is to move to La República full time.

But the key is to avoid buying property at this time in
Colombia .. and in fact, not to buy property until she
has lived in the target area for at least a year.

Cartagena's heat index alone is reason enough for most
Expats to avoid a long term real-estate commitment
in a market where attempting to re-sell property can
drag on for years.

I suggest that Theresa contact a visa specialist or
immigration attorney to sort out her visa options.
As connected as she is to family in Colombia and
with a daughter whose father is Colombian
(the daughter is USA American), she possibly
can remain in Colombia without having to pay the
costs of obtaining a visa through property purchase.

A starting point may be to rent a place for a year or
resume living with 'la abuela' in Cartagena during
that year for minimal rent.

Once settled, it's likely Theresa will have a
clearer mind to make life decisions without having
tied herself to a property whose acquisition
would have limited her choices.

cccmedia in Medellín
Safety in Bogotá.

A new member posted from India.
Surbhi09 is interested in the Colombian
capital, in particular about safety for
an Indian coming to La República's
biggest city.


The usual advice for South America
visitors applies in Bogotá:  don't walk
deserted streets at night .. don't accept
food or beverage from people on the
street .. don't show your money or
valuables .. don't leave your beverage
unattended and then sip some more.

Also, don't carry all your bank cards
on you at any time unless it's a
travel day.

In Bogotá, be especially aware in
crowded situations including on
public transit, as pickpocketing is
not unknown.  Be aware of scams
such as having your attention
diverted in a planned disturbance
while a confederate grabs your stuff ..
or the guy who claims he lost his
passport and needs fifty bucks.

Do some research on this site or
elsewhere about the better and
worse neighborhoods.  Some parts
of what you might call downtown
or El Centro are dicey after dark.

cccmedia in Medellín
Bogotá vs.Medellín.

IMO, Medellín is a better choice for most
Expats than Bogota.

I choose to hang mostly in the El Poblado
sector when I visit here in Medellín.

Bogotá is cool and rainy.
Medellín is as close to year-round
springlike weather as you may find.

Bogotá is enormous and heavily trafficked.
Medellín, being smaller, has less congestion
although the rush hour traffic is not a
walk in the park.

Medellín IMO is the more beautiful of
the two cities.  Remember, my reference
point is Poblado, which features many
terra-cotta brick facades and incredible
green landscaping.

Medellín has more of a fun vibe than
Bogotá, especially for first-time visitors
to the Paisa capital.

Many Medellin hotels have outdoor
pools often heated or 'climatizadas' ,,
plus jacuzzis.  Bogotá is too cool for
such pools to be common.

cccmedia in the Paisa Capital

Guidance for Cymerax.

New member Cymerax posted on this Colombia

forum's New Members Introductions thread.

He posted from Argentina, where it's well known

the economy is messed up.  Cymerax is not

too proud to admit it's not working out for him

in Argentina.  He needs to pay cash, preferably

dollars, in order to avoid bloated pricing .. and

he finds it's inconvenient to travel to Uruguay

to obtain dollars.


In considering Colombia, it's important for many

Expats to consider that Colombia may enforce

a worldwide-income tax on anyone living inside

La República's borders for 183-plus days out of


Many of us treat Colombia as a half-the-year

destination.  I have spent 178 of 365 days in the

past 12 months in Colombia, between

November 13, 2021, and now .. and will not be

returning there until at least mid-November 2022.

Bogotá is a main international-travel hub in

Colombia.  However, at over 8000 feet elevation,

the national capital's cool weather is less suitable

for Expats than such mid-level elevations as

Medellín (about 5000 feet), Coffee Zone capitals

(5000 feet in Armenia) and Bucaramanga

(3100 feet elevation).

Colombian officials had to make a choice over

two decades ago about how to protect the

people.  It was not practical to protect

everyone everywhere .. so they decided to

devote resources to protecting inside

city limits.  This has made Medellín generally

safe now -- especially compared to the Escobar

era -- and has made nighttime intercity travel

generally dangerous, except for the Coffee Zone.

Dollarized Expats encounter Gringo pricing from

some money exchangers and vendors.  For

instance, the rate may be 4600 pesos

to the U.S. dollar whereas they will exchange

dollars at a 4000-peso rate.  Still, it will not be

the money-exchange nightmare that Expats

have encountered in inflationary Argentina.

Avoid choosing to live in the coastal cities

unless you can stand high heat and humidity

year-round.  Same goes for any other

lowland locations.


The battle for Putumayo.

Two competing guerrilla groups had a

particularly bloody confrontation in

coca-rich Putumayo province in

Southern Colombia. 

Eighteen guerrillas were found dead

following the battle between

the 'Border Commandos' and the

'Southwestern Bloc'.

Local residents are complaining that

police did not respond to their

call for assistance .. and the

locals then had to collect the

dead bodies of the combatants

which were found in various parts

of a mountainous area.

These illegal guerrilla groups have

been fighting for years over control

of the strategically important province

and its coca trade.


What has happened to Armenia Expat

Loren Lowe?

Loren Lowe, rhymes with cow, had been

live-casting his program Coffee Time

(Gran Colombia channel) almost every

Sunday morning at 11 a.m.

for years from his residence off the

main drag in Armenia, the Coffee Zone.

Previously, he produced the program

from his former residence in Cuenca,


However, the program was not produced

last Sunday, December 11, 2022, after

Loren complained of serious health problems

on his December 4 program, saying he

had decided to get medical attention.

No reason was given at his YouTube site for

this cancellation and no date was given for

the program's return.

The program is recognized for its tips and

opinions about life in Armenia and other

Coffee capitals .. the politics of Colombia ..

and many other Expat-related topics.

Loren had complained that YouTube had

demonetized his program .. and he has

welcomed contributions from his many

fans and friends.  Loren is approaching

his 70th birthday and is originally from

Upstate New York.



I was thinking his absence was due to either health issues, drama with the new roommates or a road trip to Bucaramanga. 

Loren Lowe got medical attention.

Coming off pneumonia and fever and with

a newly-diagnosed respiratory condition,

Loren explained his various medical

issues on his Sunday show, Coffee Time,

while occasionally using his new

inhaler device, today, December 18.

Loren has decided to keep producing his

Coffee Time program on a weekly basis

in spite of various symptoms that are

making life difficult.

As a follow-up to the past week's meeting

with a local doctor, Loren says

he will undergo cardiac testing

and is researching the availability of

an immune boost.

At ... gran colombia

incurable disease? december 18 2022


Where was the police to arrest him, if not for cheating the Colombian government on his EPS premium, then for breaking the law by willfully entering a medical facility without a mask and with a respiratory illness?

As the minister of health, Carolina Corcho Mejía, recently stated, wearing a face mask continues to be mandatory in three scenarios: public transport, medical services and geriatric facilities.

La ministra de Salud y Protección Social, Carolina Corcho Mejía, recordó que en Colombia el tapabocas sigue siendo de uso obligatorio en tres escenarios: transporte público, servicios médicos y hogares geriátricos. … bocas.aspx

If I were a Colombian doctor, I would not apply the Hippocratic Oath (Ορκος)  to expats like Qi, including those in his chat room.

The identity of ¨Qi¨and details of his alleged

law-breaking are not in evidence.

Please supply the relevant information or


cccmedia, experts team

Good suggestion. I will look for the channel/video as soon as as I get a comment posted on the Paraguay forum pertaining to the Alpha-Male influencer.

@cccmedia Did Loren Lowe transmit today? Not even a place marker. I know he is on FB, but the group is private, and I am not on FB.

Apparently not, Mr. Barley.  I was attempting to tune

into Coffee Time right at 11 a.m., the regular

starting time .. and only his archived shows were

available at YouTube.

That's two missed programs in the past two Sundays

with no posted explanation .. after he complained

in-program during early December of serious


I'll follow up early this week.


I'll follow up early this week.

Excellent. In addition to my three prior guesses for his absence, I am going to add one more:

He mentioned some time back that he needs to make a trip to Ecuador in order to keep his permanent visa active. He hates Ecuador and the expats here, but it is wise to keep his visa active in case things go to hell in Colombia.

Couldn't find Loren Lowe today.

I did re-watch the final moments of his

Christmas Day Coffee Time.  Those

were sad moments -- he didn't seem

confident he would be producing

a New Year's Day Coffee Time. 

He certainly didn't seem up to

traveling to Ecuador or anywhere else.

I don't have a current email address

for him.  I will check the YouTube Gran

Colombia channel from time to time

until Loren resurfaces or we learn more.

Apparently, his next birthday is late

this year.  His 70th birthday.

cccmedia in Quito

Loren back in the saddle.

Coffee Time with expat Loren Lowe returned to

the YouTube channel Gran Colombia on

Sunday (Jan. 15, 2023) after Loren missed

two of his live weekly shows due to medical issues.

Loren assured viewers that he had received attention

from a local doctor and he praised her

for 'saving' his life.

However, due to swelling of the legs and feet, Loren is

getting additional treatment and, per doctor's orders,

is not walking outside of his Armenia, Quindio, apartment.

CCC:  Regarding safety in Columbia. Can a citizen own or carry a gun?  It would suck to be accosted by some bad guys or one of these para military groups with no protection. 

Gun permits in Colombia.

Eliminating the issuance of gun permits is

a complicated issue.

Gustavo Petro managed to get a ban enacted for

Bogota when he was mayor in the capital.

As Presidente in September, he said he wants

to extend the ban nationwide.


Until such a ban is enacted, a resident may apply to

obtain a gun permit from the military if he or she

can demonstrate that it is necessary for personal


Security and police personnel may obtain guns in



According to a government agency known as

DCCAE, foreigners are not permitted to obtain a

gun in Colombia.  Failure to comply carried a

six year sentence.

Source... 2020 posting at


How does a foreigner protect themselves?

Well, just pay attention to where you are at. Just carry a copy of your passport and the pesos for the day. Only carry your credit cards and passport on travel day, pretty simple. Going on 6 years going into Colombia.

Coffee Zone living.

David Rebolloso of North Carolina wrote at

the introductions page that he wants to

live part-time with his Colombiana wife

in the Coffee Zone.  Possible locations include

Armenia, Salento, Filandia and Calarca.


Based on its mild weather alone, the

Coffee Zone is popular with North American

Expats.  However, there are microclimates

within the Zone that may be uncomfortably

warm for Expat arrivals.

Armenia stands out from the listed four

locations because of its size.

With several hundred thousand residents,

Armenia offers North America-style

shopping malls and a wide range of

clinics, health care facilities and restaurants

that offer much more than the standard

$3-starch-and-chicken platter.

Salento is a colorful tourist town for those

who love hiking and remarkable scenery.

A hat shop, juice bars and a seafood

restaurant are available within a block or

two of the main square.

Filandia (historical church) and Calarca

(butterfly gardens) have attractions for

tourists but these small municipalities

may offer fewer options for health care

and other Expat amenities than a city

such as Armenia.


Colombian government wants no part

in the war in Eastern Europe.

Colombia's presidente Petro has made it clear --

Colombia is not getting involved in the war

in Ukraine.

The U.S. made it known last month that if

Latin American nations handed over their

aging Russian-made military weapons to

Ukraine,  the U.S. would replace the weapons

with superior arms.

In rejecting the offer, presidente Petro

said Colombia will not hand over U.S. weapons

to be taken to Ukraine to prolong a war.

Brazil, Argentina and other Latin nations are

also turning down the U.S. weapons offer.

¨We are not with either side,¨said Petro.

We are for peace.¨

Source... a Financial Times analysis of the

U.S. weapons offer, posted also at

@cccmedia Hmmm upgrading the world wide armaments of our allies. Seems like a back door way of boosting the MIC. I for one  am glad that Colombia said no.


I will have to move there immediately!    Actually, I want to visit this summer to check it out for a week.  Check out the view, mingle with some people, practice my beginner Spanish etc...No, I do not want to hire any women of the night or visit strip clubs.

This is probably the wrong message board ...but do you all suggest an air BnB type rental or a hotel?   I am a suburban dude from outside Washington DC.  I keep hearing about Bogota, Medellin and Cali. Cartagena sounds way too hot.

Should I hire a taxi driver or local guide to show me around and perhaps meet with a real estate agent to look at rentals and condos?  My plan is still in the early stages but I am considering moving there and buying a condo or small house if I like it.   

¨This is probably the wrong message board but

do you recommend an AirBnB type rental or

a hotel...?¨


Dear Dr. Stanton,

Since this thread is reserved for currency-exchange

matters, I am asking the Home Office in the

Mascarene Islands to move your post and my

response to the ¨Colombia Mailbag¨ thread.

That thread is reachable via the Colombia Forum

home page.


Hotel vs. AirBnB.

The hotel is probably pricier, but is a good choice

for visitors to, say, Medellín who want a

climatized swimming pool at their lodgings.


Whether to buy real estate on first trip.

Negativo.   Follow the first rule of thumb for

arriving Expats in South America...

Do not buy property until you have lived in the

target area for at least 12 months.


Expats moving to Colombia typically find Bogotá

too chilly, Cali too dangerous, Cartagena too hot

and Medellín 'just right' -- a Goldilocks location

many consider to be springlike year-round.

Bucaramanga (slightly warmer) and the

Coffee Zone capitals may also be worth a visit.

cccmedia in Medellín

Didn't I see a comment by someone a few months back in the Colombia forum where they stated they had lived undocumented in Colombia for 10 years or something?

I had an anecdote to share that is related, but can't find thread.

Share anyway, Mr. Barley.


I think there was some commentary on that story

at the Expat Cafe thread How Is This Possible?

I think there was some commentary on that story
at the Expat Cafe thread How Is This Possible?

I doubt it, since I only read threads pertaining to expats, and that café is open discussion. I will leave the anecdote once I find the thread/comments I thought was left by Caliray, but not sure. Both you and Peligro responded to it, and considering its shock value, someone should remember. I checked Caliray's and Peligro's activity logs and can't find anything. I think this may be a "man behind the curtain" scenario resulting in the disappearance of the comments in question.

One of my favorite venues...

Expat Café - open discussions.

Although the Expat Café is all about

open discussions, that does not preclude

Expat-related topics from being discussed.

I just spent a few minutes over there

researching comments about the man who

lost his passport ten years ago. I read his

original post in March of this year and

wrote about it on March 12 in a post

on the Expat Café's How Is This Possible? thread,

which post I titled Expat X in the Twilight Zone.


On March 13 (2023), several of our members

responded to that post with commentary of

their own, also posted at Expat Café's

How Is This Possible? thread.

In the Twilight Zone post, I deliberately disguised

the thread origin of Expat X's confession about

how he had become destined to wander Colombia

for a decade.  I said he posted on "an obscure thread

on a South American forum," which I now recall was

on the Colombia Forum.

Later in the How Is This Possible? thread,

Aidan asked where X's story was first told at ...

I remained mum about that .. and then another member

eventually told Aidan the answer.

As Casey Stengel used to say, you could look it up.



Am I confused about who was Expat X? I must be, because the guy I think it is, has a comment in his activity log that says,

2022-03-21 23:46:39

Welcome back. I'm still in the US after getting stuck here due to the virus and then some other stuff kept me here. I hope to return to Colombia in June.

Am I confused about who was Expat X? I must be, because the guy I think it is, has a comment in his activity log that says,

2022-03-21 23:46:39
Welcome back. I'm still in the US after getting stuck here due to the virus and then some other stuff kept me here. I hope to return to Colombia in June.



My response was delayed in this matter as I apparentlly did not receive

a notfiication in my email.


You apparently confused Expat X with Expat Z.  Which is

understandable, since -- as I mentioned above -- I have been

deliberately concealing the origin of Expat X's confession.

I have seen no credible evidence that Expat X ever

returned to the US of A.


Reply to K. Hobbs.

Member Hobbs wrote in to ask whether he is

obligated to have a Colombia bank account in

order to rent or buy a home in La República.

No, Hobbs is not legally obligated to do so.

If buying a home in Colombia (recommended

only for seasoned Expats who have done

this successfully beforehand), payments can

be wired directly to the seller (not recommended)

or to an account designated by a reliable attorney.

Theoretically, a seller could request that the

purchaser have a Colombia bank account.

i recommend against acceding to that request.

Always remember Rule 1 for arriving Expats...

Do not purchase real estate for your home in

South America until you have lived in the

target area for at least one year.