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16 Nov

Two weekends ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the XI Congreso Internacional del Colegio Nacional de Bacteriología conference November 4-7, Medellin, Colombia, with Adriana.  While the conference  was neat, and I had a chance to network with some professionals in the clinical arena, I really enjoyed our trip to Guatapé, around Medellín, and the Sunday Night Fiesta!

Guatapé is is a town and municipality in Antioquia Department, Colombia.[1] Part of the subregion of Eastern Antioquia. Guatapé is located in the outskirts of Medellín, bordering a reservoir created by the Colombian government for a hydro-electric dam, built in the late 1960s. This quaint town is the gathering place for “Las Vegas”, or the small farms of the area. It is also a growing area of recreation for citizens of Medellín, and aims to be a tourist destination for foreign travellers.  Also home to Pablo Escobar’s Fantasy Island! The island is in my pictures…but I don’t know how to point it out b/c it is kind of far away…anywho, you can now say you have seen it from a distance, too, lol (lake photos)!               More info: (

THE LARGE ROCK w/ over 600 stairs i.e.: El Peñón de Guatapé (Spanish for “The Guatapé Rock”)[1], wrongly called El Peñol Stone (Spanish La Piedra de El Peñol, is a monolithic formation located at the town and municipality of Guatapé, 1km inside the city limits (86 km northeast of Medellín)in Antioquia, Colombia. The stone rises from the bottom of the hydroelectric dam of Peñol-Guatapé. This monolith was spotted as a border landmark between country farms and the two cities.  Really neat history, read more: (

At its highest part, on the rear (southeast side), it has an elevation of 2,135 metres (7,005 ft) over sea level. with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F). The “Peñón” has 185 cubic metres (6,500 cu ft) of rock mass and it is 385 metres (1,263 ft) long, with an approximate weight of (11,000,000 tons). It has some rock breaks, one of which was used for the construction of the 644 stairs that can be used to go to the top.

Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia, not to mention beautiful!  The people are known as “Paises” (Pie-says) and are extremely friendly and proud of there city.  The infrastructure was beautiful, as was their organization and public transportation.  I am really excited to come back here in the next week with Katie, so much to see and do!  I will write more about this city when I  upload pictures from my upcoming trip.  However, in the meantime, I highly suggest you check it out now: (

OH, the picture of the needle point hanging from four bars, points EXACTLY to the center point of Medellín – very cool!

The fiesta was held on the last night of the conference with a live salsa band, amazing buffet of Colombian cuisine, and not mention a steady flow of Aguardiente.  Great time!

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19 Oct

Two Saturday’s ago, we ventured out to this restaurant  called “La Tinaja”, about 40 minutes outside of  Cali.  The food was excellent, as was the entertainment…a set of three horses would come into the restaurant through the main aisle showcasing different trots.  It was really neat!  If we go again,  I will commit to taking advantage of their horse stable/horse back riding.   I instead committed myself to a glass or two of Sangria…Enjoy!


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18 Cali, Colombia (“Diesiocho”)

19 Oct

Restaurante “La Neblina” km 18 Cali- Colombia

Here are some photos from our trip to Kilometer 18, only 30 minutes outside of Cali.  It is pretty incredible how you can go from tropical warm weather in the city, to only 30 minutes in the mountains, and need a completely different set of warm clothes!  We ate at the restaurant above, La Neblina.  This is where I tried my first cup of “Chocolate con queso”.  I am not a real fan of this queso, but the chocolate was great!



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President of Colombia!

9 Oct

This past Wednesday, Adriana was invited to a special lunch in sponsored by Camara de Comercio De Cali, Araujo Ibarra, Amcham Colombia, and Invest Pacific.  The purpose of the lunch was to discuss the current economic and commercial state of Cali, Colombia (Valle de Cauca – department [state] that Cali is in).  Their unemployment is around 15% now, where according to the business man next to me, the usual is 10%, so there is definitely reason to bring awareness and solvency.  At the lunch the President of Camara Commercial de Cali, which is The Cali Chamber of Commerce – a private, non-profit organization that serves a legal function to register businesses in the city of Cali and in the municipalities of Dagua, Jamundi, La Cumbre, Vijes and Yumbo, spoke regarding this issue, and hinted that spurring new business with the Pacific countries will be a key goal to helping their economy. 

 After this speech, we began to eat our very nice lunch.  However, to my surprise, as I had the dessert spoon full of Arequipa (YUM!)  in my mouth, Adriana jumps up and starts to leave the banquet room…I jump up to follow her and am pressing for reasons in my spanglish as to why were leaving so fast, I still wasn’t finished with my dessert!  However, to my amazement, we were going to a private press conference where the President of Colombia was going to give a speech regarding this topic, business in the Pacific, as well!  I couldn’t be lieve it!  AND they had ear pieces for translation!

As we got comfy in the next conference room, there were two initial speakers, Henry Loewendahl, Senior Consultor of fDI Intelligence, Financial Times, and Parag Khanna, Geopolitical International, who were both English-speaking.  Their presentations were extremely interesting, and while econ and geopolitics are not my strong suite, I was able to keep up with their main message – Latin America has an opportunity for dynamic growth with the Pacific coast and nations.  The power to any developing country is high investment in their infrastructure and diversifying their commerce with multiple countries – especially the ones forecasted for great business.

THEN, finally, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and the ex President of Peru, Alan Garcia, plus a handful of other important people arrived and  Mr. Santos’ speech began!  To my sheer luck, there was a large black thing directly in front of the President’s head while he was at the podium from my direction of sitting, however, they did have the large screens, so I could see him in entirety up there.  President Santos spoke also to the previous information listed above, but also about strength in regions, which I found very interesting.  This is why the ex President of Peru was there, because sometime ago when he was in office, he reached out to the President of Colombia in an effort to increase their trade among one another and become a regional power in Latin America.  It is by forming these regions that they can really gain momentum and strength in their economies and global existence.  At least, this is what I understood from my ear piece after the person changed three times, lol. 

According to the program, these were the main objectives of the program, translated by google:

First International Meeting of Pacific Basin business and investment
prepare to compete in tomorrow’s economy …

*meet national government policy towards the countries that comprise the Pacific Rim;

*business projected based on trends that will guide the world economy in the coming years; and

*identify opportunities and investment commercial  inter-exchange two-way with the countries of the Pacific Rim. 

None-the-less, this was an amazing opportunity to see the President of Colombia, the ex President of Peru, and other top officials in the government and private industry of Colombia/Cali, Colombia.   Enjoy!

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9 Oct

Below are some pictures of the public transportation in Cali.  They have private buses, which as described by Andres, go on various routes depending on what their norm is and were the paying person would like to go as well.  They of course have taxis, and mountain jeeps who service the population who live among the slopes and higher elevation.  What is really intriguing to me is the fairly new public bus transportation system, El Mio.  Below are photos and public information about the MIO via wikipedial.  Enjoy!

“Public transportation

Masivo Integrado de Occidente(MIO) station

A bus of the MIO

The city of Cali offers a variety of ways to move through the city; in March 2009, The Masivo Integrado de Occidente (MIO) began operations. It is planned to be the primary system that connects the city. Taxis and old buses are the secondary way to get around. Taxis are one of the best systems that tourists can use, as they are relatively inexpensive and are the most secure of the two. Non-MIO buses round-out the system and are used primarily by the working class to get around and are the least expensive to use. Buses are secure but not at the same level as taxis. This part of the transport in the city is waiting a needed reorganization of routes.

Masivo Integrado de Occidente (MIO): A massive transit system; M.I.O is based on the transportation model that consist in the use of articulated buses that runs through dedicated bus lanes running down the middle of major thoroughfares. MIO bus stations are locate in the middle of the thoroughfare, and are connected with sidewalks by dedicated pedestrian crossings or bridges. The system layout is 243 kilometers and is distributed in a main trunk, pre-trunk and complementary corridors. The system also integrated the renovation and recuperation of the public space. The MIO system was not only designed for the public transport, but built for public use with extensive new sidewalks, parks, gardens and public squares for the public to enjoy.”

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Walking with cats

7 Oct

To begin class this week, Paola and Vanessa took me on a small field trip to a little grocery store.  Here I had to practice my purchasing/check out skills while purchasing some deodorant (did I mention it’s hot down here?!).  Along our way to the store, we walked through one of Cali’s main attractions, El Gato del Rio (The River Cat).  Here is some basic information about the cat(s) from the Secretary of Culture and Tourism :

“Located on the left bank of the Rio Cali, North West 4 th Ave. Within river rescue plans Cali and beautification of its banks, the idea of ​​locating a monumental sculpture in one of its banks, was well as the renowned painter and sculptor Hernando Tejada donated his work called “The River Cat” to be cast in bronze on a large scale, which has a height of 3.5 meters, a width of 3.40 and 1.95 meters thick. The statue weighs three tons and was cast in Bogotá, where to be moved had to be removed the roof of the workshop. The play opened on July 3, 1996.”

In addition, there are several other “female” cats behind this statue.  These felines were part of a contest for other artists to design a girlfriend for The River Cat.  What was supposed to be a short debut, turned into a permanent exhibition for The River Cat bank.  A couple were missing from the line up, “they were walking around the city” the sign read. Enjoy!

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Lago Calima

5 Oct

This past Sunday, Adriana, Juan David, Jennifer (his girlfriend), Vivian (an employee of Adriana’s/new friend of mine), and I all ventured 2 hours outside Cali, to Lago Calima!  According to their website, Lago Calima is  “the largest artificial lake in Colombia with  an area of 70km2, which started as a hydroelectric project in 1961 for generating power for the department (state), Valle del Cauca” (   Once there, I rode on the El Banano and took a ferry ride around a portion of the large lake.  As you will see, there is nothing artificial about the views, they are simply breathtaking!

Also, before we got to Lago Calima, we stopped at a friend of Adriana’s home in a small town right outside of Lago Calima.  Here, the family welcomed us in for  a tour of their home, which happens to be the second oldest home built  in the city, aging over 100 years old!  The house was really neat inside (pictures below), and the homemade empanadas topped it off! 🙂

If uploaded correctly, the pictures should start on the road with a truck full of watermelons (las sandias).  I would like you to pay close attention to the variation of geography/topography as the pictures advance to Lago Calima, it’s incredible!  Enjoy!

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