In this Blog we will give you a general update about our adventures in Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia.
It has been a while, and a lot has happened. And yes, we have some great news to share! Since there is much to write about, we decided to make three separate articles!
This blog is about some of the initial paperwork required for our New Life Peñol Wellness Retreat.
Theo started the application procedure last year December. While his request was under review, Theo could not travel to Colombia. Expat group Medellin, the visa application agency, told him that the process could take about two months.
Theo called Expat Group and they told him that for some reason his request was abandoned. He had to pay some money to re-activate the request to continue the process. He did, and this time he got a quick answer. The Colombian Consul in Curaçao invited him for an interview after few days. The Consul himself helped him on the day of his appointment and was extremely kind and helpful with information and tips: for example that you can start the Visa Application online yourself through the website of the Cancillería de Colombia. We must mention that in our experience the staff of the Colombian Consulate in Curacao are truly kind and helpful whenever we go there for authentication of documents or other paperwork.
After this meeting, the visa request progressed quickly. Theo paid, went back the next day, and received the Visa sticker in his passport!
After getting his visa, Theo had to apply for the Foreigner Identification Card (cedula de extranjería). Some of you may know that you cannot do anything in Colombia without a Colombian identification card. When we went to Colombia for the first time in April 2021, we did not understand the protocol and thought we could just walk into a bank and open a bank account because we bought the property. No way José… You need either a cedula de cuidadanía, a cedula de extranjería, or set up a Company, to be able to open a bank account anywhere in Colombia.
After you get your visa, you need to travel to Colombia and register your visa and go to immigration to apply for the cedula de extranjería within 15 days after arrival, otherwise, you get a fine.
As part of their Visa service, Expat Group Medellin made an appointment for Theo at the Departamento de Migración for the required interviews to apply for his cedula. When we arrived at the Immigration building, we saw a long queue. I (Yut-Mie) got out of the car and asked where we needed to go for a cedula. One of them just pointed to the end of the queue 😒. I could not believe that, so I approached another older-looking guard and told him: “But we have an appointment to get the cedula de extranjería!” He said: “Ah you have an appointment? OK, then go around the building.”
I got back into the car, and our driver drove around the block into the next street. Another long queue. I got out of the car and walked straight to the door this time and told the guard that Theo had an appointment. The guard let Theo in. The guard told me I had to wait outside due to COVID rules. Since Theo did not speak Spanish and he did not have internet on his phone for google translate nor to message me on that first visit, I was a bit nervous. I watched the door attentively the entire time, for a sign of a Theo in distress 😊. After 45 min however, he came out triumphantly with a stamp in his passport with his ID number on it! 🎉
Unfortunately, the Cedula de Extranjería card itself would be ready for pick-up only after 10 days. We would already be in Curaçao at that time because we booked to stay only for 8 days. We asked a friend, who lives in Medellin if he could do us a favor and pick up the card. We were in luck! He had to go to the Departamento de Migración the next week for personal business and would pick up Theo’s card at the same time. Theo gave him a Power of Attorney, he picked up Theo’s card and when we returned to Medellin after one month, Theo got it officially in his hands!
With the cedula de extranjería in his pocket, Theo could finally open a bank account in Medellin, Antioquia. During a previous visit, I made inquiries at Bancolombia Oviedo. In my experience, the employees at this branch were much friendlier and more helpful than at the branch at El Peñol. Naturally, I chose to return to the Oviedo Branch and indeed, after giving all the required KYC documents (copy passport, proof of address, etc.), Theo got his bank account and surprisingly even his bank card. And as the cherry on the cake, the super nice bank attendant even helped him set up and configure the whole online banking app on his phone (yes there you can use your phone in the bank). We are super happy that we can now pay for the expenses and for the services rendered at our Finca without too much hassle or delay. 🙌
After accomplishing these milestones, we could relax and enjoy the controversial city of Medellin. When Theo had his appointment at the Migration Office, it was our first time staying in Medellin. We were both positively impressed with the beauty and the good vibes of the city. Medellin lies in a valley. The temperature is a bit warmer than in El Peñol. Because the trees and water streams have been well conserved, you sometimes even get the feeling that you are in the countryside while in the city. We stayed at a Four Points by Sheraton in El Poblado, because it is relatively close to the Migration Office, and because I am a Mariott Bonvoy Member, which gave us a few extra benefits.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the hotel is situated within walking distance from the Oviedo Shopping Mall in Medellin. Oviedo is great for banking, eating, and shopping.
After the adventure at the Migration Office, we bought a Tigo sim card for Theo at Oviedo. Tigo seems to have better coverage and reception than Claro, which I tried during our first visit last year. The sim helps us to have internet for ordering taxis, and use Google Translate on the Go without incurring roaming charges. And of course, it is necessary for registering the cedula de extranjería and opening of a bank account.
Another highlight of the shopping was that I had my eyes checked and managed to score a new pair of specs at a decent price in record time at Lafam. My specs were ready in 1 week. All because manufacturing happens locally.
The food in the food court of Centro Commercial Oviedo offers a good variety of choices at a fair price, half of what we usually pay here in Curaçao. To give you an idea. I love lunch bowls. I was able to buy a Grilled Salmon Bowl at Pizza Co in the Oviedo food court for only USD 7,= and you can see in the picture that it was a substantial size 😊.
Another impressive experience was the touristic area of Provenza. The night ambiance under the trees lit with colored lights, outdoor music, street food (try the Tacos de Camarones Salteados, Shrimp Tacos, at Submarino Express for only $5,=!) and dancing.
Now that Miami travels are so much more expensive for us on the Island of Curacao, Medellin is the perfect vacation destination alternative.
I invite you to share your experiences of Medellin in the comments below and tell us, which hotels, shopping malls and restaurants you like, so we can visit/ try them out them next time!
If this is the first time you read our Blog, we do have an ABOUT US PAGE right here, it tells you a bit of ourselves 😉
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See you next time.