Home in Latin America
Living most of my life in Arizona where the border is less than two hundred miles south, I naturally developed an interest in Mexico and Latin America in general. Like most Arizonians I have crossed over into Mexico several times and always enjoyed the experience. Over the years I developed a love for the food, the people and the culture.
About 15 years ago some friends and I did a trek in the Andes near Cusco, Peru. It was that trip that got me thinking about the possibility of living in Latin America one day. Peru seemed to have everything that interested me: mountains, history, moderate weather, good food, tons of things to do and friendly people.
One of my goals for our motorcycle adventure was to explore the cities and towns along our route to see if any of them would be a possible place to relocate after our journey is over. Other than a few places I specifically wanted to investigate, I was open to all options from Northern Mexico all the way to Tierra del Fuego.
After traveling half the way to Tierra del Fuego, the areas that have impressed me so far have been central and southern Mexico, Antigua, Guatemala, and parts of Honduras.
Although beautiful, the remaining Central American countries were just too humid for a gringo like me. I would melt away in such a humid climate. The north coast of Columbia near Cartagena was also very beautiful, but again too humid. That gets me to the interior of Columbia.
Once we made it inland a few hundred miles and gained elevation, the climate became very pleasant. The temperatures moderated and humidity declined. While in Medellin, the daytime highs were in the low 80’s and the nights were cool. The home where we stayed didn’t have either air-conditioning or heat; it simply isn’t needed. Clearly, Medellin has a climate that is almost perfect and would be a good candidate for my new home. I also liked the people and the city a lot.
Our next stop after Medellin was a town named Manizales. Neither of us had ever heard of it and had no idea what to expect. As we rode our motorcycles toward our destination, we gained elevation and topped a ridge to see a beautiful city spread out before us. Later we found out from our Airbnb hosts that the area is home to approximately 400,000 people. The higher elevation, rolling hills and forested mountains make Manizales spectacularly beautiful. These same conditions also make the Manizales area a premier coffee growing region. Manizales is known to produce some of the finest coffees in all of Columbia., which immediately got me interested since I am a coffee fanatic.
Because we only spent two full days in Manizales, we didn’t have time to visit all of the sites that were recommended to us. From what I did see, it will certainly be on my short list of cities to consider when I move to Latin America. Manizales has a nice balance between the old and new with distinct barrios (neighborhoods) scattered throughout the city. Here are a few of the sights we saw during our short stay.
Plaza de Bolivar and the Catedral de Manizales
Views from tram
Photos of the city
For a consistently good cup of coffee, you have to go to a Juan Valdez Coffee Shop. These stores, which are similar to Starbucks in the States, are located in all of the major cities in Columbia. The one we went to in Manizales had a large patio where people congregate day and night.
Our Airbnb hosts provided us with a terrific list of things to see and do while we were in Manizales. Their warmth and hospitality left a lasting impression on me, and makes me want to return to their wonderful city.