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Published: October 29th 2012
I slept most of the way on the plane from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale, due to the lack of sleep that I had got in the Airport.... that goddamn floor polishing lady!
The flight to Medellin was really nice, flying out over the Florida coast and across the Carribean, then crossing over Colombia on the Northern coast. The final part was the most spectacular however, flying amongst the mountains of Colombia. Looking down with good views of the smaller villages, the massive mountains and the insanely big rivers. This was when I started to get pretty excited.
Even better was the two people that I got to sit next to. An amazingly friendly couple from Colombia originally that now worked in Florida, Hoorico and Sandra. We got talking on the plane and pretty soon they were starting to fill me in on all of things that you should know before arriving in a country. Where to go, where not to go, what to eat, what to do and what not to do. I guess this inevitably happens. There are three ways in which it usually takes place. Either you do your research before hand.... haha not likely with me. Or you meet lovely people along the way who fill you in, or you find out as you go along, this can sometimes be the hard way.
A big part of traveling and life in general for me is one thing at a time. And yes, I often give my friends shit for being hippies and 'living in the now man'. But I actually wholeheartedly agree with it. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. So when I was finally ready to learn about Colombia, and start learning Spanish the plane was almost ready to land in Medellin. Luckily for me, there would be no hard lessons this time, as the Hooricio and Sandra, I guess knowing what it feels like to be alone in another country, took me under their wing for the first day. The first thing was to give me a lift from the airport to town. Saving me around $50, 000 COP. Or about $28. Sandra's brother picked us up from the airport and we started off toward Medellin.
Next stop was to get some lunch, again another gift. And it was my first introduction to true Colombian food... I forget the name of the dish, I've been meaning to find it out again ever since. But basically it is an insane amount of food. Beans (frijoles), rice (arroz), chorizo, blood sausage, pork (cerdo), platano, some sort of bread and there must have been some other stuff too. It was amazing though. That plus some Aguardiente, a colombian liquor with heavy aniseed flavours and a glass of mysterious fruit juice.. It was amazing, and I still can't believe how lovely those two were that first day.
The rest of the day was spent driving around Medellin, we had to pick up the Sandra's brother's son from school, then went to visit some of their family friends. At the end of a very long day, following two very long travel days.. they dropped me off at the Black Sheep Hostel in Poblado. The Black Sheep was to be my home for the next eleven days as I celebrated my 25th birthday with randoms who were willing to have a drink with me. Poblado itself would be my home for the next three weeks.
Well, the Black Sheep was pretty fun I guess, as fun as a hostel can be anyway. There were some interesting characters there, namely from the States, giving the Yankees a bad name. Tut tut.
I found some friends on my 25th and we went out to the local 'hot spot' I guess you would call it, Zona Rosa, and had a few drinks. This tended to be the theme for most of the time at the Black Sheep. A few days into my stay I had decided that I knew very little Spanish and to make travel easier it would probably be a good idea to get some formal education. I went down to the closest University and applied for two weeks in the intensive Spanish course. This was after waking up early with James from Seattle and trying at a local language school. the school was closed and as a result I missed the first lesson at the University. This was going to make the intensive course even more intense.
My teacher Lisa, is a beautiful person, from Medellin originally but has spent roughly 20 years traveling and teaching English. She is a brilliant teacher too, she only spoke in Spanish when teaching which was excellent in the long run however, made for very frustrating first couple of lessons. I had two other people in the course to start with. Helen from Belgium and old mate from somewhere. Old mate left after a few lessons to go into a harder class.
After the first week of classes I moved into a home stay with Juan Jorge Cuesta, he is a music teacher in a local school. Another Juan from the University connected me with him. He is a really nice guy and was happy to try and help me with my Spanish. The weekend prior to moving in, I went to a small town North of Medellin called Gautape. Gautape is famous for its lakes and giant monolith that tourists usually climb. I went there with a friend from the hostel Janice from London who was teaching English in a local school. Due to a big night out in Zona Rosa the previous night we got up and away a little bit later than we intended, leaving around 10am instead of 8am. This meant we were unable to climb the rock, but still had a pretty sweet time in the village. We took a horse ride to a nearby monastery which was really cool. Our guide was a small Colombian kid who rode a donkey along with us, it really was hilarious. The monastery itself wasn't that amazing however, the ride up was beautiful. It started to rain just as we were leaving which made for a wet return to the village. Totally worth it however. A quick beer and snack and then we headed back to Medellin.
The rest of the stay in Medellin was mostly dedicated to learning Spanish, with a few activities in between. Playing Soccer (futbul) on Friday afternoons at the University was really cool, the museum, pargue botero ( the park of fat sculptures by artist Fernando Botero) and the Metro Cable to the another park.
Once the course had finished, I booked a ticket for a 10 hour bus to Bucaramanga, and the ourney truly commenced.
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