Medellin – What, No Pelicans?

Medellin GalleryWe booked our apartment via VRBO, but something went amiss. Somehow, we never really booked it through the site, but we were able to exchange e-mails with the owner. Generally, sites such as AirBnB, will block any communication until there is a completed booking, guaranteeing their commission.

Each time I wrote the owner about our arrival, he requested I contact him closer to the date, then the day before our arrival and finally when we were at the airport in Medellin. This left me with an unsettled feeling, but there was nothing I could do. We had been communicating via WhatsApp, which I tried explaining I cannot use unless I found a Wi-Fi hotspot in the airport. Communication barrier or stubbornness, he kept telling me to send him a message from the airport.

The arrival area at the airport is not welcoming; there are currency exchanges and a bank machine, but little more. Though I walked a distance from where I left Ron with the luggage, there were no Wi-Fi signals that I could find.

Our taxi ride gave us an example of what it would be like riding in a Formula One race if it were held in Cairo, Egypt during rush hour. I who never get motion sickness was having my doubts since I unfortunately sat in the front seat. It took us an hour to get to our destination, a condominium on a hill. No, actually, it is like a mountain wannabe.

There is 24-hour security, so the guard opened the parking garage door allowing us to roll our luggage up the ramp as opposed to the stairs leading to the front door. After confirming our names, he handed us the key to the apartment. We are on the 10th floor.

Clean and modern, the apartment is lovely with all the basics. What is surprising is the wide-screen television not only the dining area wall, but a similar one in the bedroom in addition. Only the first is movable and it has a USB port, so we are able to watch our movies on a large screen. This is a one-bedroom apartment, but it has two full bathrooms with showers. A balcony spans the living room – dining area, but it is much narrower than the one in Cartagena.

Unfortunately, there are no Caribbean waters in view, but there are a number of high-rise apartment buildings. This is quite the metropolitan city, so our pelican sightings are a thing of the past.

Just as we were going to venture out to explore, whom we thought was the owner rang from downstairs. Apparently, a business owns this apartment and others like it. Two young men came in, one spoke English having lived in New Jersey for four years; they did a complete inventory of everything down to the number of forks and asked if we needed anything. Yes, two additional pillows and a light bulb for the bedside lamp would be great. They offered tour services; taxi rides, and help with anything we may need.

Our day started earlier than most having to plan time to get to the airport, so by late afternoon, we were fading. Once the guys left, we walked down this very steep hill to find an area unbelievably congested with restaurants, cafés, and pubs. One block alone has six cafés side-by-side, all with outdoor seating and all filled. One turn to the right, the street has an additional selection of a three more. There is an interesting art gallery on our street, we will have to investigate. The photo above is the teaser at the Medellin Fortnight Irisentrance.

There is so much foliage here, it seems that someone dropped seeds in this forest and up sprang buildings. These fortnight iris caught my eye. They look like small orchids. Medellin Fortnight iris

Running into the Medellin Beer Company, reminded us of the fine beer at the Bogotá Beer Company, so we decided this was our dinner spot. Choosing a table on the patio seemed idyllic with temperatures in the 80s, but still having shade. The breezes were deliciously refreshing. Interrupting our serenity were the people stopping on the other side of the wall that barricaded us from the street, asking for handouts. It is beyond reasonable to give to all who ask. We try to determine those really in need when approached so we can share the wealth, but not break the bank either. We have repeatedly discovered it is like feeding pigeons. You feed one and suddenly a flock appears wanting the same nourishment.

The restaurant is on a corner. Where we were sitting, faced the street where the stop light happens to be. As we were eating, a young man came to stand in the middle of stopped traffic to juggle devil sticks, a name learned later. They are also called flower sticks or simply juggling sticks. With proper alignment of the stars, an unexpected performer will appear to entertain captive drivers, some with passengers, while waiting for a green light. If luck prevails, the audience will reach into their pockets to tip the unexpected entertainer.

Medellin EntertainerEating dinner and mildly amused at the glimpses of this young man’s antics we were shocked when he did something causing our mouths drop open. He must be double jointed or able to pull his arms out of the sockets. One arm came wrapped over his shoulder and down his back. He pulled the back of his pants up and waved to onlookers. Outside of a circus contortionists, we have never witnessed anything like this. AfterMedellin Entertainer dinner, we took his photo and gave him a generous tip.

If ever there is the opportunity to visit the Medellin Beer Company, do not order the Jack Daniels BBQ ribs. They were fatty, tough and not at all tasty. Ron ordered a burrito that looked more like a cheese barge, but the flavor was exceptional.

Walking back to the apartment was a challenge due to the hill. Climb, rest gasp for air, climb, rest, gasp for air and so it goes.

Our evening view…

Colombia - Medellin January 2016 007 Medellin View from the condo

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.