Mocoa, Colombia


Mocoa (pronounced Mocóa), Colombia, is a city in the southcentral part of Colombia. It sits on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains, where the climate is not terribly hot, but the humidity is always very high, as in 77% is the lowest average, and that is for the month of September, the rest of the year is higher, typically in the mid-to high-80% range.

This was my second visit to Mocoa. I didn't visit because it is particularly special, it's not, but because I want to continue my journey north on the east side of the Andes.

I left Nueva Loja, Ecuador, and took a bus north to the border town, actually it's too small to call a town, called General Farfan. There is the one 'highway' that runs through it to the border crossing, and three other paved roads, plus a few dirt roads. Anyway, before I left Nueva Loja, I asked a couple of people at the bus station if they knew of any hotels/hostels in Farfan, and they all replied that they didn't know of any. On the bus, I asked the driver and he Yes, there is. So, when we arrived in the center of the village I got off the bus and started walking the few streets as the bus continued the next five kilometers to the border. Did I find any hotel/hostel or other room to rent for the night? No. I asked in a small store and the man confirmed it for me, No, there isn't one in the town, but there is out at the border. I started walking to the border, being only five kilometers and so too close for me to consider a taxi, and on the way I stopped in another small store and asked the woman working there, and she confirmed what the prior man had said. Okay, so I walked to the border, and sure enough, there was a hotel of sorts with rooms to rent. I decided to continue on across the bridge and into Colombia. That was where I got a collectivo, a shared taxi, to the town of La Hormiga. The driver eventually stopped in a town at a bus station and everyone got out. I paid the driver and soon discovered we weren't in La Hormiga, we were in San Miguel and La Hormiga was still about 10 kilometers north. Frustrating, but okay, so it goes. I thought of staying there in San Miguel for the night but after walking around town for a couple of hours decided to get a bus and skip ahead to Mocoa.

Looking at my list of potential new hometowns (below) one might notice that none of them are in Colombia. Why? Because for a few years now Colombia has been becoming less friendly to expats looking to live in the country. Here's something I found in one ex-pat forum, it was posted yesterday (the 14th) - "Today it has been announced by the Cancillería that the current Government has not renewed or initiated a new contract for the printing of Colombian Passports or Colombian issued Visas, as a result the current Company who do both, have said that from October 2nd no more will be printed, and the Staff dealing with Colombia will be laid off.
Therefore anyone wanting a Visa may experience indefinite delays until the Government sort this out." Another issue is that Colombia has ended all permanent visas, so all visas of any type will expire and have to be renewed at a cost, every 2, 4, or 5 years depending on the type of visa. So, for example, a marriage visa expires? That doesn't make sense. At any rate, in the other countries I have visited is much easier to obtain a residence visa, so those are the countries I am thinking about living in.

My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people.  And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temperature specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.

My Top 10 list has these towns on it:

  • Moyobamba, Perú
  • Puyo, Ecuador
  • Encarnación, Paraguay
  • Formosa, Argentina

During my travels in Ecuador I visited 36 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 38; in Chile, only five; and in Argentina, I visited 16. In Uruguay, I visited five, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay, I have visited 26. That's 129 towns/cities outside of 77 I visited in Colombia while living there for 9 1/2 years.

Next up: Pitalito, Ecuador.