January 16, 2014
By: Paul Seymour, Director of Client Services
I got up and out of Armenia early, and headed for the unknowns of Cali. Another city berated as a cocaine cowboy town by the perpetually war-mongering, MIC/Corporate-controlled press, and I suspect just as unfairly so as Medellìn. I mean, I’m sure there’s a few hundred million a year (if not a billion or two) flowing in from the EU and US, but that don’t bother me none. As you know, I’m on record as arguing that we’d all be better off if drugs were legal anyway, like they apparently are now in Uruguay. This, I predict, will have a domino effect throughout Latin America where people are fed up with the idiotic “war on drugs” waged by the most corrupt, and hypocritical nation on the planet. (See: “Growing Police State: War on Drugs”)
So, the fact that there are businessmen and women in Cali who are more than willing to sell a very cheap-to-produce product, for more than its weight in gold due to extreme demand in the morally bankrupt US and EU, doesn’t affect my excitement to visit there in the slightest. I just love traveling to new places. On this leg, I’m dropping down from the mile-high plus level to around 1,000 meters, or about 3,300 feet for the metrically challenged. The changes in altitude not only affect the climate, but also the scenery, and the appearance and attitudes of the people too.
As I get down to the valley, the topography and flora are way different. Gone are the winding roads through hilly coffee farms, and now I’m passing down long, straight highways through vast fields of sugar cane. A bit like Florida in the potato and cabbage growing areas west of Daytona, but not so miserably hot and humid.
There basically is no fauna in Colombia. In ten years, I’ve yet to see a wild mammal, save for the occasional squirrel or possum at the finca, and that poor rat that the waiters tracked down in the street with a broom in Parque Lleras one afternoon. Okay, I’ve seen some iguanas, and even those really cool lizards that run across the top of the water, but it’s nothing like the fauna in North America. I think anything worth eating has been hunted to extinction. I once made the mistake of telling the poor coffee workers (campesinos) near the farm that frogs were a delicacy in some parts of the world. The population of large toads seemed to rapidly disappear in the months afterward. On the other hand, Colombia has more species of birds than any other country in the world. I once translated an article for the Universidad Nacional which stated that a full 20% of the world’s bird species live in the coffee district of Colombia alone. I can state that just sitting on the balcony at the finca I saw quite a display of amazing, colorful bird life.
Approaching Cali, where I make a rest stop, the black ladies running the tienda stare at me as though I’m from another planet, but finally they test me, and realize that I speak the language, and we start talking about the usual. Where I’m from, and where I’m going, and I get a nice, friendly, hand waving send-off down the road. Arriving in Cali, I’m reminded that I’m back in a pretty big city once again. As big, or slightly bigger, than Medellìn. One positive that I notice right away, is that there’s not a traffic jam, for a change. This time, I have a place in mind, and have even written down an address, so I make a stop at Cubano’s, a national chain of over-priced Cuban sandwiches, get a sub, and also directions from the transplanted Paisa (people from the coffee area around Medellin) working the register. I did note a fair degree of potholes in the roads here, but once I finally found the hostel, I was very happy with it. Once again, a converted large home near the Zona Rosa.
Here’s the still private home across the street from the Iguana:
I took a large room in the back of the place with a nice big courtyard in front, which also had a place to hang my hammock for a late afternoon kip. I figured that my 20 year old, Florida bought, Mayan hammock would come in handy, and as it’s light, and doesn’t take a great deal of space, brought it along. The place is run by a young, mellow Frenchman. The fridge is full of $1 beer, and it’s on the honor system. Merely add another tick next to your name, on the sheet hanging on the wall, as you withdraw cold ones. I like a place that trusts me, although I wouldn’t want to be associated with any club that would have me as a member.
The first day, I realize that there’s a very international crowd here. I meet a young, recently discharged South Korean soldier, on post-discharge world tour, and we start having a few and talking about whatever. Unfortunately, I also learn about the latest Korean craze, the song Gangnam Style. Evidently, according to the Europeans in attendance, known there as Gangland Style, although when you here the man sing, he’s clearly saying condom style. Listen here, in case like me, you’ve somehow been lucky enough to have missed out…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH1XGdu-hzQ It was a sad moment for me, but as usual I allowed all to laugh at my ignorance, and as punishment for never having heard of it, did the Gangland Style dance. Photo available only to GWP Insider subscribers, and only if Bobby pays extra for it…… Hey, it’s part of internationalizing. I mean learning a new Korean song/dance craze, and having a drink and a good laugh with people from all over the world. You can’t go through life telling everyone, nor even believing, that the only worthy music is produced in the US or UK, and preferably in the 1970’s or 80’s.
Then a very stereotypical young Frenchwoman from Paris, and then a typical Swiss girl as well, joined in the brewing madness. Apparently, Cali is home to salsa. Not the Gangnam Style, nor the red stuff you dip tortilla chips in, but a Latin style dance, so we go to a club recommended by the hostel. No big deal, and have now been there, and got the T-shirt.
Test your world-wide cultural knowledge. Identify in the following photo– 1) Aloof Parisian 2) Nutty Scot 3) Sensible Swiss 4) Respectful, yet semi-drunken Korean. You have 23 seconds to respond, 45 for gringos to make it sporting.
The South Korean kid reminds me of my days in Thailand, at how respectful the Asians are in general, and with older farts in particular. The Parisian girl is suitably aloof, and the Swiss girl is typical as well–tall, intelligent, speaks 4 languages, and open-minded. Probably rich too, as the average Swiss has over USD 100,000 in the bank, and those are the great unwashed. During my stay I also met people from Holland, Belgium, Germany, Australia and a group bicycling around the country from all over the world.
When one cyclist told me they were going down the coast from Santa Marta to Barranquilla on one of their legs, it reminded me of a trip that I took down that same coastal road to see the Carnival in Barranquilla back in 2005. Without exaggeration, I had to ride leaning towards the coast on my little 200 as the wind was threatening to blow me into an oncoming bus in the next lane. I actually saw a bus that had caught a gust, and was over on its side.
That kind of eclectic crowd, sort of defines Cali, in a way. It struck me, as yet again, more progressive than Medellin. Hard to say exactly how, but for one, there were a lot more restaurants with authentic international chow. I also saw a lot more English signage around, but without noting very many others speaking English with a North American accent. Probably afraid of all the drug dealers they’ve heard so much about from the corporate controlled press. A lack of Gringos, in my opinion, raised Cali up an extra notch on the scale of livable places.
The French, Germans, Dutch, etc, tend to add some nice cultural color to a place. The Gringos, on the other hand, go to a beautiful place, which has a great culture, and decide to form a committee in order to try and make it more like the fucked-up place they just left behind on purpose. Morons. If you don’t like the place the way it is, then stay back in Peoria. You won’t be welcome in a live-and-let-live society like Latin America.
Here’s the obligatory old church downtown:
I took a ride on Sunday morning to get to know the city. There’re very few cars on the road on a Sunday morning, which is pretty much true of any city of European culture, I guess. I don’t think Bangkok was any quieter on a Sunday morning, but in Latin America, before noon on Sunday, you can count on even the biggest of cities to be pretty tranquil. I saw why there was no traffic jam coming in. In Medellin, there’s but a single expressway running north and south through the valley, while here, there are a few 4 and 6-lane roads. I also noted that the people, not being so frustrated by continuously trying to drive in a parking lot, drive more relaxed and sanely as well.
In fact, the whole place just had a more tropical, laid back feel to it. At the restaurants, I felt like I was in a more cosmopolitan atmosphere. I took the obligatory ride to the top of the hill with the 3 crosses. Here’s the view from up top:
Up here was a bit cooler. The first couple of days in the city there was perfect weather. Like the year-round 22-23C (74-75F) in Medallo, but then it warmed up to its more usual mid 80’s. Nice if you’re in the shade in a hammock, but gets a guy sweaty while walking around in the daytime.
The theater downtown:
There were tons of places around the Zona Rosa for both rent and sale. I don’t know the cause for that. Possibly prices were shooting up, and people were cashing out? Or maybe the locals could see the writing on the wall, that being that their once quiet existence was about to go down that tube called “urban development”? This place caught my eye on a dead end street a block away from the party zone, yet quiet.
The top floor apartment was for rent, so I called up and found out it was 233 square meters (2,500 Sq Ft), with 2 balconies, and rented for EUR 420, including administration. When you look into properties in Colombia, always ask about the administraciòn, or condo fee.
Here’s a bit of a fixer-upper in the same area:
A nearby street:
Note the 3 empty lanes. Nice after Medellìn and Bogotà
On a cultural note, here’s something you wouldn’t see in prohibition-minded Amerika:
How about some 2 for 1 frozen cocktails at the drive-through? And yet, there are just as many accidents in that hypocritical land of the free…
There’s really only one rule of the road in countries where common sense, and self-responsibility still prevail. Just don’t hit anything. If you do hit anything, then you rightfully have a problem. Otherwise, you probably won’t find too much of the “well it’s a good thing you were arrested, or who knows what might have happened” mentality. Akin to the, shoot first and ask questions later ilk so common on Ameriken police forces nowadays
Downtown, things are a bit different. Here’s a young guy with a beautiful . wooden, guarapo stand, crushing up fresh sugar cane, and selling it ice cold, at 50 cents a cup.
If you remember the pictures from a ways up north, you can start to see some physical differences starting to creep into the populace, as I move southward. The people are still very friendly, but like in Bogotà, not quite so extroverted.
Overall, I had a nice very stay in Cali, and am looking forward to hitting it again on the return trip. Next stop is Popayan. Another new place for me. Stay tuned.
If you’d like to start living 3 times better, with real freedom, and for half the cost, the first step is to move your assets out of the US or EU before it’s too late, and you can no longer afford to live in the rapidly developing “third world”. Feel free to contact me anytime at [email protected] to discuss asset protection, or living and investing overseas.
Living well is the best revenge
Hasta la próxima muchachos, y mucha suerte.
Paul is an escaped former Big 4 CPA (financial statement auditor), and Corporate Controller/CFO who found a natural home in the offshore industry with Bobby Casey and the gang at GWP. Contact him at [email protected] to learn more about the realities of economical offshore asset protection.
An offshore company and bank account can be established for as little as $1,797, including my advice and assistance throughout both processes, and in both privacy-respecting jurisdictions, apostilles required to open bank accounts, and courier charges to send original documents to you. There’s never any need to visit the jurisdictions personally, although they’re very nice places, and I recommend a visit. With our established agency agreements, we can do everything via e-mail. We maintain long-term relationships with our clients, and remain available for consultation on an ongoing basis.