Tag Archives: international


Café en la Calle

Café en la Calle

Just about anywhere in B’quilla, you can get a cup of coffee right on the street. Vendors wheel carts with several thermoses. Using a wooden paddle like the one you see here, vendors can prepare several cups, large and small, at once. There’s milk and sugar to add in and you can get a pancito (small piece of bread) too. Who needs Starbucks anyway!


Show me the money!!! Or at least explain the exchange rate.

$20,000 peso bill, back and front. $1,000 peso bill. $5,000 peso bill. My niece recently gave me a lesson in how to tell if bills are counterfeit.

One of the challenges for a NorteAmericano in Colombia – at least for one like me who is not so great at mathematical estimates – is the exchange rate. Right now, it’s roughly 1,800 Colombian pesos to the dollar. So a bottle of Coke might be $3,000 (the symbol for the peso is the same as for the dollar – $) and your groceries might cost $248,000. We bought a queen size mattress the other day and the cost was over $1 million. It’s hard not to feel an initial sense of shock when you hear the number. Continue reading

We Won the Shipping Lottery, or How I Lessened My Attachment to Material Things

The process of establishing our new home continues. Our shipment from Miami arrived, but the entire crate (they build a crate for your boxes when shipping internationally) was accidentally left outside at the Port for two weeks. It rained heavily on Wednesday. Our customs agent (you have to hire this person to get your stuff out out of the Port since you are not allowed in) called with the bad news that everything is soaked.


Most likely the bulk of it is ruined.  The rest, we have been told, is already growing mold. Continue reading

Driving Mr. Baby – In Colombia

The infamous baby car seat and Gio installing it.

The infamous baby car seat and Gio installing it.

Ah, the baby’s car seat. Rarely does such an accepted feature of toddler life in the U.S. raise so many issues when traveling abroad. Like most parents, Gio and I are extremely vigilant about the safety of our baby. After being informed by a pediatrician friend and fellow mom that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of accidental death for children traveling abroad, we committed ourselves to using the car seat during our time in Colombia. Continue reading

“It’s Almost Like He’s a Colombian Citizen!”

If you’ve been following our apartment quest, you’ll recall from this post that we got permission from Citibank in Bogotá to open an account here in Barranquilla. We filed all the paperwork last Friday (a week ago) and were told that it would be open by Tuesday. On Tuesday, the bank representative told us Wednesday. On Wednesday, we were told that there was still no reply. On Thursday (yesterday), my husband Gio decided to do what generally seems to work best – go ask in person.

When Gio walked into the banker’s office, she was on the phone with Bogotá concerning our account. Apparently, they declined to open it because Gio did not have his cédula, or Colombian ID card. Continue reading

Holy cow, we all have health insurance!

All three of us – my husband, my 1 year-old son, and myself – now have health insurance in Colombia. Even with top-of-the-line full coverage, our monthly payment will be less than half of what insurance for my husband and son alone (not including me) cost in the States. We are self-employed, and so insurance in the U.S. has always cost us a lot. It’ll be interesting to see how well this insurance works, but the coverage and available doctors and facilities seem excellent and the immediate savings are a huge weight lifted from our shoulders.