Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

I recall briefly waking sometime after 6am (because there was light coming in the room) but I went right back to sleep and didn’t awaken and get up until 8am.  The muchacho showed up 5 minutes later while I was in the shower.  He left at 8:50 and Teresa says he can remove (or is it move) some of the shingles, it will cost 600,000 pesos and he can begin Wednesday.  Or he can replace all the shingles and it will cost 2,000,000 pesos.  The latter sounds like a better idea but he’ll have to wait until July or August when we have enough money saved.

I took a nap from 9am to 11:15.  

Teresa woke me up when Ruby and her husband were close to the finca.  We left the finca at 11:30 and Peter and Tony went with us.  There was a confrontation between them and the black dog.  Luna soon joined us.   Teresa continued up the hill with the terriers in close pursuit.  The black dog came out and I gave him 2 dog biscuits.  At the top of the hill we saw Ruby and her husband nearing the top.

We met them and Ruby was obviously, like me, out of breath.  We walked them down to the finca with me holding her hand because I think her calves were cramping up.

They have a son who lives in Los Angeles.  I understood Arnando (sp?) worked in the US for awhile.  Ruby speaks a little English as does Arnando although his pronunciation isn’t good.  

Teresa made us a nice lunch of chicken and for dinner I made waffles.

We played dominoes for a while and I didn’t win a single game.  Near the end of our playing we discovered that we had 2 duplicate tiles.  I guess they’re all supposed to be different.  I used that as an excuse as to why I didn’t win at all.

They left about 8pm and I walked them up the hill with Tony accompanying me.  The black dog got a dog biscuit each way and I even gave Tony one.

T-shirt of the day: Sorry = I expect you to apologize.

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

I got up once during the night at 6am finally waking/getting up at 9:30.

The muchacho is supposed to come today to give us an estimate on fixing the roof.

I made waffles for breakfast for the two of us.

I checked google translate for my test results and “prostata bilateral (tinciones): compatibles con tejido prostatico benigno” translates to “bilateral prostate (staining): compatible with benign prostate tissue” which sounds like a good thing.

I emailed Lucas at 61Prado and got an okay to have lunch in his restaurant on Monday.

It’s strange but my app seems to be stuck at 3,337 pesos to the US dollar for the last 24 hours or so.

The muchacho didn’t show up but Teresa called him and he’s supposed to come at 7am tomorrow.

We finished Man on Fire (7.7), started watching Meet Joe Black (7.1) but couldn’t get into it so we started watching The Dark (5.4).

T-shirt of the day: We fight and win as one.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Among the new US movie releases there isn’t anything I want to see.
We left the finca at 12:50am, I gave the black dog my last dog biscuit, and there was no wait for a bus.

In Envigado we stopped first at Nueva eps where we picked up my test results from a nurse.  (Now I know she must have dropped off the biopsy samples last time she was here.)  From Teresa’s reaction I understood the news was good – or at least not bad.  We waited about 20 minutes to get an appointment and I understand we will see a doctor Monday morning at the clinic in barrio Prado.

We stopped at Kokoriko for lunch.  I had 6 chicken wings, fries and a Coke and Teresa had some other type of cooked chicken.  It’s just another chicken place but I prefer Frisby.  The total came to 38,700 plus a 2,800 peso tip.  Even though it’s a fast food place (it seems to me), because there was a waiter who took and delivered our order, I had to tip the waiter (actually it is optional).

I bought more minutes for my cell phone for 20,000 pesos at a Gana booth.
Teresa went to get her nails done and I went to the park to play chess.  I quickly found an opponent – someone I hadn’t played before.  In the first game he pressured me throughout the game but I finally simplified and with only a rook and 3 pawns each we agreed to a draw.  He played very slowly and I think it took about 90 minutes to finish the first game.  It was 4:30 and Teresa was supposed to meet me about 5:00.  I told my opponent I could play another game but we would have to play faster.  Teresa arrived 5 minutes later but told me we weren’t in a hurry.  In the second game he was attacking my king on the kingside but I managed to simplify, he finally hung a bishop and after that it was just a matter of time before I queened a pawn and he resigned.  I think I played from about 3pm to 5:30pm.

We stopped at La Jugosa where we shared an ice cream confection for 10,100 pesos.

Teresa did some more window shopping on our way to Exito.  I picked up some bath soap and another box of dog biscuits while she picked up eggs, powdered milk, cereal, cheese and ham.

We took a taxi to the highway where we had to wait 40 minutes for a bus back to the finca.

On the way down the hill the black dog came out looking for a dog biscuit.  After not finding one he started getting a little aggressive.

We got back to the finca at 9pm.

We started watching the 2004 movie titled Man on Fire (7.7).

T-shirt of the day: Special clothing Friday.

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

The terriers woke us up about 5am but within 15 minutes it started raining and that shut them up.

We finally got up at 9:30am.

Teresa had the great idea of getting muzzles for the 4 terriers so we could sleep at night.

I finished submitting restaurants to Trip Advisor and started submitting activities. 

We watched Blitz (6.2) on Netflix and then started watching Blood (6.0).

T-shirt of the day: There is still much to see.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

The terriers kept us awake from about 4:30 to 5:30am; it sounded like other dogs were encroaching on our area again.

We finally got up at 9:15.

Teresa didn’t feel like going out (again) today so she called Walter and ordered a bag of dog food (we ran out this morning) and a bag of potting soil.  He arrived about 11am with both and I paid him 65mil for the dog food, 5mil for the potting soil, 20mil for delivery and a 10mil tip.

I got an email from Barnes & Noble apologizing for a delay in shipping the Nook I ordered.  That’s a mistake because everything I’ve ordered has shipped and been received.

I submitted more restaurant reviews to Trip Advisor.

At 2:30 it started raining so I disconnected everything.  At 3pm we lost our electricity.  It came back on at 4:30.

We watched The Lazarus Effect (5.2) but we didn’t like it when it got goofy towards the end.

T-shirt of the day: Flawless for you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Last night I slept well except for a period from 6am to 7am when the dogs were barking nonstop.

We took a nap from 1 to 2pm.

I submitted my hotel reviews to Trip Advisor and they were approved.

I gave up on watching Brothers.  I finished watching Flypaper (6.4).  It was a pretty sad example of a movie.  I checked and it said it was made in one day for $5,000,000 and it earned only $1,098.

My son informed me he finally picked up his Nook Glowlight Plus from his mother’s house.  That’s his Christmas present.

I microwaved my bag of ACT II buttered popcorn.  Teresa tried a few kernels but she wasn’t impressed.

We watched You’re Next (6.5), Captive (5.9) and The Innkeepers (5.5).  While watching Captive I realized right away that I’ve seen it before and Teresa realized it with 45 minutes left but neither of us could remember what would happen next.  

T-shirt of the day: You have to visit my blog right now.

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Ah, another good night’s sleep without being awakened by the dogs early in the morning.

I started watching Brothers (7.1) from my external hard drive.

We took a nap from about 1:30 to 2pm.

Just after 2pm Teresa said something about rain.  I went out and even though it wasn’t raining it looked like it might soon so I brought in my towel hanging on the line.  Just before 2:30 it started raining hard.  I don’t know how Teresa knows when it’s coming.  I unplugged everything until the thunderstorm passed about 2 hours later.

On Netflix we started watching Flypaper (6.4) but she didn’t like it (not enough action) so we watched Chained (6.4) instead then we watched The Gift (7.1).

At 11pm we watched season 1, episode 4 of Fargo on Direct TV then went to bed.

T-shirt of the day: Wish you were here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Shortly after we got to bed we heard it raining, although not very hard.

I woke up once about 7am, made my usual trip to the bathroom, cat napped from then on finally getting up at 9:45am.  It was nice to finally sleep through the night.

We’re out of eggs and we forgot to pick up more yesterday so we’re going to Envigado to pick up more.

It’s a cloudy cool day today, about 67 degrees and near 100% humidity.

We left the finca at 12:15, I gave the black dog a large dog biscuit and the other black dog came out like she was expecting one too.  We had no wait and we were on a bus to Envigado.  We got off by Home Center and walked to Exito for lunch.  On my way I was thinking how nice it would be if every day here in Medellin was this cool.

There was a long line at Frisby so we ordered hot sandwiches at Qbano.  I ordered their Qbano Pork Combo and Teresa their Ropa Vieja Combo.  The total came to about 36,500 (about $11).

We took our usual route to Home Center but found the entrance closed.  Teresa talked to a guard and we found out that it’s because they will be demolishing it to make way for the new shopping mall.  If I understood correctly they are also going to tear down the Exito.  We had to walk downstairs and enter Home Center through the garage.  I could see some construction going on next to the garage so maybe that’s part of the new mall.

In Home Center I showed a salesman the label from my roll of duct tape.  It said “cinta ductos” in Spanish so I hoped he would have some idea of what to look for.  He took me to a display with lots of different kinds of tape and one looked similar in that it had the silver backing.  I guess it makes sense they wouldn’t have duct tape since they don’t have heating & cooling ducts here.

Teresa picked up a roll of masking tape and a spray can of paint for metal (I forget what it’s called in English).  She left it with me while I sat on a display chair and she went into their garden shop.  She came out with 5 large plastic pots and 2 medium sized plants.  I reminded her we still have to buy eggs.  She went back inside and while I was sitting there a man sat down and asked me something.  I told him I don’t speak much Spanish.  In English he told me he worked for 10 years in New York cleaning swimming pools and that it was too hard work so he returned here 3 years ago.  He said he’s a Colonel in the army and he’ll retire after 30 years service.  Of course I may have the chronology mixed up.

He left and Teresa came out with a couple smaller plants.  Because we still have to buy the eggs and carry them up the hill she left behind the medium sized plants, the paint and the tape for another time.  So we bought the 5 pots and the 2 small cactus plants for 144,300 (about $44).

In Exito I sat with our Home Center purchases while Teresa bought some eggs.  When she came out she told me she also had a surprise for me.

We took a taxi to the highway and soon were on a bus back to the finca.  It was a Rapido Ochoa bus that was new and built like a greyhound (you know what I mean).  There were lots of seats and at most a total of 8 people on the large bus.  They had the air conditioning turned on (not a day that we needed it) but I soon found those things above me where I could stop the airflow like you do on an airplane.

There was almost no traffic and we were soon back at the sideroad.  The black dog came out just as we were passing Guillermo’s and the other black dog was right behind.  The other black dog hasn’t shown any aggression in a while so I’ll probably start giving her a small dog biscuit.

We got back to the finca by 4:15.

I found that the surprise was something similar to the sugar donuts I would buy with arequipe inside but these were much larger and the dough is more like a bagel than a donut.

I finished reading Henri Charriere’s 416 page Papillon and I downloaded Robert Heinlein’s 204 page Tunnel in the Sky.

I finished my 2nd bag of Fritos.  :(

We started watching Kill the Messenger (7.0) on Netflix.

T-shirt of the day: My squad breaks hearts.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

I slept well until one of the dogs started doing their thing about 4am.  After that I just cat napped when it was quiet enough to allow me to do so.

Well, we just had some excitement.  We heard a lot of barking indicative of someone or someone’s dogs entering our area.  We went outside and there was a man coming down the trail and his puppy was being attacked by the terriers.  We tried to keep the terriers off him as much as possible and if he had been alone he probably would have been killed.  In the melee suddenly a large dog appeared – apparently the mother or father of the puppy.  The terriers didn’t bother the large dog much because – she was larger than they.  Finally the man was able to pick up the puppy and things quieted down.  I understand the man was from the new finca up the hill; he’s the one who put in the floodlight at the top of the hill.

I took a nap from 11:30 to 12:30.

We left the finca at 12:45, I gave the black dog 1 large dog biscuit and we were on a bus after a 5 minute wait.  Traffic was very heavy, in fact at one point before we got to Medellin we sat without moving for 20 minutes.  Strangely there was almost no traffic coming from the other direction either.  What could cause all lanes to be stopped in both directions?  There was a small accident where a motorcycle was lying in one lane with a car whose passenger door was dented in but traffic was still heavy after that.  It took us 90 minutes to get to Aguacatala station where it should have taken about 40 minutes max.

We found a “con effectivo” (with cash) car that took us to Viva Laureles for the same price as a bus.

I made an ATM withdrawal and we went across the street to Mall Laureles.  We ordered a Frischuleta and soup to share from Frisby.  Teresa also ordered a juice and I a medium pepsi with ice (mainly because it’s colder than juice).  The total came to 31,800 (about $10).  Laura arrived and she ordered a junior fish soup and juice for 21,200 (about $6.50).  It was 3pm by the time we started eating.

We walked back to Viva Laureles where we bought a cake for 25,500 (about $7.75) to take to Vicky’s house.  

We took a taxi to her apartment at Calle 37 #102-30 in barrio Santa Monica.
At Vicky’s we saw Daniela’s new baby girl.  She’s 15 days old and was named Amelia.  Real cute and real quiet.  Laura’s English speaking boyfriend Juan was there so I took advantage of the situation to question him about internet access.  He recommended I check with the internet providers (Movistar, Une, etc.) rather than go to Monterey.  He also agreed with Teresa that it wouldn’t be a good idea to show a new smartphone on the street.  He said he would make a few calls for me so I gave him one of my “business” cards.  He gave me one of his business cards – he’s an engineering consultant for a company called Go-Tec.  I also told him about the hardware my brother informed me about and that I would call them in the US.

Ladies kept coming into the apartment to have a look at the baby.

We left at 7:15, took a taxi to Poblado station, said goodbye to Laura (who was on her way to meet some friends in Parque Lleras), and were on a bus after about a 30 minute wait.  We got past the G-dogs undetected and were back at the finca at 9pm.

T-shirt of the day: I need some Ha Ha.

Friday, February 19th, 2016

The terriers woke me up at 3:45am.  There was on and off non-stop barking for hours.  I finally fell back asleep around 6:30 finally getting up at 9:30.

At 10:15 Felipe (Sr?) showed up with another tank of gas for 50mil.

I finally got back to my Rosetta Stone lessons after missing the last 5 weeks.

Teresa and I took a nap from 1:15 to 2:30 but I didn’t sleep much.

I thought we were going to Envigado today to buy some things from Home Center but again Teresa changed her mind.

We watched a very good movie on Netflix called Prisoners (8.1).

According to my app the peso closed at 3,348 to the US dollar.

I put Peter in the back shed and Teresa put Luna in the chicken coop.

T-shirt of the day: Scandalous.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

I still have an internet connection and the red “x” over the icon is gone.
Teresa told me Elda, from Sopetran, is coming for a visit today.  Teresa neglected to tell me until the last minute that her daughter is also coming with her.  She asked me to go meet them at the top of the hill.  Peter and Tony followed me and of course there were threats made by the dogs from both sides of Guillermo’s fence but that didn’t stop the black dog from coming out to get his dog biscuit.  Elda, her daughter, and a friend were coming down the hill as I was reaching the top.  The black dog came out again, I gave her a large dog biscuit then Peter chased her back into the bushes.

I gave both Peter and Tony a small dog biscuit.

They got to the finca about 1:30.  I understand they were trying on Teresa’s old clothes for her daughter.  Teresa gave her the birthday present for her other daughter to send to my son after she returns back to Miami.  In the bag I included his address and a 50,000 peso note for her help.

They left about 5:45pm.

We ran out of gas so Teresa called Felipe and he’ll bring another tank in the morning for 50mil.  I guess I’ll be having cereal for breakfast tomorrow morning.

T-shirt of the day: Will you smile and wave at me?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Well, despite getting up 3 times during the night to go to the bathroom, I slept well probably thanks to the fact that it rained in the morning which kept all the dogs close to home.

I still have an internet connection but once again there’s that questionable red x across the internet icon at the bottom of my screen.

We left the finca at 10:20 and I gave the black dog a large and small dog biscuit.  We were on a bus after a 10 minute wait.

I saw a large new sign next to restaurant #2 by the highway.  This is the restaurant that looks like the highway will have to go through.  The sign said “Lote Industrial El Doral 44,000 mts”.  I think their advertising premium industrial space for sale next to the highway.

We saw the same man get on the bus who usually sells toothbrushes and floss.  Today he was selling the Security Credit Card Wallet for 5mil.  I told him the information on the box is in perfect English and the same wallet in the US would sell for $10 (30,000 pesos).

We took a taxi to Nueva eps in Envigado.  Teresa took a number and we’re 30 away from being served.  I said I would see her in about an hour and I stopped at Bancolombia where I made a cash withdrawal and then went to the park to play chess.  After about a 10 minute wait one of the players set me up with an opponent.  In the first game he was ahead in position but his king was exposed and I ended up checkmating him.  In the second game I thought I had an advantage coming out of the opening but then I overlooked something, he took a pawn, got a passed pawn and it was downhill from there and I lost.  

I met Laura and Teresa at Carbón de Leña where I had pork shish kebab and they had fish.  I paid the total of 63,500 on my way to the restroom.  When I came back there was a street person in my seat finishing the last of my food.  I stood next to the table blocking the view of him from the cashier and waiting for him to finish.  He was finished but just as he was taking his last gulp of juice the manager/owner came over and told Teresa why he didn’t like us doing this.

I understood Teresa got me an appointment for Friday February 26th from 11am to 3pm to drop off my biopsy results.  

We took a bus to MBE where I picked up the 3 “documents” waiting for me.  The real estate documents I was expecting were not among them: just my pension deposit receipts for CSC and Zurich and another (my 3rd) 1099 from CSC.  I asked how much it would cost to send my son’s birthday present and I was quoted 169,500.  I asked if there was some less expensive way and after checking for a few minutes she came back with 129,500.  Teresa told me her friend Elda’s daughter is here visiting from the states and she could take it back with her and mail it from Miami.  Not only would that be cheaper I think it would have a better chance of getting there – and quicker.

I stopped at the copy store next door where I had my 1099s scanned and put on my flash drive for 5,000 pesos.  While waiting I met a couple English speaking guys – one had been here 3 months and the other just arrived today.

Across the street in Parque Poblado there were tents set up selling jewelry, plants, and a few other things.  It’s interesting how Teresa skips all the jewelry tents and goes straight to the only 2 tents selling plants.  She picked out a small cactus for 5,000 pesos.

We took a taxi to El Tesoro where we bought our tickets to The Martian for 10,800 pesos each (about $3.25).  It’s so expensive (lol) because it’s in 3D and that includes the rental for the glasses.  I bought a large popcorn (not that large compared to Oviedo’s), a large soda for me and medium soda for Teresa for 26,900 (about $8).

The movie wasn’t as good as the book: they left out a number of scenes like figuring out how to make oxygen, repairing the HAB and how he avoided an oncoming sandstorm on his way to the MAV.  Still, it was nice to see how things you pictured in your mind from the book translated visually to the screen.

Teresa spent some time in Zara looking at their clothes.  She kept pointing out racks of inexpensive clothes – 49,900, 39,900, 29,900, 19,900 but she didn’t find anything suitable for her.

We took a taxi to Poblado station and waited about 20 minutes for an express bus back to the finca.  I gave the black dog a dog biscuit on the way down and we got back at 8:15.

T-shirt of the day: Sweet babe.

10 Surprisingly Cheap Things in Medellin - Medellin Living

10 Surprisingly Cheap Things in Medellín (2016 Update)

Colombian pesos The exchange rate for the Colombian peso has hit an all time high so it’s time to revisit one of the most popular posts from last year to see the impact on surprisingly cheap things in Medellín.
I get asked about the cost of living in Medellín frequently as I have been living in the city now for over five years.
The recent changes in the exchange rate with the Colombian Peso hitting an all time low against the U.S. dollar has made the cost of living for my wife and I in Medellín now about 47 percent cheaper than two years ago.
Even with inflation in Colombia that hit a seven-year high last year at 6.77 percent, if you have an income in US dollars you won’t notice the inflation due to the improved exchange rate.
This post takes an updated look at 10 surprisingly cheap things in Medellín, which contribute to the low-cost of living in the city. Note the list is in no particular order.
Note the exchange rate used in this post is 3,454 pesos to the USD.
Kitchen inside our apartment
Kitchen inside our apartment

1. Apartment Rent

Apartment rent is our biggest expense but the cost to rent an apartment in Medellín is surprisingly cheap.
I have been renting unfurnished apartments while living Medellín for over five years. My initial experience in renting apartments in Medellín was documented in a four part series: first part is heresecond part is herethird part is here and fourth part is here.
We currently live in a three-bedroom apartment in Sabaneta, which we moved into in July last year.  It is located within walking distance to Parque Sabaneta. Our current apartment specifications include:
  • Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, about 110 square meters (1,184 square feet)
  • Kitchen with granite countertops, oven, and gas cooktop
  • Gas water heater (tankless)
  • 10th floor in a high-rise building, with two balconies
  • Pool, sauna and small gym in building
  • 24×7 security
  • Estrato 4 neighborhood
Our rent for an unfurnished apartment is only 1,350,000 pesos ($391) per month. If we lived in ritzy El Poblado a similar apartment would rent for about 1,800,000 pesos ($521) per month.
We looked at unfurnished apartment rental costs in Medellín in five different neighborhoods in the city.
Claro store inside Los Molinos mall
Claro store inside Los Molinos mall

2. Triple Play Internet/TV/Phone

Triple Play Internet/TV/Phone services in Medellín are much lower cost than what you will find in the US. There are two major TV and Internet providers in Medellín that offer triple play Internet, TV and phone services: Claro and UNE.
We currently have Claro’s basic Triple-Play Service with 10 Mbps Internet, TV and phone services and I am very happy with it. The cost is only 137,474 pesos per month ($39.80) in an estrato four neighborhood.
Internet service with Claro has been more reliable than my Verizon FiOS service was in the United States and of course it is much less expensive. The cost of triple play from Claro is less expensive than just Internet services from Verizon in the US.
Taxis in front of Premium Plaza mall
Taxis in front of Premium Plaza mall

3. Taxis

Taxis in Medellín are plentiful and surprisingly cheap by Western standards. All taxis in Medellín use meters. A taxi meter will start at 2,700 pesos and the minimum fare is 4,600 pesos ($1.33).
The taxi fare so far hasn’t been increased in 2016 in the city. There is also no need to tip the driver. But don’t expect a taxi driver to necessarily have change for a 50,000-peso note.
In my experience, you can go most places in Medellín for less than 15,000 pesos. I use taxis frequently and my fares typically range from 4,600 pesos to 12,000 pesos, with an average of about 7,500 pesos ($2.22).
Hailing a yellow taxi on the street in Medellín is as simple as holding up your arm. During the daytime, you should be fairly safe picking up taxis from the street, however exercise caution in the evenings.
Throughout the city, and often near points of interest, shopping malls and local landmarks, you’ll see taxi stands where taxis queue up for customers. If you see one of these, it makes the process even easier.
You can also call a taxi and in my experience they typically show up quickly – in less than five minutes in many parts of the city. A few numbers for taxis in Medellín include 444-4444, 444-1000, 444-1111.
Mobile apps for connecting with taxis include EasyTaxi, Colombia-made Tappsi and the latest entrant, Uber.
Pharmacy near Los Molinos mall
Pharmacy near Los Molinos mall

4. Medication in Pharmacies

In Medellín (and the rest of Colombia), medication is often purchased at pharmacies (farmacias), which are easy to find, as they seem to be every few blocks.
They are also found in many malls as well as many supermarkets like Exito and Jumbo.
In my experience, the staff in Colombian pharmacies seems knowledgeable. If you ask the question, “What should I take if I am experiencing this problem?” they will normally have something to suggest.
Of course, exercise caution when taking advice from anyone other than your doctor. Many drugs that would require a prescription in the U.S. you can get without a prescription in the pharmacies in Medellín.
Pharmacies are technically supposed to require a prescription for many drugs but I have never been asked for one. Years after passage of a regulation in Colombia to halt the unrestricted sales of antibiotics, there is minimal compliance.
You can get things like antibiotics, birth control pills, anti-depressants, erectile dysfunction pills and many other types of drugs without a prescription.
The generics in Colombia are typically very inexpensive. For example a 10-pack of 500 mg generic tablets of Ciprofloxacino (Cipro), which I found is good to treat traveler’s diarrhea, can cost only 4,500 pesos ($1.30).
Amoxicilina (Amoxicillin), a commonly used antibiotic for ailments such as ear infections, can cost 9,500 pesos ($2.75) for a 30-pack of 500 mg generic capsules.
Sildenofil (generic Viagra) can cost 3,000 pesos ($0.87) for a 2-pack of 50 mg pills.
New Metro Medellín Tranvía (cable car)
New Metro Medellín Tranvía (cable car)

5. The Metro and Buses

No list of things that are cheap in Medellín would be complete without including the public transportation system, which includes the Medellín metro and buses. The metro in Medellin is the only rail-based mass transportation service in Colombia.
The metro in Medellín is well maintained, squeaky clean and uses electrical energy. It opened in 1995 and has two train lines (Lines A and B) and a new Tranvía (street car) T-A line that opened last year.
The A metro line runs north and south and has 21 stations. The B line runs from the center of the city to the west and has seven stations. The new T-A line runs east from the center of the city and has nine stations.
The metro also has three integrated cable car lines (Lines J and K and L) plus two integrated bus lines (Metroplus lines L1 and L2).
Note that the Line L cable car to Parque Arví has an extra fare. Two additional cable car lines are under construction.
The metro fare is cheaper with a metro card (Civica), so it is highly recommended to get one. The fare is only 1,880 pesos (54 cents) with a Civica card/
The fare with the Civica card fare is about 10 percent cheaper than the regular fare and permits you to go through turn-styles to avoid the ticket window lines.
The Civica card is easy to sign up for and can be recharged with funds at any station’s ticket window. Civica cards can be obtained in the PAC offices located at the Niquía, San Antonio, Itagüí and San Javier metro stations.
Beside the metro, Medellín has an extensive bus system. The fare for the buses typically ranges from 1,800 pesos to 2,000 pesos.
The lowest fare buses are typically connections to the metro and they have started adding Civica card support on some of these metro connection buses.
The bottom line is that between the metro and buses as well as cheap taxies in Medellín I have found a car is not really needed for living in Medellín, which avoids a major expense typically required for living in the states.
Neighborhood tienda in Sabaneta, with delivery service
Neighborhood tienda in Sabaneta, with delivery service

6. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and inexpensive in Medellín. Out of all the typical grocery items, fruits and vegetables are typically some of the cheapest ones found in Medellín.
The farmers’ markets in Medellín like Plaza Minorista or small neighborhood tiendas typically have much better prices for produce than the large grocery stores such as Exito or Jumbo.
As an example of the price difference, a red onion at a tienda or farmers market that costs 200 pesos (about 6 cents) may cost about 900 pesos (26 cents) at a major grocery store.
Colombia is considered the second most bio-diverse country in the world (after Brazil) and Colombia likely has a number fruits you’ve never heard of, or look like nothing you’ve ever seen.
One of the things I like about Colombia is the fruit: delicious, cheap and plentiful. I made it a mission when I first starting living in Medellín to try as many Colombian fruits as I could.
This site previously covered 11 exotic tropical fruits of Colombia but the country has many more fruits available including anona, borojo, feijoa, mangostino plus all the fruits you can find in the United States.
I like the pitahaya (dragon fruit) but unfortunately they are a bit expensive and harder to find. It’s difficult to find them for less than 2,000 pesos. It’s tasty and sweet and can be eaten scooped out with a spoon.
I also like several of the fruits in juices including lulo, maracuyá and tomato de árbol.

7. Electricity

Utility services are provided by EPM, the local utility in Medellín. EPM derives much of the power delivered in the city from hydroelectric sources.
Medellín is located at about 5,000 feet above sea level. It is known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ with an average annual temperature of 72 degrees, and that ranges from 59 to 86 degrees.
There is really no need for heating or cooling with the climate in Medellín, which results in inexpensive utility bills. A few apartments in ritzy El Poblado have air conditioning but I use a fan, which is sufficient for me during the day.
The electricity rate from EPM currently runs about 437 pesos (13 cents) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in the Estrato 4 neighborhood in Sabaneta where I currently live.
The rate per kWh is relatively high but you don’t need to use much electricity due to the climate.
Electric rates also vary by estrato in Medellín with the highest rates in estratos 5 and 6. The lower rates in lower estrato neighborhoods are subsidized by the higher rates in the wealthier neighborhoods.
Our electric bill in a three-bedroom apartment over the past six months has averaged only 68,523 pesos ($19.83) per month since we don’t use that much electricity without the need for heating or cooling in the city.
We have averaged using only 125 kWh per month over the past six months.
The average home in the states uses 911 kWh per month (in 2014), which is over seven times what I currently use in Medellín – demonstrating a big benefit of the climate in Medellín.
Water and gas is also inexpensive and our total utility bill for electricity, water and gas has averaged 113,051 pesos ($32.73) per month in an estrato four neighborhood in Sabaneta.

8. Domestic Airfare

Domestic airfare can be inexpensive in Colombia, which makes it relatively cheap to travel between the major cities in Colombia. To get the cheapest domestic flights make sure to book at least two weeks in advance.
While buses can be even cheaper in Colombia, it’s a tradeoff. Buses take a long time, for example, up to 10 hours to go from Medellín to Bogotá, or about 12 hours to go from Medellín to Cartagena.
By plane, the flight from Medellín to Bogotá is about 40 minutes and from Medellín to Cartagena is about an hour.
Domestic airfare in Colombia used to be more expensive. But when discount airline VivaColombia started service in 2012 in Colombia, domestic airfare prices in Colombia have dropped dramatically.
On VivaColombia it is possible to fly from Medellín to Bogotá for less than $65 round-trip and from Medellín to Cartagena for less than $100 round-trip.
A quick tip on VivaColombia – if you’re taking anything more than hand luggage, you can pay just as much for the flight for your luggage so travel light if you want it to be inexpensive. Traveling light can mean a ticket cheaper than bus fare.
If you use Avianca for domestic flights in Colombia, you can book as if you are in Colombia in pesos and you will get a much better price versus booking in the United States in dollars.
It is easy to choose the country on Avianca’s website at the top of their website. You can normally save up to 50 percent with the country chosen as Colombia and paying in pesos for domestic flights on Avianca.
Using this method on Avianca I have flown from Medellín to Bogotá several times for less than $70 round-trip and from Medellín to Cartagena for less than $100 round-trip.
Clínica las Américas, one the top rated in Medellín and Latin America
Clínica las Américas, one the top rated in Medellín and Latin America

9. Medical Services

Medellín has eight hospitals and clinics ranked as eight of the best 42 hospitals and clinics in Latin America, according to a recent study by América Economia.
Colombia is also starting to experience an increase in medical tourism with low costs for medical services.
As an example, a heart bypass surgery in the states that may cost $80,000 or more costs can cost less then $25,000 in Colombia.
Another example is a knee replacement surgery in the United States that costs about $40,000 and costs only about $15,000 in Colombia.
The salaries of Medellín doctors are typically a fraction of those in the states, even though they are in many cases required to have to same level of internationally recognized education and job skills.
Medellín is probably best known for Lasik (corrective eye surgery), cosmetic surgery and dentistry. Colombia is home to many of the best cosmetic surgeons in the world.
I dropped my dental insurance in the states several years ago as I found the dentists in Medellín could be about as cheap as my out-of-pocket costs with my dental insurance in the United States.
The bottom line is that if you live in Medellín you can have access to world-class health care in several hospitals and clinics in the city at a much lower cost than in the US.
Levi’s Outlet in Mayorca mall in Sabaneta
Levi’s Outlet in Mayorca mall in Sabaneta

10. Clothing

There are many places in Medellín where you can find inexpensive clothing if you venture outside of El Poblado. The shops located in El Poblado typically have the most expensive prices in the city.
Medellín has a reputation as the fashion capital of Colombia. Two of the most famous annual fashion shows take place in the city: Colombiatex and Colombiamoda. Also many companies in the city manufacture clothing.
Places I have found some of the best deals for clothing include El Centro and the Mayorca and Puerta del Norte malls.
An example is that I recently found men’s Rifle jeans on sale in a Rifle outlet store in the Mayorca mall and I was able to buy two pairs of jeans for only 60,000 pesos ($17.37) each.

The Bottom Line

Based on my experience living in Medellín for over five years, you can find many things in the city that are definitely cheaper than in the United States.
These surprisingly cheap things in Medellín have become even cheaper recently in terms of US dollars with the new exchange rate.
However, there are also some things that are more expensive, such as cars, cell phones and higher end computers. Last year we looked at eight expensive things in Medellín.
Imported cars can be quite expensive due to the import duty and taxes but it is also very feasible to live without a car in Medellín with the inexpensive taxis, metro and buses in the city.
I don’t have a car and have met only a few foreigners living in Medellín with cars.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Well, starting at 5:30 in the morning Peluche barked at a rate of more than once a second until 6:45 when Teresa got up and yelled at him.  I guess we’ll have to lock them all up at night.

Still no internet.

We left the finca at 8:25; not sure why we’re leaving so early for an 11am appointment in Estadio.  I gave a large dog biscuit to the black dog and the other black dog with the 6 or 8 teats showing came out and I tossed it a small dog biscuit.

We were on a bus after a 10 minute wait.  We got off at the La Estrella station where I bought metro tickets for 2,200 pesos each.  At the San Antonio station, we left the train, walked upstairs and got right on another.  We got off at the Estadio station and walked a couple blocks to where we could see the Nueva eps office (Calle 50 #69-88).  It was 9:45 so we walked a couple blocks to the hotel (Hotel Sauces del Estadio) where I had had lunch with Gloria, the chess league secretary.  We each had scrambled eggs, an arepa and coffee for me and hot chocolate for her for 15,000 pesos.  At 10:40 we walked over the the Nueva eps office, I paid 2,700 pesos (about 80 cents) for my consultation and we took our seats.  After about a 25 minute wait we were called to Consultation Room #3.  The young doctor said he knows a little English but he was reluctant to use it because he doesn’t often have a chance to practice.  After listening to him talk to Teresa for a few minutes he confirmed my translation of what he had said:  He wants the lab to perform additional tests on my biopsy results.  I don’t need another or a different test, just lab work on my current specimens we have with us.  So, tomorrow we go back to Nueva eps in Envigado to get another appointment to take our lab results to a clinic in the Prado neighborhood.  I told Teresa we could have lunch at 61Prado if she wants.

We took a taxi to Immigration where I showed my passport, received my new Cedula, signed a ledger type book, and were out in 5 minutes.

We took a taxi to the Ragged outlet store.  Laura, Vicky’s daughter, was working there.  I understand they send her to whatever store location they need the most help at.  Teresa found a pair of light white slacks she bought for 45,000 pesos.

Laura told us that the restaurant/bar across the street, Maru Rico!, serves a nice lunch.  We walked across the street but I guess Teresa didn’t like the menu (they probably didn’t have fish) as she only ordered a juice so I ordered an iced tea.  The total was 7,500 pesos.

We took a taxi to the Aguacatala station and were on a direct bus after a 10 minute wait.

We ran into a neighbor on our way up the sideroad.  Teresa told me she lives in the last finca on top of the mountain.  That’s a long ways!

The black dog came out and I gave her a large dog biscuit.  She caught up with me again and I gave her a small dog biscuit.

We got back to the finca at 2:30.

I took a nap from 3:50 to 5pm and went I got up I found I had an internet connection again.  Yay!

We decided to put the dogs away in back for the night.  I put Peter in the shed while Teresa put Peluche in the chicken coop.  Teresa put a blanket over Tony but he growled when she touched him so she was afraid to pick him up.  I didn’t want to get bitten either so I refused to pick him up.  We both laughed a lot over that.  I picked up Luna but while I was putting her in the chicken coop Peluche escaped.  We laughed a lot over our troubles.  I told her I couldn’t imagine doing this every night so there must be a better way.

I started posting my vacation experiences to Trip Advisor.  I started with the 3 hotels we stayed in.

I received another report that Laura is very happy with her English lessons.

T-shirt of the day: I’m not in the mood.