Medellin Living http://medellinliving.com Colombia Travel Blog Tue, 28 Apr 2015 02:36:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 Online Harassment: My Experience with Cyberstalking in Colombia http://medellinliving.com/online-harassment-cyberstalking-colombia/ http://medellinliving.com/online-harassment-cyberstalking-colombia/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com?p=27760&preview_id=27760 A story highlighting the growing trend of online harassment and how it is affecting one expat in Medellín, Colombia, along with tips to protect yourself.

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Late last Wednesday evening I received an anonymous message through a fake Facebook account purposefully written to instill the greatest amount of fear, uncertainty and emotional stress in me as possible.

It was full of lies, claiming I’m a sex tourist, I abuse minors, there’s proof, I’m going to jail and I will be shamed publicly as a result. Worse, it implied I’d be killed.

It ended with an ultimatum, I either shut down Medellín Living, the Facebook page, book and app within one week or face the consequences.

I immediately notified U.S. and Colombian authorities of what I felt were serious and specific threats against me. Below are the steps I took to protect myself.

The U.S. Embassy in Bogotá

I spoke with the American Citizen Services group, which handles emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Colombia.

They are aware of the situation and I now have a point of contact there.

Fiscalía General de la Nación

At Fiscalía (Prosecutor’s office) near the Universidad de Antioquia, I filed a sworn statement about the defamation and harassment.

I provided them with copies of every message.

Local Police

I delivered the protection order I received from the Fiscalía to my local police station.

The assisting officer brought a copy of the protection order signed by his commander to my home by 9 a.m. the next morning. I even ran into a friendly cop I know in the parking lot.

The police also told me about the free Cuadrante Amigo app (iPhone // Android).

Install it on your smartphone and open it if you find yourself in any danger. The app waits five seconds and then automatically sends a message to the nearest officer who can respond based on your GPS location.

Everyone visiting Medellín should get this app.

Facebook

I reported this third and most serious instance of harassment to Facebook and blocked the fake profile. I also made my Facebook profile private and am not accepting new friends.

This person has already contacted at least three of my friends through Facebook to spread lies and discredit me. If you receive such a message, please save it (either a screenshot or copy/paste), report the harassment to Facebook and block the account.

Friends and Family

I began reaching out to trusted friends and family to make them aware of what I was experiencing.

Talking about the experience has helped me process why someone would make up terrible lies to try and force me out of business (hint: anti-Americanism).

Anyone who knows me, knows these statements against me are 100 percent bullshit.

The Role of Medellín Living

I want to reassure readers I have nothing to hide. I’m a law-abiding citizen of the U.S. who also respects the laws of Colombia, and any country I visit.

Further, I try to live a peaceful life that’s respectful and understanding of others, regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or background.

That said, I recognize by not taking a public stand against the rise of sex tourism in Medellín, I may be perceived as not caring, or worse, complicit in illegal or harmful behavior.

Medellín Living’s purpose is to present the city and Colombians in a positive light. While this is a difficult topic, I will not shy away from addressing it here.

No Al Turista Sexual (No to the Sex Tourist)

Earlier this month, I met with Pazamanos, the NGO behind the No Al Turista Sexual (No to the Sex Tourist) campaign, to learn more about the problem, their goals and how I can help.

This week, I’ll be dedicating a separate story to the campaign. Until then, please read this excellent article by Colombia Reports from last year.

Story Removed

In addition, I removed the review I wrote several years ago promoting Colombian Cupid (click here to see it’s no longer in Google’s results), a dating website for foreign men to meet Colombian women.

While I and several friends have met smart, wonderful women through it, and I do not consider it a sex tourism website, I do know it is used by sex mongers.

For this reason, I will no longer promote it on Medellín Living nor will it be included in the iPhone app or mentioned in the next version of my book.

At the end of the day, I believe it’s the sex tourists themselves, not any particular website or app, that are the problem, however, I am more than happy to make this concession.

Online Harassment

According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, “73% of adult internet users have seen someone be harassed in some way online, and 40% have personally experienced it.”

Sadly, research shows young people and women bear the brunt of it, but as I’ve learned recently, it can happen to anyone, anywhere, for any reason.

Have you experienced harassment or intimidation running your business in Medellín, Colombia, or anywhere else for that matter? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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Ondas: An International Place of Gathering http://medellinliving.com/ondas/ http://medellinliving.com/ondas/#respond Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=27476 Ondas is a up-and-coming coworking space and café in the Floresta neighborhood.

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Café? Co-working space? Airbnb house?

The #1 question I’ve heard about this subtle looking house is “what is this place?”

Actually, it’s all of the above with more on the way.

There really is no other way to define this charming and eclectic place other than the way the owner, Kit Glover, suggests “This is an international place of gathering.”

Located in the up-and-coming Floresta area (two blocks away from Parque Floresta), Ondas seems to have peeked at some of the top ways foreigners (and locals) are doing business in Medellín and developed a space where it all fits harmoniously.

Why Floresta?

According to Glover, when he began working on the project, the neighborhood was all potential and little action. In a leap of faith, he built from scratch what I believe to be one of the most interesting projects in the city.

Floresta is part of Comuna 12 (La America) which has some of the best conditions for living and creating business. 42% of its inhabitants are between the ages of 15 and 40 and the average social stratum for the thirteen neighborhoods that make it up is 4.

Not only have there been more apartment buildings going up in Floresta, inviting all types of citizens to populate the area, but more and more foreigners are calling Comuna 12 their home. Factors include varied inhabitants, the entertaining park and practical transportation options, among others.

Outdoor space

Outdoor space

What Ondas Has to Offer

To anyone who has used the available coworking spaces in the city such as 9010 or Epicentro, this place might come as a bit of a shock.

You won’t find cubicles, desks, or office-inspired decor, which is precisely what makes it so refreshing. That and the fact that at a basic rate of about 250,000 pesos per month, it is one of the most affordable in the city (if not the most).

To those who would rather work at a coffee shop, Ondas covers you by having one on the main floor, which is on its way to being open to the general public as well as the Ondas crowd.

The space is available for events, and has a weekly international movie night and a language exchange barbecue once a week, at which I was surprised to find a truly international group -both foreigners and colombians.

The rooms in the house have also been adapted for those looking for a place to rent a month or longer. You can find one on Airbnb.

The Good, the Bad, and the Undeniable…

Ondas

It’s a beautiful place, too big to be truly captured in photos. It’s comfortable, it’s welcoming. However…

Ondas still has a large to-do list to go through before it runs smoothly.

And it’s no wonder, Glover has singlehandedly built on an idea for months.

It isn’t entirely shocking that for now it looks a bit like a one-man show.

His trip advisor reviews, his guests, and his friends all can say a lot for what the place has turned out to be and the dedication behind it. The minute you walk in, it’s diaphanous.

The Future of Ondas

Glover has already begun delegating, subletting the café to good hands who will take one more task off his.

When a few more tasks are checked off the list, a fitness space will be fashioned out of leftover capacity in the house-that’s right- there is just that much space.

It looks like that type of action will be exactly what will turn his one-man show into a well-teamed hit.

I urge readers to see the place, add an international movie to your week, and be a part of this growing project built from the heart.

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Photos courtesy of Ondas.

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Medellín Real Estate: How to Start Your Search for a Good Investment http://medellinliving.com/real-estate-investment/ http://medellinliving.com/real-estate-investment/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com?p=27408&preview_id=27408 To learn more about how foreigners can successfully invest in Medellín real estate, I spoke with several local experts.

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“Can you recommend a good real estate agent?”

This is a question readers continue to ask me and for which, until today, I have not had a solid answer.

Considering housing prices in the middle class neighborhoods of Medellín rose more than 10% in 2014, and the peso recently hit a 10-year low against the dollar, it’s certainly looking like a good time to buy.

For those of you interested in investing in the Medellín real estate market, this story is for you.

In order to give reliable advice and insights, I consulted with local leaders in the industry who are actively assisting foreigners with their real estate purchases.

Real estate transactions in any country can be complicated, let alone Colombia where you may not speak the language, nor have as much of an understanding of the local rules and regulations as in your home country.

To learn more about how foreigners can successfully invest in Medellín real estate, I spoke with the following experts, who provided me with important insights into the local market.

  • Luisa Tascon of The Real Estate Association of Medellín
  • Andres Durango, lawyer and real estate specialist
  • Brad Hinkelman, owner of Casacol Propiedad Raiz
  • Andres Cardona, private banker at Ultrabursatiles

1. Luisa Tascon, The Real Estate Association of Medellín

I began my research with Luisa Tascon from The Real Estate Association of Medellín, known locally as the Lonja de Medellín.

Founded in 1967, La Lonja’s purpose is to contribute to the design, promotion, and development of all real estate related activities with a view toward providing its members and the community in general guarantees of morality, security, honesty and efficiency. Plus, La Lonja also represents its members before the authorities, other unions and citizens.

When I asked Luisa about how foreigners should begin their search for real estate, she highlighted the importance of starting with a member of Lonja.

“In Colombia anyone can be a real estate agent, members of the Lonja have proven themselves to be the most professional in the industry. Lonja members almost always train and test their staff with Lonja courses.”

If you’re use to the well-regulated real estate industry of the United States, coming down to Colombia can be akin to entering the wild west.

One way to make sure you’re working with a reputable person is to confirm they’re an active member of La Lonja, and are thus subject to the association’s ethics and rules on doing business.

A disinterest in being beholden to La Lonja’s rules is likely a bigger reason for not joining than cost, as the monthly membership isn’t expensive.

2. Andres Durango, Lawyer and Real Estate Specialist

Next I spoke with Andres Durango from Medellín Legal Partners.

Andres is a down-to-earth, English-speaking native of Medellín. He studied in Bogotá, Paris and Singapore and assisted foreigners investing in China before returning to Medellín to do the same.

Andres thinks that foreigners should understand the legal complexities with buying real estate in Medellín before they start their search.

“The fun part is searching for property to buy, the hard part for a foreigner is actually how to do it properly,” Andres told me at his office in the Lugo building next to Oviedo.

“There’s no doubt that the opportunity in Medellín real estate is huge and foreigners enjoy the same property rights in Colombia as locals, but the paperwork needs to be in order from banking, to purchase agreements, to proper study of the property titles, to ensure the foreigner is protected in the transaction – that’s what we do.”

Andres and his family are also active real estate investors. Between his personal and professional experience with foreign investors, he seemed to me like an excellent candidate for foreigners seeking a lawyer specializing in real estate.

Andres can be reached at andres@medellinlegal.com.

3. Brad Hinkelman, Owner of Casacol Propiedad Raiz 

I also sat down with Brad Hinkelman, owner of Casacol SAS and a local developer and property manager.

Brad himself started investing in Colombia in 2009 before founding Casacol in 2013 to help guide both local and foreign investors in Medellin.

“I was definitely early, I saw the opportunity back then and acted on it,” Brad told me from his offices in Rio Sur.

“And today I really see the opportunity to improve the architecture and construction quality that you see in Medellín, bringing it up to a more international standard.” he says.

“All of our new construction projects are much more Miami, or Vancouver or London than they are the cookie-cutter Medellín styling. And that’s what forward-thinking locals, foreigners, and global travelers want – something fresh, high quality, and affordably priced.”

Brad’s company has four projects under joint development at the moment that he is marketing to locals and foreigners.

He says 75 percent of his investors are Colombians, but says “our local and foreign investors want the same thing at the end of the day, 1) potential for price appreciation, and 2) efficient property management that gives them 10 percent and higher returns.”

Casacol manages more than 100 apartments, most of which are within three buildings and has more than 150 apartment units under construction.

You can see their rental inventory on their English language website and Brad’s email is brad@casacol.co.

4. Andres Cardona, Private Banker at Ultrabursatiles

Lastly, both Brad and Andres Durango spoke to me about the importance of a foreigner having a bank account in Medellín before he/she completes a real estate transaction.

The best way to close a real estate deal in Colombia is to have a bank account in place.

The problem foreigners face in 2015 is that Colombian banks are requiring a cedula, where as recently as 2014, they accepted a passport. Of course an investor can’t obtain a cedula until he/she has invested, thus the banks have created a catch-22.

To get around this problem, both Brad and Andres referred me to Andres Cardona at Ultrabursatiles, who handles private banking and low-cost foreign exchange for more than 130 foreigners in Medellín.

Andres and Ultrabursatiles can help qualified foreigners get Colombian bank accounts using their passports. He informed me that Ultrabursatiles has a strict no press policy, but I can attest to Andres’ professionalism, and that of Liseth, his English-speaking assistant.

For foreigners wanting to learn more about banking in Colombia, Andres, who also speaks fluent English, can be reached at andrescardona@ultrabursatiles.com. The offices of Ultrabursatiles are located at Calle 3 Sur #43A-52, 16th floor in Poblado.

In conclusion, there is no shortage of terrific opportunities to invest in Medellín real estate.

Potential investors still need to do their due diligence. However, my hope is that through stories like this one, we can make the process of purchasing property a little easier.

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This story was brought to you in partnership with Casacol SAS.

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Paisa Perspective: Laura Echavarria – Fashion Blogger http://medellinliving.com/laura-echavarria/ http://medellinliving.com/laura-echavarria/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com?p=27560&preview_id=27560 Laura Echavarria is the talented fashion blogger behind Fashionlessons.co, a bilingual English/Spanish blog where she shares her fashion and travel advice.

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I first met the talented Laura Echavarria of Fashionlessons.co when the mayor’s wife, Claudia Márquez Cadavid, brought Medellín’s top bloggers and digital influencers together to meet and collaborate last year.

After the meeting, I looked Laura’s blog up and was excited to see she publishes in both Spanish and English, therefore making her stories and advice easily accessible.

She also travels internationally, sharing photos and experiences from as far away as Mexico and Turkey. Follow her on Instagram.

The inspiration for Fashionlessons

I started 7 years ago, I came back from living 4 years in Barcelona where I studied Fashion Design. There, I met a woman named Diane Pernet who was one of the first to have a blog on fashion and so she inspired me to do it.

It was also an excuse to build up a writing portfolio because I want to write for newspapers and magazines.

Fashionlessons is a place where you can find anything cultural related to fashion.

Thoughts on why blogging isn’t as popular in Colombia as other countries

I really don’t know, I guess it is becoming popular right now, we get things here later than in the rest of the world.

Favorite Colombian designer

Johanna Ortiz is my favorite, she is fresh and cool, but she is really stuck to a Colombian identity, and she is also really “affordable.”

You can buy her things at her store in Bogotá or at Moda Operandi, one of the coolest fashion e-commerce shops.

Colombiamoda (Fashion Week)

I think it’s really important, and it’s getting stronger with the years. We have more new designers each year that export our design identity and creativity.

In Latin America, I would say it is the most important fashion event, and press from all over the world comes.

I still think we have to improve quality in some aspects but in general it’s a pretty cool and creative event, not to mention it moves millions of dollars.

Bogotá vs. Medellín

I think Bogotá is more open, and people there have more identity. Also, it’s the capital city, so they get all the big brands and also all the people coming to live there from all over the world influences the citizens of Bogotá. So I think in some way they get more styles.

Medellín is still a small city and people here are still stuck to what other people may think, and they are afraid of exploring their style. That’s why maybe people in Bogotá have more style.

Trends for 2015

Norm core is still a big trend, trying too hard to look like you wore the first thing in your closet. Also botanical flowers, prints in all its ways and fringes are a must.

Laura Echavarria

Where can a guy/gal get some fashion help?

I can help you renew your wardrobe and to build your own personal style, that’s the most important thing! Being true to yourself and being unique!

Medellín

I love the kindness of the people, I love the food and green everywhere. I think we can improve by expanding the offer in everything, from cultural to food places.

Shopping (aside from Vía Primavera/Provenza)

It’s sad to say, but I can’t think about any other place. Online shopping is a really good idea.

Coffee time

Velvet or Pergamino.

In search of culture

El MAMM is for me the best place for art here; the place is beautiful, and they are in expansion right now.

Favorite city escape

Rionegro, I use to go there for the weekends and have a nice dose of fresh air.

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Photos by Mateo Garcia @teograph

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OSEA: Offering Diners a Fresh Menu Monthly http://medellinliving.com/oseamed/ http://medellinliving.com/oseamed/#respond Tue, 21 Apr 2015 15:57:59 +0000 http://medellinliving.com?p=27573&preview_id=27573 Open a little over a year, OSEA's international menu feature fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients and rotates on a monthly basis.

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I began following OSEA on Instagram last year.

The novelty of a menu that rotates monthly, and a clear focus on using fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients inspired me to pay a visit one Friday afternoon in late January.

Located a half block west of Parque Poblado, OSEA’s green facade makes it easy to spot.

Inside, a mere six tables, seating up to 18 people at a time, fill the narrow restaurant. A mirror running three-quarters of the length helps give it a more spacious feel.

I was the first to arrive for lunch that day, yet all the tables were reserved aside from the one closest to the door. Feeling luck was on my side, I took a seat facing the street and began to peruse the cocktail menu.

Cocktail at OSEAmed

A modern take on an Old Fashioned

In the mood for gin, I had my eye on the Bee’s Knees (16,000 pesos, $6.50), made of gin, lemon and honey.

When I asked the waiter for recommendations, he said the chef suggested an Old Fashioned with Tanqueray gin instead of bourbon, sugar and artisanal bitters (22,000 pesos, $9). I threw caution to the wind and ordered it.

The cocktail arrived with a single, large ice-cube topped with red pepper and a lemon peel garnish. Large ice cubes are a good sign in cocktails, as they melt more slowly and are thus less likely to water down your drink before you finish it.

The presentation was pretty, but as I suspected, the cocktail was too strong for me. When I mentioned this to the waiter, he took my unfinished drink away and brought me my original choice, the Bee’s Knees, which was softer and sweeter.

In a sign of the way chef/proprietor Salomón Borenstein runs his business, I wasn’t charged for the first cocktail.

OSEA also serves aperitifs like Campari and Cointreau, scotch whiskeys, Bogotá Beer Company, a juice of the day, Namaste tea and coffee.

Grilled cheese

Grilled cheese with tomato soup

My January lunch began with the comfort food combo of a super gooey grilled cheese and tomato soup (18,000 pesos, $7). As an appetizer, it was huge, but oh so good. The imported cheese is key, of course.

For the main course, I had ribs with spaetzle and mushrooms (27,000 pesos, $11). Dessert was a sumptuous upside down pineapple cake with sour cream ice cream (12,000 pesos, $5).

I preferred the appetizer and dessert over the entrée, but that’s partly my fault as I had Humo’s BBQ ribs in my mind.

Fish

Fish with dates and pistachios

In March, while my friend Jason was visiting from Bogotá with a friend, I suggested we grab lunch at OSEA. The menu was already in its third incarnation of the year, assuring I’d be eating something new, along with my friends.

This time I skipped the appetizer though I did note there was a foi gras option.

Instead, I focused on a main course of fish with dates, orange, pistachios and a rice arepa (36,000 pesos, $11). It was beautifully presented and tasted great.

Jason ordered the chicken with watermelon, mint and curry and was equally satisfied (27,000 pesos, $11).

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake with maracuya sauce

Remembering how amazing the upside pineapple cake was from my first visit, I ordered the chocolate porter cake with chocolate cream and a maracuya sauce (13,000 pesos, $6).

It too was wonderfully presented, and tasted even better.

OSEA's interior

OSEA’s interior

OSEA was two for two in my visits the first three months of this year.

I highly recommend stopping by for lunch or dinner. If dining later in the week, be sure to call ahead and make reservations.

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Iglesia de La Candelaria, the Oldest Church in Medellín http://medellinliving.com/iglesia-de-la-candelaria/ http://medellinliving.com/iglesia-de-la-candelaria/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=27526 When visiting the tourist spots in El Centro, it is also worth stopping at Iglesia de La Candelaria to see what is considered the oldest church in Medellín.

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Iglesia de La Candelaria is considered the oldest church in Medellín. The church is most popularly known as Iglesia de La Candelaria, but its more formal name is Basílica Menor de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria).

The church was dedicated to Our Lady of Candelaria, which was an invocation of devotion to the Spanish and the sailors who crossed the Atlantic to the New World.

The colonial church is located in La Candelaria (El Cento) and is worth seeing while touring the other tourist sites in the nearby area such as Museo de Antioquia and Plaza Botero.

Also found nearby is Iglesia de la Veracruz, which is another of the oldest churches in Medellín that we looked at recently.

Iglesia de La Candelaria (Wikimedia by SajoR)

Iglesia de La Candelaria (Wikimedia by SajoR)

History of the Church

The first version of the church was built of wood and thatch in 1649 for the first parish in the city of Medellín. The original church was not very well built, so it was rebuilt in 1712.

This second church on the site was approaching ruin in 1766 and construction of the current masonry church began in 1767 using a neoclassical architecture, which was inaugurated in 1776.

Iglesia de La Candelaria has been in operation as a Roman Catholic church of worship since that time, except for a brief time around 1826 when the roof was repaired, and in 1850 when the altar was built in the church and the organ installed.

The two front towers were added to the church in 1890. When the Diocese of Medellín was formed, Iglesia de La Candelaria was its first cathedral until the Catedral Basílica Metropolitana opened in 1931.

In 1970, Iglesia de La Candelaria was declared a minor basilica. The historical church was declared a National Monument of Colombia in July 1998.

In 1997, the church was restored using material and techniques used at the original time of construction.

The Central Nave inside Iglesia de La Candelaria

The Central Nave inside Iglesia de La Candelaria

Inside the Church

The interior of Iglesia de La Candelaria is whitewashed with some gold trim and many pieces of art can be found in the church. The main alter in the church is white with gold columns and trim.

Confessionals along the right aisle

Confessionals along the right aisle

The church also has several confessionals found along the right and left aisles.

The organ in the church was built in Germany and was donated by José María Berrienteos. The organ arrived in Colombia by sea and travelled by boat up the Magdelana River and by mule to Medellín, reaching the city in 1850.

Inside the Church

Inside the Church

How to Get There

Iglesia de La Candelaria is located on the eastern side of Parque Barrio, which is located next to the Parque Berrio metro station.

Parque Barrio is named for Pedro Just Berrio, one of the major politicians in the Antioquia area of the nineteenth century. Parque Barrio is a popular gathering place in El Centro.

The easiest way to get to Iglesia de La Candelaria is to take the Medellín metro to the Parque Berrio station and the church is located a very short walk from the metro station.

Or you can ask any taxi driver in Medellín to take you to “Iglesia de la Candelaria en el Centro,” as they all will know where it is located.

Note to Readers

This is the fourth church in Medellín we have looked at in a new series looking at the most notable churches in the city. We previously looked at Iglesia de la Veracruz, Iglesia Jesús Nazareno and Catedral Basílica Metropolitana.

We plan to look at several more of the historic churches in Medellín over the next couple months as several of the beautiful churches in the city are unfortunately missing from the travel guidebooks of Colombia.

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Mansion Club presents Future Underground in association with Medellín Living   http://medellinliving.com/mansion-future-underground/ http://medellinliving.com/mansion-future-underground/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 13:13:45 +0000 http://medellinliving.com?p=27582&preview_id=27582 On Saturday April 25th, Mansion Club will be showcasing a new techno night - "Future Underground" with DJs Nick Bowman (UK) and Camilo Serna (Colombia).

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Editor’s Note: Enjoy two for one entry and a free shot with the code MLMANSION

On Saturday April 25th Mansion Club will be showcasing a new techno night – “Future Underground” with DJs Nick Bowman (UK) and Camilo Serna (Colombia) in association with Medellín Living.

The Future Underground Show is a long-running techno radio show presented by English DJ, Nick Bowman.

It started around 2006 and was a weekly show on British radio. It’s home for the last five years has been Digitally Imported’s techno channel. The show features guest mixes from the world’s top techno talent and has a large global following.

Future Underground at Mansion Club will be bringing some of the finest underground techno to Medellín.

Mansion Club is the perfect venue for techno. A tunnel leads to the intimate, dark and moody club. You could quite easily imagine yourself being in Berlin or London, but you don’t need to imagine yourself being in Europe because Medellín is the techno capital of South America and has its own special vibe and scene.

Mansion Club

Future Underground aims to offer an excellent party vibe with a mix of electronic music lovers from around the world and here in Colombia.

There are many language exchanges in the city; this could be considered a “techno exchange.” Techno lovers from here and abroad meeting up, partying and making new friends.

Nick Bowman 

Nick is a techno DJ and producer from England, now residing in Medellín. He was resident DJ for a techno event in London, playing alongside the likes of Gary Beck, Monoloc, Hans Bouffmyhre, Nihad Tule, Par Grindvik, among many others.

He hosts his monthly radio show on the third Friday of the month at 3 p.m. Colombian time and another here. The show is available as a podcast after its first airing here and on Soundcloud. Check out the earlier shows to get an idea of the type of music you can expect from the night. For more information about Nick follow him on Facebook.

Camilo Serna 

Camilo is one of the best-known techno DJs from Medellín and Colombia. He is one of the original members of Intelligent Division (the first techno collective in the city) and has been djing for over ten years.

He has played at major events all over Colombia, Latin America, England and the USA. He spent a year in England and played at Ministry of Sound and Pacha. He has played alongside the world’s biggest techno names including Chris Liebing, Adam Beyer, Sven Vath, Derrick May, Mark Broom, Troy Pierce, Loco Dice, Marco Carola and loads more. For more information about Camilo follow him on Facebook and Soundcloud.

Special Offer for Medellín Living Readers

Future Underground at Mansion is offering a great deal for readers of Medellín Living. If you present either the flyer (above) on your phone or printed, you will receive two for one entry and a free shot.

Use together with code MLMANSION to take advantage of this special offer.

Mansion - Future Underground

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El Banana Splitter: Nightlife That Welcomes Diversity http://medellinliving.com/banana-splitter-nightlife-diversity/ http://medellinliving.com/banana-splitter-nightlife-diversity/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=27333 El Banana Splitter is an inclusive LGBT nightlife organization that has hosted theme parties every other month since June 2014.

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Although the name already suggests it all (the double meaning isn’t lost on anyone) El Banana Splitter is an inclusive gay nightlife organization founded by five paisas.

Together, they’ve hosted thematic nightlife events every other month in different venues around the city since June 2014.

I met with one of the founders, Juan Pablo Gomez, to hear more about what the organization does, where the idea came from and what it hopes to do in the future.

Juan Pablo Gomez, founder of The Banana Splitter

Juan Pablo Gomez, founder of El Banana Splitter

The Organizers

  • Juan Santiago Uribe: Artist. Contributes to the events with concept design.
  • Nicholas Diez: Interior Designer. Helps design the elaborate spaces that make up the scene for Banana Splitter parties.
  • Jorge Orozco: Fashion designer, owner of his own brand, Orozco on Vía Provenza.
  • Federico Castrillon: Graphic designer, jeweler, and DJ.
  • Juan Pablo Gomez: Art director and Producer. A publicist by profession, Juan Pablo learned about these types of events while living in Buenos Aires.

The Banana Splitter: An Itinerant Party

It’s an itinerant party, meaning it hardly ever takes place in the same venue. This gives them, the founders, the opportunity to innovate every time and create, from the original space, something completely different from what it was originally.

Venues have included La Isla, Bodegas de Pin Up, Discoteca Mia and Cameo Discoteca, all places that were starting to be forgotten and revived by the Splitter.

It’s called a gay party mainly from the fact that its five founders are gay. They play with the idea of the banana but define the parties as open to whoever wishes to experience something different. They feel that it’s a party that welcomes diversity and celebrates differences.

Support for the party has come from companies like Absolut, Man Hunt, Uber, Diesel, and Miller.

Juan Pablo began getting involved in this type of party planning and organization in Buenos Aires, where he attended the LOVE and MAMBA parties, among others. The format itself comes from these experiences.

It’s not about a party with a DJ which you attend, dance at, leave and forget. The Banana Splitter’s goal is to create an unforgettable experience every step of the way, from the invitation and entrance to the party itself, and even the bar.

Miss Universe

Miss Universe

Thematic Parties

The Banana Splitter is a completely visual experience. They enjoy using lots of color and tropical themes.

Keeping with their light-hearted spirit, the attendees tend to get very involved in the reenactment of the themes, dressing up and acting, all the while mocking the general uptightness of society.

Their parties have had themes that vary from “Jungle is Wild” to “The Banana Sacrifice” and their annual “Heavy X-mas.”

Their latest party took place on March 13th, which was chosen because it was a Friday and offered the perfect opportunity to throw a “Friday the 13th” movie-themed event.

The party incorporated everything from the 80s horror films, plus zombies, and, of course, their trademark bananas.

Future themes under consideration include a tropical party, a 90s party and a “Sweet 15.”

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th party

One-of-a-Kind Experience

Medellin didn’t have anything like this before. It’s exaggerated, it’s unconventional. So of course, Medellín hasn’t offered a nightlife event quite like this one. In its traditional Catholic past, it wasn’t an option.

Now, other major cities in Colombia like Cartagena, Cali, and Bogotá are calling El Banana Splitter, looking to have an away-based version. However, due to logistical challenges, that hasn’t been possible just yet.

In the beginning, the team would hire about six actors to attend the parties dressed up according to the theme, acting during the entire event. Now, they’ve seen that their guests become so involved that they only ask for a few actors for motivation.

Banana phone

Banana phone

The Future of Banana Splitter

This party in the next five years looks to reach a point where it isn’t taken as a “gay party.” This experience is crazy and fun, and that is what is interesting about it.

As Juan Pablo Gomez said to me:

I already see people of all kinds of sexual orientations at the parties, because there is nothing sexual about a nightlife event. You can hit on someone anywhere, a party is much more than that. It’s an experience that everyone should be a part of and not an exclusive “gay only” occasion.

The next party is on its way to being scheduled in late June and will celebrate the one year anniversary of the organization.

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La Bolsa Bar: Dining, Drinking and Dancing With a Twist http://medellinliving.com/la-bolsa-bar/ http://medellinliving.com/la-bolsa-bar/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 13:00:45 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=27339 La Bolsa Bar is a Poblado restaurant/bar that implements a dynamic Wall Street concept into its menu.

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That’s right, the three golden D’s of nightlife can be found at La Bolsa Bar, but the name isn’t for show. La Bolsa, which translates to “The Stock Market,” invites you to be a little playful.

The traditional “choose from the menu, eat it and pay the price shown” doesn’t completely come into play at this thriving Poblado restaurant.

The alcohol prices vary according to the supply and demand within the restaurant at the time. This way, the everyday diner can choose from prices according to their current place in the “stock.”

La Bolsa is hard to miss, located in the Rio Sur Mall in Poblado; its screens flash Avenida Poblado with the large arrows that show variations between market and current price.

The ambiance is unbelievable tranquil for a place right on Avenida Poblado. Although it’s inside the mall, the restaurant is off to the side of the building, separated from the street by glass walls, with an open sky.

The main floor is used mainly for dining, has a bar area and TV’s for sports fans, plays classic 80s and 90s music, and has dim lighting that gives the space a cozy but breezy outdoor night feel.

Screens that showed the "crashing" prices of alcohol at the restaurant that night.

Screens that showed the “crashing” prices of alcohol at the restaurant that night

The Menu

Their menu plays into their concept. A faux version of the paper La República includes the story behind the restaurant and a variety of dishes ranging from pastas and meats to salads and desserts, each one better than the last.

During the week, they offer specials for lunch designed for the many citizens that work in the area, all around 16,000 pesos ($7).

It was truly difficult to choose from all the dishes offered, but at last we came to a consensus on the appetizer: Salmon rolls filled with delicious ripe avocado, topped with black pepper.

Baby beef with salad and fries

Baby beef with salad and fries

Pasta Suprema

Pasta Suprema: Fettuccine with chicken, mushrooms and dried tomatoes.

For the next course, however, we took different paths, my partner choosing this tender baby beef and myself going for the Pasta Suprema, which were both served immediately after we finished our appetizer.

I was blown away by their exceptional fresh made pasta, which they offer in fettuccine, penne or spaghetti, depending on your taste.

Both dishes were perfect portions and excellent quality accompanied by attentive and polite service.

…Now for the Drinks and Dancing

Have some fun with it! Order from the screens and see how your order makes it spike or spiral. The change will be more dramatic depending on the time of day and the amount of people.

Just as with their food menu, the alcohol at La Bolsa is diverse. Whether it’s a cocktail you want or a cold beer, as I chose, it’s there for the ordering, and if you’re lucky, it’s on the screen next to a large red arrow pointing down.

If you feel like dancing, the second floor is equipped to take you in with an assortment of dance music that is sure to get you moving. Subtle neon lights jump across the room, and a row of tables give you the option of looking down at the restaurant from a balcony view.

I especially recommend the sort of dance scene offered on the second floor to the 40+ crowd and the wine lovers; the ambiance and the variety of great wines are sure to keep you coming back.

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Dinner was provided courtesy of La Bolsa; opinions are my own.

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Catedral Basílica Metropolitana: Medellín’s Most Important Church http://medellinliving.com/catedral-basilica-metropolitana/ http://medellinliving.com/catedral-basilica-metropolitana/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 13:00:30 +0000 http://medellinliving.com/?p=27369 Catedral Basílica Metropolitana is arguably the most important church in Medellín and is perhaps the largest church in the city.

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The Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción de María (Metropolitan Cathedral of Medellín) is the principal church of the Archdiocese of Medellín and is arguably the most important church in the city.

The large church is built in a Romanesque style with some Byzantine details. The Roman Catholic church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was built over a period of over 50 years from 1875 to the late 1920s.

The church was built using solid brick construction with about 1,120,000 adobe bricks, which makes it one of the largest baked clay structures in the world. The sizable church is impressive to see, and it has many beautiful pieces of artwork.

Catedral Basílica Metropolitana

Catedral Basílica Metropolitana

History of the Church

In 1868, the Bishop of Medellín and Antioquia, Valerio Antonio Jiménez, insisted on building the church. The church is built on land donated by engineer and English philanthropist Tyrrel Moore.

Construction of the church started in 1875 and continued until 1883 when construction was suspended due to the large scope of the building and claimed incompetence of the architect, Felipe Crosti.

Under Bishop Bernardo Herrera Restrepo, a second phase started in 1886. The previous design was discredited, and French architect Carlos Carré developed a new design.

The clock on the main facade of the church was donated by the former president of the State of Antioquia, Recaredo de Villa in 1910.

The main construction of the church was completed in 1917, and the first mass was held in the church that year. Additional work was done on the church after that time to add the altar, pulpit and other ornamental works plus make other changes to the church.

On August 11, 1931, the church was inaugurated as a cathedral. On June 12, 1948, Pope Pius XII granted the church the title “Basílica Menor”.

In March 1982, Catedral Basílica Metropolitana was declared a national monument of Colombia for being one the major architectural works in the country.

The central nave inside the church

The central nave inside the church

The right side aisle with confessionaries along the wall

The right side aisle with confessionals along the wall

Inside the Church

The interior of the large church is brick with many works of art, including paintings and sculptures by renowned artists.

One of the stained glass windows

One of the stained glass windows

Catedral Basílica Metropolitana also has 76 stained glass windows of various sizes. The stained glass windows were manufactured in Spain and designed in France by Giovanni Buscaglione.

The large organ in the church was built in Germany in 1932 and shipped to Colombia via boat and arrived in Medellín via train.

The church also has a small museum of religious art, which is located in a room next to the basilica, consisting of four rooms. Unfortunately, the museum is not open to the public.

The collection in the church museum includes about 40 paintings (from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries) and 15 sculptures (between the 18th and 19th centuries).

Inside the church

Inside the church

Renovation Work

In 2009, the organ was renovated at a cost of 630 million pesos (which is now about $249,000) with the German government contributing 70,000 Euros, as the organ is one of the few built before WWII that is still preserved.

Also contributing to the renovation that was completed in 2010 were the city of Medellín and Government in Antioquia as well as private companies.

Catedral Basílica Metropolitana needs more renovation work done based on a study to assess the condition of the building.

Nothing is critically wrong, but the cathedral has some structural deficiencies, settlements, cracks, moisture and deterioration of brick, which are to be expected of a large brick building this old.

Vendors in Parque Bolívar in front of the church

Vendors in Parque Bolívar in front of the church

How to Get There

Catedral Basílica Metropolitana is located in the Villanueva barrio of La Candelaria (El Centro) on the north side of Parque Bolívar. In Parque Bolívar, you will normally see many vendors.

The church is conveniently located about four blocks from the Prado metro station, so it is easy to get to. From the metro station, walk one block south on Bolívar and three blocks east on Calle 57 to get to the church.

Iglesia Jesús Nazareno is another notable church that is also located near the Prado metro on the other side of the metro line.

All the taxi drivers in the city also know where Catedral Basílica Metropolitana is located.

The cathedral is open mainly in the morning when masses are held hourly, and then it is typically closed in the afternoon and reopened for the last Mass of the day.

Around holidays, the church is normally open for more hours. The church is the site of a number of event celebrations each year such as religious ceremonies and holidays.

One of the many art pieces in the church

One of the many art pieces in the church

Note to Readers

This is the third church in Medellín we have looked at in a new series looking at the most notable churches in the city. We previously looked at Iglesia de la Veracruz and Iglesia Jesús Nazareno.

We plan to look at several more of the historic churches in Medellín over the next few months, as several of the beautiful churches are unfortunately missing from the travel guidebooks of Colombia.

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