Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Burger King is NO "EL CORRAL" The Greatest Burgers in all of Colombia

Kinco SA, a restaurant operator, has bought the rights to franchise Burger King in Colombia. The company will initially open outlets of the US based fast-food burger chain in the cities of Medellin and Cali in the first half of 2008.

"Colombia is a key market for the continued growth of the Burger King brand in Latin America, and is an important piece of the company's global development strategy," says Armando Jacomino, President of Burger King, Latin America. "We are excited to work with Kinco, a business known for strong, experienced restaurateurs, an operational focus, and extensive consumer knowledge."

Felipe Baquero, Director of Operations for Kinco SA, adds: "We believe that Colombian consumers will enjoy the great taste of the flame-broiled Whopper sandwich and other Burger King products. We are truly excited that Medellin is the first city in Colombia to launch the Burger King brand and can't wait to give burger-lovers the opportunity to Have It Their Way."

McDonalds, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin Donuts and now Burger King in Colombia. What's next? The American companies are starting to realize the value of doing business in a country such as Colombia were the ecomomy has been booming for some time now.

Bienvenidos Burger King y bueno suerte en Colombia

Sunday, January 20, 2008

La Cuidad de La Eterna Primevera, Trip #4

Welcome To Venecia, Antioquia in Colombia

I will be out of the office from January 22nd through January 30th!

It is time for me to make another visit to "La Cuidad de La Eterna Primevara" as Medellin, Colombia is often referred to with deep admiraton by the locals known as Paisas.

My things-to-do-list for my 4th vacation trip to Medellin, Colombia.

1. Explore the city by bus, train, metrocable, taxi, motorcycle and foot, with camera in hand.
Note to self: Don't forget to charge the batteries!
2. Parque Explora
3. Parque Norte
4. Colombiatex Exhibit
5. Bullfights
6. Real Estate Investment Tour in Medellin, Antioquia - Colombia
7. Santa Fe Zoo
8. Mangos, Palmahias, Capital discos and niteclubs in Medellin
9. Pablo Escobar's Hacienda Napoles tour
10. Parque Lleras restarant district in Medelin, hot El Poblado neighborhood
11. Carrera 70, another hot restaurant area
12. The newly developed Castilla Boulevard with hotels, bars, discotecas, casinos offering all travelers a great experience
.... and most important
13. Remember that plans usually go out the window upon my arrival!

Life is too short, the plan is to have F U N!

See you all when I get back!

Keep This O'Timer Away From My Alcohol

Also would like to thank those who contributed to the Teddy Bears To Colombia donation fund. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

These Teddy Bears will be joining me on my trip to Colombia.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Condoleezza Rice To Visit Medellin; Talk Free-Trade With Colombia

Condoleezza Rice On Latin American Tour

New Mayor of Medellin, Alonso Salazar, announced today that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to visit Medellin next week. Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to arrive in Medellin on January 24.

The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has called on Congress to ratify free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Peru.

She stated in her support for Free Trade Agreement,

“I would note [to you] that perhaps the greatest value of passing these trade agreements will be the positive impact that they will have on the prosperity and the stability of our Pan-American community, a community whose well-being is vital to U.S. interests.

Peru, Colombia and Panama now stand on the threshold of far-reaching national success. Trade agreements with the United States would help significantly to advance our partners' political, economic and social development: making their democratic institutions more transparent and accountable, more effective at fighting poverty and corruption, enforcing the law, and investing in education, health and opportunity for their people.

By enacting these trade agreements into law, our Congress would send a signal to every citizen of these countries, to people across the hemisphere, and to investors across the globe that Peru, Colombia and Panama are dedicated to democracy and economic growth; that they are institutionalizing their reforms; and that the United States is completely committed to their success.

By not passing the free trade agreements into law, it would deliver a ‘great blow’ to those countries, and to US interests in the region.”

The White House has already agreed to the deals, which must be approved by Congress before becoming law.

Condoleeza Rice plans to visit the neighborhood of Santo Domingo, once one of Medellin’s worst neighborhoods.

Alfonso Salazar will demonstrate the transformation of Medellin, in an effort to prove to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Colombia is a country worth investing in its future.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rock-N-Roll en Medellin - La Doble A

"La Doble A" Rock-N-Roll Punk Band!
Youth in Revolt! These Punk Kids Are All Right!

About the band. It was formed in 1998 by three high-school friends Camilo, Sierra y Tadeo. They played under various names, until Daniel Ceniza, the fourth member joined the group. They soon began to play under the name La Doble A and recorded their first rock-n-roll demo tapes in Medellin, soon after.

In 2004 they recorded their first album and it garnered them newfound attention, as well as a flock of new young fans who were looking to rock-n-roll in Medellin, instead of listening to typical Colombian music which is popular in their country.

The band has shot several music videos in the spirit of a typical young rock group, raw and unpolished, like so many garage bands in the U.S. who went on to have great success and long music careers after a modest start in their parents home.

La Doble A is currently busy working on their latest album.

The video below is such a great testament to the incredible energy this band has as well as exposing its raw talent. After watching the video, it definitely put a smile on my face, reminding me of my days when listening to a young rock group was as good as life could get, even if they stunk. The power of youth is an incredible time in ones life when anything and everything seems possible.

The thing that I love most about La Doble A is that the group discovered music outside of their own country and made it their own without fear of being looked upon as being different or outcasts by the locals.

It's always good to see the young kids off the streets working on creating something positive, something that is their own, something that they can share with anyone with an open-mind, who is willing give them an opportunity, by just listening to the music.

The video for Fiesta Biesta reminds me a lot of the Beastie Boys (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) video. It has the same raw energy and spirit, along with its low-budget quality.

Take a listen...

"Fiesta Biesta"

"Living In Medellin"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cumbia! The Music of Colombia!

The infectious music of Colombia is spreading across the globe. Gervase de Wilde reports

Caribbean music is popular around the world: everyone has heard of reggae thanks to Bob Marley, and Cuban music became a truly international phenomenon thanks to the Buena Vista Social Club.

But the traditional music of Colombia, cumbia (pronounced coom-bee-ah), has only recently started to emerge from the shadow of its Caribbean cousins, just as the country itself is recovering from decades of strife.

A percussion-based style which is characterised by a skanking off-beat rhythm (think of the jerky energy of Jamaican ska), cumbia relies on accordions, guitars, brass and singing for its infectious melodies. Sometimes slow and melancholic, sometimes robustly energetic, its origins lie in the folk traditions of coastal Colombia's mix of Hispanic, African and indigenous peoples.

But now cumbia and the closely related vallenato style are finding favour throughout the ever-expanding Latin diaspora, with bands such as Los Angeles-based Very Be Careful and a new generation of producers in Argentina, Mexico and elsewhere. They are adapting cumbia's distinctive rhythm to make it relevant to a new generation of Latin Americans with an international outlook.

Colombian music has grown in popularity thanks to singer-songwriter Juanes, whose single Me Enamora is released early next month. He makes a gentle, melodic brand of rock tinged with traditional sounds from his native land.

The world's biggest-selling Latin artist, Juanes has sold more than 10 million of his Spanish-language albums since his debut in 2000. Juanes is helping to shed new light on Colombian music. Articulate in English, he is an ambassador for the country's cultural traditions.

"Colombia is changing," he says. "It's not like the '80s with the narco-traffickers and [drug baron] Pablo Escobar." The increasing appeal of Colombia's musical heritage to the wider world is playing its part in changing people's perceptions.

He is keen to talk about the roots in traditional music that still inform his work today: "When I was a child I learned to play guitar and I learned traditional styles like cumbia. It wasn't particularly normal - a lot of the other children in school couldn't understand the music I was into."

Juanes abandoned these "folkloric" styles to form a metal band, pursuing the genre of music beloved of Latino youth the world over. But the freedom of a solo career has allowed him to return to his roots.

"Working as a solo artist, I can include more elements of traditional styles in the music. The song Tres on my new album has a vallenato sound and I think that is my favourite style from Colombia. We have a lot of fantastic rhythms in Colombia, and cumbia is a groove, a rhythm that people can enjoy."

Renowned Colombian musician and producer Ivan Benavides, speaking just before his group Bloque played an inspiring concert in London, agrees that cumbia is "the foundational Colombian rhythm" and explains its appeal to those beyond the country's borders.

'Cumbia is a pan-Latin expression whose influence stretches from Argentina to Los Angeles," says Benavides. "It's also part of a wider movement which some refer to as 'cosmopolatino'." This global Latin culture of ideas allows sounds and styles to travel and evolve locally in exciting new forms.

As yet, it has not inspired the kind of watery "fusion" sounds which often dilute traditional musical styles. Benavides suggests that the hybrid forms of the music which can be heard across the Hispanic world are still firmly rooted in Latin culture, which itself embraces a wide range of influences:

"The new interpretations of cumbia which you can hear in these places outside Colombia aren't based on something experimental. This mix is natural for us."

Cumbia Music Video "La Burrita" from Cumbia Ya

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pilsen, La Mejor Cerveza Colombiana!

One of my greatest discoveries over my trips to Medellin, Colombia has been the finely crafted Colombian beer Pilsen.

Colombia has one of the better selections of beer in Latin America. The Bavaria Brewing Company or Bavaria S.A, founded in 1889 by a German immigrant, was South America’ second largest brewer before being purchased by SABMiller in 2003. The company produces mostly lagers under the labels of Aguila, Club Colombia, Leona, Brava, and Pilsen.

A Finca in Venecia de Antioquia
When you want to enjoy the day at the finca with your Colombian friends bring out the cold Pilsens.

- Check out a Pilsen commerical spot, en Espanol.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Medellin Metro System Expansion for 2010

The Medellin Metro Department Of Transportation has agreed to purchase 10 new lines, a total of 30 new cars will be added to meet the demands for extending the metro line and transportation services into Sabaneta.

The new addition to the metro system in Medellin is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

Medellin's Metro system was completed in 1996 after sixteen years of planning by Colombian, German and Spanish companies at a cost of $1.9 billion.

The Metro crosses the Metropolitan Area of MedellĂ­n from North to South and from East to West complete with twenty-five stations on two seperate lines. It is the only Metro Rail System and the first experience of modern massive transportation in all of Colombia.

The current map of the Medellin Metro System.

A Slide Show Tour of the Original Construction of Medellin Metro including the very popular Cable Cars leading up to Barrio Santo Domingo