BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

28 October 2014

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Nearby Sites

Black Country
Hereford & Worcs

Related BBC Sites


Contact Us

September 2004
Working abroad: James Eder
Written by James Eder, AIESEC member
Sonya's leaving party
Sonya's leaving party at Crepes and Waffles

James Eder is sharing his business skills with local people in Colombia this summer.

He's travelling abroad with the AIESEC student organisation, and he's writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.


Stevie Cameron
Stevie's in The Philippines.
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Profile of the South American country from BBC News.

Follow James' travels on this map of Colombia from Lonely Planet.

James' photos
Check out James' prints online.

Official website for the UK.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.



Population: 44.2 million (UN, 2003)
Capital: Bogota
Major language: Spanish
Major religion: Christianity
Money: 1 Colombian peso = 100 centavos
Exports: Petrol, coffee, coal, gold, bananas, flowers, chemicals, emeralds, cotton,, sugar, livestock


AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

View a printable version of this page.
get in contact

The beginning of the end

The Pioneers!
The Pioneers!

On Sunday we went to Crepes and Waffles once again, this time for Sonya's goodbye lunch. It felt strange as she is the first one to leave out of all of us. It was the second and last time all of us 'pioneers' on the programme this summer were in the same place.

Invited out for dinner

Later on in the week, Dan Uno and I were invited out with two new AIESEC members, Vanessa and Stephanie. We arrived at Stephanie's apartment meeting her mother and sister. One of the differences here in Colombia, is that many university students still live with their parents. I think I prefer the freedom and flexibility back home. Although for some people it might be hard to move away from home, it forces you to learn a lot about yourself and to be more responsible.

James with Vanessa and Stephanie
James with Vanessa and Stephanie

Originally Dan and I thought it was going to be a formal sit-down dinner and were relieved when we shortly left for a nearby restaurant. The meal was great; I tried my best in Spanish, with Dan translating when I gave him a confused look. At the end of the meal, much to our surprise, the girls paid for us We tried to insist that we would but then gave in and sat down, thanking them again.

Down Town

On Thursday, taking a day off work, Juan K, Juliet and I ventured into Down Town, central Barranquilla for the first time. It was strange as the Colombians at University and the AIESECers do not ever go there and talk about it like it is too dangerous.

We took the bus; within 10 minutes there is a noticeable change from the north of Barranquilla we were used to. It is hotter in the centre as it's busy and bustling. There are street stalls and donkey carts moving slowly. Like any city centre, it is more dangerous which made us more cautious and aware of where we were. We walked around to the markets spending a few hours there.

It felt strange to think that local AIESECers and others generally don't go to Down Town, but then I suppose at home do we generally explore those areas that are known to be less safe - each city has one. We picked up a number of bargains and headed back to the university.

Trouble on our bus route

Over lunch, Juan K told us in quite a light-hearted way how a fellow student in his class was in the psychology department speaking to someone after they had been on a bus - the Kra 54, the same bus we get everyday.

Two men had come onto the bus and demanded money from people. Two people resisted; they ended up being shot in the legs. Not surprisingly, this left both Juliet and I quite shaken. We didn't want to take the bus for the next few days, but our daily routine continued, so we had to. It was just something that happened and nothing we could do about it. We're lucky we haven't experienced violence like that directly and I hope we don't have to.

Peurto Colombia


In the afternoon, we visited Peurto Colombia, originally the biggest port in the Atlantic in the 1880s. It helped in developing the coast. As other ports were built, it was ruined and it's been left as a tourist attraction.

The port was an entrance to Colombia for refugees, especially after World War II. One of the communities grateful for Colombia's support is the Jewish people, represented by a plaque which can be seen here. As we walked along the pier out to the sea, we passed locals fishing and as dusk drew near, it was an amazing site, looking back to the land as the water shimmered.


After Peurto Colombia, we had a short taxi ride to Killamanjaro, the same place we had gone to on the beach in the first week. As we sat on the beach enjoying the sunset, it was then 18.30. Remember that time - it should not be spent anywhere outdoors if at all possible. We were swarmed, literally, by mosquitoes - we could not fend them off fast enough and I must have lost a pint of blood.

As the sun went down, I felt myself being bitten on the feet. Juan K told me to bury them in the sand and I would be fine. We gathered our things and tried to leave, delayed because we still had to pay. I handed my money to one of the others and ran to the road, which I thought would give some shelter. I was wrong...

Bites - ringed in black!

In the end, my legs and feet were covered with over 30 bites on each as well as bites on my neck and back. Juliet was the same. We were so itchy and we had to walk and then wait for the bus to arrive! I just wished we had left half an hour earlier, but hey, I suppose then I wouldn't have the amazing sunset photos (I will never forget how itchy those bites were though!).

Written by James Eder

« Previous diary | Next diary »

James enjoys sunset at Killamanjaro
James enjoys sunset at Killamanjaro
Top | Student Index | Home
Also in this section
Space Odyssey
Win Space Odyssey book

Mailbox Webcam
See the Mailbox webcam

Clubbers Visit our guide to local events and exhibitions, latest film reviews, music gigs and theatre.

Get involved

We want to hear from you. Got an idea for a feature - something out of the ordinary? Want to write a diary everyone will want to read? Get in touch!


Post or call in:
BBC Birmingham website
The Mailbox
B1 1RF

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy