Cartago, Colombia, has a population of about 140,000. Cartago sits in a valley between the Western and Central Ranges of the Andes Mountains. Two rivers pass by, one directly next to the town and forms the border of the city and the department (province); the other is very close outside of the town. There are sugar cane and corn farms throughout the valley.
Cartago was founded in 1540 but at a different location. The original townsite was where the current city of Pereira is located. Problems for the new town quickly arose in the form of attacks from the indigenous people; there were many attacks over many years. Eventually, the people got so tired of the attacks they moved the town in 1691, to it's current location next to the La Vieja River.
Cartago's economy is supported by agriculture, livestock, commerce, and a small but famous embroidery industry. Religious tourism is also an important economic factor, but other than that, there's not much for tourists to see besides the aforementioned few architectural sites.
Cartago has a tropical climate, though very different from, say, Armenia, Colombia. It's noticeably warmer and drier here in Cartago. The average daytime high of 28° C (82° F), and the nightly average low of 20° C (68° F). The city ranges from about 1200 (3937 feet) meters to about 917 meters (3008 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 4866 mm (192 inches) of rain. The humidity is moderate, typically between 86% - 92%.
So, my impressions: Of all the many agricultural towns I have visited on my journey of South America, Cartago is the only one I would choose to live in. And, as a matter of fact, I have lived here, for four months in 2021. This time, I found the riverside park is completely closed off and being renovated, which I'm glad to see. There are also a couple of the main streets undergoing rebuilding. The town has several very old buildings and churches dating back to the 1700s and one chapel dates back to the 17th century. There is an old mansion called Viceroy's House (Casa del Virrey) that was built in the late 1700s. It is now a museum that has many cultural artifacts, including many documents dating back 400 years. There is another park that has a large pond and wetland with trails throughout, it's quite nice. The central plaza has many coffee shops serving fresh brewed locally grown coffee throughout the day and evening.
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 82. That's 211 towns/cities in South America.
Next up: Toro, Colombia.