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Living in Colombia question; non-ESL related

 
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talktome



Joined: 26 Jun 2010
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:53 am    Post subject: Living in Colombia question; non-ESL related Reply with quote

I posted here a couple of years ago about the expat life in Colombia before I went on my trip.
I am glad I went.
I used to think people were a few nuts short of a fruitcake when they said they loved it there. They're right.
I stayed in the city of Popayan, the capital of Cauca province, it was amazing. I taught for 6 years in South Korea and my best friend who is married and still living there, said that living in a cozy little pocket of a country would be worth it, again, I ate my words. I loved the friendliness of the people (I'll talk about the flip side in a moment) and just the whole schbang.
I did have a chance to ho on a visa run to Tulcan across the frontier from Ipiales and stayed there for 4 days (out of those 4 days I was there, I only spoke English for about 30 minutes- saying hi to my dad and then impressing a Colombian chick who was hotter than the sun). After being there to see the battle royale being played out at the city square, with the cops acting as security for a UFC match in addition to taking bets from both the teens and other cops and the rowdiness that came with a Friday night.
I had a good chance to compare the 2 and for me at least, Colombia was better, hands down.
Now here's the drawback and one of the reasons for this post.
Upon returning from my run to the border, the bus stopped at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Pasto, After leaving Pasto's city limits, there was a lor more police/paramilitary activity than normal. Then we reached the last but heavily guarded checkpoint where we had to wait 2 hours until all 6 buses leaving from Pasto and nearby were all lined up to be escorted into Popayan. I asked my friend what was going on and he didn't say a word until we got off the bus. That's I found out that 'someone' had 'tipped off' the rebels in the area that a foreigner was traveling by bus (I wonder who that could be....hmm). Don't worry, I didn't believe it either until 2 weeks later after I arrive back in the states, an American guy was traveling by bus (in a different area) and a group boarded the bus and took him captive.

However, all things considered, it was a nice trip and I fell in love with the country.
I guess I loved my experience because I made friends before I left who helped me out during that trip. However if I were to go back, I intend on possibly going to a little more cosmopolitan setting.
Visa issues are taken care of because I qualify for a Pensionado visa, which is good for a year but could be renewed up to the 5 year mark.

Here is the meat and potatoes of the post;

Although Colombians are friendly, they tend to try to sneak one on you when you least expect it. Luckily I had friends who pointed that out. But again, this trip would be a solo trip and, for those of you who live in the cities (especially near the coast) how did you guys manage within the first year or first 2 years of your stay? I know some of you guys also had no ability to speak Spanish when you arrived, although I can hold a conversation with a third grader (proven), I still sounded like the Spanish equivalent of Yoda. How did you manage to communicate with people during this initial phase.
A lot of people told me before to simply go there and dive right in. That would be awesome if I were in my 20's, not someone who is as old and unwise as me. And since the media is pushing Colombia as an ideal place to retire, how did you more experienced folks manage until you got the swing of things?

I had been a member of this board since 2003 and I trust a lot of what is said here and I would like to get some suggestions and advice on this because I do love it there tremendously

Hopefully this won't get pushed to the bottom.

Thanks
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leretif9



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, and thanks for your post.

Regarding this:

"Although Colombians are friendly, they tend to try to sneak one on you when you least expect it..."

What are you talking about? I don't understand what you are saying.

Also. you make an issue of your age. How old were you when you were in Colombia?
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EFL Educator



Joined: 17 Jul 2013
Posts: 505

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I agree Colombia is a really nice place to live and retire and the people are very friendly. I used to date a girl from there decades ago and she was also very nice. Teaching English there is another story....you will be lucky to earn enough money just to make ends meet! Shocked
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leretif9



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi EFL educator: have you taught ESL in Colombia?

In the United States you are luck if you can pay your bills from what you earn. I'd rather give Colombia a try.
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EFL Educator



Joined: 17 Jul 2013
Posts: 505

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I taught in Colombia some time ago...for about 3 years.. It is a wonderful place to live..but as I said previously it was difficult to save any money teaching English...back then I was earning about $7 an hour teaching some 20 hours a week at an international school. Good luck!
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leretif9



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What years were you teaching there? And how did you find your ESL work?
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EFL Educator



Joined: 17 Jul 2013
Posts: 505

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I was there in the mid 80's....teaching English was a good experience there the locals were very welcoming and friendly then. I alsot learned how to speak Spanish. Altogether was an adventure of sorts. Money wasn't enough for me to stay there had no savings then so moved on to greener pastures. Smile
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leretif9



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your insights here.

I've never been a saving-money guy, anyway, so that's not a problem for me. Uncle-Sam-Land is the land of paycheck-to-paycheck poverty, and the people of Colombia sound far preferable to what we are like in the U.S. I include myself in that as well.
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talktome



Joined: 26 Jun 2010
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I taught for 6 years in South Korea and traveled around the region.
However, I won't be going to Colombia for work. It is more about relaxing and enjoying the environment and the people.

I did have a chance to visit a language center downtown in popayan, The teachers I've talked to say the work visa is a hassle and some had been there a year and still waiting for it.

The visa I will get is a retirement visa- a person can get it as long as you meet the criteria. General the main requirement is to be able to show an income that are is more than the averge salary of a local.
My pension is 5 times that so I was told by the Colombian consulate in New York City that I qualify for the visa, which is for a year, before can be renewed up until the 5th year mark where I would qualify for residency.

If I do go back I'd love to stay in a xoastal city, Yet I get the impression that it is expensive because that is where foreigners go to for vacation.
But I'm thinking of going to Medellin which seems to have an awesome transport system.

What I was talking about is being taken advantage of.
Based on what I've seen when I was living with a family as a homestay unless you speak Spanish or/and know things, they tend to take the chance to rip you off. I was lucky that the family I was staying with helped me a little, but if I go back this time, I'd be going solo.

So what cities are somewhat foreigner-friendly?
For those living on the coast, is the cost of living there more expensive living in the interior of the country?

I should have been more specific with my question, thanx for pointing that out for me.
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