I will Always Be Half Colombian
by Pat Skriletz
(Gachancipa, Cundinamarca, Colombia)
The Monolith El Penol
Why? Many reasons: the wide-open country, clear air (not in Bogota, though!), ease of doing business, the friendly people.
One place you need to check out online is El Penol, Anitoquia. It's a huge reservoir about 2 hours southeast of Medellin and it is easily one of the most gorgeous places I've ever seen in my life! Do searches on YouTube for the towns of El Penol, San Rafael, Guatape, and San Carlos and you will find something like the Swiss Alps in summer but without snow. Aside from the reservoir there are rivers and streams everywhere! And the climate there really IS like spring/summer year around.
The food in Antioquia is WONDERFUL! Beans, sausages, but mostly, the chicharrones (fried pork skin but with so much meat. Not too great for your heart but your taste buds will thank you), Chocolo arepas (kind of like tortillas but thicker and always made from corn, with butter or cheese inside), and great fish. The people of Antioquia (Paisas) are some of the friendliest people in the world. I can't wait to visit there again!
I also plan on having some plastic surgery done. A Colombian friend I met in Panama introduced me to her surgeon in Ibague (a small city about 100 miles west of Bogota); he talked to me for an HOUR! I wonder how much that happens in the US.... He is a super nice guy and, based on the before-and-after shots he showed me, an artist. I can't wait! In fact, I intend to start a business afterwards, helping gringos get whatever medical attention they want or need. It's affordable here (even with the falling dollar) and the clinics and doctors are excellent quality-wise.
Don't believe everything you see in the movies and read in the newspapers about Colombia. I lived very near Compton, California for 30 years and found the same thing to be true: as long as you don't hang around drunk, dripping with jewelry, in the middle of the night in an area known to be dangerous, you'll be fine. If you go to Bogota, do take the Transmilenio (public transit system) and DO keep an eye on your purse because it's like any big city in the world. Be smart and you'll be fine.