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An American Living in Colombia

Updated on June 27, 2012
debbiepinkston profile image

Debbie is a licensed counselor in the state of Arkansas. She lived in Venezuela and worked with a local orphanage there for many years.

With my husband at Parque El Cafe near Pereira, Colombia. A thematic park all about the coffee growing, picking, drying, roasting process.
With my husband at Parque El Cafe near Pereira, Colombia. A thematic park all about the coffee growing, picking, drying, roasting process.

I Love it Here!

I live in Pereira, Colombia, in the heart of coffee country, part of the year. My husband grew up picking coffee at his uncle's farm. We have enjoyed travelling around this beautiful country, enjoying the hikes through rain forests, eating a hole-in-the-wall restaurants, watching the sunset every evening, and laughing with happy, hard working, optimistic Colombians.

I hope to share a realistic view of what it's like for an American living in Colombia. Most of it will be positive, some will be not-so-positive, but ultimately I hope readers will be inspired to travel here and see a different side of Colombia.

Something I have noticed in Colombia is that EVERYONE is hard working. Even those with a disability are on the streets, selling chewing gum, pens and pencils, cell phone chargers, or anything they can get. Today I saw a crippled young man selling padlocks, a "little person" managing a newsstand, a woman who had been a burn victim selling reading glasses, and the list could go on and on. Everywhere you look, people are braving the heat and the car exhaust, trying to sell something or offer some service. In many stores, they will bend over backwards to find what you are looking for, even it means getting it from a competitor. One day I was looking for a brown handbag in a particular style. The salesperson stated that they didn't carry that style in brown, but she said "Un momento por favor!" She ran out the door and down the sidewalk a few feet to another store, and came back smiling, with the brown handbag I was looking for. I see them work tirelessly to serve their customers, and not just "tourists". I so admire the Colombian people!

I don't consider myself a tourist anymore because I live here half the year, 3 months at a time. Our marriage is somewhat unconventional-we both maintain homes, mine in the U.S. and his in Colombia, and we each take care of all expenses of our respective homes. Yes, it's more expensive this way, but we are always happy to be reunited after a 3 month separation. I think we also enjoy our times of independence! We didn't meet on the internet, but as many couples do find each other online, more and more couples are entering in a marriage such as ours, with his/hers homes, and lots of travelling! I will write a hub about long-distance marriages in the future.

I love sitting in my living room in Colombia in the afternoons, watching the sunset above the bamboo thicket, listening to the parrots who love to perch there. I love the 70-80 degree weather year round in Pereira, and I certainly don't miss the U.S. winters. I truly feel like I have the best of both worlds!

Thinks to do in "Coffee Country":

-Parque El Cafe, a thematic park, with a nice walk through the coffee plantation, with stations that explain the various aspects of the coffee production process. They have a great show with spectacular costumes, music and dancing, all centered on the history of coffee. The show is a great opportunity to get off your feet. The park has various restaurants, rides for the kids, a water park, a petting zoo, and much much more! And of course, the Juan Valdez coffee shop! Entrance fee ranges between $18-30, depending on what you wish to do in the park.

-Parque Confamiliar, 11km west of Pereira on the way to Cartago: a water park, zoo, sugar cane process, local arts and crafts, hydroponic gardening, beautiful flowers, birds and butterflies. Entrance fee: $5-7 for adults, $3-5 for children.

-Hike to La Pastora. La Pastora is a station on way to Lago el Otun, which is near the Nevado el Ruiz, a snow covered mountain near Manizales. To get to La Pastora, you drive or ride to La Florida (good bus transportation), then catch the "Chiva", the colorful OLD bus to ride the one hour ride to Cedral, where the road ends. The hike to La Pastora took us 3 hours of intense hiking over boulders, through mud, river beds, over logs, and lots of rocks. At one point a bull was in our path and we had to wait until he decided to move along. At La Pastora there is a simple restaurant and hostel. There is also a campground and many people take their tents and stay overnight on their way up to the Lago el Otun. We ate lunch and started back down the mountain. I thought the descent would be easier than going uphill, but I was wrong. The rocks were slippery and the mud was hard to avoid. I suggest rubber boots! My hiking boots got a good breaking in.

-Salento, a small town in the mountains where there are many craft and souvenir shops, restaurants, and local festivities.

My favorite thing to do in the small towns around Pereira is to sit in a coffee shop or bakery on the town plaza and watch the people!

The sunset as seen from our living room.
The sunset as seen from our living room.
One of the parrots regularly visits his friend.
One of the parrots regularly visits his friend.
Someone has a green thumb!
Someone has a green thumb!
Typical colonial house.
Typical colonial house.
The church at Manizales.
The church at Manizales.
Stained glass windows in Manizales church.
Stained glass windows in Manizales church.
My new friends.
My new friends.
On the road to La Florida.
On the road to La Florida.
Everyday the sunset is different!
Everyday the sunset is different!
Flower market
Flower market

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    • debbiepinkston profile image
      Author

      Debbie Pinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Wow Val! What a coincidence! Hope you can visit someday. It truly is beautiful!

    • MyGalVal profile image

      Valeria Rocio Huertas 4 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Your article was very refreshing! I loved how you described the beauty of Colombia and its people. By the way, your hipusband looks like my cousin Emilio....who also lives inPereira...lol. One day I hope to make it out to the cafe region del pais. Take care

    • debbiepinkston profile image
      Author

      Debbie Pinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Hi fellow North American married to a Colombian! Yes we definitely have the best of both worlds! There are so many misconceptions about Colombia, aren't there? I have plans to write/photograph a small book "Colombia, por el lente de una extrangera". What do you think of the idea? I plan to interview (via email) several expats to gain their perspective as well. Would you be willing to participate?

      Thanks for reading! I will follow you and check out your Hubs.

    • csgibson profile image

      Craig Gibson 4 years ago from Traverse City Michigan

      I am an american living in Colombia and I too think I have the best of all worlds. I am married to a wonderful Colombian woman and I live in a neighborhood in Cali that I adore. I keep thinking that I have a dream lifestyle that anyone would be envious of if they knew what it was.

    • debbiepinkston profile image
      Author

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Thank you! I look forward to posting more in the near future and I look forward to learning from you and your interesting life!

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      A lovely informative hub. You have certainly led a colourful life up to now. There is much more to come I am sure. Your photographs are a delight and add so much. Well done.

      Voted up and all. Following.

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Enjoyed your hub and your pictures, especially "On the road to La Florida." The light and shadow is lovely. Welcome to hubpages and I'll follow you along. Thanks for SHARING.