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Events 8

Colombian music star Carlos Vives first gained international fame in 1993 by bringing traditional vallenato music to the whole world, via the sensational hit-single, “La Gota Fria.”

Ever since, Vives’ pioneering group “La Provincia” has frequently topped the Latin American pop-music charts -- as well as popular music-video internet links.

Besides winning numerous Grammy awards, Vives and La Provincia have over the past 25 years garnered huge followings at live performances in many countries far beyond Colombia.

Now, with his brother Guillo and Mexican multinational restaurant investor Mera Corporation, the Vives brothers just brought a traditional-foods “Gaira Café” to the international departures area at Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordoba (JMC) international airport – with a second, Medellin-city “Gaira Café” location on the horizon, brother Guillo told Medellin Herald.

In a September 9 press conference at JMC attended by scores of TV, radio and print journalists, the Vives brothers lectured, sang and showed-off their newest Gaira Café location here -- their third nationally, and all featuring traditional foods from Colombia's Caribbean coast, where the Vives brothers were born.

The brothers first launched Gaira Café 20 years ago in Bogota -- initially as a restaurant -- and then later added a third-floor musical auditorium, which continues to feature some of Colombia’s top emerging pop-rock artists.

While the JMC location is only open to ticketed international passengers -- hence not ideal for attracting spectators to concerts like those at the Bogota city location – it will nevertheless on occasion bring trios or other music groups for impromptu performances at JMC, according to the Vives brothers.

Following the press event here, Mera Corporation president Rafael Aguirre explained to Medellin Herald that his company is investing US$10 million in several restaurants (including slots at JMC) – of which about $1 million went into the latest Gaira Café.

The Mera investments at JMC also include a new Juan Valdez café, an Amazonia Café, a Petit Gourmet restaurant, a Guy Fieri Burger Joint outlet, a Mondongo’s café, and a craft-beer service.

Mera is also eyeing the possibility of opening a Mexican restaurant in the under-construction balcony section at the international-departures area at JMC, Aguirre told us.

The first collaboration between the Vives brothers and Mera came in 2018 at Bogota’s El Dorado airport, involving the second-ever Gaira Café. Along with a Guy Fieri restaurant, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, an Amazonía Café and a Guacamole Ándele restaurant, all these outlets together form what Mera calls the “Zona R” food court at El Dorado.

In a related presentation at the JMC press event, Colombia’s Transportation Minister Angela Orozco praised Mera's growing investments here. Mera and other investors at JMC have now transformed the international-departures area with a dizzying array of colorful shops and a wide variety of consumer enticements.

The new investments would seem to have favorable prospects, as not only has Medellin seen a huge surge of international tourist numbers (especially in the last five years), but also Colombia nationally now expects that its airports will see some 100 million tourists annually by 2030, Orozco revealed.

Such tourist numbers -- staggering by Colombian historical standards – will require billions of dollars of continuing investments in airport and highway infrastructure, including the “fourth generation” (4G) highways now under construction in Antioquia and nationwide, Orozco added.


The Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitologia (SAO, the Medellin ornithological society) announced September 19 that the fifth annual “Festival de las Aves de Medellin” will take flight October 3 to October 8.

All local Festival programs -- including lectures by national and international experts, special learning workshops and guided, local bird walks -- are free. But the post-festival birding trips to Manantiales or Napoles, Antioquia -- which require special advance registrations -- carry separate charges.

Complete Festival program details -- including instructions on how to sign-up for the workshops and the local bird walks -- are available here: https://www.festivaldelasavesmedellin.com.

Registrations for the post-festival birding trips (Manantiales or Napoles)-- departing October 6 and returning October 8 -- can be made here: https://www.festivaldelasavesmedellin.com/pajareadaspostfestival .  However, as of this writing, the Napoles birding trip was already fully booked.

The option for joining the (still-available at this writing) Manantiales birding trip is nothing short of spectacular (see: http://www.medellinherald.com/ecot/item/239-paradise-restored-manantiales-nature-reserve-symbolizes-colombia’s-hopeful-future, titled "Paradise Restored: Manantiales Nature Reserve Symbolizes Colombia’s Hopeful Future," Medellin Herald, January 04, 2016).

According to the SAO, the annual Medellin Bird Festivals “seek to position Medellin as the 'Bird Capital of the World,' as recognized nationally and internationally, and also so that local citizens learn to appreciate their natural heritage.

“It’s clear that people only love and appreciate what they know -- which is why it is vital to integrate scientific [bird] knowledge with educational-cultural events in our city spaces. Thus, this Festival seeks to offer the public a place for recreation and learning which generates knowledge, ownership and awareness of the great diversity of birds that are hosted in this territory.”

Lecture, workshop and birding highlights this year include:

8 am-12 noon Wednesday, October 3: Workshop for children on how to use the “Merlin” bird-identification cell-phone application, at EAFIT university in Medellin (Las Vegas campus).

2 pm Wednesday, October 3: Workshop on how to prevent collisions of birds against buildings and other structures, at Corantioquia headwaters in Medellin.

2-3 pm Wednesday, October 3: Workshop for adults on how to use the “Merlin” bird-identification cell-phone application, EAFIT university (Las Vegas).

3-4 pm Wednesday, October 4: Official debut of new illustrated book, “Birds of Ituango,” by EPM and University of Antioquia, and a bird-photography exhibition, both at EAFIT university (Las Vegas).

5:30 am to 11 am Thursday, October 5: Choice of bird walks either to Parque Arvi, Parque Presidenta, or San Sebastian de la Castellana.

2 pm Thursday, October 5: Lecture on Medellin’s new “green corridors” (Planetarium auditorium, next to Parque Explora).

2:50 pm Thursday, October 5: Lecture featuring professors and children from Restrepo, Meta department, on their novel “Alas de Saber” ornithology-teaching curriculum for children, at Planetarium.

3:45 pm Thursday, October 5: Expert lecture on how to prevent bird collisions with power lines in Colombia, at Planetarium.

6 pm Thursday, October 5: “Science on Bicycles” event featuring hummingbird observations. Departs from Planetarium.

5:30 a.m.-11 am Friday, October 6: Optional bird-walks to Parque Arvi, Parque Presidenta, San Sebastian de la Castellana, EAFIT Llanogrande or EAFIT Medellin (Las Vegas campus).

2 pm Friday, October 6: Lecture on the birds of the Alto de San Miguel nature reserve (Caldas, Antioquia), EAFIT university (Las Vegas campus).

4 pm Friday, October 6: Lecture on the “Merlin” birding application by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology (USA) bird expert Drew Weber, EAFIT university (Las Vegas campus).

6 pm Friday, October 6: Lecture on urban birds by Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology bird expert Karen Purcell, EAFIT university (Las Vegas campus).


August is the month when both Medellin and Detroit celebrate classic cars -- and the joyful return of positive vibes -- via the “Desfile de Autos Clasicos” here and the gigantic “Woodward Dream Cruise” in Detroit.


Two of Antioquia's leading producers of Hass avocados on August 15 hailed a new decision by the U.S. government to allow imports of Colombian avocados into the U.S. market starting September 15.

“Unlike Peru and Chile, Colombia enjoys permanent production of Hass avocados during 12 months of the year,” said Ricardo Uribe Lalinde, general manager of Medellin-based Cartama, a group of leading Colombian companies producing avocados and cut flowers for major export markets.

“At a time when the North American market demand for Hass avocados remains unsatisfied, here in our country we can supply it,” he added.

Having first launched Hass avocado production in Amaga, Antioquia in 2007, Cartama later expanded production into Caldas and Risaralda, and then opened a packing and shipping plant in Pereira for the export market in 2016.

Also during 2016, British supermarket chain Marks and Spencer awarded Cartama with its “Growers Best Quality” certification for Colombian Hass avocados.

The new U.S. approval would at least double Colombian exports of Hass avocados, which already topped US$25 million through the first half of 2017, according to Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

Meanwhile, Pedro Aguilar, president of Westsole Fruit Colombia -- which has major warehouse, packing and shipping facilities on the Medellin-Bogota highway in Antioquia -- added that Colombian avocado producer insistence upon meeting strict sanitary standards has been crucial to winning more export markets.

Of the US$35 million in avocado exports from Colombia in 2016,  52.7% of the total came from Antioquia; 22.7% from Risaralda; 7.4% from Bogotá;  5.8% from Caldas; 4.6% from Quindío; 4.5% from Cundinamarca and the remaining 1.8% from Valle del Cauca, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Meanwhile, according to an August 15 press release from Expo Agrofuturo – which is hosting its ninth annual trade show at Medellin’s Plaza Mayor convention center September 13-15 – Colombia is already the third-largest global avocado producer, and the new U.S. market opening is expected to prompt "rapid growth over the medium term."

Avocado production and export will be among the featured topics at Expo Agrofuturo 2017. The trade show will include 420 national and international exhibitors, some 20,000 registered attendees and an expectation of business deals topping US$300 million, according to Expo Agrofuturo.

Agricultural experts from Spain, Germany, Holland and Colombia will be among the featured speakers at Expo Agrofuturo 2017, including Nicolas Cock, co-founder and president of Medellin-based Ecoflora Agro.


Medellin’s downtown Olaya Herrera airport will eliminate all flights from September 4 through September 10 to accommodate enormous crowds expected for Mass ceremonies for Pope Francisco’s visit.

According to the official press statement from Olaya Herrera airport management, all flights that normally would arrive and depart from the downtown airport instead will be transferred to Medellin’s José María Córdova (JMC) international airport at Rionegro.

The Medellin Archdiocese estimates that some 800,000 people are expected to attend Mass ceremonies with the Pope – and such enormous crowds would best be accommodated by taking-over the vast area within the Olaya Herrera airfield, according to the airport agency.

Because of the shift in flight operations, JMC will have to accommodate an extra 144 daily flights serving about 2,800 daily passengers, according to the managing directors of both airports. Extra airport workers and special facilities will be assigned to JMC to handle the surge of baggage and passengers during that week.

A special bus service will operate to and from Olaya Herrera to handle the extra volume of passengers arriving and departing from JMC, according to the airport agencies.


About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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