EDITORIAL, International Real Estate
Safe Haven Colombia: Peace, Pyramids, Parrots and Profits
By Ron Holland - December 10, 2014

"First, let me try to tell you about the setting of the Terra Viva, or Living Earth, community in such a way that I can convey even an inkling of the spectacular appeal of this magical place. Imagine being nestled in an Alps-like pristine setting, utterly immersed in indescribable natural beauty, the sounds and sights of parrots and monkeys chattering in the trees, waterfowl gliding to a graceful landing on a still, 2-hectare lake, vines and the tree canopy high overhead shading the mid-day sun while soft breezes ensure even afternoon temperatures are pleasant. Buildings with few solid walls so the warm afternoon sun and pleasant, cool evening air heats and cools naturally, yet no insects flying in to disrupt your comfortable surroundings." – Anthony Wile

Yes, Anthony is a great writer and this sounds like a dream … maybe the biblical Garden of Eden. Or maybe a modern-day version of the 1937 classic, "Lost Horizons," in which a plane crashed in Shangri-La high in the Himalayan Mountains during a time similar to today when financial collapse, fascism, socialism and world war threatened the planet. I'm forced to quote Anthony Wile because I have no better words to describe this region of Colombia.

Last week I had the great pleasure of once again spending a bit of time in the country. After landing at the modern, efficient Medellin International Airport I easily transferred to my 5-star hotel about five minutes away, in the hills above Medellin.

Medellin: World-Class, European-Style City

Forget the movie "Romancing the Stone" and being lost in a jungle wilderness. Just a 3-hour flight from Miami, this modern cultural and financial hub is the 66th largest city in the world, with world-class shopping, entertainment and restaurants. It is comparable in population to San Francisco, Toronto, Chicago, Washington DC, Houston or Dallas with around 3 million in metropolitan population – with its own unique Latin sophistication.

In 2013 Medellin was named in the Wall Street Journal as the most innovative city in the world and was labeled as the preferred corporate business destination in South America. Medellin is also often ranked first or second for American retirees in South America. While Medellin was once almost synonymous with crime, drugs and violence – just as so many large American cities are today – it is now considered one of the safest big cities in Latin America. The travel information source Frommer's puts it this way: "Medellín is now considered a relatively safe large city with a homicide rate less than that of both Washington, D.C., and New Orleans." Indeed, those who only know of American media's description of Medellin may believe it is still horribly dangerous. The truth is, much has changed, and drastically, since the country's troubled decades ended in the 1990s.

After business meetings downtown the next day, I traveled the two-hour, heavily trafficked mountain drive to visit Terra Viva. (That will be reduced to one hour when the freeway is completed from the city to our community, in about four years). While part of the drive is like any American interstate highway, much of the old road is still being used while the freeway tunneling and bridging is completed.

Several people I spoke with in Medellin suggested a possible 300-plus percent appreciation in real estate prices in our region when the freeway is totally completed. It was thrilling to observe the construction, and the new tunnels and bridging reminds me of Swiss freeways in the Alps.

This Unique, Special Place Was Preserved for You by the Old Road

Thankfully, the now-difficult drive is a big benefit for second homebuyers and investors who act soon. The old, twisting road and heavy traffic have kept prices low and development limited to a few of the top families in Medellin not governed by the normal workday and weekend rush of traffic out of the city. This has insured most of the region has remained a pristine, peaceful and beautiful rural agricultural area filled with ranches and citrus and coffee plantations and small, historic villages, much like Napa Valley was a hundred years ago. In fact, the region makes me think of a combination of Switzerland and Napa Valley with the perfect climate.

The Largest Natural Pyramid in the World

I was awed to discover a massive pyramid while driving to Terra Viva. It is the perfect pyramid-shaped mountain of Cerro Tusa, the largest natural pyramid in the world at 1,850 meters, or about 5,000 feet, high and three times larger than the Giza pyramid I've visited in Egypt. It looked familiar to me and I later discovered it is on the logo of Juan Valdez Coffee. Here at Terra Viva, it is part of your view. When the final 8-kilometer freeway tunnel to exit the mountains is completed, Cerro Tusa will be directly in front of us as we emerge from the tunnel.

This green pyramid has ancient hieroglyphs, with the face of a woman on one side. On another side is what's called The Goddess Mirror, a giant rock with a woman's face that flashes like a mirror because of sunlight refraction. Our community is on a relatively level plateau together with lakes and thousands of citrus and palm trees and overlooks Cerro Tusa as well as beautiful mountain vistas, coffee and citrus plantations and even the ancient, partially collapsed caldera of a long-extinct volcano whose eruption covered the area with rich volcanic soil as well as giant boulders.

California Climate Without Liberal Hollywood and Left-Coast Radicals

It is important to understand that outside the pulsating Latin nightlife of fun cities like Medellin, the people of Colombia's conservative rural areas are instilled with traditional cultural and religious values and revere the importance of family and hard work. For non-stop nightlife together with world-class shopping, restaurants, cultural and sports activities, simply make a quick trip to the city for a fun night or weekend.

Then return here to our unique community to those of us who value intellectual and entrepreneurial pursuits in our world-class lifestyle where conversations about the free market, liberty and real history go hand-in-hand with financial market and start-up company discussions along with fine wines and farm-to-table culinary opportunities in our on-site restaurant.

Maybe you will decide to cheer the nightly sports events on video monitors in our bar with a beer or prefer a quieter time of reflection, study or other peaceful creative pleasures in our perfect outdoor climate with like-minded friends, experts and leading entrepreneurs from around the world.

Living on Parrot Time

I was supposed to get up early to view the property at my leisure by horseback instead of rather quickly by car or ATV so I asked, "What time should I set my phone to wake me up?" My friends laughed and said, "No problema … loros." I didn't know what a loro was until daybreak when all the parrots nearby started chattering before flying out to the jungle to do whatever parrots do all day.

Yellow Birds and Lemon Trees

This is a bird-watcher's paradise, with numerous other species in abundance in addition to the hundreds of wild parrots that make our community home. While this is the leading coffee growing region of Colombia and coffee trees are everywhere, the community is also replete with various types of palm trees and a wide variety of orange, lemon and papaya trees. A number of other fruits and vegetables also grow well in the area and are always available.

In addition, the unique Napa Valley-type climate and the fertile volcanic soil may well offer promise for the area to become a wine-producing region. Right now, one landowner is preparing to develop an 80-acre vineyard and world-class winery right on the edge of our community. If so, owners will be invited, "by invitation only," to become shareholders in the new venture. Future dividends may be possible in bottles of wine, share value appreciation and the right of first choices on the new wines at discount prices once the production is up and running.

Farm-to-Table Agriculture for Health and Profits

I grew up on a tobacco farm and the last thing I want to do is to labor under the sun growing anything. But with the rich soil and abundant low-cost labor in the area, the opportunity for non-GMO, organic farm-to-table citrus and vegetable produce and grass-fed beef operations – which can profit in Colombia, unlike family farms in the US – is available. No more being forced to produce the expensive GMO-engineered fruits and vegetable and hormone-filled cows, hogs and chickens penned so tightly they are unable to turn around that sicken and shorten the lives of tens of millions of Americans.

Here, access to 100% grass-fed beef, healthy without GMO feed and dangerous hormones, together with free-range chickens wandering the property, are benefits seldom available today anywhere in the world. In other words, if a financial collapse takes place in the West you will live well here, with a wide variety of healthy food, coffee and wine all at your doorstep. And in the meantime, you will have an opportunity for profitable investment opportunities in these operations. At Terra Viva, "farm to table" takes on a new meaning when the farm is your local community and the surrounding area.

World-Class Equestrian Community

I had a horse growing up and know they are a major responsibility to feed and properly care for. You may be a part-time resident at your home or condo at first but here you can enjoy the fun benefits of an equestrian oriented lifestyle without responsibility for the expense or time-consuming upkeep whether you want to ride for an hour, an afternoon, for the day or for an entire week. Maybe you'd like to participate in the very popular pub crawl by horseback with friends in the local community or to the nearby town of Tarso that provides municipal water to the residents of Terra Viva.

While it's only about a five-minute car, Jeep or ATV ride to Tarso and its local bars and restaurants, you can take your time and ride horseback if you prefer. The village is complete with hitching posts and water troughs for the horses. Should you party too much, no problem! The horses know the way home even if you don't.

Do You Like Golf or Country-Club Activities in a Perfect Climate?

One of the leading country clubs in Colombia is looking to build a new club in the area to take advantage of the new freeway cutting the drive time and commute from Medellin in half.

Join Me in Colombia for a Visit

In closing, I welcome my friends and readers to consider our unique community here in the mountains of Colombia. Come for a visit starting in January and I will show you around. The world is a scary place and the economy and financial system as well as the US Constitution now hang by a tiny thread.

Don't wait until it is too late and the doors slam shut on your wealth and family, as they did in Eastern Europe after World War Two. Just one more real or contrived terrorist attack or a step too far in overly aggressive military actions and the world will be a very different place if you continue to live, invest and own real estate only in your home jurisdiction.

Come for a visit and see for yourself if this place – for me, the most beautiful and unique climate and culture in the world – is right for you should difficult times develop when the dollar dies. I've travelled almost everywhere and this is my top choice for a safe haven second-home residence and it might also be right for you. Please get out of your comfort zone, turn off the 24-hour, 1984-style cable television news propaganda and see for yourself whether Terra Viva is right for you.

I believe some day in the not too distant future, your family and posterity will thank you for internationally diversifying your wealth and creating a secure safe haven second residence somewhere outside of the jurisdiction of your home country. There are many great locations ranging from Argentina to Belize and parts of Canada and Europe so be careful, do your due diligence and choose what is right for you.

If I'm wrong and the central bank-created bubble economy, manipulated markets, fiat dollars and Paul Krugman-style big government socialism works, markets continue upward toward oblivion and nothing happens, then rejoice at your good fortune. I hope and pray I am wrong in what I and many other Austrian and free-market economists and financial experts see in our future that will make George Orwell's frightening 1984 seem like Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrat Party's 1932 campaign song "Happy Days Are Here Again" in comparison. But remember, Roosevelt and the corrupt special interests backing him and the Democrats were happy as they stole every ounce of gold bullion from the hands of private citizens.

So if I'm wrong, if happy days are here again, manipulated markets will not correct and crash while peace, freedom and liberty return to America as gifts from our wonderful, benevolent political leaders, then all is well. You and your children and grandchildren will enjoy your second home in a region, people and culture beyond comparison regardless of what may happen in the US and other nations. But if I'm right about our future, take care and prepare now while you still can.

Have a look at the website: TerraViva-Colombia.com.

Posted in EDITORIAL, International Real Estate