Eyes Wide Open: An Adventure Capitalist’s Views on Colombia
By Anthony Wile - May 28, 2016

We’re developing a new community in the mountains of Colombia where liberty-minded individuals can participate in a safe and engaging lifestyle with others of similar mind, integrated with the surrounding local community yet away from the difficulties of the current economic environment.

I’ve mentioned the project – Terra Viva – before, but I wanted to re-expose Daily Bell readers, as we’re planning to make available another opportunity to visit the development soon.

As a Daily Bell reader, you are well aware of the unraveling of the West and its endless, expanding economic crisis.

If you live in the West, especially, you’re living at “ground zero.”

You’re facing the unraveling of the modern social order, the disintegration of the dollar economy, increasing militarization and the inevitable loss of civil liberties.

And since you read The Daily Bell, you are contemplating or already taking action to protect those you care about from what you anticipate may happen.

You know you need to secure a second passport, you need to secure your assets offshore and you need to secure a secondary residence. Becoming part of the Terra Viva community is one way to address all these issues.

Of course, you also know that expat communities can have their problems. Some are isolated, far from the services and amenities you want, while others are mismanaged or badly marketed.

That’s not the case with Terra Viva. It’s not isolated and it’s certainly not mismanaged. The great people who’ve already made the decision to invest in their future here wouldn’t have done so, after conducting their own exhaustive due diligence, if it were.

Terra Viva is being built to ensure that no matter what happens, you have a haven to fall back on, a beautiful place to live away from the increasing instability around you.

As they say in Colombia, “The only risk is wanting to stay.”

But don’t take my word for it.

I thought you’d like to read this refreshing personal perspective on Colombia from someone who recently joined about 200 of us there for a Sovereign Man investment conference.

He was willing to venture outside the box that is Medellín in order to see more of the real Colombia. I thought his reporting was both colorful and accurate, and I wanted to share it with you.


Nestled in the mountains of South America is a breathtaking land widely known for its struggles with cocaine, drug cartels, and violence: Colombia.

Not long ago, the narcos controlled the cities, towns, and emotions of the people. Cocaine – the white gold – inflicts carnage among its producers, traffickers, and users throughout the continent, wrecking millions of lives along its path to prosperous North America.

For most countries, stability is cyclical. And in Colombia, the positive part of a naturally occurring cycle is happening – the fog is lifting. Peace is permeating the fabric of the nation.

The softer side of this complex country is budding – a side where smiles are more of a potent force than violence. A place where the sun’s rays sweep gently over coffee plantations, which majestically blanket the mountainsides in a deep green. A place where family time and community are the nuclei of life.

I landed in Colombia a few days before a conference I was attending, so I decided to explore this exotic land by taking a road trip to Pablo Escobar’s former backyard: the expansive countryside outside Medellín.

I rented a car and aimed the vehicle toward the roads southwest of the city; I ascended from the valley and upward into lush landscapes and cooler temperatures.

About an hour into the trip, I was stopped at a checkpoint outside a small town. Soldiers stood dressed in new uniforms and polished black boots (a good uniform always seems to have a positive effect on the psychology of a soldier). Machine guns hung over the soldiers’ shoulders, adding another layer of machismo to the masculinity they already radiated.

The guard asked for my registration and had me open the trunk of the car. I walked around to the back of the vehicle and showed him my few things, which he didn’t have much interest in. A couple of minutes into our time together, the official mood deleveraged into an exchange of smiles and simple jokes.

This interaction alone says a lot about a country….

I’ve always found that the countries where you can crack the authorities’ tough exteriors – smiling or humanizing with them when they have the guns and the power – are better places to spend time in. It means that there is wiggle room, and that overall, they’re happy with your foreignness.

With these thoughts in mind, I departed the checkpoint. The road twisted on and became remote and special; my feelings about the journey transitioned from curiosity into absolute surprise. I had no idea that Colombia was so beautiful.

I’ve spent a lot of time traveling around the world, and I’ve observed a common trend – beauty and stability equals tourism. The fact that it is 2016 and tourism still hasn’t made much of a mark outside of Medellín is quite remarkable.

In towns like Concordia, Tarso, Jericó, Buenos Aires, Jardín and Titiribí, the landscapes are world-class stunning. And I had them all to myself. Most of these towns each have a simple but charming hotel, basic restaurants, and a high percentage of bars per capita. For a tourist cruising through on a road trip, these towns have a lot going for them.

The town of Tarso had roughly seven bars in a town of less than 5,000 people. I had the pleasure of hearing Guns and Roses karaoke deep into the night from my hotel room balcony, which overlooked the moonlit mountains. The hotel itself was full of random antiques, like various typewriters, and was operated by a few older ladies who smiled at every bit of my rudimentary Spanish. It was real.

There is a clear line between poverty, which hinges on day-to-day survival, and a standard of living above that level, where basic needs are met. These towns aren’t rich, but their economies churn enough to keep their people well above that line. This reality completely changes the mood of a place. This feeling contrasted starkly from the small towns in the north of Colombia, near Venezuela, where the stress of poverty created an atmosphere of palpable negativity and unhappiness.

In these relaxed environments, locals hang around the center square drinking coffee, and kids play freely, their laughter echoing through the streets. The mood feels safe, and healthily calm. Intricately painted buildings – the work of local artistic talents – shine everywhere. Panoramic mountain backdrops frame the goodness.

I also rate a country’s happiness of off the behavior of children and dogs—the lifeforms who directly emulate the people in power. Unlike rural Macedonia, Colombian dogs didn’t go at my ankles, and the kids seemed well behaved, without much brattiness.

The purchasing power of the USD to the Colombian peso is insanely high right now – another good reason to spend time in Colombia, either as a tourist or as an investor. Accommodations are very affordable. On one occasion, I spent $12 for a room and two meals. Another time, I spend $25 for a beautiful room in a brand new, fortress-looking guesthouse overlooking a river – breakfast included.

Countries in aggregate are like businesses, relationships, or economies: they are either climbing or falling.

And right now, Colombia feels like it is climbing; there is a tangible optimism. Roughly 50% of the population is under age 25. The middle class is growing, along with the number of opportunities. And even though the living standards of the Colombian middle class can’t be compared with the U.S. in regard to earnings or material wealth, there is something to be said for a future that looks brighter, rather than a future that looks bleaker (that is, if you believe the middle class in the U.S. is declining).

The business climate is also incredibly progressive. I toured a dynamic company named PharmaCielo that is gearing itself up for producing medical cannabis. It is currently a flower operation. But the company is ready to flip the switch to cannabis once the legislation goes through, and it looks like this is going to happen soon.

I only saw a few Colombian tourists during my road trip, though I’m sure it gets busy on the weekends with locals from Medellín. But during the midweek, I saw not one other gringo.

Colombia’s image hangover is the only explanation I can come up with for the lack of tourists; many people still associate the country with drugs and violence. Global influences, like the Netflix series “Narcos” probably don’t help. Instead, they solidify the traditional perception of Colombia.

I think it’s a subconscious thing. Once a country is associated with a specific label enough times, the unconscious mind solidifies that thought. It takes either a personal experience, or a countering message with equal or greater repetition, to break it. And these things don’t happen overnight.

Of course, Colombia isn’t all sunshine and roses, (although it is the largest exporter of roses to the U.S.). There is plenty of poverty and crime in cities like Bogotá and Medellín. Even though these problems are generally segregated from the nicer parts of those cities, crime still exists in volumes.

The world’s demand for cocaine isn’t going away. There will be a supply as long as there is a demand; and Colombia is too attractive, with its warm climate and fertile soil, not to provide that commodity.

The government is in peace negotiations with the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which controls much of the cocaine trade. This looks very positive, but the reality is that production will continue, whether FARC controls most of it or someone else does.

From what I’ve witnessed in Mexico, more cartels and players means more violence. The best outcome is for a big group/cartel to control most of the supply, coupled with a back-channel agreement with the government to keep all of the power brokers well funded. Or, in my humble opinion, they could just make the shit legal in all of the countries that cocaine touches, which would eradicate most of the problems.

The way cocaine needs to be controlled in Colombia is much like how stability is maintained in the Middle East. In the Middle East, we’ve seen time and time again that only strong-fisted leaders can keep peace. In Colombia, the drug trade needs a strong structure, or it turns into blood.

Who knows how long this current level of stability will last? The stability in countries is like the intervals between waves. And it’s just a matter of time before another wave of instability hits Colombia’s shores. Will it be in 5 years? 20 years? 50 years? It’s anybody’s guess….

But for now, Colombia is mostly stable. Even with all the negatives, the positives are much more powerful. The smiles of the people are moving… the energy of the youth is captivating. This is a time of growth on myriad levels.

2016 is a fantastic year for Colombia, and it’s an excellent time to visit a country that has risen from so much struggle; a place full of surprise that will grab your eyes and soul. The magic of Colombia is real, and is currently one of the true gems in the world.

* * *

I hope you enjoyed Peter’s description of his recent trip and thoughts on Colombia. To read more of his reflections on countries he’s visiting while exploring the world, visit his blog at PeterSantenello.com.

He certainly makes the case for a “new Colombia” – which is the reason I first came here over 15 years ago, have spent as much time as possible here ever since and eventually decided to build Terra Viva.

Please bear in mind, the cost of building an exceptional residence here is extremely low compared to anything in Canada, the United States or Europe. Each house is an original design and built by leading Colombian architects, and all are easily customized and highly livable.

Getting into and out of Colombia is easy and relatively inexpensive, with daily direct flights from many major cities in North America, Europe and Central and South America.

The land on which the community is being developed is near enough to Medellín to make intra-day travel convenient and is a short flight – or an incredible drive through the mountains – from other major Colombia cities, including both coasts for those who need to stretch their legs on a sandy beach and sip margaritas.

All manner of outdoor activities are being established in the community. These offer residents access to the central facilities, including boating, fishing or barbecuing with friends on the shore of our beautiful lake, meandering through the community gardens that dot the property, swimming, hiking, tennis, use of the athletic center, spa and equestrian facilities.

A brand new four-lane, divided highway is now being built and already well underway that will connect the area to Medellín via several tunnels and bridges. This means any real-estate purchases made in the area will likely increase considerably in value.

Colombia is in many ways a sophisticated place but because of its past history and notoriety – its “image hangover,” as Peter calls it – many people are still hesitant to consider it for investment and real-estate purposes. Their loss is our gain… maybe yours, too.

I can assure you that spending time here will leave you with a very different understanding and perception of life now.

Colombia is Latin America’s biggest unfolding success story, and Terra Viva is sharing in that success. As I mentioned, we’re working out final details now to open up future meet-and-greet opportunities at Terra Viva.

To learn more about Terra Viva, have a look at the website, here: TerraViva-Colombia.com. Sign up now to receive news and updates, including notification of the next meet-and-greet opportunity.