We all know the old saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” that can help you get the things you want. However, in Colombia I discovered it’s actually, “Who have you built relationships with.” Julio, my personal, affordable and reliable concierge, came to the rescue.
When I arrived in Medellin in September 2018, I knew no one. After staying in several Airbnbs, I noticed an apartment for rent in one of my FB groups for expats. He was great. His name is Jacob. We built a great rapport, and I shared with him how I was trying to figure out how long I could stay in Medellin on my tourist visa, and what the protocol was.
Jacob pointed Julio out to me. Julio was from Colombia, educated in the U.S., and therefore bilingual. This was perfect since I knew no Spanish. I needed someone to help translate, show me around, and navigate through this unfamiliar city. Julio has operated a tour and driver service, but as Jacob explained, Julio could help with EVERYTHING!
Boy, was he right!
Not only did he pick me up and take me to immigration, but he talked to them, translated for me and helped me understand that back then, I was ILLEGAL! I had overstayed my visa, which I didn’t realize.
During that time, we were developing quite a comaraderie. Fast forward to February 2020 after returning to the States and now back to Medellin, Julio was my first phone call. Here are just some areas where he assisted:
Julio: Nothing He Didn’t Help With – A Top Concierge
- Arranged a pick-up and drop-off at the airport with English and Spanish-speaking drivers frequently.
- Took me to a MacBook repair shop, translated my problem, returned to the shop to pick up my laptop, and then returned it to me at my apartment along with instructions to maintain my computer.
- Took me to tour a coffee farm when I needed it for a blog post I was creating.
- Helped to get my immigration paperwork sped up because he knew the owner of the expat immigration service.
- He took me to DHL to translate for me to send my voting ballot in for the U.S. 2020 election.
- Recommended and then sent a driver to pick me up for my PCR test in order to enter the U.S., which was less expensive than the other recommended location *and the other major service he provided to me –
- Transferred funds I sent to him, to my landlord because I did not have a Colombian bank account. This was a HUGE deal for me. It was by far the most time and head-ache preventing task on my list. That’s TRUST!!
Personal Concierge: Hard Working and on Time?
If people know anything about Colombians, they are very hard workers, but they are also notorious for being late to events. But never were any of his drivers or him late, EVER! And when there was an issue, communication was perfect.
I never worried about being unsafe or not secure and was always stress-free when I called him for help. He was totally my ace in the hole for navigating in a country where I did not speak the language, but when I also wanted to explore and get around. Julio was invaluable!
If you decide to visit Medellin or are looking at an expat location, get yourself someone like Julio, or you can get Julio. Connect with him on his FB page here.
Do you have a JULIO, a concierge of sorts in your country? Tell us about it!
by: Gail Turner Brown