Sunday, March 30, 2008

Colombia Cinema at The 24th Chicago Latino Film Festival

Join us in celebrating Colombian cinema at the 24th annual Chicago Latino Film Festival - April 4-16, 2008

This year there are 4 Colombian films included in the program, which represents the best of Latin Cinema from around the world.

Buscando a Miguel / Looking for Miguel

Director: Juan Fisher
Colombia, 2007, 110 min

Piper’s Alley
Sunday, April 5, 3:30pm
Monday, April 7, 9:00pm

Miguel Villabos is a well-to-do docter, now interested in politics as a candidate. When he is given a hallucinogen drug he loses his memory and quickly descends into the low class, unlawful society which he never has known. And this underclass is definitely scary to him as well as the viewer.

El Sueno de Paraiso / The Dream of Paradise

Director: Carlos Palau
Colombia, 2007, 83 min

Landmark’s Cinema
Thursday, April 10, 9:00pm
Saturday, April 12, 6:30pm

Isabel Sarmiento, the daughter of a landholder in Colombia Yauca Valley engineers the immigration of Japanese families to hers and her father’s hacienda. It is a glimse of paradise for hardworking, dedicated immigrants. World War II, fought in faraway lands, will impact this dream, as Germans, Japanese and Italians are detained and take to special residential camps. Isabel and the love of her life, Yuzo, will have to live through much hardship and sorrow.

Esto Huelo Mal / Lies

Director: Jorge Ali Triana
Colombia, 2007, 86 min

Piper’s Alley
Sunday, April 13, 9:00pm
Monday, April 14, 6:30pm
Tuesday, April 15, 6:30pm

Based on a true story. “Eso Heulo Mal” is about seduction, lies and unfaithfulness. No one puts out lies, danger, and intimacy like Ricardo Caicedo, an outstanding business man, until the tragic night in which an explosion occurs in the El Nogal Social Club, where he was supposed to be having a business dinner.

Hacia la Oscuridad / Toward Darkness

Director: Antonio Negret
Colombia, 2007, 92 min

Lanmark’s Cinema
Friday, April 11, 9:00pm
Sunday, April 13, 9:00pm

This is the story about a kidnapping in Colombia, where similar actions seem to be frequent. In this case, the family only wants the return of their son, and will do anything to achieve it. They will engage in negotiations not only with the kidnappers, but with the other dark forces at play, even with the dubious paramilitary groups. Will the young man be rescuded?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pueblito Paisa; Celebrates 30 Years!

El Pueblito Paisa in Medellin

The renovation of Pueblito Paisa has been recently completed and the new Mayor of Medellin, Alfonso Salazar, decided to mark the 30th Anniversary of Pueblito Paisa by dedicating the last weekend of March with festivities about town.

If you're in town on Sunday, make sure to visit Pueblito Paisa sometime this weekend to enjoy the festivites.

About Pueblito Paisa: This replica of a typical Paisa village us situated on top of the Cerro Nutibarra mountain.

It give a travelers to Colombia a good idea what the typical villages of Antioquia resemble; with its colourful houses, a local church, courtyards and patios, small shops and a fountain in the middle of the village.

There are many small souvenir shops where visitors can purchase gifts made by local craftsman. Stop in at one of several open air cafes where one can sit down and relax for a moment before heading back down the hill. This is definitely a great place to visit during the day.

Also, great photo opportunities.

The panoramic views of Medellin down below are amazing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pablo Escobar Invades Hollywood, 2009

Joe Carnahan Gets the OK from Pablo Escobar's Son for...
"Killing Pablo," the movie.


What incredible news out of Hollywood.

I have been following the news on "Killing Pablo" as it is reported in the Hollywood press, U.S. media, and mostly this gigantic monster known as “the internet.”

And what can I say? I'm excited about the whole thing, especially a “Joe Carnahan” Pablo Escobar flick.

If you guys haven't read the book, "Killing Pablo”, you should run out and get yourself a copy because the life and times of Pablo Escobar are not like anything you've ever seen and/or read before on the infamous Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel in Colombia.

I thought I knew a few things about Escobar's life, but after reading “Killing Pablo” I was completely blown away by this man's actions; good, bad, or otherwise.

It has been reported that…

Writer/Director Joe Carnahan has received a letter from **********

"It was beautifully written, emphatically detailed and nearly three pages long."

The author was none other than Juan Pablo Escobar, the only son of the infamous drug baron.

Now 30, he had his name legally changed in 1994 and his de guerre will be kept in secrecy, out of respect for him and his intention in contacting writer/director Carnahan.

Carnahan's screenplay is based on the book by Mark Bowden, “Killing Pablo”, and it focuses on the the downfall of Escobar and the Medellin Cartel as it was dismantled by US Special Forces and intelligence, the Colombian military, and a vigilante gang controlled by the Cali cartel.

Escobar's son has given Carnahan unlimited access to the family's history, including photos, films, letters and the like. There are obvious caveats and considerations but the next step is a face to face meeting between Escobar's son and Hollywood maverick, Joe Carnahan.

"I'm honored he would think to reach out to me in this way," stated Carnahan. "Sitting down with the man that was once thought as the natural heir to the Medellin cartel and his father's legacy, only to turn his back on all of it, has got me f*cking pumped to say the least."

This news alone is something that proves that Carnahan will make the best Pablo Escobar movie, giving equal amounts of attention to the hunters and the hunted in this tragic story that affected many good people in Colombia’s past.

I am currently reading the “Killing Pablo” screenplay written by Joe Carnahan and can honestly say that this movie will become the next great modern gangster film, right up there with “Goodfellas” and the all-time’z classic “The Godfather.”

What makes this screenplay so interesting is that it is not only based on true events, but that those events, crazy as they may seem, actually happen. It is without a doubt one of it’s biggest draws, "based on a true story."

I am excited about the whole project, especially when it comes time to shoot the movie. Hopefully, the movie shoots in Colombia, on location whenever possible, capturing the heart and soul of the wonderful and magical city in Colmbia, known as Medellin.

Good, bad, or otherwise… this movie is going to become a hit in America, probably in Colombia as well.

At the moment, Oscar winner Javier Bardem, is cast as Pablo Escobar. But word in Hollywood may have Bardem back out due to a scheduling conflict. If that happens, I would love to see the great Benecio de Torro, also an Oscar winner, play the role of the late Medellin Cartel baron, Pablo Escobar.

Christian Bale has been cast as the head of the U.S. Special Forces who helped to bring down not just Colombia’s most notorious gangster, but the worst gangster in the history of the world.

Joe Carnahan has proven to be a great director when it comes to casting and working with an ensemble cast. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens next. The project is still in the pre-production stages, for now... we wait.

I am truly interested, not only in the making of the movie, but how the movie, and more importantly, how Medellin, Colombia will viewed after the release of “Killing Pablo” sometime in 2009.

The Life and Death of Pablo Escobar (Documentary)

Also, check out the video below to see Escobar’s former paradise known as Hacienda Napoles, it is one of the most important locations in “Killing Pablo” the movie.

I love Medellin, Colombia! South America’s best kept secret!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hungry Hippos in Hacienda Napoles

A hippo critical situation

The ornery beasts were brought to Colombia to grace a drug lord's estate. He is long gone, but they have thrived -- and outgrown their welcome.

Puerto Triunfo, Colombia -- Hacienda Napoles was Pablo Escobar's pleasure palace, a 5,500-acre estate where the notorious drug lord reigned over million-dollar cocaine deals, parties with underage girls and visits by shadowy men of power.

Escobar lived large here in his lush fiefdom 100 miles east of Medellin, far from the teeming slums where he began his life of crime. He built a bullring, an airstrip, an ersatz Jurassic Park with half a dozen immense concrete dinosaurs. He stocked a private wild animal park with hundreds of animals, including elephants, camels, giraffes, ostriches and zebras. He installed four hippos in one of the estate's 12 man-made lakes.

Today, Hacienda Napoles is in ruins, taken over by jungle foliage and bats. The sprawling Spanish-style mansion has been gutted, scavenged by treasure hunters looking for stashes of gold and cash buried under the floors. Escobar is long gone, cut down in a hail of police gunfire.

But the hippos are still here.

More than 15 years after the government took control of Hacienda Napoles, the elephants, giraffes and zebras have long since disappeared, given away to Colombian zoos or left to die.

But the hippos were never claimed because they were too large and ornery to move. Now the original four have multiplied to 16 and, far from starving to death, as some expected, they have learned to forage like cows. In fact, local authorities say they represent a safety hazard -- and are standing in the way of plans to redevelop the late drug lord's estate.

At night, several of them emerge from their watery habitats and roam for miles looking for grass to munch on. Three months ago, a male hippo was shot to death by ranchers after he wandered three miles from the rest of the herd to a neighboring stream.

Weighing up to 3 tons, the hippos are not constrained by ordinary barbed-wire fences or gates.

"The problem is, you cannot manage them," said Francisco Sanchez, environmental officer of Puerto Triunfo municipality, which has control of the mansion and the former zoo area of the property. "They are too big and wild."

Sanchez said Escobar bought the original four from a dealer in New Orleans for $3,000 each.

Among themselves, hippopotamuses, whose name means "river horse," are gregarious animals, living in herds of as many as 40 in their natural habitat: the rivers, lakes and swamps of a dozen African countries. They live as long as 50 years and the males grow to a hefty size, sometimes 12 feet long and 5 feet tall. They vie with the rhinoceros for the title of second-largest land animal after the elephant.

They spend most of their lives submerged in water to stay cool and prevent sunburn. As hulking as they are, hippos can outrun humans on land, which helps explain the periodic deaths of unsuspecting safari travelers in Africa.

That speed, and their highly aggressive disposition whenever their turf is invaded, makes them a threat and is the main reason authorities are offering the animals, or at least most of them, free to anyone who will come and take them off their hands.

Although there have been expressions of interest from environmental and research groups from Central America to Africa, no one has made a commitment to take them, mainly because of the cost and difficulty of transporting the beasts.

Sanchez says some of the animals may have to be shot if no takers are found.

"They say the meat is very tasty and the teeth are worth a lot," he said with a smile, only half-joking.

The local government has begun to float the possibility it might have to reduce or exterminate the herd, an idea that probably will not sit well with the locals, many of whom regard the animals as part of their identity.

For Escobar, the zoo may have fulfilled some childhood dream -- and provided diversion from the grim, murderous business of running a drug empire. Born in the village of Rio Negro, near Medellin, Escobar began his criminal life as a petty street thug and car thief, graduating to cocaine smuggling as U.S. demand exploded in the 1970s. He muscled his way to the top by bribing, intimidating or killing government officials and competing narcos. At the peak of his power, Escobar was raking in billions of dollars a year, sinking a sizable chunk of it into building Napoles, his Xanadu.

The drug lord financed public housing and other Medellin public works and made a successful run for Congress. But after he ordered the 1984 killing of Colombian Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, who had threatened to extradite Escobar to face U.S. drug-trafficking charges, the state declared war. By the time he was hunted down and killed in Medellin in December 1993, the armed forces had controlled his beloved Napoles for two years.

The issue of what to do with the hippos has come to a head because after years of ownership disputes, the state finally prevailed against the drug lord's wife and two children, who claimed the estate by inheritance. The Colombian government plans a medium-security prison on one 800-acre chunk of Hacienda Napoles, and several hundred acres more will become an environmental reserve.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Festival of Flowers / August 1st - 10th

The World Famous "La Feria de Las Flores” has been scheduled for Friday, August 1st through Sunday, August 1oth, 2008.

The Festival of Flowers in Medellin, Colombia is one of the most popular events in all of Colombia.

Medellin, Colombia Tours is… now Accepting Reservations

Limited to Eight Travelers

Tour Dates: July 31st - August 9th - 2008

A 10 Day Tour of Medellin, Antioquia - Colombia

This is more than just another typical vacation to a Latin American country.

It’s a travel adventure you will not soon forget. Especially, if you're interested in learning more about Colombian culture as well as a few of the more popular customs.

Visit for more information.

Festival of Flowers - August 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Semana Santa en Medellín

La ruta religiosa se recorre en Metro de Medellín

Televida y el Metro de Medellín crearon la guía religiosa de la ciudad.

66 paradas religiosas a iglesias y monumentos para incluir en su agenda.

30.000 ejemplares se entregan en las estaciones, en hoteles y restaurantes.

Sujeto con su mano derecha a la barra de un vagón del Metro, Jeovanny Saldarriaga va absorto en la lectura de un folleto, que a juzgar por el detenimiento con el que observa las imágenes y lee sus textos ha llamado enormemente su atención.

Atravesando la ciudad por la línea A, de la estación Aguacatala a San Antonio, Jeovanny alcanzó a leer la mitad de la guía: ¡En esta Semana Santa nuestro Metro te lleva a viajar por Medellín, ciudad de turismo religioso!

Minutos antes había recibido con la compra de su tiquete uno de los 30.000 folletos que circulan por el Valle de Aburrá y que invitan a recorrerlo y reconocerlo desde sus monumentos e historia religiosa.

Para él fue una grata sorpresa. Producto del legado de nuestros ancestros, Medellín es una ciudad de tradiciones católicas y esta iniciativa de Televida Internacional y el Metro de Medellín promueve un acercamiento a nuestras costumbres apostólicas.

La iniciativa
El Metro de Medellín y Televida Internacional se asociaron para crear esta guía después de reconocer que tenían un gran potencial a nivel religioso.

La idea es mostrar a residentes y turistas que existen muchos destinos importantes en la ciudad, cargados de una historia que habla de nuestras tradiciones y que son riqueza artística, arquitectónica y cultural.

"La ciudad de Medellín tiene templos muy representativos y hermosos, con una arquitectura muy bella, y tiene una imaginería religiosa digna de cualquier ciudad como Popayán, Mompox y Santa Fe de Antioquia", dice Juan Carlos Greiffesntein, director general de Televida.

Por esto y "ante el éxodo y la partida de muchos habitantes de la ciudad en Semana Santa, queremos potenciar el turismo frente a una propuesta muy especial para los habitantes de otras ciudades del país".

Razones de peso
Con el ánimo de difundir la historia que se esconde tras las fachadas de catedrales y reliquias religiosas, el canal Televida se encargó del trabajo investigativo.

Tenía razones poderosas para emprender esta ardua labor, ya que tenía la certeza de que no era un trabajo infundado.

De acuerdo con sus datos, solo la Arquidiócesis de Medellín tiene más de 350 iglesias y 1.300 sacerdotes; es la ciudad de Colombia que aporta mayor número de vocaciones religiosas y sacerdotales a América Latina; el arte religioso es abundante y hermoso y existen cuatro emisoras radiales religiosas y un canal de televisión con señal a nivel mundial.

Como parte de las ceremonias especiales y recorrido religioso, también promueven eventos artísticos para vivir con total recogimiento y devoción la Semana Santa.

El II Encuentro de Música Sacra trae cuatro conciertos que serán interpretados por 260 personas pertenecientes a las Corales y Grupos de Cámara de la ciudad. Todos serán transmitidos por Televida.

La invitación es a disfrutar la Semana Mayor en las calles de la ciudad y a vivir la devoción desde nuestro arte religioso.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

J-Balvin, Antioqueño Reggaeton Newcomer

Medellin, Colombia's J-Balvin has been making a name for himself as he tries to establish his talents in the Reggaeton scene in Colombia.

He can be seen playing at local clubs in and around Antioquia as he develops his skills.

If you're in the mood for some locally grown Reggaeton, check him out at any of the local clubs where he is playing to the croded dance floor.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Juanes Sings for 'Peace Without Borders; It's The Bomb in Colombia!

Juanes and the band of brothers in Colombia

Some of Latin music's biggest stars plan to join Juanes to perform a free concert atop a bridge linking Colombia and Venezuela in a show of unity among neighboring South American countries still recovering from a diplomatic crisis.

Others scheduled to perform: Juan Luis Guerra, Miguel Bose, Carlos Vives and Alejandro Sanz.

Juanes, the Grammy-winning Colombian rocker, said the "Peace Without Borders" concert _ scheduled for Sunday _ is an effort to ease tensions caused by a Colombian raid into Ecuador to kill a top rebel leader on March 1. In response to the attack, Ecuador and its ally Venezuela briefly sent troops to their Colombian borders.

"We want to consolidate the union between our peoples," he told reporters Tuesday by telephone from the Dominican Republic. "We are brothers and sisters, we are equals. We just have to raise one flag together, the flag of peace."

The artists will perform on the Simon Bolivar Bridge linking Cucuta, Colombia, and San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, while fans from both countries line the banks of the narrow Tachira River that marks the border, local officials said.

March 2008 The Associated Press.

Check out the CROWD!

It's a MADHOUSE between Venenzuela and Colombia borders!

It's getting HOT OUT THERE!


Here's a map of the area where the "Peace Without Borders" concert is taking place.

This is what it's ALL ABOUT..... P E A C E Without Borders!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Delaware Art Museum To Showcase ‘Baroque World Of Fernando Botero’

Fernando Botero (Colombian, b 1932), "The Orchestra,” 2001, oil on canvas, 80 by 56¾ inches. Private collection.

The Delaware Art Museum presents "The Baroque World of Fernando Botero," a major retrospective exhibition featuring 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, on view March 15–June 8. Botero (b 1932), well known for his extravagantly rounded figures, is one of the most internationally popular artists working today. Using a broad range of media, the Colombian-born Botero has created a world of his own, one that is at once accessible and enigmatic.

"The Baroque World of Fernando Botero" presents a selection of the best works from various stages in Botero's development as an artist. Drawn from Botero's private collection that has been assembled over the past 50 years, this exhibition includes favorite works that the artist was unable to part with, as well as pieces reacquired years after they left his possession. Many have never before been exhibited in public. And the exhibition goes beyond the Delaware Art Museum's galleries, as three of Botero's sculptures are being mounted in the museum's Copeland Sculpture Garden — "Hand," "Smoking Woman" and "The Rape of Europa."

Botero's roots are in Medellín, and his earliest artistic impressions were molded in a Colombian town close to the Andes mountains. His first images drew upon the Spanish colonial baroque, a movement of extravagant richness, featuring the sumptuous decorations that flourish on the walls of churches in South America.

Botero has spent most of his years as an artist away from his native Colombia, but his art has maintained an uninterrupted link to Latin America. Latin American baroque imagery is reflected in Botero's work when portraying himself as a small boy in the arms of Our Blessed Lady of Colombia, carrying a diminutive flag with the national colors or in depictions of his mother as a widow, in her desperate struggle to survive with her three young children. Botero can also shock viewers with images of terror and violence, referring to the political instability, the attacks, the kidnappings and the torture prevalent in his country.

The exhibition follows Botero in his extensive studies of the history of European art, focusing on the influence of Velazquez in Spain; Ingres, Delacroix, and Courbet in France; and Renaissance artists in Italy. He also turned his attention to Mexico, where the monumental murals by Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros had a profound impact. Botero absorbed the dramatic self-portraits of Frida Kahlo and her idiosyncratic interpretation of Latin American folklore, and was intrigued by the mysteries of pre-Colombian artifacts.

Another important theme illustrated in the exhibition is the reality of contemporary life in Latin America as observed by Botero's satirical eye. A section is presented on everyday life in South America: women observed in the intimacy of their boudoir, street scenes, dance halls and the suggestion of houses of ill repute. Even in his still life paintings, Botero is capable of introducing a hint of menace, creating a sense of uneasiness difficult to define.

The Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway.
For information, 302-571-9590, 866-232-3714

Sunday, March 9, 2008

La Piedra de el Penol and Guatapé Lake

La Piedra de el Penol in Guatapé

La Piedra de el Penol is a great day trip from Medellin. You'll need to take the train and travel to the north bus station for the hour and a half bus trip to El Penol (a most spectacular natural wonder and a challenging trip up the stairway within the big rock). All the locals in Medellin know about El Penol, all you need to do it ask.

Be sure to take the boat ride on the lake while you're there. There are about a dozen tour boats that leave all the time for just a few dollars. Some nice lake-side resturants as well. The town, Guatapé, is where the bus departs as well. It has the most beautiful church on the central plaza.

Have fun and bring a jacket for the boat ride as it can get chilly.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Taste of Colombia Rolls Through New York’s Streets

The party was off to a raucous start. A chorus of whoops and yelps from the crowd followed a loud “Buenas noches!” from the M.C. A band played traditional Colombian music. Liberal pourings of rum and Cokes helped lubricate the festivities.

The party, held on a drizzly Friday night, was bouncing — literally. “I’ve got to be careful when the potholes hit,” said Raul Alphavitae, 28, one of the musicians with the band, Aires del Folklor.

Mr. Alphavitae’s observation gives a hint of what made this night on the town a little different: The party was held on wheels, in an old yellow school bus decked out in yellow, red and blue paint. “We’re like musical ninjas — we have to stay on balance while everything is bouncing around,” Mr. Alphavitae said.

As New York City’s Colombian population has ballooned, one custom that has been transplanted is the use of rustic buses, or chivas as they are called in Spanish, for parties.

A chiva in Medellin, Colombia

“By the time the bus crosses the bridge, everybody is friends,” said Sorady Cortes, 28, a physical therapist out with some girlfriends, as she waited for the chiva to start its engine in Queens and head west over the Queensboro Bridge and into Midtown Manhattan. “They have a bar, and that helps.”

In the chiva, partygoers seeking a more authentic taste of Colombia poured aguardiente, an anise-flavored liquor, from a wineskin. Some of the roughly 30 people on the tour donned traditional Colombian straw hats called sombreros vueltiaos, and shook maracas and tambourines to get the party started. The M.C. worked an iPod full of cumbia, salsa and reggaetón favorites while the band took a break.

Inside the packed bus, the seats along the sides were covered in burlap, a multicolored strobe light flickered, a smoke machine puffed and a small flat-panel television showed videos of gyrating dancers moving to a Latin beat. The operator of the chiva, Jean Carlos Balcazar, 26, said he had bought the 1985 Ford bus on eBay for $5,000.

But Mr. Balcazar’s isn’t the only chiva game in town. Daniel Bernal, 51, has a chiva in Dix Hills, on Long Island, that he uses to take groups to bars in the city and around the island. Mr. Bernal’s most vivid memory is of taking a bachelorette party to Hogs and Heifers, a drinking spot in the meatpacking district. When the women returned to the chiva, they continued the Hogs and Heifers tradition of doffing their bras in drunken abandon. “I kept my eyes on the road,” Mr. Bernal said.

Carmen Hernandez, 60, is considered the grande dame of chivas in New York. She began her company in 1986 with her husband and their eldest son. “The only thing I didn’t see in New York were chivas,” said Ms. Hernandez, who was a lawyer in her native Colombia. She said she sold her jewelry and used her savings to buy an old school bus in the Bronx, which served as her first chiva.

She now owns two chivas and employs 10 people, including drivers, D.J.’s, tour guides and security staff, for her “traveling discothèque.”

Mr. Bernal and Ms. Hernandez occasionally work together when they need extra chivas for larger groups. Between them, they said they have provided chivas for Don King, the national Colombian soccer team, Colombian beauty queens, and Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz for the New York premiere of “Charlie’s Angels.”

Although several chivas are operating in New York, there seems to be enough business to go around. The tours have similar options, like unlimited drinks and music, a stop at a Colombian restaurant for arepas (cornmeal patties) and other snacks, a stop at Rockefeller Plaza for a group photo and entry to a nightclub at the end of the tour.

The cost depends on the operator and whether the passengers want food, a live band or to go to a club. On one tour, the price is $40 a person for the night; on another, a group can pay $150 an hour. A chiva operator needs a valid commercial driver’s license and a permit to serve alcohol.

Outside Colombia, chivas had one of their biggest moments in the spotlight in the 1984 movie “Romancing the Stone,” when Kathleen Turner boarded one replete with chickens, pigs and farmers on an ill-fated ride through the Colombian mountains.

In fact, chivas are still the traditional mode of transportation in rural Colombia. But in cities like Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla, they are now used as party buses. The word chiva in Spanish means many things, including kid goat, and how it became the name of the brightly colored buses is anyone’s guess, Ms. Hernandez said. Some say that waiting passengers confused the bus with a goat from a distance. Others say the sound of the bus’s horn mimics that of a goat.

The word chiva is also slang for news. The buses were a way for families spread out in rural communities to stay in touch. Families would pass on messages like, “Tell my grandmother I’m O.K.,” said Francisco Noguera Rocha, the consul general for Colombia in New York.

Back on Mr. Balcazar’s tour, the brightly colored chiva was rocking through Times Square, and the music was booming. Onlookers waved and smiled. Tourists snapped photos. Pedicab drivers tooted their horns. The attention made the party hop even more. “I love the way people look, like, ‘We could be in there!’ ” said Michael Trujillo, 31, a passenger. “It’s an exclusive V.I.P. party without the velvet rope.”

The New York Times By TANZINA VEGA - Published: March 2, 2008