A coffee farmer inspects his crop in Colombia's southwestern Cauca department. By Neil Palmer (CIAT). Some rights reserved

MEDELLÍN — Today, the usual chill of Bogotá is a memory while I soak up the eternal spring warmth of Medellín, Colombia’s second city. All around me ferns, palms and old hardwoods compete to see which can pop in a green burst against the impossibly blue sky and soaring mountains cradling this city. After the grey grime of Bogotá, it’s like I’ve forgotten what colors are.

My first impressions of Medellín are that it’s spotlessly clean, populated by beautiful, laid-back people. It’s a far cry from the high, cold capital where white collar workers with panicked, strained expressions pack the buses as they rush to work at 6 a.m. Medellín is a serious temptation as the place to live in Colombia. Read More

Mike Snowden, of Gadling.com, drew my attention with his find of possibly the least practical map of a round-the-world trip using only surface travel. It’s from Reddit user e80die, who posted it as a thought experiment while he was laid up with a broken leg. He wanted to work out a path to visit the all countries in the world a single path. Read More

Over on Medium, James Simpson has a post on how some game makers are getting into the language learning business. Given my current obsession with learning Spanish, this seemed like a good opportunity to go over some of the technological aids you can use for buffing your foreign language chops.


Verbling‘s an interesting creature. It’s essentially a language yenta, matching up people who want to practice in each others’ languages using video chats. I have numerous people from Spanish-speaking countries who have requested opportunities to practice their English with me. (I’m very popular in Spain for some reason.) In turn, I get to torture them with my bad Spanish. Read More

By Matthew Riche (TheMatty).TheMatty at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Greetings all. My apologies for the radio silence, but since my yagé adventure, I’ve calmed down and have taken to settling in in Bogotá.

What does this mean? It means I’ve decided to make Bogotá home, at least for now. It means getting a job teaching english, working on my spanish and planning trips to friends in Brazil and Argentina.

Since my last posts, I’ve moved out of La Candelaria and up to Chapinero Alto. Candelaria was a lovely neighborhood, full of history, art, funky students and some excellent cafés. Unfortunately, it’s also weirdly cut off from the rest of the city if you’re reliant, as I am, on public transportation. It’s also blighted a bit by petty crime such as muggings, thanks to the high concentration of foreign tourists. And since my english teaching involves giving classes at 6:30 a.m. — a crime against humanity, if you ask me — in the more northernly parts of the city, I had to leave mi casa when it was still dark and creepy. Read More

My father, the diver

My father, the diver

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Happy fathers’ day to dads, stepdads, father-figures and all those old dudes who provide guidance and wisdom to the younger generation, whether they’re related by blood or not.

My father died in December 2008. We had been estranged for years, thanks to his alcoholism and my stubbornness. We were just starting to get to know one another again, and I wish I had made more of an effort.

I’m going to cheat now and instead of baring my own soul regarding my father, I’ll point out someone else who can expresses similar feelings. The difference is she got a chance to rebuild a relationship.

My step-father is thankfully still around and making my mom happy. He was also a father-figure to me, teaching me to play the saxophone and helping instill in me a lifelong love of jazz.

Don’t waste time. Take today to say hey to an older, wiser guy you look up to. Because never forget that age and treachery will almost always beat youth and skill, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to get on their good side.