Category Archives: colombia

Atletico Nacional wins the Colombian champs (again)!

Out in Cartagena, Colombia last night and I walked into a restaurant to have dinner and discovered the final match of the Colombian football championships was on. Imagine my delight when I discovered that Independiente Santa Fe (Bogotá) was playing Atlético Nacional (Medellín), in an almost identical repeat of the national championship game I watched eight years ago when I was working as an MBA student intern in Medellin. It was a nice little trip down memory lane, and even more so, when Nacional won last night’s game 2-0, same as it did eight years ago. In total, it has won 12 times, and is the second-most successful team nationally, according to Wikipedia. Soy feliz! Soy verde!

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Cheering on Nacional in Parque Lleras in Medellin. The team lost this game on 19th June, 2005 against Tolima (2-4) but went on to win the national championships one week later.

La Guajira, Colombia

I am traveling in the Department of La Guajira, a wild stretch of north-eastern Colombia which lies near the Venezuelan border. The coastline is known for its windswept beaches, fantastic sunsets, hammock life and remote location. Apparently it is difficult to get to.

The journey by road should be about twelve hours door to door. It will start with a three-hour bus ride from Cartagena to Santa Marta. From there, four more hours on a different bus to Riohacha – the last major transit point before our destination of Cabo de La Vela. Cabo is a bay around which are scattered indigenous Wayuu villages, in which local people have set up “rancherias”: homesteads with thatched-roof huts serving fresh seafood, beer and offering a simple hammock in which to spend the night. Cabo is about two hours from Riohacha although we are not sure if there is bus service to get there. Transport might involve hitching a ride or sharing a taxi with others.

All electronics except for the camera have been left behind. Will post some pictures when I am back! For now, here is one I grabbed off the net.

Cabo de la Vela
(Image credit: Posadas Turisticas de Colombia
http://www.posadasturisticasdecolombia.com/destino.php?des_nombre=cabo-de-la-vela)

Cartagena, Colombia

This morning I arrived to Cartagena, Colombia to celebrate the arrival of 2013. Cartagena is a hot and humid city on the Caribbean coast of this country, which is located in north-western South America. I lived in Cartagena for several months in 2003 as an international exchange student from Concordia University. Although I was here just six to eight weeks ago I found a very good reason to come back and celebrate the New Year.

Drunk on life

Ever since a crazy, frightening plane ride into Bogota a few weeks ago, I’ve been contemplating the prospect of death at an early age. The thought that keeps coming to my head is wow, if I died tomorrow, I would feel like I have no regrets, few wasted moments, so many beautiful adventures, much love and happiness, and have learned so much about people and the planet we live on, what scares me, what drives me. But for now, there is so much I have left to experience and for as long as I am alive, I am going to drink life as if its a glass of fine wine and the bottle never goes empty. DRUNK on life! Have a great day friends!

Mi familia colombiana

I present to you my familia colombiana in Cartagena, eating steak at a local restaurant. :) At top is Martha who I’ve known for the last 9 years and her baby girl Sophie who has the most delightful personality. On the right are her parents Don Alvaro and Doña Margot who are deeply in love after many years of marriage. :) On the left is Alvarito her brother who has taken me as a brother of his own. :) (Missing is the middle sister Angelica who lives in Bogota. Fortuna tuya cuando proximamente te veo!)

Los quiero mucho!!They have been taking care of me for most of the last two weeks. I can’t think of any way to thank them enough. Hanging out with them has given me new insight into life here on the coast – which I did not see enough of when I lived here in 2003.

En Medellín, pues!

I arrived yesterday in the city of Medellin, Colombia, a place where many dear memories were born. Medellin is a large city in central Colombia known for its temperate climate, mountainous terrain, reddish-brown rooftops and lush tree-lined streets. In 2005 I lived and worked here for two and a half months and have visited several times since. This visit will be mostly a working vacation, with dinners and drinks with my closest friends.

Celebrating a win of Nacional de Medellin, in the “Copa Mustang” of 2005

My first 602 intake

schulichI’ve spent the last couple of  hours preparing for my first 602 intake.  If you’re reading this and you’re not familiar with the 602, it’s probably because you’re not a Schulich MBA or IMBA student.  The 602 is an eight to ten month strategic consulting project that groups of Schulich MBA students engage in as part of their degree requirements.  Our group is still searching for a client site, and since we’re International MBA students, we’ve been focusing on our chosen region – Latin America.  Although we’ve had a couple of good prospects, nothing’s been secured yet.  Tomorrow I have a meeting with a Colombian company to assess whether they would be a good fit for our 602 project.  I’m a little nervous as it will be my first real consulting “intake”, on my own, in a foreign language, with no industry experience to rely on.  I’ve been preparing an agenda and reading up on the industry, but it looks like it’ll come down to me just jumping in with both feet and see what comes of it!  Wish me luck ;)

Pant cuffs are in, in Colombia

Toshiba Exif JPEG
Women’s pant cuffs
(Photo: http://members.shaw.ca/annsdolls3/2004_Seperates_White.htm, page no longer exists)

In North America, businessmen (and women I suppose) don’t have cuffs on their pants.  Apparently it’s only a European thing.  Well, I have just noticed that pant cuffs are the style for work dress in Colombia.  Yet another reason for me to feel like I “fit in” here!  BTW – that photo shows a random photo of women’s pant cuffs – those aren’t my feet!  It was the only photo I could find on google of pant cuffs!

I’m just procrastinating

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Dell Inspiron 1550

It’s a sunny Saturday in Medellín and it looks like I’ll be spending it working on those papers I was talking about a couple of weeks ago.  Yeah… I’m still working on them… I’m such a lazy ass – I have absolutely no energy or motivation to do these things right now!  A word of caution:  seizing the day is sometimes just an excuse for procrastination! Anyway, the extensions are until early this coming week so the pressure should force me to finish this stuff.  There’s a bright side though … it’s a holiday weekend which means many people are off at some finca for the weekend with their families. Since I don’t know that many people yet, there aren’t too many distractions… but still… painful!

Working in Colombia

medellin
Medellin: City of the eternal spring
(Photo credit: El Instituto para el Desarrollo de Antioquia en http://www.idea.gov.co/)

Hey, I finally arrived here in Medellín late Sunday night to start the work-term portion of my Schulich iMBA degree!  I’m so happy to be back in Colombia.  I never ever thought I would get the chance to come back here for such a long period of time … perhaps a 2-week paseo but never for 2 months, and certainly not to Medellín!  More on that later … for now I figured I’d post a small update about what’s it like to get a work visa for a foreign country!

The work visa requirements for this country are pretty extensive.  The Colombian company I’m working for had to get all kinds of documents from the government before I could submit my application for the visa.  But overall I was impressed with the efficiency and speed of the process.  From start to finish it took 3 weeks and there were no problems at all organising things with my employer, the Colombian government, or the Colombian consulate in Montreal.

Work Visa Requirements for Colombia

  1. completed application form

  2. valid passport (at least 6 months remaining before expiration)

  3. certificate of education legalised by a Colombian consul, ambassador or the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

  4. certificate from the local Cámara de Comercio attesting to the company’s legal existence

  5. certificate of proportionality from the Ministerio de Protección Social

  6. original contract of employment legalised & notarised by a Colombian public notary

  7. original letter from the employer accepting financial responsibility for the applicant

  8. 3 passport pictures.

    Actual processing time at the Colombian Consulate in Montreal: 2 days

    Source: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Colombia (http://portal.minrelext.gov.co/portal/webdriver.exe?MIval=co_vi_co_requisitos.html no longer works)

So that’s a little about the process of the work visa… The working culture here is something else altogether.  A little more on that now, and perhaps a lot more at a later date.

The company I’m working for operates locally and is in the knowledge management consulting industry.  In the photo above, we are located where the red circle is.  I don’t live too far from there, about five blocks.  I’m working as an analyst here but I can’t say much more about my project.  The truth is though, I could not have picked a better job had I been presented with a list of alternatives.  The working atmosphere is very relaxed and not at all stressful, the people are super cool and friendly, and the work I’m doing is fascinating.  The job is directly aligned with many of my personal interests – think “seize the day”.  The company I work for is essentially based on the value of self-improvement of character.

I’ll be working here until the end of July when I’ll have a couple of weeks to relax before heading to Brazil for the exchange portion of the iMBA.  The project I’m working on is so interesting that I’ll happily be continuing it part-time after I leave…