Exploring Cuenca

Oh Cuenca. How I love how sleepy you are. Everything is closed on Sunday’s here. Well almost everything. Still you don’t come to Cuenca for the excitement.

I found on my exploration today a bakery that was open for 15 cents a fresh bun, 

and a restaurant called Picantes de Leo. It’s a seafood themed restaurant where you can get a crab and bowl of soup for $3.50. Yes that’s a whole crab (albeit a small one, like blue crab sized).

  • Cervice $3.50
  • American breakfast $4.50
  • Almuerzo $4
  • Vino Hervido (mulled hot wine) $4
  • Chaulafan (Ecuadorian style stir fried rice) $7.50

I’ve included my walking map too! 
What’s also a neat bonus? I got my boots shined for $1. Yup. 

Love it! I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 


Exploring Cuenca2017-08-13T20:03:34+00:00

Cali. One Month Summary.

What about Cali, Colombia? Is it the best country to retire cheap? How is the food? What’s to do? What does it cost? Can you live here for $1000 a month?

  1. Cali’s the Salsa capital of the world. You can learn to dance everywhere. There’s more dance schools in Cali than Starbucks in Vancouver.
  2. Seriously. Rule #1 is go to Cali to learn how to dance.
  3. Rule #2. Don’t go otherwise.
  4. Medellin is better than Cali in everyway, except for the dance aspect.
  5. Rule #3. When I say dance I mean Latin Dance. Medellin is better in every other form of dance than Cali. If you like electronic, Medellin, funk, Medellin, Goth, Medellin, 80’s? Medellin. People looked at me like I was “Muy loco” if I told them I didn’t like Latin music. They’d immediately ask “You don’t like music at all?”. For them Latin music is the whole sum of music. If Shakira isn’t singing it, and you can’t dance with a partner to a 8 beat count, it’s not “real music”
  6. Gyms. Cali doesn’t have the free park gyms like Medellin. If they do, it’s very rare and I didn’t spot any. It does have the cheap iron gyms (72 000 COP) $35 a month, and the fancy ones (150000 COP) $70 CDN. 
  7. Uber! It has Uber. So Yay!
  8. Cost. It’s about the cost of Medellin (read my one month summary).
  9. One cool thing I did see that I don’t believe exists in Medellin is couriered Medical drugs. You can call a doctor on the phone, and then have them write a prescription, and get a motorbike to courier it over. It’s cheap too!
  10. According to some people, Colombian guys and girls are hottest from Cali!

So, again. Go to Cali, if you LOVE Latin music. And want to dance Salsa Calena (a special style vs Salsa Cubana). Otherwise skip this city. Ranked by BestCountriesToRetireCheap.com as the second most unappealing and boring city in the world. #1 is still Kuala Lumpur. I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 

Cali. One Month Summary.2017-06-23T17:59:51+00:00

How to get to Cali from Medellin by bus

Traveling from Medellin, to Cali I decided to take the bus not the plane. 80% of people who I told that declared “You are muy loco, crazy!” Flying from Medellin via one of the low cost carriers is really inexpensive, and taking the bus isn’t a huge cost savings. So why did I do it? As you know I’m travelling the world, looking for the best country to retire cheap. In the years that I’ve been doing, I’ve learned one thing. If you get a chance to take the bus/train, do it. 

Taking the bus took roughly 11 hours versus the hour or two it takes by plane. But as you know taking the plane isn’t just “taking the plane” anymore. Factor in the 3 hours it takes to get to the airport, get through customs and taxis all of a sudden it’s not a huge time savings.

Taking the bus cost 45 000 COP ($22 CDN) and it’s totally worth it. You get to see the beautiful countryside and the seats on the Bolivariano bus I took were full recline. It also had wifi, movies (all in Spanish…no subtitles) and were really polite. Compare that to a cramped no leg room plane, your choice. (I also was travelling with two 30kg suitcases, and carryon. The cost of taking the plane was roughly 200 000 ($100 CDN) after all the fees, taxis, etc.)


  1. Take an Uber to Terminal Sur. This should be roughly 8000 COP ($4 CDN) from anywhere in Medellin.
  2. Go to the ticketing booths. There are about 50 of them, all for different companies. Go Bolivariano, it’s awesome. 
  3. After buying your ticket, go the departures area. They won’t let you through until it’s close to your bus departure time. Buses leave 5 times a day. (I chose a bus that got me into town at 11pm.) 
  4. When the bus arrives, most people will rush on. Don’t worry about it. Seats are assigned when you buy the ticket.
  5. You’ll get luggage tags when you throw your checked in luggage under the bus. Under no condition should you put anything valuable in there. (I’ve heard of several horror stories from people who had their stuff stolen. Two girls from England wound up losing their 80 litre backpacks.) For security, they videotape everybody on the bus! 
  6. The bus is air conditioned. Think really cold movie theater air conditioned. 90% of people on the bus had a giant blanket with them. These are the fuzzy blanket things that you see being sold at super flea markets with pictures of cats or Elvis on them. Seriously bring a blanket. I was so cold that my Colombian seat mate, took pity on me and shared her blanket. 
  7. Halfway through the journey, they stopped at a little road side cafe. You can buy a chorizo, arepa and potato for 7000 COP ($3.50 CDN). If you get hungry about one or two times during the trip a vendor will get onto the bus and sell chips and snacks. It’s not frequent, so I would recommend bringing some powerbars.
  8. Enjoy the ride! I slept for bits, watched the countryside for other bits, and watched Netflix for other bits. (The free wifi isn’t great, download your shows.) There is an overhead rack for your carryon. For safeties sake, do not put your valuables up there and fall asleep. There’s plenty of space by your feet. 
  9. When you get to Cali, the bus stop has a queue of cabs waiting to take you to where you’re going. I was going to a popular hostel, so need to fumble around with a screenshot and map. That’s all! Enjoy the bus! It’s worth it.
How to get to Cali from Medellin by bus2017-05-28T21:20:49+00:00

How much is a Dentist in Colombia?

Me and my pearly whites have been travelling the world for a while, looking for the best country to retire cheap. The other day, I realized they weren’t that white anymore. Hmmmn….that’s not good. Time for a cleaning and whitening.
In Cali, Colombia a teeth cleaning and whitening was 500,000 COP ($250 CDN). (I went to several clinics for price checks and they all seemed pretty similar.)

This included

  • Cleaning
  • Scaling
  • Polishing
  • UV whitening/bleaching
  • Take home tray

What this didn’t include

  • X-rays
  • Dental examine (the dentist only does the whitening not the cleaning)

My dental clinic also didn’t speak English. (So, make sure you know that “Dolores” means pain!) The whole thing was pretty great. I showed up at 2pm for my 2pm appointment and actually had the cleaning begin at 2pm. For those of you who are used to waiting in a crowded appointment room, this is a super nice surprise.

They took Mastercard, and I was totally happy with my teeth cleaning and whitening. So, if you’re worried about getting a cleaning in Colombia? Don’t be.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)


How much is a Dentist in Colombia?2018-06-29T06:38:02+00:00

I tried Colombian Poutine and it’s amazing….

Meeting new people around the world is part of the charm of wandering the globe looking for the best place to retire cheap. People ask me all the time, what’s the most Canadian food to eat. I actually have to say, Alberta beef and Poutine.

Obviously wandering the world isn’t for everybody Are you ready?

But, if it is….you get to try some crazy good food….

I got to try the best version of Colombian poutine I’ve seen yet. Colombia has an odd way of putting strange things on fries.

I’ve seen cut up cocktail sausages (salchipapas), chicken wings, nuggets all thrown on some fries….then drenched in ranch sauce.

The best Colombian fries style dish I’ve seen yet was at Amelie’s in Cali.

A 8 seat restaurant nestled in a non descript alley, the best way to find it is to follow your nose.

They smoke the meat all day. 

The pork is a pork belly and the beef ribs are done like a brisket.

After the smoking they’ll chop it up fine, add some pickled onions and serve it in a cone of garlic fries.

To make it fun, you can get stabby chopsticks, or for the non adventurous a fork.

My first bite of this dish was amazing. The sweet rib meat, mixed with the crunchy juiciness of the pork belly and the tartness of the onions were all perfectly balanced by the the garlic fries.

Amelie only serves these fries cones, and they aren’t quick. It took roughly 30 minutes to get our cones. The reason for the long wait? They keep pulling smoked meat out, and serve it to you super hot. They don’t have it in a warmer….

Don’t underestimate the fries though. I know it’s the crazy rib/pork combo that is going to stick out in your mind, but the fries are perfect.

How can you tell if a fry is perfect BEFORE you eat it?

You listen for it. When they lower the fries into the oil, the crackling of the fryer tells you the whole story. Sharp, crisp and loud, the fries go in, and then come right out. Perfect. 

Only perfectly fried fries, could withstand the greases and juices of the meat. And by the end of my massive fry cone, they were starting to get limp.

How much is a 1400 calorie fry cone at Amelie’s? It’s 12000 COP ($6 CDN) with tip! If you’re in Cali check it out. Cali Review

If you do want to check out this little hole in the wall restaurant the best way is to head to el viajero hostel, and ask. I don’t think Amelie’s has a registered address or phone number.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!). 

I tried Colombian Poutine and it’s amazing….2017-08-19T19:29:12+00:00

Learn Salsa dancing in Cali!

Cali, Colombia is the Salsa capital of the world. And since group classes are free, at the hostel I’m staying at, I decide to give it a try.

Here’s the thing about free salsa lessons. They are free, and therefore it was packed with people! Don’t expect too much personal attention. (The last time I saw so much human meat packed into a room, I was at a swingers club in Vancouver.)

Salsa is surprisingly fun though. (And not a bad little workout) Here’s some tips I learned

  1.  There are some basic steps, once you master those you can start doing lots.
  2. Hips. They seem to move them a lot. And yes guys, you look ridiculous.
  3. I will never do this out in public. No way.
  4. I can’t turn left, just like Zoolander (see the movie). Seriously. I can’t. (I attribute this to never doing spinning back kicks from that side. Also being Zoolander)
  5. If you want to get good? Grab a partner, and get some private lessons. You can get them for roughly 300 000 COP ($150 CDN) for 10 hours.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Learn Salsa dancing in Cali!2017-05-13T16:51:36+00:00

How did this 21yr old girl almost get raped and kidnapped in Cali?

I love Colombia, but it’s not super safe. Every day I hear a new story. Yesterday these two girls are telling me about how they had their 80 litre packs stolen from the bus cargo hold. All they had left was their valuables bag and the clothes on their backs. Later on that day, I was told about this guy from my hostel who had been been trying to buy some cocaine, and was robbed at gunpoint, and taken to an ATM for more money. They even took his shoes! Another Canadian I met, I called him Toronto was held up at knife point on a bus! Unlike Asia, South America seems to be prone to armed robberies. 

Which is what leads me to this story.

It’s 3am in the morning and my new hostel friends and I  are at a sketchy nightclub on a rooftop in Cali. The rain is slightly falling and the sky is smoggy with pollution.

Why do I call it sketchy? It’s not a good situation. It’s almost all Colombians (while generally very friendly, you can definitely spot the ones that aren’t so safe). The group of white 20 something year old hostel kids stick out like a sore thumb and this part of town is definitely not the safest.

There’s 12 of us out and about. Usually there’s safety in numbers, so I’m not too concerned. But here’s when this gets interesting. This one little 21 year old blonde girl leaves our group and starts dancing with a Colombian guy. He’s got those Latin American good looks, so I can see why she said yes to dancing.

They start salsa dancing, no biggie, this is Cali, salsa capital of the world.  After a few songs, salsa turns into grinding and then just making out. He starts leading her further and further away from the group. For privacy…

I think I’m the only one paying attention, and to be honest I’m conflicted. 

I feel super creepy watching, but this girl is barely 21 and in a foreign country. All I’m imagining in my old man head is a Taken type of situation.

Dancing and doing shots from a bottle being passed around, the other 12 people from the hostel are in the middle of the dance floor. Nobody else is paying attention as she is moving closer and closer to the dark corners by the exit,

My years and years of security training are kicking into high gear now. My Spidey senses are really going off and I imagine this girl being abducted, taken somewhere and sexually assaulted.

Besides me nobody else is paying attention. (This also drives me nuts).

Even though I’m prepared to prevent the girl and her “boyfriend” from leaving the club together, I’m not happy. This is not going to end well for Samson. If they start leaving, and I stop them, best case is I’m an overprotective jerk. Worst case? I’m a creepy jealous perv. 

If I don’t stop them from going, the worst case really could THE worst case. I could wind up reading about this girl in the newspaper the next day. There is no real best case in my mind.

I want to be super duper clear here, even if a smoking hot girl wanted to take me home, I wouldn’t leave by myself. Not here. It’s way too rife for a setup and ambush. If you’ve been in Bangkok, or anywhere where the girls act as baits for traps, you know what I’m talking about. Rule #12 NEVER leave a space with your friends to wander out by yourself with an attractive stranger….

So there I am, stuck…. and even though I really want to say”it’s not my problem”. I really can’t. This girl has done nothing but been guilty of being young and dumb, in a strange country and drunk. 

I’m really unsure what to do. Do I let them walk out of the club? She is 21..and it’s not like she hasn’t been making out with her “new boyfriend” for a while. 

What would you do dear readers? Would you intervene? There is no upside for me at all in stopping her from leaving with him. It’s not like she will thank me or even notice how dangerous the situation is. Really at the best? I’m going to told to “F…off”.

How did it turn out? The girl actually wasn’t as dumb as I was worried about. The club closed at 4am and this girl unentangled her lips from his and left with us and not him (leaving him with a case of serious blue balls I’m sure). 

But today is the day I really had one thought burned into my brain. I’m no longer a member of the herd. I cannot go out with sheep, I really can’t. Nobody asked me to  watch out for them, but I can’t go to a nightclub, or walk down a dark street without all my security training kicking in. Remember all those people I told you about that were robbed? I’m sure some of them could have easily prevented it.

I just cannot turn it just turn it off. 

For example you know how very basic street smarts tell you don’t take opened drinks from strangers?

These girls (and guys) are drinking from a communal bottle from a random stranger.

I’m thinking there is no real danger because the people in Colombia seem universally friendly, 

But, who knows?

Are you going to risk it? What are your pros/cons of  drinking from a random strangers bottle? In my head…the pros are free drinks and it feels like more of a party. 

The cons? You might get ruthied, kidnapped and raped/ransomed,

If you’re looking for the best country to retire cheap, you’re going to wind up in some sketchy places. And some dangerous situations. It’s going to be up to you how dangerous your explorations will be.  (Read my articles on safety for female travellers as well as street smarts for safe travels, for more tips. )

Personally? As of today….I’m going to do my best to avoid being in situations where I have to be a shepherd. It’s no fun. And at the end of the day it can be dangerous world, and you’ve got to to watch out for yourself. 

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 

How did this 21yr old girl almost get raped and kidnapped in Cali?2017-05-17T20:15:34+00:00

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