It has been little while since I last posted an update so here we go!
After 30th celebrations and enjoying the coastline of Lima it was time to say “Adios Peru” and “Hola Colombia”. I was especially excited for this as it gave me the chance to catch up with an old university friend from when I studied in Copenhagen way back in 2011. Alejandro, it was a pleasure, you haven’t changed at all, which makes me wonder why we are still friends? I have to admit that Alejandro was a pretty good host and I couldn’t imagine anyone better to drink ridiculous alcoholic concoctions with while riding horses through the Colombian countryside! Feliz cumpleaños!
Aside from catching up with old friends Medellin has a lot to offer. I do feel sorry for the “paisa’s” (people from Medellin) who constantly have to hear about Pablo Escobar. It is seriously amazing to see how the city is coming back. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Comuna 13. Only 5 years ago it was too dangerous to enter this area of the city, think Brazilian favela. Now they run tours in the comuna, speak freely about its history, have breakdancers performing all over the place and the street art is impressive!
We also got to play tejo, a traditional Colombian game which is kind of like explosive bocce. Hit the little gun powder sachets with your heavy metal “tejo” and BOOM!! I don’t think there would be many things better in sport than when you throw something and cause an explosion (check out the video!)
There were side trips out to Santa Fe de Antioquia with two of my favorite gals Michelle and Chrissy, and even a waterfall rappel on the outskirts of the city.
When you go to Medellin you cannot leave until you have visited Guatape and climbed the 600 or so steps to get to the top of El Peñol. The glute busting hike is worth it for the views at the top. They say that it is the best view in the world, and it is pretty special, but “they” obviously have not been to Australia!
We also stayed out at Guatape at a friend of a friend’s hostel. Rafa was the ultimate host, taking care of us at his amazing new setup right on the water. We got to hang out with his family, eat delicious food, visit tiny towns and ride on the top of this car. Muchissimas gracias Rafa!!
A huge highlight for me was finding my favourite place in the city. A spot called El Social. If you want a great local, fun, casual experience, look no further. This bar was the best, especially after a bit of aguardiente! Honourable mention must go to “La Cabana de Recuerdo”, a little traditional place in Envigado with 6 older gentlemen singing classic songs and playing guitar all night. They were only outdone by the matriarch of the bar who got up to sing a song every now and then to make sure everyone knew who was boss!
A word of warning when walking around the streets in the centre of town. This is not regarding pick pockets or any other traditional awareness that you need to have. The most important thing to be mindful of as a relatively young man are middle aged, very forward, Colombian women. You know you are alive when they look you straight in the eye and yell “oooohhhhh GRINGO BUENO!!”. My friend Brendan and I laughed it off but truth be told…I know I was a touch afraid! Justified…I think…
Probably one of the funniest stories of the month was meeting a connection to Valencia. It seems that there is no way that I can escape the pull of that city! We were sitting at a fast food joint at 2am only for two extremely drunk couples to walk into the place. I was there with my two housemates and after a few minutes one of the girls decided to sit at our table…the guy who we thought was her boyfriend was not impressed!
Anyway, after a few minutes of chatting it turns out she is from Valencia, her sister dated one of my good friends Pascual and she may/or may not have stolen a cheeky kiss from another friend of mine in the group. After this realisation we sent a photo to the Valencia crew who were very impressed. Finally, we found out that we lived in the same building, on the same floor across the hall from each other. The world is big but oh so small!
The reflective stuff
Just a short one this post – You never know who you will meet and the connections you will make in the most unassuming of places (e.g. a fast food place at 2am) so be open, be friendly and welcome the unexpected!
Also, give back. Helping to build a vegetable garden for the kids at a local school was awesome. Good luck Las Golondrinas!
I want to thank the two idiots that I lived with during the month, Ryan and Will. I knew I would get an insight into American culture with these two and can I just say…it was an education. You are both clowns!
One final thing to mention is that I saw a dead man walking in Medellin, more on this in my next post…
As always, take what you will from this post and see you next time!