Aug 30th, 2008
Here’s a small Flickr set.
Better Than Bogota
Medellin is a great city. I could see myself living here for an extended period of time in the future. It’s continually impressive how welcoming and friendly nearly everyone here is. Even simple things like asking for directions result in big smiles, lots of information, and someone usually walking a few blocks with you to make sure you go to the right place.
Furthermore, the city is beautiful. It is surrounded and nicely framed by mountains, which create a micro climate that is referred to locally as “The City of Eternal Spring.” In the evenings is gets down to about 66 degrees and during the day gets up to around 76. Perfect.
After a week and a half in Bogota, I mentioned that I never felt quite a spark about the place. However, I started actively looking for apartments within two days of being in Medellin. It’s got it.
My Second Apartment of The Trip
So I’ve got an apartment here for a month. This one is on the 10th floor of a well-located building. Furnished, internet, TV (who cares), two bedrooms, two baths, big kitchen, living room / dining room, close to the metro and grocery store, and a great view of the city. Here’s the view looking west from the balcony:
It initially looked bleak in terms of finding something furnished and affordable for only a month until I randomly ran in to Brent from Bogota on the street who said he’d also like to stay here for a month as well. With two people to split the cost of a place, it’s quite manageable.
Living with a Former Gold Miner
Brent is my shifty-eyed roommate. That’s him on the right eating a burger. He is 22 years old and from Colorado (though was born in tinytown West Virginia which he usually pronounces as “Wes’ Vir-jenny”). He worked for a year in gold mining. It’s actually really interesting to get him talking about what it’s like to work in the mines and the people, stories, and culture that surround it.
Brent is funny. He likes ironically talking like a redneck and intentionally rambles on to cashiers at the grocery store checkout in English, knowing they can’t understand him. He swears a lot. While he talks to you, his eyes dart all over the place like he’s watching out for someone who’s after him. One guy at the hostel in Bogota thought he was on something. “No,” I said, “I think he just does that.”
For someone seemingly more salt-of-the-earth, Brent loves getting manicures and pedicures. He doesn’t care if you think this is gay or metrosexual and will espouse the benefits of professionally trimmed and buffed nails at length.
He has been around almost all of South America for about four months. Now he wants to settle in to Medellin for a little bit and take a Spanish class. Eventually, he’s going back to the States to get a college degree. Good guy to live with.
It also seems like he never came home last night, so I hope he’s okay.
A Trip to Buy some Art Results in an offer to spend the night with the whole family.
I met two girls a week ago on Saturday evening as I was wandering around the city. Juliana and Kelly. They were selling cutesy little cards at a tent fair on a well-pedestrianed street. They smiled at me, I stopped to talk, and I liked their art cards. They gave me their business card which had an address on it and I promised I’d come find them to buy some bookmarks.
Well, yesterday I got on the Metro and walked to the address — it took more than an hour and a half to get there — I was expecting some sort of store front, but only found houses in a residential area. Initially, I was a little reluctant because I knew if I found them, I was about to meet their families, too. Figuring that it was quite an effort to find the damn place, I put on my amiable smile and said “Buenas tardes! Disculpe, senoras,” to two old ladies sitting outside and asked if they knew Juliana and Kelly, the two young artists. “I met them last Saturday and think their address is somewhere around here. I’d like to buy some of their art.”
This lead to a bunch of questions from one of the ladies who eventually walked me down to a house she thought might be the right one. We walked up outside to two men, a wife, and two young kids up on the balcony painting the house.
My guide introduced me and I repeated my query for Juliana and Kelly. “Ah, yes! Of course! Kelly lives here! She’s not here right now, but I’m her aunt. This is her dad. Come in, come in! Welcome.” Hah. I met Dad before I even met the girl for a second time.
In to the house, I went. What I thought would be a five minute visit ended up lasting for almost 2 hours that were filled with lots of questions, lots of me asking people to repeat themselves, and lots of proud picture-showing. The wife gave me some delicious pineapple juice and a cookie. The young boy took me up on the roof and showed me the view of the city from their house. Three old grandmas even came over to meet me. They showed me lots of pictures of their property and house in the country. They asked about my family, my work, and my trip.
An object of some curiosity, I think I endeared myself to them when they showed me their favorite Colombian beans during the food part of the conversation. The bag of beans was held out and I, thinking I was supposed to try one, grabbed an uncooked bean and quickly popped it in my mouth. There was an immediate chorus of seven people saying “No! No! You have to cook the bean first!” Startled at this yelling, I panicked and frantically spit the bean out on the floor and blushed as everyone cracked up.
Within 45 minutes, they had already invited me to the party they’re having on Saturday with the whole family. I am to bring clothes and a toothbrush to spend the night. Judging by the pictures I’ve seen, this promises to be a LOT of people. I’m definitely going and I’m definitely bringing my family pictures and my dictionary. I will be the token gringo in attendance. Awesome.
I never saw Juliana and Kelly, but had a quite a good time talking to the family in attendance. They said Juliana and Kelly would be good guides to show me around their part of the city. They also said the family like to dance a lot. Great. I can already tell you how that’s gonna go.
Stay tuned for the post-party update.
A Dolphins Third Stringer in Colombia?
Okay, sports people. Has anyone heard of a guy named Daniel Clay Thomas who played for the Miami Dolphins? I met him at a Juan Valdez Coffee shop one morning here in Medellin. He’s apparently been living large here for a while. He’s bought some property and opened a bar, amongst other things, once he got out of importing pool tables to the United States from China. I noticed on his laptop that he uses AOL.
A cursory Google search didn’t return anything relevant.
Dog Wearing a Dress Dances to Reggaeton while a Dude Hold a Bike with his mouth.
Enough said. Enjoy:
I’ll have some more apartment pictures and a video tour up soon. The few pictures I’ve got are here.