Category Archives: A little bit of everything

Internet is booming in Colombia!

imagesLatin America must be one of the higher growth markets for “the internet” at the moment. Colombia has currently about 12million users and this number is growing with about 30-40% !!!!! a year. Actually I think we (as in my Colombian people and me 😉 ) are one of the bigger “communities” in what must be the most popular site worldwide of the moment; Facebook which I see as a great accomplishment for our third world country 😉

With a fast growing amount of users, Colombias internet economy is also growing fast. I read last week that payments through the internet grew by about 50% from last year so it seems that also business over the internet is going to be a very normal thing here soon. Slowly people are getting more confidence and we are seeing better (Colombian) made and more secure pages arriving to the market. Especially the younger crowd (more than elsewhere in the world) is leading this developments and is putting its time and effort in developing sites, ideas and business without any big investors backing them up for the moment, but they should soon wake up and smell the coffee.

watch-reloj-tokyo-flash-pimp-p2_a_MEDFor me these developments are great as I live without the internet would be a little boring; the more internet the better! 😉  Without internet I could not know how to write “guevón” (popular word among Colombians that is kind of offensive except when used with friends), how my friend in Holland is doing with his new baby, when there will be another family meeting or I would not have the cool watch that I found at www.mundounik.com, a Colombian webstore that sells some crazy watches.

Hopefully this development of the internet will continue for a long time as it is not only good for the economy (ie. it has created big opportunities for outsourcing in LA) but also the general education level of the Colombians must be rising fast with the increasing access to global news and resource information.

My refrigerator is sending me an email that we are out of tomatoes so got to order some from Carulla and make luch…

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Caraluna – Bacilos (Music)

With a group of Ecuadorians, a Colombian singer forms the group Bacilos that has might some very nice songs, always reminding me of my first trip to Latin America, Guatemala.

My big brother was traveling at the time from Mexico to the South of South America, but somehow a girl made him stop in Guatemala and interrupt his 6 month trip after only being on the road for two weeks!!!

Of course my parents wanted to see what was going on after my brother stayed in Guatemala the whole year and we made a trip together to visit. Driving around the country with his girl behind the wheel and in control of the radio, we heard the full CD of Bacilos maybe 200 times and this was one of the songs:

An interesting time and great memories. Last March we went again, but this time to see them get married ;). Little late bro! I beat you to it!

CHICAS LINDAS! (Pretty ladies)

By far Colombia has the most beautiful women in the world.

taliana vargas Miss Colombia

Even though Venezuela won the Miss Universe last time it is clear that Colombia should have won as Colombianas are a special treat. Before meeting any, my now brother in law (Guatemalan) told me that the Colombianas were something to look out for. He and his friends could not stop talking about them and not knowing any I could just nod my head in agreement. Little did I know that about a year later I would be studying in Barcelona in the mix of a very international crowd including; COLOMBIANAS. As happened with many nationalities, the Colombians found each other fast in the university and through the Colombians in my class I got introduced to my current wife. I had never met anyone like her. A graceful and fun girl, strong of character, difficult to figure out and with the most beautiful emerald green eyes that got me locked into her from day one. We only got together after a few months of game play, but when we finally did we got married within a year and this was now almost 4 years ago. Blond haired, green eyed babies will follow soon…;)

sofia-vergara-5Colombianas (and the same I think goes for many other Latinas) take really good care of their appearance and they dress always as if there is a party that they might have to go to at some point of the day. I don’t think they even sell sweatpants for women here!! Walking on the streets or in the malls you will find that there are many exotic women walking around that will easily make your head spin and especially Medellin is known for harvesting beauty on a regular basis. The obsession with beauty actually seems to be somewhat extreme for outsiders as the amounts of beauty pageants is astounding. I think there are at least 300 Misses a year crowned, anywhere from Miss “Corn” to Miss “little village in the middle of the jungle” and plastic surgery is an amazingly booming business.

Anyway, I love the Colombian women and especially mine. Lindis, if you read this, please do not get mad for writing about other pretty women hehe. No need to be jealous ok? haha

On behalf of the male population of this country: Colombianas, please always stay feminine and keep dressing the way you do, we will be watching 😉

To finish off some examples to show you what I mean;

Taliana Vargas(1)

Valerie Dominguez2

Valerie Dominguez

Paola Turbay

Maria Victoria Montoya (La Toya)

Carolina Gomez

Carolina Castro2

Andre Serna2

ana_sofia_henaosofia_vergara_04ana_sofia_henao02

If you want to see more: www.soho.com.co (famous Colombian site with many pinups)

WARNING: TELMEX SUCKS!!

telmex-idiotsOut of pure frustration with this nonsense company, I need to warn everyone about Telmex, a provider of telephone, tv and internet in Colombia. If you are thinking of getting any of these service, please I beg you, do not use Telmex.Really, I will pay you for not taking a contract with them. Together we can get them out of the country…pretty please?

Telemex´s owner, Mr. Slim, is one the richest people in the world, but you really must wonder why? I have never seen such an incompetent company and I have had some crazy experiences already before with Chinese!

First of all, the service was amazingly bad. Internet went out every other day because (according to their help desk) there was a line broken, they were doing updates, someone farted, anyway, it did not work. Besides that, they changed their tv system to a digital one, which also took out the option of changing channels to their original English version. So now you are stuck watching Lost in Spanish, which really is not the same.

etb-friendsSo we decided to cancel the account and move to ETB. Luckily we had complaint many times and they had to accept our cancellation because of bad service (this is a new law in Colombia). But than the problems started.

The technician that was supposed to come (which is a department outsourced by Telmex), never showed up. So we kept calling and calling and finally they told us to go to their customer service office and hand in the decoder etc and pay a little fine. After paying I think about 6USD in fine, they gave us a letter that said that everything was in paz y salvo (basically we had followed all our obligations and were done, no more invoices, nothing).

So, so far not that bad, but than we received the next month another invoice from them. After again calling and again being sent to their office, they immediately realized they made a mistake and canceled the invoice. But they still did not completely close our account. So every month we are receiving a new invoice and people start calling us that we did not pay yet. Turns out that still that lazy technician from the beginning has to come and shut down the line (whatever that may mean). Each time we call Telmex, they say they will call us within72hours, but nobody every calls. So we are stuck in the machine that is called help desk and are already waiting for 2 months for someone to call. No other solutions are available according to their employees…

Tomorrow we are going to their office again and I will not leave before the solve this issue, but lets see, I might be there until the next year. My god what a shitty company and how unfortunate that companies have still so much power over consumers. Time to go into politics and straighten things out for good!!

So Mr. Slim if you read this, please be noted that your whole Colombia operation sucks gigantically and if you really want to put a decent company here,  send me an email. I will reply you within 72 hours hahahhahaha

Privacy in Colombia

question-markAlmost everytime we go to a shop to buy things like clothes or electrodomestics, at the register they start by asking either mine or my wifes Cedula number (ID). Sometimes we are not paying attention and just give it, which leads to the next questions: what is your name, where do you live, phonenumber, email address etc?

The first time this happened to me I did not think about it too much and gave them my information as it was a famous clothing store here (Arturo Calle) and did not worry too much about them using the information wrongly. The second time they asked me somewhere, I just asked them why they needed it and the reply was a simple: “I have no idea”.

store-clerk-1

The third time a store asked me for all these details, I actually wanted to see what happened if I would refuse to give it. Amazingly in that particular store, they said they could not sell anything to me if I did not give them any information!! I was probably “lucky” and had the only clerk in Colombia that would not just make up a name and address, but anyway, it happened and I left the store semi-mad. From then on I decide that I was going to have a fake name: Oscar Ortiz and my address, phone number and Cedula are very flexible.

Now I don’t want to scare anyone, but most know that in its history Colombia has had a big problem with kidnapping, which luckily has changed a lot in recent years. Besides this there are cases known where people try to find out as much information as they can and they get you involved in their scam. Actually everywhere in the world, people are getting more aware of things like identity and bank fraud, but here it seems nobody is really worried when it comes to this particular situation. In other situations (like over the phone, or when meeting new people) many people are actually extremely cousious here with giving information.

idtheft-1I am not particularly worried of being kidnapped, as I own no more than the couch I am sitting on and the bed I sleep in (which both are very comfortable by the way), but I find it amazing that people are so easy in giving all their information to what basically is a stranger. It even goes so far that on the receipt that you have to sign when you pay something with a debit or credit card, you have to add your ID number and leave your phone number! So now they have your credit card number, a magnetic copy of your card, your signature, your ID number, your name and everything else they would need to clone you or your cards (accept for a picture, but that should not be too hard to fake)

It says on the receipts that the DIAN (government) is obliging everyone to fill in the details correctly and that they might check these receipts to see if you have. Well if they ever want to visit Oscar Ortiz, they can give me a call and I will happily pass and explain to them my objections to this way of dealing with peoples privacy.

Ah no wait!! they don’t have my number!!!hehehe

Bodyguards, blinded cars and convoys

bodyguardsOne of the things you will have to get used to living in Bogota are the people driving around with bodyguards in their armored cars with blinded windows and possibly a guy on a motorcycle two meters behind them.

Regularly you will see one or more Toyota(s) or other brand of SUV with some blinking lights and/or a siren to warn you to get out of the way (or get run over hehe).  These cars are normally used by high police or military officers, politicians, diplomats or by rich people. For “normal” people  there really is no need (or money) for these cars but I imagine that if you have a lot in the bank or are important in some way, it might not be a bad idea to get some extra protection on the road. Even if it would be just to frighten that idiot driving in front of you that does not want to go out of the way. The added benefit is that you do not have the limitation of car use called pico y placa that everone else has!

armoured-car-1

So, now that our “fantastic” mayor Mr. Moreno has decided that we can not use our car two full days during the week, I was looking on how to get around this issue so I would actually be able to go places. A friend told me that me being a foreigner would probably make it relatively easy to get a license to armor my car, but at the same time it would damage my car due to the remodeling and the sheer weight of the special glass, it would make it hard to sell my car, my gasoline consumption would go steeply up and besides that I have the impression that I would actually draw more attention to myself than makes any sense. If you want to stay out of harms way, it might be a better idea to stay out of its sight first!

So no armored car for me and also no bodyguards. Besides not having the money for it, I simply do not need it and if I would feel that I would need special protection to be able to live here, I would leave right away. Ah and for getting around this pico placa nonsense, I have some other ideas that I am going to try out!

Happy Colombians

While reading this text, listen to this song please:

Have you already noticed that most Colombian music is very positive, happy, uplifting? After my teenage years were over I started to dislike all the dramatic music & movies and other drama in whatever art form. Life really is too short to add artificial drama to it! Maybe that is also what attracts me to the life and lifestyle here. Of course people are not 100% happy all the time, but they prefer to forget about their worries and live life to the max.

In various studies over the recent years it has shown that Colombians are amongst the most happiest people in the world.  Surrounded by far wealthier countries like Denmark, Canada and my own birthplace The Netherlands, Colombia took the bronze medal in a research done by Businessweek:

http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/aug2008/gb20080820_874593.htm

An outtake: “Today it’s the world’s third happiest country, but “cocaine” and “cartel” are traditionally more easily associated with Colombia than “carefree” and “contented.” The change: Surging tourism and economic growth have accompanied the South American country’s efforts in recent years to reassert control over its decades-old rebel violence and lucrative drug operations. Even though per capita income is far lower than in the top 10 countries, Colombia’s literacy rate is 94%, well above the world average. And the ethnically tolerant country supports thriving coastal communities of Arabs, Jews, Italians, Germans, French, Portuguese, and Roma descendants.

In daily life I notice that people do not look that far ahead as in the Netherlands, they take things more per day and enjoy as long as it lasts. I read this afternoon a nice phrase: put two Colombians together and you have a party!

Btw. the song played is “Quiero verte sonreir” from Carlos Vives and translates to: “I want to see you smile”…enough said!