"I recently returned to the States from a 28 day trip to Bucaramanga (3 days), Barranquilla (22 days), and Cartagena (3 days). I was a little disappointed by how the city of Barranquilla itself looked very dirty, a non-descript kind of place. Not a really good vibe at first. I had heard a lot of things about International-Introductions.com, Jamie´s place before my trip 90% good and 10% bad (mostly about their high prices). So I tried it out myself. For about six months I picked out many, many girls from their website and put them on my list to meet when I arrived there for my trip. I also utilized their email address purchase program. I thought it would be a good idea to write to a lot of them prior to my trip so I could "weed out" any that were not compatible with my ideas and tastes.
I can tell you that their website is outstanding and easy to use. Their customer service is tremendous. The ladies on their site are very sincere and honest. Only about 1 out of 100 asked me for money or anything that made me think that she was not sincere. Compare that with what I will be writing about Cartagena!
The process of writing the letters was OK. I don´t know if I would do it again however. Many of the girls I was able to weed out simply by asking them specific questions and seeing if they were reliable with the "webcam dates" or if they were talking or writing to other people during the times we were connected online. But there is no substitute for meeting them face to face. If there is no chemistry, there is no chemistry. And with a few of the girls I was very sure about and appeared to have everything I was looking for at first, I didn´t feel much chemistry when we were face to face. But a good thing about writing was that it was incredibly useful for practicing my Spanish, if only for writing and grammar instead of conversation.
Once I actually got to Barranquilla, I was greeted by my guide/interpreter. She was outstanding I would give her a score of 98%. She was extremely helpful with everything. She even helped me buy a cell phone there. I was immediately whisked away to begin my many, many group meetings. She was able to interpret everything I needed to say and what the girls were saying to me. Her English was 100% and she was able to understand all my jokes and slang and that from the girls as well. So during the three days I was there I had private, one on one meal dates with some of my priority choices. So probably nine dates like that. And the group meetings had between 5-15 people in each meeting. Probably like 8 of those meetings. Everything was incredibly organized, smooth-running and professional. I could tell that the girls really took the whole process seriously from how professionally Jamie runs his place.
After one day, I knew I had a big problem I had already met probably 5 girls who would make anyone a perfect wife. And the thing is that after each group meeting they asked each of the girls in private to rate me and see if they were interested and almost all were interested in meeting me again. It is not so surprising though, since the way Jamie works it is that you make your selections from the website, he gives the girls your profile and a few photos, and they decide whether they are interested in coming to the meeting in the first place. Very efficient.
Anyway, I went through the whole process. I met a lot of ladies and was very, very, very impressed with the marriage agency and Barranquilla in general. Jamie was on site much of the time from early in the morning to late at night, an extremely professional and great guy. He made sure everything ran smoothly.
The girls were incredible. If you are looking for a sincere, loving and caring wife I don´t think you can go wrong in Barranquilla. Almost all were interested in the simple things in life: having a loving family, dancing, cooking, children, and going to the beach. So refreshing. And even though the life there is very difficult for most of the ladies they had such incredibly positive attitudes toward life and meeting the man of their dreams. The majority of the girls were very young. I am 39. But the good thing is that not one single girl that I spoke with at the marriage agency or at the malls had any problem with the age difference. They said it was more important how the person was inside, his sense of humor, and whether he lived a healthy lifestyle. They did not like guys who smoked, drank much, or were too serious. For the most part they do not like guys with moustaches or beards. Almost all are serious about dancing. They like to go out a lot but most do not drink much. They like to dance.
Well I gave up on finding a wife during that trip after a short while because there were so many choices. I made up my mind to just meet as many ladies as possible, get contact information, and continue the process from home and during subsequent visits to Colombia. But then lightning struck me!!! I had a cancellation with one of the girls from the marriage agency and I had a couple free minutes so I hopped on the computer at the agency and checked their website again. And I found the girl of my dreams. She had just joined the agency I think only 1 or 2 days before. I asked if someone could contact her for me. I was told that I had already used up my days and that the agency´s obligation to me was already satisfied but "NO PROBLEM. WE´LL CALL HER RIGHT AWAY." They had someone contacting her within minutes trying to track her down for me. And within a couple hours I was talking to my girl on the phone and setting up a date with her.
We had the first date at "Las Flores". It is a barrio outside of Barranquilla that is along the river. They have the freshest seafood possible. You can see them bringing from little boats at the back of the restaurant. The prices were good. The live music was outstanding. I really loved that place.
Well the rest was history. I began to spend all my time with my girl and her family. Her mother even took unpaid time off from work to spend time with me and learn all about me. I met the whole extended family, including aunts, uncles, friends, everyone. And instead of going out partying we spent a lot of time with the family. It was very, very nice and different from what goes on here in the States. I felt very comfortable right away and am now engaged to be married. I am returning to visit my girl in October and again in November for her birthday. I am completely satisfied. I have never met a woman like this in my life. She is bright, positive, intelligent, likes to cook, is always trying to take care of me, loving, passionate and incredible.
We have begun the visa process. She has begun the English classes at Jamie´s marriage agency. Everything is going well.
I cannot say enough good things about Jamie and his business approach, the people he has working for him, the whole thing. It was well worth the money spent. It was probably worth twice as much!!! Nah, I think I am getting a little out of control now. But I would highly recommend his marriage agency to anyone who is serious about the process of finding the woman of his dreams. I met several other guys who were there too and they were all very satisfied as well. One guy was even from Finland I think. Very happy guy.
OK so that was Barranquilla. Anything else? Let me think… extremely hot weather! I was sweating my butt off the whole time!!! And I live in Arizona!!!! The last part of my trip was to Cartagena. I was supposed to be there for at least 12 days, but changed my plans when I met my girl and for other reasons that I will be talking about in the next episode.
I just want to say that so far I have been to Bogotá, Cali, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, and Cartagena and the people of Barranquilla seem to be the most warm, loving, and affectionate of all of them. Not just because of the fact that my fiancée is from there, but because of almost all the girls I met there. But don´t get me wrong. The other cities have fantastic people also. I cannot say more about how many wonderful people I met in all parts of Colombia. Very nice."
"This is sort of a delayed trip report or should I say a report regarding my two trips to Colombia, one in March and the other in August. It has been a while since I last posted so let me remind everyone that I selected International Introductions because I had never been to Colombia before and I liked the idea that the girls looked at your profile too so that you´re not wasting time with someone who has no interested in you. The reasons why I haven´t posted for a while are many: I was overwhelmed when I returned in March with conflicting emotions of joy and regret. I loved my experience in Barranquilla at Jamie´s marriage agency. I was there for 10 days and I met many quality ladies, yet the time went so fast that I was depressed when I came back. For those who have never been to Colombia it is a candy store that can leave you more hungry after than before you arrive. For those of us attracted to bronze Latin women, especially women with nice curves and sexy behinds, Colombia has it and then some. That is the problem, if you really call it a problem. It can be too much of a good thing in the sense that you can later regret a lost connection with a beautiful Latin woman you might meet there because you are still curious about what´s behind "door number three." There is nothing wrong with that, though. It really depends on what you want to accomplish on your trip. Since I was looking for serious wife material, constantly looking for the next best thing left me feeling sort of empty and depressed when I returned in March. I met a really wonderful woman, but because of my curiosity to "look behind door number three" we only got to spend one wonderful day in Cartagena together before, regretfully, my trip was over.
Anyway, first impressions from my first trip:
I landed in Barranquilla on March 16. Since I hated to fly at the time I wasn´t able to sleep on my flight and when I landed I was kind of thrashed. I had flown from Sacramento the night before to Los Angeles where I boarded a flight to Panama which got me to my final destination.
I was met by one of International Introductions interpreters and my first introduction. She was a very attractive 19 year old who still had her braces on. She had been one of my selections but in person she looked so young that I kind of felt like a dirty old man with her. I am 39, so I was over twice her age. Also, since I was tired and feeling like I wanted to shave and shower I just wasn´t feeling it no matter how cute she was. Perhaps it was culture shock.
Let me say that before this trip to Colombia I had never been out of the United States except for a few trips to Tijuana and a cruise to Ensenada, Mexico I was a very green gringo indeed. To put it bluntly, it was culture shock to me. One is hit by, or at least I was, by the sights of poverty on the road leaving the airport. Barranquilla is a modern city that has modern amenities, but this is a developing nation still, torn by violent struggle. I admit I was scared. My first thought was, "what the hell have I just done?"
Eventually, I became acculturated to Colombia and grew to like the city, the good and the bad and above all the Colombian women. My first day at International Introductions I met ten women, seven in a group setting and the others on individual dates. Jamie promises to introduce you to at least forty Colombian women and that he did.
I stayed in a house that also serves as their offices and group meeting area. It´s a nice house, nothing too fancy, but nice and in a decent area of Barranquilla. My room was comfortable. Everything was in working order.
The women I met on the whole were very nice. Some were very educated and all of them were ladies. I don´t know what I was expecting before I left but my impression, probably false, had been that Colombian women were very forward. I had visions in my head of being Hugh Heffner Junior, but for me at least that was not the case. The Colombian women I met had no problem sleeping with you but did not want you dating someone else the next day. In certain respects I was pleasantly surprised. They weren´t desperately throwing themselves at this gringo unless I was willing to commit to them. I had my forty Colombian women to meet. However, the one who I had a connection with the most I ay met my first group meeting in Barranquilla. She seemed intimidated in the group meeting, but there was something about her that I was drawn to. She was attractive, but so were the others. To me she radiated a certain sweetness and shyness that I was attracted to. She was 31, never married, no children and a doctor as well.
I wanted to see more of her, but I thought I owed it to myself to make sure she was the one I wanted to spend the bulk of my days with in Barranquilla. So, I spent the majority of my trip trying to find (Latina) Plus instead of getting to better know my original interest better before I left.
The day before I left my interpreter had rented a car and driver for us on our trip to Cartagena. I believe the cost was the equivalent of US$100. It may seem a little pricey but I thought it was worth it. The driver was with us all day and would drive us anywhere we wished in Cartagena. We did more of the historical tour sites like the Castle. I love Cartagena too. The old city is surrounded by walls, and the architecture conjures up images of a city on the Mediterranean. It´s a beautiful, romantic city. You definitely need more than a day exploring its streets.
Anyway, I had to leave the next day and I was feeling sad. I felt something special was growing between (Latina) and me but our time together had ended. We exchanged emails and phone numbers. My E ticket was done, so back to reality. We kept in touch through online chat and a webcam. We talked about everything and my Spanish improved. She was an unknown quantity that I wanted to know more about. I had to go back to Colombia to find out if she could be the one and I did so in August.
My trip was only five days. I didn´t want to be there too long if things went sour between us, and maybe just long enough to meet some fresh faces. Needless to say I didn´t need a plan B. I also met her family, very respectable. Her father is an attorney, and her brother and sister both have college degrees. Even though her siblings are in their mid to late 20´s they all live at home until they are married. Colombians are very family-oriented. We took a small tour bus to the resort city of Santa Marta which is Northeast of Barranquilla on the Caribbean. I liked Santa Marta a lot. The beaches are much cleaner and the water clearer than Cartagena or Barranquilla. For any South American history buffs Santa Marta is the city where Simon Bolivar died. The house that he died in has been converted to a museum. The downtown area of Santa Marta has a great night life with clubs, restaurants, and people dancing and playing music on the beach. Santa Marta is like a smaller Cartagena, more intimate but with less beautiful architecture.
Barranquilla is a modern industrial city where on the outskirts by the airport and the waterway of the Magdalena river are the impoverished areas where the term "third world" comes to mind. The downtown skyline and north of it are the areas where you want to be. The Buena Vista Mall is a good place to spot many attractive Colombian women. I found the people very nice with a kind of laid back attitude, although I found it difficult to understand their Spanish. They speak very low, but rapidly. I have some basic Spanish comprehension but found it difficult at first to understand them. Barranquilla really is not what you would call a city for sightseeing. The beaches there are polluted there are no great architectural structures to feast the eyes on, but the women I found very attractive. The bottom line is, the only reason someone who would want to go to Barranquilla is for the women and Carnival. That´s it.
To say the least I had a wonderful time, and I am planning on going back for a week in December. If things don´t work out between us into something more permanent I have no regrets. I want to thank all the gringos on this site who inspired me to finally take the plunge into South America. I have experienced a whole new world. For that I will always be grateful."
"OK here we go! After reading this board and private messages from many of the guys here I decided to call Jamie and go visit his Marriage agency in Barranquilla. He had one of his translators meet me at the airport with a young pretty woman at 6:00 PM. We rode from the airport to the International Introductions office. When I arrived I was taken to my room I unpacked and had my first group introduction at 7:30pm. I meet 12-14 women from 19 to 29 years of age. After the group intro I went out on a one on one private date. (Day 2) The next day I had a one-on-one private breakfast date. Then at noon I had my group intro. Here I meet 10-13 women from 19 to 29 years of age. After the group intro I went out for a private one-on-one date. Then back to the office for a 3rd group introduction where I met over fifteen women age 19-30 years of age. After that I had a one-on-one private date on the patio. I then was off to a one-on-one dinner date. When dinner was over we went back to the office where I had another one-on-one private date that went to midnight. Also every night when I got back to the office I spent time talking with Jamie about his business and my dates. Jamie is a total pleasure to speak with and I enjoyed every one of his staff and the housekeeper. (Day 3) I had a private one-on-one private breakfast date. Then I went back to the office for my 4th group intro to 12-15 women 19-30 years of age. Then off to a private one-on-one lunch date and then back to Jamie´s for my 5th group intro to 10-12 women 19-30 years of age. I then had a private one-on-one date on the patio. Then I had my final group intro at 7:30pm. Then I was off to a private one-on-one dinner date. During the whole time I am there I am being asked who I want to meet with in private for one-on-one date for all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I spent the three days going on many one-on-one dates and even some 2nd and 3rd dates. Do not go to Jamie´s place to sleep. I was in my room maybe five to seven hours a night total. That is the way I wanted it. I wanted to see and meet as many women as I could. I will sleep when I get home. Jamie´s introduction service is great. His staff is outstanding. They treated me like a king. I went out on a few dates with his staff. I meet over fifty Colombian women. They were all outstanding and the dates were all great. I am now talking with only a few girls and am planning on going back. I want to take it slow. I find it very hard to do this. I was never treated so nice by so many women before. If anyone wants to know more just ask. I could write about five more pages but I have to work to pay the bills so I can go back very often. Mail me in private and I will answer any of your questions. All I can say is run do not walk to Colombia. You will not understand until you come back!
I want to thank my new friends on this board. You know who you are here in the states, Canada, and Colombia. I know I left many things out but it was the best trip I have ever had in my life. I will post a picture of the one I really hit it off with once I know she is the one I am still going slow on this one."
"I just got back from my first trip to Colombia last week. I thought I should write a report about it while many details are still fresh in my mind. I used Jamie´s marriage agency International Introductions because it was so highly recommended on this site. Everyone says that Jamie is a perfectionist, and I have to agree. That guy is driven to provide the best possible experience for his clients. His agency´s services are pretty spendy, but with him you can be certain that you will be receiving exactly what he and his website promise. If you can afford it, definitely make as much use of his service as possible.
A little about me: I´m 33 years old, never been married, no kids, college educated, definitely not rich. Physically I don´t think I´m unattractive, but I guess I´m not very photogenic either. Before I went down I sent the agency some photos of me to show the girls. International Introductions picks from this and sends it with your profile out to all the women in order to see who´s interested in meeting you. I can´t stress enough how important those photos will be in determining whether a girl will agree to meet you or not. You might think these girls are just visa-hunters, or looking for a rich guy or whatever, but that´t not true. I believe from what I´ve seen that almost all of these girls are looking for a real relationship with a guy they are genuinely attracted to. That being said, the girls basically are going to agree to meet with you based on what they think of your photo, your height, weight, age, and possibly your race. When I got down to Colombia everyone said I didn´t look anything at all like my photo, and I was constantly being asked by girls why I sent such unflattering pictures of myself to the agency. I ran into several girls who had declined to meet me. None of them even recognized me from my photo and wanted to know why they hadn´t been shown my profile, I had to explain that they had seen my profile and had shot me down!
My tips for what girls are looking for in your photo:
What your translator will/should do for you: She will of course translate, but that´s not all. She will be your social secretary keeping track of your many dates, scheduling introductions, suggesting places to take dates, instructing the taxi driver where to go and what is a fair price, telling you what clothes to wear, getting you to an ATM when your cash is low and all manner of things you will take for granted until you don´t have her around. She will give you feedback on what she thinks of the girls, give the girls you like feedback to let them know that you are seriously interested in them. She will keep the conversation going if it starts to die and she will make excuses for you if you are not interested in the girls and want to eject from the date.
Anyway, Girl #1, the translator and I get into the cab and head back to the marriage agency. I notice that the girl has what looks like a huge cubic zirconiun-looking ring on her left hand and I start thinking, "Is this girl engaged already? Did they just twist the arm of some hot girl to come and meet me because they couldn´t find anyone else to come pick me up at the airport?" I make conversation. She speaks some English and we talk for a while until we pass by her house and she gets out. My translator talks with her before she goes inside then asks me what I think of her. I say she seemed nice and very attractive, but mention the ring and that I didn´t get the impression that she was that interested in me. Translator informs me that the ring is just a ring, not an engagement ring, and that she´d asked Girl #1 if she was interested in me and that she had indicated that she was very much interested in me. Good to know! If I had not had a translator with me I would have read that situation completely wrong. I let my translator know I would definitely be interested in meeting Girl #1 again.
We get to the agency office and I meet Jamie. Nice guy. He seems kind of serious but then a lot of people get that impression from me too. He seems kind of ticked that Girl #1 didn´t accompany me all the way back to the office. I say that it´s no big deal that her house was on the way to the office, but that didn´t seem to mollify him. He mentions, like everyone else does my entire trip, that I look much better in person and that I did not help myself out with the photos I sent in. He asks me if I noticed the girls in the lobby getting their photos taken for the site and asks me if I would like to meet any of them (he will always ask this anytime you are in the office and there are new girls hanging around). They all seemed very attractive so I said sure.
Took a quick shower, changed clothes and then my translator got me because my lunch date was there. Lunch date was with one of the girls I had indicated as a favorite. Of my 14 favorites only a few indicated interest so I was kind of excited to meet her. Oh my god was she gorgeous. Probably one of the hottest girls I have ever seen in my life. She was a nurse but looked like a model. Turns out that she in fact was a model, but I think that means something different in Colombia. It means she was hired to hang out in bars and get guys to buy a certain brand of whiskey or something. I was nervous but tried very hard to be charming. She didn´t seem to have much to say. Sometimes she just seemed shy and at other times disinterested. She looked at her phone a lot to read her text messages during the date, which I found rude. Translator decided we needed to go to the shopping center to pick me up some groceries, so we all got into the cab and went to the mall. While translator and I are talking and picking out groceries, this girl walks about ten steps behind us talking on her cell phone. After the date is over I tell my translator that I didn´t think it went very well. She agreed, but was surprised when she spoke to my date who seemed to think the date went well and would like to see me again. I thought that hot as she was, I wasn´t going to waste time on a girl who seemed completely bored with me.
Went back to the office, changed clothes again, and had my first group introduction. Everyone shows up late in Colombia so girls start trickling in for 45 minutes. Eventually about ten show up. Last girl shows up about fifteen minutes into the introduction and apologizes profusely in English which she seems to be fluent in. I would recommend having a list of questions ready or stories about yourself you wish to share. It is up to you to ask the probing questions to get to know them better. All they are interested in at this point is getting you to pick them. Of the ten girls I felt an attraction to three. Translator ushered me into my room and talked to the girls before they left. All of them liked me, but the girl who I liked most (the late girl who spoke English) is who I wanted to meet first so we went out to a Mexican restaurant. This girl was also very attractive. She looked nothing like her photo (most of the girls don´t) and bore a strong resemblance to Penelope Cruz. She was a nursing student, very bright, charismatic, and sincere. I liked her a lot, maybe too much. Still my first day in Colombia I was still feeling kind of tired and out of it, and nervous too. She definitely picked up on that. While Colombian women like that a North American man will be more polite and less aggressive than a Colombian guy, they still expect him to be pretty aggressive and confident. They expect you to put your arm around them, hold their hand, go for the kiss, and do things that physically demonstrate that you are a confident man and that you are interested in them.
That is pretty much how my first day went. This is turning out to be much longer than I thought it would be. I will continue the rest of this trip report in a second installment."
"Let´s get the basics out of the way: Jamie´s marriage agency was great. They really took care of everything. I was really impressed by how things went. It seemed the first two days were fully booked before I arrived. The translator was great at keeping the conversation going and was very helpful. I was only able to sit down and chat with Jamie a couple of times and both of those were very short. He seemed to have a good handle on how to run his marriage agency and gave me some good insights. The staff was very accommodating in all ways and seemed to bend over backwards to make my stay enjoyable.
The accommodations were great and a good location in town. As best as I could tell it seemed everything was right around the corner. I did stay at the office/house this trip but Jamie told me that if I come back he will put me at the beach house.
The short and sweet of it I meet probably 100 Colombian women and was only able to meet with a handfull privately. I was kind of disappointed with that aspect of my trip. Of the women I had one-on-one time with I think there is a handful I will keep in touch with until I can book my next trip (and yes I am already planning to book the next one this week, and it took less than four hours to start planning) and go spend more time with them. The biggest issue was that I meet so many people in such a short time that I tended to get them confused. To say I was embarrassed would be the understatement of the century.
Most of my "cita´s" were booked to last two hours. You know how tough it is to get talking and really enjoying the conversation to have to end it and go on another date. I hated to do that but at least I didn´t have to be the "bad guy." My translator usually took the bullet when ending the date. I was also impressed at how on time each of the ladies were. I only think two of them were late and most were early.
The group introductions were really, really tough on me in two ways. The first was all the prying and judging eyes and the amount of questions, nothing like having that feeling that I am in one of those old movies where they put a light in the eyes and interrogate you. Secondly, I was feeling bad for the women. I hated to have them all there like it was some kind of meat market.
The one-on-one dates were kind of strange for me because I sometimes felt like it was an interview instead of a real date and it seemed like I couldn´t get away from it as sometimes it took a lot of questions before a woman would open up and I could really see her personality. But once the conversation started it could go on for hours, which it did on many occasions. In fact, most of my dinner dates only ended because the restaurant was closing.
I am sure you all want to hear about the women I met. I will compile that and get it posted here soon. I have the first day done so I will post that now.
Arrived at the Barranquilla airport just after mid-day. Due to some miscalculations my translator didn´t get there exactly on time. I will say that upon arrival she more then made up for it with the introduction of "A". Before we left the airport I hit the ATM for some local currency, got us a cold drink and then off we went. We had a nice chat on the way to the marriage agency hotel. "A" had taken some time from work to come meet me, and I have to say that she was absolutely a sweetheart. Very soft spoken. After the short conversation about her and her family etc and me about mine it was time for her to scoot back to work.
At the marriage agency I had just 45 minutes before the first group introduction. That gave me just enough time to chat with Jamie. Nice fella seemed to take his business seriously. I also got some sundry items from the nearby shop. After a brief conversation with the translator I was thrown to the wolves in my first "reunion". Honestly, I was terrified and didn´t know what to expect. It turned out to be a really good time, and lets be honest: All the ladies were just beautiful. Most of them were very sweet and had many questions to ask me, which was great because I was having trouble remembering all the questions I wanted to ask. Before I knew it, it was time for the ladies to leave, but not before a group photo was taken. Of the whole group there were 3 women that made an impression on me. I had a quick talk with the translator and she had a short chat with each of them to see if they were still interested. They were!
So now that I have just met a whole room full of ladies and my head is still spinning, and only having only been in town for less than three hours I was hoping for a little downtime to collect my thoughts take some notes, etc. Unfortunately I didn´t get it. Just as we were winding down from the first group introduction it was time for the second group introduction.
Second group introduction was even more fun then the last. This time a larger group filled the room. Man what an ego boost, all those pretty ladies sitting there staring at me and all dressed to the hilt. It didn´t take long for my ego to take a back seat as I was pretty seriously drilled with questions. It seems that many of the women had remembered everything I had written in my profile and wanted me to talk to all points. Once again time was not on our side as before I knew what was going on it was time for them to leave and for me to head off to my dinner date. Once again there were two or three ladies I was very interested in, and again the ladies were willing to see me in a one-on-one situation.
Dinner! Finally, after a long day I get to have dinner with "B". So off we go straight away from the group introduction to the restaurant. Once again the lady was drop dead and I couldn´t keep my eyes off her all through dinner. The dinner went famously. We had a great conversation, and she remembered every little detail of my profile almost word for word. This being the first real date I have had with a Colombian woman I was very impressed with the way she handled herself and was well spoken. I think she was as nervous as I was at first, though. The evening ended and we spoke about getting together again, looking forward to it.
End of Day 1, what a day. All I can say is that from the time I landed to the time I went to bed it was a whirlwind of women and smiles. Also a note about the breasts: It seems they are large here and all the women like to have the cleavage working, so it´s hard to focus!"
"To do Jamie justice, his introduction service is freaking fantastic. I was met at the airport about fifteen minutes after I landed by my translator. Listening to her was like when you were growing up and your sister had her hot friends over to the house (LOL) only she doesn´t mind you dating these friends and only wants you to find the right one! Off to the marriage agency and let me add that at no point did I feel in danger. I have traveled a lot and have seen shadier people in Pittsburgh. We arrive at the beach house with its spectacular pool (used later in trip). I was so excited that when I was told to go up to room to change because I had a meeting I ran into the wrong room. The room was first class. Now I know someone here bashed Jamie sometime back about plumbing but I can assure you that water was plentiful and hot. To give you a little background, I do customer service for Papa Johns for 836 stores so I wasn´t about to lay down for anyone on this trip. This is the good and the bad so off to the first introduction. We went into a side room from the meeting room to discuss who was arriving. First meeting twelve girls show up. My God! (And let me add that you should check all photos because I passed over one that I ended up taking to lunch next day because of one bad picture.) Eight said that they would like to meet again. Three said no because of my height. I am only 5´6´´. Oh well, there were plenty to choose from. Now during the meeting the translator kept things going very well and even when I chose the girl that I went to dinner with she was still on her job. Props to her. I will say this also: I am not going to say don´t reach for the stars and not to choose young, but the first girl was twenty years old and had conversation as such. Not much there. Oh well. I AM IN THE LAND OF PLENTY! More later.
Okay, I am going to cover some things things that might help some guys out here. Here comes the self mutilation part of my post. I am only 5´6´´, still in pretty good shape, but still only 5´6´´. About 21 years ago I stopped a robbery where I lived and for that I got a crushed orbital bone from a two-by-four. I have a very lazy eye and sometimes it plays on the mind. Heres where I am going out of the 85 to 100 women I met at Jamie´s none-zero-nada brought up or did a double take on my physical drawback, only about nine or ten busted my chops about height. So where am I going with this? If you think that because you have something that in this country plays a major hindrance to meeting women, IT´S GONE when the plane hit´s the tarmac."
"Well, for anyone who´s been on this site long enough, you´ve probably read the same trip reports that I have, so here´s a brief rundown of the expected as well as the unexpected from my trip to Barranquilla.
Great introduction service by the marriage agency. Seriously, Jamie keeps close tabs on everything and really has this thing down: Reliable people working for him, an accurate database of currently available women, and an attention to detail to make a trip ridiculously easy and hassle-free.
Being presented with several dozen very attractive Colombian women in rapid fire succession from the hottie that met me at the airport with the translator (my friends would have been drooling over the body on her), to meals with my favorite super cuties, to group introductions with gorgeous women that make you feel like the bachelor on some fantasy TV show.
A very helpful translator/coordinator, my Spanish is actually pretty good so I only used the translator for the first four days, but she was incredibly helpful at making and keeping dates, facilitating conversation, and was a great sounding board for how things were going with the dates. Plus, she was a cool person in her own right and has helped me improve my Spanish.
The women were genuine. Admittedly I tend to trust people, but I have decent gold-digger-radar which hasn´t even come close to being necessary.
Barranquilla is really not much of a city. I´m quite surprised to find no major park or refuge from the noise and dust of the city without having to drive to the outlying areas. There is a list of places to go, but most are in the city outskirts. As for a park or river walk or someplace to have a romantic chat or walk after a "meet and greet" session in the city, Barranquilla doesn´t have much to offer.
I did not expect to find the women here to be quite so parochial. Few have traveled beyond Colombia´s borders and most have no experience with life outside Barranquilla. Somewhere in this forum, I remember reading that women in Barranquilla were likened to good "country" girls or something like that, and now I understand why. I also understand why someone said that if he were to do it again he´d go to Bogotá;. In fairness, my expectations of my partner´s intellect are rather high and most women of equivalent beauty as the women here in the US wouldn´t likely give me the time of day, let alone a chance to even get to know how parochial they were themselves. Still, I wonder how many of these women could handle the relative cold and distance of being up north.
Many of the meal dates early in my trip (which were with women I had selected as favorites) just didn´t have much to say. My translator and I couldn´t believe how uninteresting and seemingly uninterested several of them were. I say *seemingly* uninterested because even though one answered her phone and showed minimal interest in having a conversation during our 90 minutes together, she told the translator she wanted to see me again. Ultimately, I found that the group dates are a good way to figure out who has a compatible personality, and so I have begun to set up dates with women that seemed more outgoing in the groups and I thought had something interesting to say.
The additional expense of cab fare and meals for three (for myself, date, and the translator) the restaurants here, while decent (the Cuban seafood restaurant whose name I don´t recall had some of the best fish I´ve ever had), are on the pricey side. In the first few days, when meeting dates for lunch and dinner, the tab generally ran 50-75 bucks once drinks and taxes were added in. Cab fare for each of the dates (at least three a day) would run 5-10 dollars each. I went through $400 in just a few days despite using credit cards for most meals. If money is an issue, I would advise letting your translator know early on to save the nicer places for women you´ve already met and would like to share something special with.
Although the meal dates with favorites from a list I had sent and group meetings were over after the first few days, the marriage agency has continued to help set up more dates. Despite all the women I met, there really weren´t that many who I was interested in, which has to do with me being too picky for my own good than anything else. Nonetheless, it only takes one, and this morning I may have found her.
It was cool getting responses from the women in the groups in a spreadsheet form. (I had five group meetings with an average of ten or so women in each.) I´m no George Clooney (5´8´´, early 40´s, decent looking), but all said they were interested in seeing me again on an individual basis. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel.
OK. So all that said, here I am on day four, with a handful of options ranging from 18 to 30 years old. (I know, I know, 18 is way too young, but she´s interesting for an 18 year old and can hold her own in a conversation, which is something I found rare in too many of my meal dates. And she´s my physical ideal, though I wonder how much that might change in 5-10 years.) I´m still in the process of meeting new women, including one I met while hanging out with the translators friends I´ve made here, but this very cute and outgoing 30 year old from this morning has certainly caught my attention. And while I was sitting here just finishing up, I got a call from the marriage agency with six more dates over the next 24 hours. Gotta go!
Next installment, one week into the trip:
Well. A few days later and, as usual, a lot has happened. I´ve been quite busy on 1st and 2nd dates, including one in Cartagena today. Now there´s a city with character. Barranquilla doesn´t even come close I´ve seen bus stations with more charm. Unfortunately, the marriage agency is here, and at this point I can say that it´s been everything promised and then some.
For example, I signed up for the romance tour introduction package, which lasted four days, but since I´m also using the lodging for the rest of trip (11 days total), I also have the agency continuing to schedule new and follow up dates. I mean REALLY working to schedule new dates with women I may not have selected initially but that they think I might like, which have been spot on. (They tell me that I´ve selected a lot fewer women than the clients usually do so they´re working to fill in my time.) I really didn´t think that would be necessary, but it´s turned out to be quite a good thing. Because of it, I´ve been able to go out with women who couldn´t make the group sessions last weekend, women that I had passed over when I sent my favorites, and even a couple of cuties I met when they were at the marriage agency for other reasons and I bumped into them.
OK. So what happened with the 30 year old I had been excited about? We had our second date in the morning since she had to work. It went well enough, but at the end something a little strange happened. We had stopped by the grocery store for me to grab a couple of bananas and as we were checking out she had the cashier add on a phone card for herself without even mentioning anything to me. I wasn´t sure exactly what she had done, so when I asked her outside. She told me she needed some minutes for her new phone. And before it really sunk in, she was off in a cab on her way to work. The whole episode seemed out of character and it was less than two bucks worth of minutes, but it did give me pause, as well as a reason to not feel so bad about not meeting up with her the next day so I could go to Cartagena to visit a cutie I had met later that afternoon.
The Cartagena date didn´t go so well: Damn cute but a little too reserved for me to get a reading on how she felt. She did kind of blindside me by having the "door to door" shuttle drop me off at her place, where both her parents and sister were waiting to meet me. I thought the interaction went well, although the only one not smiling and laughing was her. We left for lunch and then a "chiva" tour of the city, but the conversation flagged at lunch and there didn´t seem to be much chemistry on the tour. Oh well.
What I have found strange after a dozen or two is how different the meet and greet conversations can be. By now I know the questions to ask to keep conversation flowing but its refreshing when I don´t have to resort to them. Before coming here I did a fair amount of internet dating (OK, more than a fair amount) and my approach is to enjoy a conversation learning something interesting about a new person whether there´s chemistry or not, and only rarely has it been like pulling teeth. Here, I´m surprised how often it can feel that way. I would think that it was me, but lately I´ve met some really dynamic and charming women in my second round that make it hard to generalize about either myself or the Colombian women here.
The problem I´m having with it is that the more interesting women have been the younger ones. Take for example this 20 year-old cutie who saw me while she was filling out her profile at the marriage agency and asked if I wanted to meet her. Not knowing much other than she was cute, and since I had an hour to kill, I accepted. We spent the next hour chatting away, dancing (under the infamous blue light), and finished with her trying to convince me that dating a woman that young was not problematic. Her parents were 12 years apart and her grandparents 25 years apart, and all were happily married. Also, she said she had dated a man older than me and she liked that he had interesting things to say and that she enjoyed learning from him. My argument is that women (or men for that matter) often find they change over the next 5-10 years and may regret getting married so young. How many of us have heard people say that they´re divorced because they married too young or because they grew apart? Well, she would have none of it. But I´m still not ready to start anything with someone that young just yet.
All right, I think that´s all for now. I do want to add that it can be really freaking hot down here. And that´s coming from someone who enjoys tropical weather. But it´s after 10 pm and it´s really beautiful sitting out on the balcony listening to the waves and the crickets. And god I love not having to get up for anything except a breakfast date with a really cute girl I met the other day.
Oh. And when the woman who "purchased" the phone card called me yesterday, I told her that I enjoyed meeting her and that I didn´t want to use up all her minutes and then said goodbye. Too funny.
Final installment written on the flight home: Thanks for the feedback everyone.
Well, I´m on my flight home and hopefully have enough juice in the battery to finish my report.
The last few days of my trip were filled mostly with a series of rapid-fire first dates during the day, followed by dinner with the very cute 23 year old from the make out session. Obviously, although I was interested in her enough to continue to see her, I was not willing to stop meeting other women. She knew that I was still meeting women through the marriage agency because when she asked about it I told her the truth. This put a bit of a strain on our relationship, and it´s easy to see both sides. For her, I wasn´t willing to commit 100% so neither would she. For me, I had put a lot of money and effort into coming down, and I was not ready to discontinue my search for someone I thought would be really compatible.
Physically, and even intellectually, she was what I was looking for. Hell, she was almost too pretty--whatever that could mean. However, there were some underlying neuroses and self-esteem issues that made me a little wary. She didn´t smile much and her demeanor was not very friendly. She had this serious, detached air about her that reminded me of a tragic figure from my high school English lit class. Also, choosing a restaurant or shopping for dinner and then cooking together--activities that I regularly enjoy with girlfriends--was more stressful than fun. With more time together, we might have been able to work on things, but my trip was only 11 days total, and I´m not feeling motivated enough to go back in 5 weeks as planned despite already having the time off and the ticket to return to Barranquilla.
At this point I should say that right up until the last day of my trip, Jamie and the women in the marriage agency were incredibly helpful in continuing to set up dates with women that I may have overlooked or had previously considered. I couldn´t have asked for better service. Seriously, they mined that database and were able to set up meet and greets on just a few hours notice. Granted, some of the women flaked last minute, but that has more to do with the culture and the nature of the business, so that was not unexpected. In fact, the marriage agency keeps such scrupulous notes that they removed one woman from the database after no-showing with me because her record showed she had done the same a few months ago. Oh, and I´m pretty certain they removed the phone card woman as well after I mentioned what happened.
So of the dozen or two dates that were set up since my last report, some were attractive and interesting, while others were the same conversation as so many others. There were maybe two or three who I would have seen again if I had more time, but nobody that I found to be really exciting. Well, there was one, but I´ll get to her later. First I want to mention something that happened yesterday that makes me wonder if I´m being too picky.
I had set up a meet and greet in the late morning with a 22 year-old which segued into a lunch date since things were going well. We ended up choosing to go to Crepes and Waffles (a new place for both of us) and I found it strange how she simply refused to try a crepe, a mushroom, or anything else unfamiliar off my plate. She just wanted her beef in a bread bowl. Is there not some irony in that she wouldn´t be willing to try something new and yet she is considering moving to a new country? And forget the irony, what would that say about her willingness to adapt? Anyone have an opinion or experience with these issues? The Colombian diet could hardly be considered healthy and I rarely cook meat or chicken. I´m hoping that my partner will be happy without having that on a daily basis, and it certainly could become an issue.
OK now for the most interesting date of the entire trip. Seriously, after meeting close to 100 women in 11 days, I was absolutely bowled over by the very last woman I met. She was only 20 (many of the later dates were younger since I had lowered my age minimum) but I had selected her because she looked cute and her profile was interesting. So she walks in speaking very good English and starts having a conversation that had nothing to do with the usual questions I´d come to expect. She had just returned from a semester in Bogotá; where she had been studying international relations and we chatted about politics in Colombia, the US, and even China. Here was finally that really intelligent person I had hoped to find, and she even had the hard body of an aerobics instructor... because she was an aerobics instructor. She wasn´t as cute as her photos maybe, but ultimately I´m glad of that because it made things easier after I realized what a dilemma she presented.
An attractive, charismatic, intelligent, dynamic woman, who´s active and speaks really good English that I connect with right away, plus she says she´s into me to boot. That´s what I had gone there to find. So what´s the problem? She´s only 20 years old and has way too much potential to NOT get the hell out of Colombia and experience life. But the life she needs to experience is not the life that I´m hoping to create in the next couple of years. She needs to finish graduate school, get an internship somewhere outside Colombia and really discover herself and her passions. In 5-10 years she might be ready, but that´s just too long for me. In the end, although we had a great time together, I felt more like a mentor or a big brother (OK, a father), than a suitor. But it would have been a lot more problematic if I had found her to be cuter.
Well, in closing, I guess what I learned from this trip is that Barranquilla definitely has some good options, but I´m not sure I´m ready to settle just yet. It is reassuring that Colombian women in their early 30´s or younger don´t think twice about dating a guy in his 40´s. I wish I could say the same about women here in the US. I definitely would go back and use the marriage agency again in 6 or 12 months, but I may check out Bogotá; first. I haven´t decided if I´ll do that instead of my return to Barranquilla in a month to fish the waters here for a bit and go back in a few months.
Oh and one last thing: I do have to admit to indulging myself to a couple of completely futureless breakfast meet ups with the really cute and sweet 18 year-old. Nothing happened beyond playing footsies and some surreptitious leg caressing under the table at Archie´s, but what a nice treat to start the day. Yeah, it was a good trip."
"Although this is my 5th trip, I haven´t posted a report since my first go round in Barranquilla, but this visit was so eventful I feel like it would be a sin not to share some of my experiences. Let me start by telling you all about one of the biggest mistakes of my life. As some of you know, I work for a Chinese company doing database management and logistics, but I also own a recording studio and produce music on the side. My music business has been pretty much nonexistent lately (Thanks recession!!!), so I didnt have the extra cash I usually have before taking a trip south of the border. For this reason, I purchased the cheapest ticket I could find a few weeks prior to my trip. Houston to Barranquilla at less than $700 isnt bad these days. Its the stops in Atlanta AND Bogotá; that I found a little unpleasant. My flight from Houston to Atlanta left on Thursday, in the afternoon. Everything was fine that day. I dont like Atlanta, (never have) but I only had to be there for a couple of hours so I didn´t sweat it. My problems started when my flight left Atlanta 30 minutes late. There was only 1 hour between the flight from Bogotá to Barranquillaso you guessed it! I arrived in Bogotá about 15 minutes before my flight to Barranquilla departed. Im not even sure why theyd make flight itineraries like this available to purchase. The arriving and departing trips are just way too close together. The good news is I was sitting next to a really hot Colombian girl on the flight from Atlanta to Bogotá. She was sooooo nice!
It was probably 50 Degrees when I arrived in Bogotá that night. I cant believe somewhere that close to the equator can be so cold. I understand the altitude and all but that was really a shocker. I didnt bring any clothes for weather like that so I just had to tough it out and hope I didnt get sick. I actually arrived in Bogotá with about 15 minutes before my flight to Barranquilla was scheduled to leave; but there wasn´t any gates open. So we first had to wait for them to pull one of those airplane staircases up to the jet (10 minutes). Then we had to wait for a bus to come so we could be transported to the terminal (15 minutes). When I finally got up to the immigration line, there are these two Colombian guys talking about some chick they both banged and they´re taking their sweet time processing my "in-a-rush" ass. Only in Latin America! So since I missed my flight, the good people at Delta Airlines Colombia put me up in a hotel for the night. The whole process of rescheduling my flight, booking the hotel room and finding a taxi took about 3 hours. For some reason I went to the Avianca desk first just to figure out what I already knew (the plane for Barranquilla had left). I was kind of upset because I missed my flight but the cuties at the Avianca desk put me in a better mood. I had to then go the Deltas office which was closed because the night personnel had left for some reason. So here I am in a T-Shirt and Jeans sitting outside the office in 50 Degree weather. They finally show up after about 30 minutes, set up the room and taxi for me and I was on my way. The taxi driver knew a little English and he was really cool. We had a good conversation on the way to the hotel. I will say thisI have never been so happy that I learned Spanish. If youre in any kind of trouble in Colombia, English really doesnt get you anywhere. People kind of just look at you like a lost puppy. There was an American guy going to Medellin that was on the same Delta flight that arrived late. I had to translate for him everywhere we went because he couldnt speak to anyone. I got to the hotel, checked in and thought to myself, Damn, I wonder if my luggage missed the flight to?
My night in the hotel was dreadful. The heat didnt work, neither did the hot water. When I woke up it felt like I had ran 3 miles. The altitude was definitely getting to me. Being from Houston, Im used to a thicker and more humid environment. I took another cold shower that morning and made my way downstairs for the complimentary breakfast. I couldnt stop thinking about where the hell my luggage was. I had my small carry-on suitcase with me but the bulk of my clothes were in the bag I originally checked before leaving Houston. The guy at the front desk in the hotel was helpful. He gave me the impression he knew how to speak English, but I figured out later he just knew how to check in guests that didnt know Spanish. That was the extent of his English speaking ability. No biggie after the night before, I was feeling like a Spanish guru at this point. I will say this; the Colombians in Bogotá speak a lot slowly and clearer than those from Barranquilla. Their accent is far from what Im use to (Mexican), but still a lot easier to understand. After a croissant, fried fish strips, eggs and coffee (believe menot as glamorous as it sounds), the taxi came to pick up me and the other gringo to take us to the airport.
So I get in the Avianca line to check in for my supposed rescheduled flight that morning. When I finally got up to the desk and gave the young lady my passport, she began searching for my reservation. After what I assume was about three attempts at finding it, she finally told me in Spanish, Sir, theres no reservation for you in my computer. Now everyone gets angry from time to time. When you get stuck in a traffic jam; when someone messes up your order at a restaurant after youve told them repeatedly how you want your food prepared; when a friend of yours gets entirely too drunk at a party and you have to babysit them until you can get them home these things make me angry. But let me tell you guysI WAS ABSOLUTELY LIVID!!!!! The girl at the desk could see it in my face. She tried to look for it again just to be sure, but I told her dont bother. I asked her, What do I need to do now? She told me to go to the Avianca office to set up another reservation. Of course there was a fucking line as long as city bus when I got there. When I finally did get a flight rescheduled, it was about 7 a.m. My original flight was for 7:30 a.m. The new one was for 11. So you guessed it. I was going to have to wait in the airport for about another 4 hours before I could leave. Before I left Aviancas office, I asked the girl about my luggage. I gave her the little sticker they give you when they check in your bags at origin. She pecked on the computer for a little while longer, and finally admitted to me, I am not sure where it is. OH MY GOODNESSI wanted to kill someone! Not with a gun, but by some slower more painful means. I went back to the front desk and waited in line for another 30 minutes and ask that girl the same question. After a cat and mouse game of her calling people over and speaking with them, they finally told me that it had probably already arrived in Barranquilla and there shouldnt be any problems. Have you ever had a customer service issue and you felt like the person that was helping you would tell you anything to get you out of their hair? Yeahthats exactly what I was thinking. BIG TIME!!!! But what could I do? The tone and the volume of my voice had already gotten the attention of a policeman that was standing nearby. He was giving me that, Calm down or Im going to be forced to calm you down stare. At that point, I actually didnt care. If he wanted to dance a while and take me to jail afterwards that would have been just fine with me. He was going to be in for the fight of his life. But I went ahead and left the front desk for the gate where my plane was leaving from.
When I got to the gate, I decided to call Jamie again to let him know I had been delayed twice. He didnt answer the first 10 times but I finally got him. Im sure he was still asleep the first few times I called. I then decided to call my girlfriend because Im sure she was worried. Heres where the fireworks started, but let me give you all a little background on this monstrous battle tha it was about to occur.
I was originally scheduled to arrive in Barranquilla the night before at about 11 p.m. My girlfriend usually meets me at the airport every time I come, but before I left Houston I told her not to worry about it this time. I was arriving too late and her house is too far away. She told me okay on the phone, but she took a taxi up there to surprise me anyway. She had waited until about 12:30 a.m. the night before and I never showed up. In addition to this, she had bought a new dress, gotten her hair done by a beautician (which she very rarely does), gotten all made up and carried some gifts for me to the airport with her. Needless to say, she was a little disappointed to say the least.
So I called, and she picked up the phone. BOOM! Explosion! She was absolutely enraged. She went on this rant about how much work she had done the day before, and how long she waited at the airport. She actually thought I had spent the night with another woman in Bogotá! I have never mentioned this before, but my girlfriend is extremely and irrationally jealous. Even though I have never given her a reason to believe Im unfaithful, she has created delusions of my infidelity in the past with no reason. With me being as angry as I was, this turned into and all out shouting match over the phone. I have never spoken Spanish as precisely and confidently as I did in that moment; and yes, I was still surrounded by hundreds of people in the airport terminal. They got a good show that morning.
After arguing for about 20 minutes, I hung up on her. We were both entirely too emotional and Im the kind of person that thinks first and speaks second. I called her back after about 30 minutes of cooling down and explained everything that happened. She understood and asked me to forgive her. I had to explain to her that I appreciated her attempt to surprise me, but the arrival and departure times of flights are never a sure thing. She told me wed speak more when I arrived because she didnt want me to run up my cell phone minutes. I actually had not thought of that before because I was so upset. Im still looking forward to Junes bill. Im sure it will be around $400 because all of the mess I went through that morning. To be honest I always come back to a $400+ bill though. For some reason I always end up having to use my cell phone for one reason or another. I dont know why I just dont buy a damn Colombian cell phone!
When it was finally time to board the plane to Barranquilla, I felt like I was leaving the battlefield after a 10 year war. I had simply had enough of Bogotá at that point and leaving was like heaven. I still couldnt keep my mind off my luggage, but I couldnt do anything until I got to my final destination. I slept the entire time on the 70 minute flight and did a John Elway Super Bowl dive off the plane when we finally landed. So here was the moment of destiny. Was my luggage already here? Did Avianca lose it? I waited for the incoming luggage off my flight to make sure it wasnt delayed along with me. Nothing. When everything was cleared out, I slowly approached the gentleman who was in charge of luggage and explained my situation to him. Again, I was really impressed with my Spanish abilities. Ive made a lot of progress speaking with my girlfriend on the phone for multiple hours everyday these last few months. It probably means nothing to all you native speakers, but when youve discovered you can communicate and understand almost anything, ITS A DAMN GOOD FEELING!!! The guy made his way over to a closet and pulled his keys out to open the door. As soon as he opened it I spotted my suitcase. THANK YOU GOD, I thought to myself. I have never been more relieved in my life. I almost gave the guy a hug! My translator was waiting for me outside with the taxi. BIG SHOT OUT TO JAMIE!!!! THANKS FOR EVERYTHING GOOD BUDDY! He had made some calls as soon as I got in touch with him that morning and adjusted my schedule accordingly so I wouldnt miss a beat. I honestly dont need a translator to communicate anymore, but I asked Jamie to book her for a few days because I had a lot to do and I needed some help. I was also initially nervous about speaking with her family. My girlfriend slows it down for me when were speaking on the phone. She knows how to speak so I can understand. Her family on the other hand speaks to me like I was born in Barranquilla. Ive had trouble understanding them in the past, but I soon found out how well my Spanish had improved!
My translator asked me where I wanted to go. I told her straight to my girlfriends house! The drive from the airport takes about 35 minutes to her neighborhood. The two are basically on opposite sides of Barranquilla. When I arrived at the house, she was as happy as can be. The night before, she returned home crying so her entire family was a little concerned for me. Since then, she had explained everything that happened and they were upset with her for overreacting. Not to be a jerk about the whole situation, but it made me feel a little better when I arrived and discovered everyone was on my side. They were all actually a little upset with her. I found that kind of funny. Everyone was asking whether or not I had found my luggage and I was gladly yelling, SI, SI!
My long and tumultuous journey had finally come to an end. What followed were honestly the best 9 days of my life. I saw things I had never seen, did things that were new to me and spent a lot of time with the woman I love.
I arrived at my girlfriends house on Friday at about 1 p.m. I love her family and they adore me as well. She has a cousin thats married to a guy that I love to drink with. Ive never been able to understand his accent before this trip but he reminds me of a lot of my friends here in Houston. Hes one of those fearless guys that will do anything after a few beers. Its always better to get drunk around the house with these types of guys. Theyll get you in a lot of trouble in the streets. Im really close to her aunt, grandmother, Godmother (that lives with her), and most importantly her little cousin. Hes about 10 years old. He keeps an eye out for me and tells me if shes doing anything he thinks I wont approve of. Usually just cost me some ice cream best money I spend in Colombia. I spent some time talking to them all. What surprised me most was every time someone would say something to me in Spanish, I was responding before my translator could tell me what they said. After about 30 minutes of that my translator told me, I dont even know why you pay for me anymore. You pretty much got the hang of it. I disagreed but it was nice of her to say. Most importantly, I got to see my new Godson! (Well, he wasnt my Godson yetthe christening was actually on the following Sundaybut thats coming up later on). Her cousin had just had a baby that was born prematurely. He was in the hospital for 2 months after she gave birth. Everyone was pretty worried back thenincluding me. But hed been home for about 3 weeks and he looked better than ever. The kid is going to be a heartbreaker gentleman no doubt about it just like his Godfather!
After a couple of hours I told my girlfriend I needed to take a bathe and unpack. She agreed to ride to the house in Salgar with me. If youve never seen Jamies house near the beach, it is really something! An absolutely beautiful, scenic, quiet, private, and really romantic house near Pradomar Beach. Jamie has pictures of it all over the marriage agency´s website but they dont do the house justice. I love this place and I dont mind paying to live there even though I know I can find something cheaper in Barranquilla. The maid is like my Mother in Colombia. Shes ALWAYS happy to see me. Weve had some great conversations on nights when I couldnt sleep and my girlfriend couldnt be there. You could leave a suitcase with a million dollars open on the bed in any room in the house and she wouldnt take a single bill. I trust her with everything. The view from the balcony outside of my usual room is spectacular. My girlfriend and I have sit out there for hours talking and watching the sunset. Its really nice! The tropical flowering plants Jamie has all over the courtyard and around the swimming pool give the entire complex a serene and tranquil essence I cant describe with words. Thats actually a hobby of Jamieshe has quite the green thumb. The garden at the office is impressive as well.
I got finished unpacking, took a shower and we left for a restaurant. The city was jumping. Fathers Day was the next day so there were a lot of people out and about at the mall and in the local eateries. It was also Friday night and if youve ever been to Barranquilla you know how that is. PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!!!!! Im a faithful man. Ive never strayed in my life; but I do have perfect vision (when Im wearing my glasses at least). And on an evening like that, you can imagine the eye candy walking up and down the streets near the center of the city. If you havent been to BarranquillaPLEASE VISIT BEFORE YOU DIE! The scenery alone is worth the trip!
It was Fathers Day. My girlfriend took a taxi to the beach house early that morning. In the past Ive made the mistake of primarily eating at restaurants in Barranquilla. About two trips ago I discovered the wonders of buying groceries and cooking at the house. Not only does it save me hundreds of bucks every trip, but she also loves my cooking and finds it really sexy when Im in the kitchen. So we planned on going to the grocery store later that day. We didnt have any serious plans other than that, so I decided Id spend more time with her family that morning. We hung out at the house a few hours then left around mid day. When we got to her neighborhood it seemed like everyone was outside. Her family was happy to see me again. When Im around they spend a lot of time telling me stories about her and teasing. It embarrasses her but I love every minute of it.
My girlfriend lives in a barrio called El Bosque. For those of you that dont know, that literally translates into The Forrest. This area lives up to its name to say the least. Im not sure if any of you ever heard of it but its notorious for being one of the most unsafe areas in the Barranquilla. My girlfriend has been robbed three times at gunpoint and she knows everyone that lives there! Ive spent time in El Bosque in the past, and Ill admit that I was a little nervous at first. There are some places in the world where you can feel the criminal element as soon as you get close to them. The first translator I was working with at Jamies refused to go there after dark, and I have never been able to get a taxi to come over there at night. Im pretty sure Jamie has also advised me to stay away from there in the past. During Carnival earlier this year, a guy was shot and killed near my girlfriends house. She told me the body laid in the streets until morning because whoever picks up bodies in Barranquilla was afraid to come there during the night time. I told her they were probably off for Carnival. Who knows? Its just one of those places though, you know? To be honest, I dont really have any fear of it. In my youth here in Houston, I lived in a neighborhood that the police refused to come to. The things Ive seen would amaze anyone who didnt grow up in the slums. Im not trying to seem like a tough badass or anything but you get use to living like that after a while. It becomes your reality until you can lift yourself out of it. Anyway, we hung out for a while drinking beers and telling stories. Probably the worst thing was when I began to tell a story everyone was so interested I was getting that awkward silence because they were all listening so hard. Each time this happened it made me very self conscious of my Spanish. After a couple of times, I was like Screw it! If I make a few mistakes they know Im still learning. A woman that lived across the street from my girlfriend actually had quite an impressive sound system. Two loud speakers, a decent amp and a top of the line CD player. The Vallenato was blasting and I loved every minute of it! Being a producer, I get exposed to music from all over the world. I haven´t ever heard any type of music I didnt absolutely fall in love with. Theres always something in my life that happens to give me an in depth understanding of the music and the people who adore it.
A woman three houses down from my girlfriends place was cooking a huge pot of soup. She was selling it at first but eventually started giving it away for free. I guess the excitement of the festivities could have made anyone forget about their financial needs, but thats what I love about Latin America! At first I thought this was just an average day in El Bosque. But the loud music, beer flowing and free food actually had a purpose. The children in the neighborhood were giving a Fathers Day Program for all the local dads. During the afternoon, everyone started pulling plastic chairs outside like a parade was about to march by. A guy I had just met grabbed one for me along with another beer. I thanked him and asked what was about to happen. He smiled, opened my beer for me and simply said, Look. 15 girls from ages 8 to about 11 got into formation in the middle of the street. They started doing a choreographed dance routine! It was a little slow at first but they really got into it after a couple of minutes. I was impressed! I mean it was probably the environment and also the alcohol but it was really entertaining. They finished after about 10 minutes and got a standing ovation. I was probably the loudest SOB out there. It was the boys turn then. They put on a fashion show. The shit was hilarious. I was so busy laughing I don´t even remember all the details. So then the lady with the sound system pulls out the microphone and a huge bottle of Whiskey. She announced that they were having a singing contest for the Dads and the winner gets the bottle. At first all the guys were a little reluctant, but she got some volunteers after a few minutes. That bottle was calling everyones name! LOL!! Now keep in mind how drunk every man out there was, and mix that with the worse night of Latino Karaoke in the history of the world. You got yourself a party. By the end of the entire ordeal, I was laughing so hard I was crying. After the "concert", a traditional Colombian drum crew marched down my girlfriend´s street and beat it up for about 2 hours. These guys were really good! Everyone was dancing! WOW! Towards the afternoon my girlfriend´s aunt fried fish for all of us and I hung out with her brothers until sun down. Truly a great day. Never made it to the grocery store, but I had a ball!
We were christening my new Godson Sunday morning. I woke up around 5 a.m. To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous. Im not sure why. Maybe it was because of the fact I was going to a Catholic church for the first time in about 10 years. Who knows? I didnt want to dress up too much, but I wanted to look nice. Shes always appreciated my sense of fashion and she loves to see me in a nice Italian shirt and slacks. I took a shower and got dress. I had forgotten we didnt go to the grocery store the day before, so I made a blank trip to the refrigerator only to find it was empty. Man was I hungry, but I decided I could wait until afterwards. I took a taxi back to El Bosque that morning. The taxi driver was really cool. I had ridden with him on a previous trip so he knew the way. Trying to give taxi drivers directions to her house in Spanish is something Ive tried to do once before with devastating results. Lets just say that it was a 1 hour trip that would usually only take 20 minutes. I arrived around 8:30 a.m., but the Christening didnt start until 10. Luckily her aunt had prepared a little breakfast for me. It wasnt what I was use to but Im not a complainer when it comes to free food. As hungry as I was, it was delicious. We called two taxis to come and pick everyone up around 9:30. The church wasnt far from her house so it was really cheap.
The Catholic Church wasnt what I expected for the area. It was actually pretty nice. Luckily, I could understand everything the good ol Padre was saying. He couldnt have been from Barranquilla with that accent. I wasnt use to all the kneeling and stuff like that but hey, when in Romeyada, yada, yada. The church was really upbeat. Good music. It was a lot different compared to what I had seen in the Catholic Churches in the states. After the regular service ended it was time for the christening ceremony. Gents, let me tell you, in the Southern Baptist Churches Im accustomed to we do it a lot differently. But I was still really proud. This kid had gone through a lot after he was born. To see him in good health really made me feel good. I was so happy. After the ceremony we took a few pictures and made our way back to the house. Her aunt had cooked dinner and man was it delicious. I didnt want to be greedy but I could have eaten everything she cooked it was so good. I absolutely despise some Colombian food, but I think my girlfriend had told her all my favorites because thats exactly what she made. I hung around with her family for the rest of the morning, but my day was far from over.
There was a big soccer game on that Sunday night between the Barranquilla Junior and Medellin´s team. I hadn´t noticed all the guys sneaking in the house throwing on their Junior Jerseys and bandanas until my girlfriend told me why everyone was getting so excited. Right before the game started, every guy on the street was inviting me into their house to watch it. It was like everyone wanted to hang out with the Gringo. This actually made me feel a little precautious. I do not trust strangers. It doesn´t matter where I am. Don´t get me wrong. I´m a nice guy. I don´t try to intimidate anyone. But these guys were just a little too anxious to get a guy they didn´t know into their houses. I didn´t like some of their demeanors either. I´ve learned that any man that isn´t making eye contact with you is either afraid, or planning something. I have also always made it a point to watch people´s hands if I don´t know them. If they have them in their pockets, I keep my distance. If someone has them behind their backs, they shouldn´t even approach me. I´m a preemptive striker and a dirty fighter. I´m being very serious about that. It´s put me in jail a couple of times. I know this is off subject but these are the things that were running through my head on the street that day. I had 5 or 6 drunk guys I didnt know pulling on my arm begging me to come into their homes (lets not forget this is El Bosque). I´ve seen too much horrible things happen to naive people in situations like that. In retrospect, I honestly dont think any of them had ulterior motives. They were just showing me a little Colombian hospitality. In an area like that, everyone knows youre a foreigner, so I think they were just trying to make me feel welcomed. I finally decided to go with her cousin´s husband for two reasons:
1. I trust the guy, and if anyone tried anything he´d be right there fighting with me.
2. His friend had the biggest TV on the street, that probably should have been the first reason.
The downside of this decision was every guy on the street without a TV wanted to be in that guys house to. Needless to say, by the time the game started, he had a full house. It was cool though. He gave me his nicest recliner and told everyone that it was my chair for the rest of the night. I just laughed. This inside of this guys place was actually pretty nice. I meant to ask him where he worked but I forgot. So the game starts and with every kick of the ball the guys got crazier. Ive been a soccer fan for a while now. Im not a fan of any particular team but Ill watch any team from anywhere play on TV. If I had to choose I like the European leagues the best. Those games are bonkers!
My girlfriend came over to the house and called me outside when the first period was almost over. She told me she was hungry. I think she just missed me. She was acting a little whiny. You know how the ladies get when you and the guys are watching the game. Thats the same everywhere in the world. Theres a small pizza parlor around the corner from her street. Her cousin, her best friend, her brother, my girlfriend and I walked over to order a pizza. Across the street from the pizza parlor, theres a small night club. They were showing the game on a decent size TV but you could hardly see it because of all people. The pizza was going to take 20 minutes so I ordered a beer and we walked across the street to the club. This place was jam packed! You could hardly see the TV! We continued to watch the game, celebrating with every steal and bickering every time the opposing team somehow got the ball back. After about 15 minutes we went back for the pizza. The parlors owner didnt have a TV out a first, but I guess when he realized he was losing business he put it on top of one of the tables and turned on the game. We got the pizza and sat down to watch the final minutes while we ate. With only a few minutes left Junior was down 2-0. Within the next 3 minutes they scored 2 goals. If youre any kind of soccer fan, you know how rare and amazing that is. When they scored the first goal, everyone went wild! I couldnt help but think to myself, there still losing. But I wouldnt dare say that out loud. When they scored the second goal COMPLETE PANDEMONIUM!!!!!!
I have never seen people go so crazy over a tied game! I was in Houston when the Rockets won their first World Championship in 94. We didnt even come close to what I was witnessing that night. The club across the street looked like a melee. Shit was flying through the air, people were screaming, laughing, crying guys were taking off their clothes. I think someone threw a dog in the air at one point. My girlfriend was happy too but she was getting a little scared. We made our way around the crowd and walked back to her street. IT WAS WORSE!!! You couldnt even walk because there were so many people dancing. The same lady with the stereo system from the day before was blasting Vallenato again. I would call it a block party but the party stretched for so much more than a block. I wanted to take pictures. I was thinking about describing this scene to my friends back in Houston. But I was too afraid to take my cellular out of my pocket. Ive seen videos of Time Square on VE Day when Germany surrendered to the U.S. towards the end of WWII. Thats what Id compare it too. The energy was electrifying. You could feel the happiness in the air. It was so thick I could smell it. WHAT A NIGHT!!!!!
After everyone calmed down a little (and I do mean a little because from the looks of it I think the party was going to continue for the rest of the night), I called a taxi driver I knew to take me back to the house in Salgar. On the way back, we passed a crowd of people that had surrounded another taxi and were attempting the flip it over. I quickly began to realize that this was a citywide celebration. The driver of the other taxi didnt look happy at all. He eventually got out of the car with a pistol. The crowd scattered when they realized what he was holding. As best as I could, I told the taxi driver to GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE! in Spanish. I think he was reading my mind because he was already hitting the gas when he saw the guy get out with the gun. Im not sure if its legal to carry firearms in your car in Colombia. Its the norm in Texas. Everyone has a gun here. An 8 hour class and $250 bucks will get anyone over the age of 21 a concealed handgun license in Texas (if youre not a convicted felon of course). I made it back to the house around 12:30 a.m. There were two more guys staying at the house with me using the marriage agency. We stayed up and talked a while for most of the nights I was there. The next day I was going to the beach with my girlfriend and some friends and family of hers, so I decided to hit the sack around 1:30 a.m.
I woke up around 9 the next day. My girlfriend and everyone else was arriving around 10 a.m. I forgot to mention it but after church on Sunday we had actually found some time to go to the grocery store. Nothing too interesting happened there. I will say this though, if youre ever freelancing it in Barranquilla, grocery stores are a great place to find nice looking Latinas. There are at least 3 or 4 sales girls on every aisle and I havent ever seen one that wouldnt put a banana in your pocket. It is also their jobs to be friendly so theyre usually pretty talkative and inviting. I had plenty of food at the house that morning so I decided Id cook everyone breakfast. Half of the guys that were going to the beach with us were giving me beer for free the entire day before, so I figured it was the least I can do. I seasoned and grilled about three steaks on the gas grill Jamie has on the patio; chopped up some peppers, tomatoes, and cheese; then made as many omelets as I could with the dozen of eggs I bought the day before. Let me tell you guys, I make a HELL OF AN OMELET!!! Its all about heat control really. An omelet is something you prepare with aesthetics in mind also. Tasting good isnt enough. They have to look good too. I toasted an entire loaf of bread and spread butter and honey on all the slices. When her family arrived, they devoured everything. They all told me they had never tasted anything so delicious. I told them that the United States isnt the fattest nation on the planet for nothing! LOL! I also had a 12 pack of beerI had bought the day before. Other than that all I had to drink was water and milk. The 12 pack disappeared within the hour. Omelets, toast and beernow thats what I call a breakfast!
We left for Pradomar Beach around 11. Its not far from Jamies so the trip was like 10 minutes. When we arrived and got out of the taxi there was a guy from every restaurant and beer stand on the beach begging us to come to their place. It had to be about 5 or 6 of them. Cheap beergood music! They were driving me crazy. No one could decide which to choose and I was getting annoyed. At that point I just wanted to sit down. I spotted a guy that resembled a friend I have here in the states and decided to follow him. We sat down, ordered a bucket of beers and took a load off. It was still early, but goodness gracious! The scenery was really nice that day gentleman and I ain´t talking about the water or the sand. I didnt know this at first but every Monday is a holiday in Colombia during the month of June, so the beach was already jam packed. I dont know what it is but the bikinis they sell in Colombia are some of the skimpiest Ive ever seen. Ive been to Miami Beach in Florida, Venice in California, and a couple of different beaches in Cancun but I had never seen this much skin. I was just trying not to get in trouble but sometimes I couldnt help but sneak a peek. Most of the girls were there with their boyfriends. There were also a few gay guys dressed in bikinis too. Im not a homophobe or anything like that. Whatever makes a person happy is fine with me. But that almost brought up the omelet I had eaten that morning. We sat around for a while talking and ordered something to eat. The food was going to take a while so everyone but me and my girlfriends cousins husband went to take a dip. He and I finally had a chance to sit around and check out some of the other women on the beach. We had a ball! I would occasionally look out into the water to find my girlfriend and make sure she was okay. Every time I did, I kept spotting something on the horizon. It was really weird. Like something floating on the water. From the distance I was at, it had to be huge. It was probably about 2 or 3 miles out to sea. More on that later. My girlfriend and everyone else made it back right before the food came out. It was pretty decent. Fried fish, fried plantenes, vegetables, oysters with onions and some other things that Im not sure about. We all tore that up and began talking again. It was really relaxing. The heat wasnt too bad that day and the breeze off the ocean was pretty steady. I looked out onto the water and saw the strange object again. This time, I could see about 5 of them. My curiosity got the best of me. I started asking everyone what it was. They all looked, but no one was sure. I just had to know. There was a rock pier not to far from the restaurant where we were eating. Some of the guys and I walked down to the end of it get a closer look. After about 3 minutes I could see them again. When I saw a fine mist shoot out into the air from one of the objects, I knew exactly what they wereTHEY WERE WHALES!!!!
I couldnt believe it! My heart was racing when I realized what I was looking at. Ive researched it a lot since Ive been back, and in recent years Humpbacks have been spotted off the coast of Central America and the northern parts of South America. Although June is a little out of season, I think they had to be Humpbacks. Maybe its a global warming thing or something. I was so excited! I couldnt take my eyes off them! When I was really young, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Its still actually a hobby of mine. I have two beautiful saltwater aquariums in my home here in Houston. So for me to be looking at this was absolutely one of the best moments of my life. No one else was as excited but when everyone realized what they were, it did cause a bit of commotion on the beach. I know this may sound a little immature but I was so happy to be there in that moment. The only whale Ive ever seen was in Sea World San Antonio about 20 years ago. It was incredible. Im getting chills just writing this now. Unbelievable!!!!
Well, I´m back at home in Houston gents and hating every single minute of it. Besides the fact that I´m back in the office working, Houston reminds me of a lot of things I miss about Latin America. The sights, the sounds, the people, the food, the drinks, and of course most of all, MY GIRLFRIEND!
Jamie has nothing but good things to say about my girlfriend. Either way, only a girl´s boyfriend is going to know her true personality. My girl is a sweetheart to everyone she meets, people adore her. But I think everyone has a darker side they only show to people they truly know, love and most importantly trust. I will however say that that´s another reason I´ll always respect the way Jamie does business. I don´t care how hot a girl is or how much money she´s making him. If Jamie sees, hears about, or even senses anything dishonest about a girl that´s with his marriage agency, he´ll throw them out immediately. If you´re dating a girl with his agency and he gets wind she has another boyfriend in the U.S. or in Colombia, he´ll inform you immediately. What you choose to do after that if obviously your decision (because a lot of gringos live in denial). I have seen and heard of him doing this on numerous occasions. Now he can´t watch every girl like a hawk, no one can. But I think he does more in this regard than any other agency. Another thing I love about her is her intelligence. I met A LOT of beautiful women the first time I went to Jamie´s marriage agency. A LOT!!!!! What set her apart from most of them was her intelligence. We discuss history, religion, politics, and finance. She graduates next August with a degree in Foreign Trade. She´s an extremely bright girl, so I seriously doubt she´d have trouble adjusting to life here in the states. But to be honest, you don´t know if you can swim until you jump in the water. We´ll see what happens. I´ll definitely keep everyone here updated.
It´s a little off subject, and I hate to always sound like I´m plugging Jamie´s business; but I´d do the same even if I didn´t have any luck finding a girl my first time there. I would have returned ten times until I found what I was looking for. In my opinion, he runs an A+ operation and I´ll argue with anyone that says different. I´ve had a lot of conversations with Jamie about how he runs his marriage agency, and I´ve always been impressed with the sense of customer service he brings to a culture where the idea is basically nonexistent. The only negative things I´ve heard about Jamie´s marriage agency are the prices and complaints from guys that haven´t really had any luck with the girls on his website, and to those gentlemen, I´d say keep trying."
"My experience with Jamie so far has been very promising and highly professional. I received a 16-page Visitor´s Info sheet from him yesterday, and it seems to cover just about every possible issue. There are even several pages filled with questions for a prospective spouse, lots of questions I had not thought to ask before, but very insightful.
I just got home last night, and I am back at work today; plus, I am flying to Denver tomorrow for a wedding. I hope to post my trip report soon after that. But the summary is: I have a girlfriend in Barranquilla. Jamie delivers.
I am sitting at my desk, and I should be working, but I figured I could take a few minutes to start writing about my first trip to Colombia (and my first to South America, for that matter). In short, it was one of the best vacations I have ever had. For anyone that is contemplating their first trip, I highly encourage you to do so!
I arrived at the Barranquilla airport around 6 pm. Wow, hot and humid! My translator was there to meet me, and she had brought a date for me. My translator was AWESOME! I could not imagine going to Barranquilla to meet women on my own unless I had a lot more time to spend there. I only had seven days, so the less time spent on logistics, the better. Her English was nearly flawless, and she was very sharp as well, a great companion/guide for my first four days. I actually don´t remember my first date´s name, but she was very nice. A bit shy, she didn´t ask me many questions. The cab ride was about 40 minutes, I think, to Jamie´s marriage agency. This was my first taste of Costena Spanish, which is faster and less distinct than Paisa Spanish. The consonants are softer, so it was tough for me to understand a lot of my date´s questions. Afterwards, my translator told me that she had trouble understanding my date too, so I didn´t feel so bad.
Upon arrival at the marriage agency, I said goodbye to my date, and went inside. There were already a bunch of girls there, so I only had about ten minutes to get ready before Showtime. The group meetings are something every man should experience. In my case, the first group meeting included twelve women, ages 24 to 29, all attractive, some very attractive. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half. I spoke Spanish most of the time, asking my translator for help with certain words. I needed more help with what the girls were saying because some of them spoke so fast, but I could understand a lot of what they said. They were willing to slow down for me, but I could tell that some of them were nervous.
The women were, for the most part, all focused on me, especially when I was speaking (in Spanish). The questions were a lot of basic stuff, like what you do for work, for fun, etc. Do you want kids, where do you want to live, and so on. When it was all over, I picked three girls for individual dates. One of the three did not pick me, so that left two dates lined up for later that week.
Immediately after the group meeting, I had another date, so my translator, my date, and I, took a cab to a local Italian restaurant. My date was sweet, but there was no chemistry, so I didn´t ask for her phone number. By then it was nearly midnight, so I went back to the agency, where I was staying for the first 3 nights, and went to bed. The next day was going to be busy!
Day two started early for me; I normally sleep in until 8 back home. But my first date was at 8 am, so I had to be ready. My first date of the day was scheduled by the agency, and was one of my top choices. Again, she was very nice, but we were not interested in each other. The day was hot already (as usual), and we found a place to have breakfast that was air-conditioned. My translator was not only an excellent translator, but she was great at prompting me and my date with questions, as well as reminding me to share certain things. At this point, my translator had already heard my life story several times, so she could nearly recite it for me. I would sometimes think that I had already told my date something, when it had really been during my previous date. After breakfast, I went back to the agency, said goodbye to my date, and got to relax for about an hour before the next group meeting. When the girls arrived, I was back on stage, looking for a connection.
Let me digress a bit here and talk about my mindset before coming to Barranquilla. I had been single for four years. My ex-girlfriend and I had split up in the summer of 2005, when our son was seven years old. It was tough for him, and I wanted to make certain that he did not feel neglected after the breakup. I have spent nearly every single weekend with my son for the last four years, and quite a few weekdays as well. Dating is time-consuming, and I just didn´t want to divide my time. Recently, my son has been showing increasing independence, hanging out more with his friends, and seems to need me quite a bit less than before. So, I thought this was a good time to start looking for love. At the same time, I was in no hurry to jump on the first opportunity that came my way. I have dated casually for the last six months here in San Francisco, and made some friends along the way, but nothing serious or lasting. I was skeptical that I would find a significant interest during my first trip to Colombia. I figured I would learn a lot about the country, the people, and the women, and then make several trips before I actually settled on a single woman. That was the plan, anyway.
When my group date started that morning, there were 9 women smiling at me, full of questions, wondering if I was the one for them. Just like the night before, all of the women were attractive. Ages ranged from 23 to 32. As things progressed, one in particular stood out from the rest. She would later become my girlfriend. I liked the way that she looked at me. She smiled sweetly and laughed at my mispronunciations. Because she sat in the middle of the group, directly across from me, she would always get a chance to think of her answer to my questions while the closest to me answered first, so after a few rounds, I made her answer me first. She was flustered but took it playfully. After that, we would hold each other´s gaze a little too long whenever we made eye contact. I tried to focus on the other girls when they were talking, but it became more and more difficult. At some point, the translator said the meeting was over, and she took me into the other room to make my selections. She knew who I wanted to see again, so she set up an instant date for us. As soon as the rest of the girls had left, my soon-to-be-girlfriend and I (and my translator) went to the new mall to hang out, talk and drink ice coffee. The mall is toward the north end of town, very clean and modern, and not at all crowded, at least not in the middle of a workday. I guess that everyone is either at work or school at that time.
We wandered around for a little bit, took some pictures, and hung out at the Juan Valdez cafe on the top floor. There, my date and I quizzed each other some more about our relationship histories, goals, expectations, etc. We only talked for a couple of hours, but we covered a lot of ground. My date was 25 years old, quite a bit younger than me (I am 38), but relatively mature. She works full-time as an orthodontist´s assistant, and takes care of her 3-year-old son. She is divorced and lives with her parents and brother and sister in a two-story house in Barranquilla. Her son´s father lives in another town, with his girlfriend, and has another (younger) child. I wanted to tackle any potential deal-breakers up front, so I tried to be as transparent as possible, without whitewashing anything, so that if a relationship would not be possible, we could figure that out sooner rather than later. She seemed to be doing the same, which I definitely appreciated. Even though we were attracted to each other, we kept our distance to maintain the formality of an interview.
We had to wrap things up because I had another group meeting that evening, followed by another individual date (busy, busy!). On the way out of the mall, I grabbed my date´s hand on the escalator. She looked at me with one of the most vulnerable expressions I have ever seen, and nearly collapsed into me. I could feel her squeezing my hand, and she didn´t let go until she had to get into the cab. We both sat in the back and said very little during the 15-minute ride back to the agency. I was intensely aware of where her body was touching mine, and now both of our hands were intertwined. My translator glanced back at us from the front seat from time to time with just a smile, and left us alone. At some point, we reached our destination, so I got my date´s phone number, and I told her I would call her soon.
The next group meeting was smaller, only about six women showed up out of the ten or so that had been scheduled. Both my translator and I were low on energy, and none of the girls stood out for me. I ended up picking one to see again for breakfast the next day, but I would have been better off sleeping in. After that, I had a wonderful date with a professional dancer, age 28. We had so much fun; we went to a Mexican restaurant where the staff jumps out and sings Happy Birthday, scaring the crap out of everyone. They did it twice, and both times some guy at another table dropped his fork. It was hilarious! The date just flowed, and all three of us talked naturally, without using any of the canned questions that I was used to from the previous dates. I decided to see this woman again, but I already suspected that my date from earlier in the day would end up being the one I spent most of my time with. After about 16 hours of dates and group meetings, I finally got to bed. The next day would be busy as well.
Day 3 started early (for me, anyway). My first date was at 8 am, with one of the ladies from the group meeting the night before. She was painfully shy, and our date was not very interesting. I am not sure why I picked her the day before; there was another girl there that I wanted to meet, but I may have not remembered her name. Oh well. After breakfast, we walked over to a small shopping center and wandered around the bookstore. I bought a Spanish-English dictionary and a chess set. My soon-to-be girlfriend the day before had mentioned that she plays, and I wanted to test her skills. After the morning date, I got about an hour break, and then it was time for the next date, this time with one of the women from the very first group meeting. She was cute, a medical student, and very friendly. We lounged at the coffee shop on the top floor of Buena Vista II. She seemed very interested in me, and I had a good time talking to her and hearing about her life and plans for the future. She had not been in many serious relationships, and had been focusing on her studies. She was, I think, 23 or 24. We planned another date, and said goodbye.
I had one my group meeting to go, the last one that was scheduled. There were supposed to be six girls, but only one showed up! That, apparently, is common, especially during a workday. But I was used to a large turnout, so I was sort of disappointed. The woman that showed up was not interested in me, nor me in her, but we chatted for about a half hour, just socially. At one point, I asked her where she preferred to live. She sort of evaded the question, so my translator asked her: how would she feel if her husband or boyfriend were to move to Colombia? "Oh, I would love it!" she answered. This was by far the most frequent answer to that question. Given the choice, the women seemed to prefer staying in their home country.
The last date of the evening was also with a woman from the first night´s group meeting. I don´t remember what she did for work, or how old she was, but was young and attractive. She had a daughter, and was living with her parents. We had a good date, but I was not sufficiently interested to go on another date with her. What was funny was that she knew the girl from earlier in the day (the med student). They were planning to compare notes, she said, jokingly, after our dates. The girl earlier that day had also told me they knew each other. I thought it was interesting that they both disclosed it.
Day 4 in Barranquilla: This was my last day with my translator, and I was also moving from the agency office over to the agency house in Salgar. I packed up my things and we took a cab to the agency house. Along the way, we picked up one of the women that I had seen before, the medical student. She went with us to the house, and I dropped off my things. After that, we went to eat at a seafood restaurant. I told my date that I would make a decision about whom I wanted to spend the rest of my time with by the next day. She was very sweet, but I did not feel nearly as connected to her as I did to my soon-to-be girlfriend. After lunch, we dropped off my date and went to pick up my soon-to-be girl friend. She works in an orthodontist´s office, and she gets off work in the early afternoon. We went shopping for groceries at the local supermarket. After that, we took a cab back to the house my translator said goodbye, and my date and I were left alone to get to know each other better. I whipped out my new chess set, and we battled it out for about an hour. She hadn´t played for quite a while, but by the last game, she was pressing me hard. It was all I could do to penetrate her defenses and thrust in for the checkmate. We relaxed for a bit after that. My date and I got to talk more about ourselves and what we hope to get out of life. I was increasingly certain that she would be a good match for me. We both seemed to get each other without having to try too hard. Plus our mutual attraction was very strong. At some point, it was time for her to go home, so we called a cab and I said goodnight.
The rest of my time in Barranquilla was spent increasingly with my soon-to-be girl friend. The one exception was a day I spent with a friend that lives in Puerto Colombia. She and I had met online before my trip. My friend met me at the agency house and we walked over to the Salgar Castle (which looks more like a fort, but whatever) she is a Graphic Designer, and fell in love with my pocket camera. We took probably 200 photos that day. I had a great time with her. It was clear from the start that we would be just friends because there wasn´t the sort of chemistry for anything else. We ate at the castle, and the food was very good, especially the sea bass, which is my favorite fish on the coast. Later that evening, I had a second date with the professional dancer from day two. We were both polite to each other, but decided that there was no need for another date based on a lack of mutual attraction.
The next day was a quiet day. I slept in, caught up on emails and work back home. My friend from Puerto Colombia called me around to noon and invited me to go to the Museo del Caribe. I had a dinner date with my almost-girlfriend, at 6:30, so I accepted. The museum is awesome very well designed and completely modern. The tickets for the two of us were nine dollars; with a personal tour guide for four plus hours, it was another dollar. Wow, one dollar for a personal tour! And he was zealous about focusing on us when other visitors would tag along and ask questions. Plus, he spoke a fair amount of English, if somewhat haltingly. At this point in my trip, I was completely without a translator. It felt good, but it reminded me of the first time I swam across the American River without a life vest: it´s all about survival. I really couldn´t relax and let someone else worry about the details; I had to pay attention all of the time or I might miss something important. Also, the museum is in one of the worst parts of town, a place where many of the regular citizens avoid.
After the museum, I said goodbye and went for dinner. I picked my girl up outside of her work, an orthodontist´s office. We walked to a restaurant that serves just about any kind of grilled meat. I eat mainly fruits and vegetables at home, with some chicken or fish once every couple of weeks. In Colombia, I must have eaten some beef, chicken, fish, or pork at least once a day. Plus, everything is so salty! We took a taxi over to Portal del Prado, a shopping mall toward the center of town. We walked around, talked a bunch, and relaxed on a bench for a while. I decided then that I wanted to spend the rest of my trip with her (only 2 more days!). We planned to meet the next morning at the same mall to have lunch and then go to the Zoo. I would also get to meet her 3 year old son. I was excited and a little nervous.
Off to the zoo! But first some lunch at Crepes and Waffles in the Portal del Prado mall. I got there a few minutes early, so I waited for them to show up. They were punctual, which is no small thing with a child that age, I know from experience. My son is now eleven, and it still takes twice as long as it should to get him in the car when it is time to go somewhere I hear that patience is a virtue. The boy was clearly intelligent and curious. I picked him up right away and carried him for about ten minutes. He was not fearful or shy, and he asked me all sorts of questions. At one point, my date told me something that sounded like besalo ("kiss him"), so I kissed him on the cheek. He kissed me back on my cheek and gave me a hug. It turns out she was actually asking me if he was heavy, ("pesado?") but she didn´t mind at all that we were getting along so well. I didn´t mind either. We still laugh about that misunderstanding. Halfway through our lunch, some music started playing over the mall PA system. We were sitting on a balcony on the second level, and down below us, about twenty high school kids started dancing. It went on for a couple of minutes, clearly choreographed, the songs changing several times. It turned out to be marketing for bottled water, but it was very entertaining. I couldn´t imagine the kids in the USA doing something like that.
The zoo was fun but exhausting. It was very hot that day, and we walked around for about five hours in the heat. At least it wasn´t just me that was worn out at the end of it. All of us were beat. At the same time, it was fabulous to spend so much time together. We all meshed well, and it was here that we became a couple. We were discussing our plans for the future, and she asked me if I wanted to be her boyfriend. I didn´t hesitate to say yes. This highlights one of the things that I truly enjoy about my girlfriend and many of the other women that I met in Barranquilla: less pretense. Now, that is not to say that they cannot be duplicitous, because there are world-class deceptors in all countries and cultures, but the women I met there seem to choose to be more open about their feelings and intentions than the women I have dated in the U.S. The women in Barranquilla that liked me all told me very quickly: "I like you". It is refreshing. We decided to call it a day (the zoo was closing after all) and head home. We made plans to have breakfast at the agency house and said goodbye.
Last day in Barranquilla: It was a holiday in Colombia (or maybe just Barranquilla), so I got to hang out with my girlfriend for a while before heading off to the airport that evening. It is really good to spend time with her, making pancakes and scrambled eggs. Her son was supposed to go to the babysitter, but she was sick that day, so he came over too. I didn´t mind; he´s a great kid. The day just flew by, and before we know it, it was time to leave. We spent some time in the pool, which was fantastic, and I managed to get a little sunburned, but it didn´t show up until the next day.
We all took a cab to the airport. We were still getting to know each other, so the farewell was not overly emotional, more of a "I feel good about this but let´s see where it goes" sort of feeling. Then we said goodbye, and I was on my way back."
"It´s been a while in coming but I'm finally getting around to posting my thoughts/impressions. I´m not completely new to international dating and I´ve known for a while that I wanted a South American wife based on a variety of characteristics, both real and imagined. I started a couple relationships with South American women during my previous travels there, but neither of them were right so I didn´t pursue them. I´m 31, slim and decent looking, have a good career, personable and have never been married.
My Spanish was very mediocre on my first trip to Colombia but I was able to understand a lot more than I was able to speak because of the aid provided to me by fluency in both French and English. I have been training my ear with Pimsleur on the way to and from work for three months prior to going.
I wanted a holiday but in the end some of the members on the board convinced me that if I was going to take this seriously, to either make a decision to look for a wife or to take a vacation, but not to try to mix the two too much. I think it was a good call, but I hedged my bets by not booking my entire time at Jamie´s. I had three weeks to meet and get to know someone, but had no idea how it would go. In the lead-up to the trip I sent Jamie all my favorites from his site and he started lining things up. Communication was always clear and responses were always prompt.
I´m a pretty conservative guy in many respects and I´m pretty jaded about women and marriage, so I´d say that a woman has a lot of obstacles to overcome in winning my affection. I want a wife that´s open to working and being a housewife. I prefer the latter, circumstances permitting, but can accept the former as long as her priorities are in the right order. I also looked for women that has worked and shown the ability to dedicate themselves to something and finish it because it shows the strength of character that will be necessary for making an easy transition. Looks are very important to me and I´m looking for a woman that´s attractive and has a good body, but I don´t want to marry a 9 because it´s just not worth the extra trouble. Ultimately, the woman has to impress upon me that she´s not promiscuous (not that I expect a virgin), has a good personality, is patient and easy-going, doesn´t yell, etc. I like my peace and quiet and hate fighting over irrelevancies.
Since my Spanish was lousy and it was my first trip to Colombia, I decided to book with Jamie for 11 days. I figured that would provide me enough time to meet all the girls I´d selected, determine whom my favorites were, and at least clear up the big compatibility issues with a translator present. Then I could spend the rest of my time there getting to know her better, assuming I met one I would be serious about, or travel more within the country if it turned out to be a total flop.
I arrived on a Saturday and was met at the airport by my translator and the first girl. This was a girl I´d found very attractive in her photo, but quite a bit less so in person. She had a great body, but her skin and teeth just didn´t look as good and that was a turn-off. She had a nice personality, but not enough education or interest in pursuing education so my mind was made up instantly. We chatted on the way back to Jaime´s, which was 35-40 minutes, and I thanked her for coming.
I had a bit less than an hour to get prepared for my first group intro. This was the first time I´d ever been placed in a situation like that, but i got used to it quickly. I think there were about 10 girls there and that was to be the largest intro of the trip although I´d do several more before I was done.
It´s a bit formal, and answers can be a bit superficial with a fair number of girls repeating what others said, but I approached it from the perspective of it being a useful tool for weeding out women that wouldn´t be worth spending my limited time with either, because I didn´t like how they looked or due to a major issue of compatibility or chemistry. Frequently, when I was speaking, I´d glance around the room and see who looked bored or distracted and they were struck off the list.
My approach was to front-load the heavier questions into the initial intros, though not the first questions. General introductions were performed first. To prevent them being caught off-guard I´d always preface by saying that although it wouldn´t be my normal approach to start talking about those things before a relationship even developed, I felt it necessary under the circumstances (limited time in Colombia) to establish compatibility first and that although it was definitely a less romantic way to start a relationship, it was probably better in the end. I explained that I thought many relationships failed because people approached them first from physical attraction angle forgoing all other considerations until months later, they realized they really weren´t suited for each other. I avoided leading questions like the plague.
As far as I could tell the women accepted this and gave me honest answers. I was completely honest in answering questions about myself. I didn´t play up my lifestyle or anything like that.
I think I booked 3-4 follow-up dates with women in the initial meeting. All of those women had solid jobs and good careers. My initial dates were a couple lawyers, a doctor, a regional coordinator for a big tobacco company, etc. I won´t recount all of the dates, but just impart my general impression that all were sincere in their desire to find someone, but that they just weren´t right for me. I was super interested in one girl after the initial intro, but our first date felt like a sales pitch (literally) and I gave her the axe. She was very successful probably because she was forward about promoting her business like that, but it was a turn-off to see on a first date.
The intros and dates continued unabated for 3-4 days. I never ate alone and always had a woman with me. The translator knew a lot of my responses by heart and started completing thoughts/sentences for me. Frankly, I was getting tired of it by the end of week one and wanted to slow down.
I narrowed it down to two women and saw them both several times. The two were the doctor and the one that´s now my girlfriend, whom I´ll oh so affectionately will refer to as #2. The doctor was a very sweet woman, but ultimately was a little too passive for me and in the looks department was less my type than the other woman. I was also concerned about a future career conflict. This woman had put 6 or 7 years in to finally being able to practice medicine, but once she comes here, it would be very difficult to get licensed. And then I had to couple that with my desire to expatriate in a couple years and there was a real problem brewing before the relationship even started. I really did enjoy my time with her though.
The girl that became my girlfriend was of more humble means and had a lesser education. Her parents moved to Medellin when she was 14 and she stayed in Barranquilla with her aunt. She had to start working at 15. When I met her she was 23 and in her last semester at the university. At the time we met she was working and taking classes full-time. She was up at six and got home at 10:30pm every day and worked on Saturday too. Although her job was not as good as the doctor´s, it was a job with actual responsibility at the university so I was ok with that. She was very clearly a girl that had done everything within her own power to improve her situation and I always respect people like that.
I assessed the situation rationally at the time. I liked both women and weighed the pros/cons of both. Both were very relaxed and easy to be around and completely lacking in the neurosis I´d become accustomed to dating North American women. They laughed at my translated jokes and we had fun together as I gradually got to know them better.
Conversation was admittedly difficult when alone and lack of good Spanish-speaking abilities is a clear barrier to developing real chemistry, but i did ok with them. Without the translator it would have been a waste of time though. As we spent more time together, the translator started to disappear (intentionally), which forced me to attempt to talk to them directly. Gradually my Spanish is getting better and our conversations have gotten better as a result and there is a real spark between us.
I will say this. If your Spanish is lackluster, bring a Smartphone and use Google translate (but be careful where). It was a lifesaver for me. Not all intended meanings were communicated perfectly, but I got things across mostly intact and I probably understood 70-80% of what was said to me directly. For important topics that I wanted clarity on, I used the translator, as I didn´t want anything to be lost in translation.
We always talk about what we like, and our desires from our women, but an interesting thing Jamie does is have the women score the men. After intros they interview them and have them score their interest in you. This again helps to avoid chasing the wrong women. The translator also speaks to the girls in private after dates to attempt to establish whether they really do like you or have ulterior motives (if even just the free meal at a nice restaurant). She does this by talking to them as opposed to asking point blank. Overall, I found the girls to be honest about the process otherwise I would have received nothing, but the top score (5). Some girls showed no interest and other gave me a 3. Thankfully, the girls I was most interested in rated me highly as well. Most will have some interest or they wouldn´t show up in the first place.
I´m not the type of guy to dilly dally and always told myself that when I found a good woman that possessed the qualities I was looking for, I´d commit. I´ve done a lot of dating back home, a little in South America, and I had a list of criteria in my mind that I wanted my wife to posses. #2 had them all. Sure, there´s a slight chance that if I were to continue going down there for years at a time, I´d meet someone better, but I didn´t pick this girl for lack of options either in Colombia at home. To give you an idea, I´d dated probably 20-30 women in my home country over the course of the previous year, and met a solid 30 women in Colombia. I made #2 my girlfriend in week two as I felt that all-considered, she was more suitable for me and her desires better lined up with my own goals.
Things were not all roses. #2 had a really horrible schedule and that caused some apprehension on my part, especially since I went down with a "trust but verify" mindset. I didn´t want to get played. With full-time work and school, #2 was hard to spend as much time with as I´d have liked. She also had a dying grandmother at the time. Yes, I can hear the collective sigh of those thinking it´s just an excuse to be out banging her regular boyfrend or whatever because a lot of girls use flaky excuses like that, but that wasn´t the case here. She finally died two weeks ago, but while I was there it definitely put a damper on things, both in terms of accessibility and her mood in general. She also lost her job towards the end of my trip, which again added stress to her situation. We weren´t as close as I´d have ideally liked by the point I left because of all this.
Also, there were a couple things the translator and I didn´t understand about her life, but over time they have become clear to me and they weren´t the potential flags they may have been (like where she was being dropped off at night). Michelle´s minimal skepticism was gone by the time i was done at the agency.
Gradually most of the problems and concerns surrounding her have melted away. Some things take time and my feelings for her have gradually been deepening and it´s clear to me that the same is true on her side. We speak more and more and she´s more and more happy to speak to me. My improving Spanish is a strong contributor because we can have more meaningful and more fluent conversations now. I´m very happy with the direction things are headed in.
Getting back to the agency International Introductions, Jamie himself is very hands-on. He doesn´t really trust people to do things as he wants them done, so he was around from 9 am to 10-11pm even though he was originally supposed to be travelling. He wanted to make sure things went smoothly for his clients as it was a full house for the time I was there and beyond. For the most part I and the other client stayed out of each other´s hair, but we had a few chats and it was all very friendly. He left before I did and I met the next guy, a doctor from Miami, also a good guy.
Obviously, I don´t have anything to compare him to, but the service offered was top notch. The translator was excellent, and it´s hard to overvalue the benefit of having a translator, even if your Spanish is good. I would have absolutely hated doing all that coordinating myself. All in all, along with most other people that have been there, I highly recommend him if you go the agency route."
All of these public trip reports on International Introductions have been edited for brevity and grammar. The translators and girls names have been removed. Email us if you would like the links to the original postings on the public forums. International Introductions is the only marriage agency in South America that encourages you to know what our former clients have to say.