Neiva, Colombia


Neiva, Colombia, has a population of about 358,000. This small city has the Magdalena River (the second longest river in South America) flowing along the western side, north to south, and the Ceibas River cutting through the northern half of the city from east to west. This area is the Magdalena River Valley, which sits between the Central Range and the Eastern Range of the Andes Mountains.

Neiva has a tropical climate. The average daytime high of 32° C (80° F), and the nightly average low of 23° C (74° F). The city's elevation is about 442 meters (1450 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 1384 mm (55 inches) of rain. The humidity is moderate, typically between 54% - 71%.

So, my impressions: Don't waste your time visiting this small city. If I ranked the dirtiest, most-littered towns I've visited, this town would be second on the list. The people simply throw their bottles, wrappers, papers, and anything on the ground and don't care, and apparently, the city has given up on trying to keep the place clean. Check out the photos in the photo album, especially the malecon/riverside park, my gawd! You definitely want to avoid that place. Then there's a green area that is more trash than natural green plants. The rivers are loaded with crap people have thrown into them. This place simply is not a pleasant town. What's there to see otherwise? Well, there's the church at the plaza—originally built in 1612, then rebuilt in 1839, then rebuilt, again, in 1971. That's all there is, folks, nothing to see in Neiva. What else did I notice, oh, the parks and plazas have no grass, just dirt. Oh, but the town does have a nice new mall in the north of the city near the airport, far from the filthy downtown. I must say, I am very surprised by this place. I never expected to see such a dirty town in Colombia. It seems the towns here are generally well-cared for.

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 temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

So, to reach my goal I will visit those 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:

  • Puyo, Ecuador
  • Moyobamba, Peru
  • Encarnación, Paraguay
  • Formosa, Argentina
  • Roldanillo, Colombia

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. In Colombia, I've visited 81. That's 210 towns/cities in South America.

Next up: Ibagué, Colombia.