On the day that I left Brazil I cried. It wasn’t that I was sad to leave, of course I was little but I was also ready to move on. Alas, as I looked back towards the bumpy, dusty roads of this secret bohemian paradise we’d found I suddenly felt overcome with emotion. Here in Trancoso, I had felt a pure and simple happiness that had been greatly enhanced by the many special people that we had met here who made our experience that much richer.
As the plane arrived in Medellin, Colombia I couldn’t help but marvel at the magnificent landscape before my eyes. Never had I seen before such a dramatic entrance into a country’s interior – the plane flew through gigantic rugged green mountains and into a vast and busy modern city with high rise apartments that reached way up into the clouds. I was mesmerised by the contrast between the mountains which surrounded the city like a bowl, and the way the mist in the air floated by as if all of this impressive splendour were all just a magic trick.
Our 3 plane, 16 hour long flight to Medellin arrived in the morning so I was able to enjoy the sights of the city as we drove through the streets and from what I could see I was impressed.
Much bigger then I had anticipated, Medellin, Colombia was a city very much on the up. Surrounded by gigantic mountains on all sides, living in this green and fertile city gave you the best of both worlds: the experience of an up and coming modern city who were shrugging off the once all encompassing negative image of a city in the grips of drug gangs, cartels and Pablo Escobar. And the natural beauty that it clearly possessed in abundance, with a dramatic and verdant green landscape filled with trees, lakes and valleys.
Colombia had been on our radar for awhile. In the search for a vibrant culture, lowkey living and natural beauty, we had found Colombia very appealing. And though we had just come from another South American country with a long and interesting history and culture, we had decided that since we were going to be in this part of the world it would be a crime if we didn’t also experience Colombia, and what better place to start then the “city of eternal spring”, Medellin.
The contrast between where we had just come from and where we were going to couldn’t be more extreme. We were coming from a small town in a tropical location in Brazil with a beach and living in a small chalet on the outskirts of a jungle, to a huge and bustling city, with a year round spring-like temperature, and living in a high-rise 2 bedroom apartment in Colombia.
Also, unlike in Trancoso, Brazil where it was just Josh and I, my sister (who had been travelling through Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru) was going to be joining us and would be spending some time with us in Colombia. Exciting!
We were impressed with our new apartment which was located on the 13th floor of a brand new apartment block in an upmarket part of the city. Modern and spacious with every and any mod-con you could imagine including the much desired washing machine and dryer which I had been dying to get my hands on, and with a panoramic view of the city to die for from it’s spacious balcony, we had really lucked out. The interiors of the apartment had been thoughtfully and sympathetically considered with a homely colour palette of blues, greys and copper. To be sure, I had liked what I had seen in the pics when I had booked the apartment for our stay in Medellin but it was even better in person and another bonus was that I even had my very own walk in wardrobe: fantabulous!
I could certainly see myself, Josh and my sister, who was due to arrive the following day being most content in this apartment.
Our new Colombian apartment
Room with a view
I never thought it was possible to be excited about a supermarket but Carulla was the exception. Kind of like the Fortnum and Masons’ of supermarkets, Carulla supermarket was the real deal. Clean as a whistle, selling lots of high-end brands and a few international ones, the supermarket was spread out and well organised with a variety of impressive displays including a vegetable display, which was manned at all times by dedicated staff who kept the pristine wall of colourful fruit and veg looking perfectly ordered and perfectly preened at all times whilst a cold mist blew down from the ceiling ensuring that the fruits and vegetables were in prime condition. The cheese stand looked too beautiful even for cheese lovers like me to select from, and the ham counter was just as appealing! Of course coffee required another specialised stand, where you could taste and select from the many coffee brands on offer in this food lovers paradise. And to top things off they even had a cocktail bar right in the middle of the supermarket!
Never had I seen such attention to detail in a supermarket and just being in there made me smile. We also spent alot of money as despite the fact that Colombia is a very cheap country to live in they had many eye-catching things in that supermarket that we just couldn’t pass up.
The following day my sister arrived. We had been expecting her to arrive in the evening after a long and tiring bus ride from Salento, Colombia but suddenly we had a knock on the door and there she was: 2 gigantic rucksacks that had been her life these past 3 months and a weary but relieved smile to have eventually arrived. We hugged and told her to come in. I was very happy to see her, most especially because with all of the intense trekking and moving about she had been doing alot of the time when she was feeling unwell, I knew that finally she would way overdue some rest and relaxation.
We’re not into tick box exercises, trying to impress people with all of the places we’ve been or doing activities that are physically exhausting to the point of destruction or low level enjoyment. So now that my sister was here, she would see that we will see things and we will do things but we will do them at our own pace and with the aim of enjoyment and wellness and to experience rather then merely just to see. She had been travelling with a friend of hers and moving from hostel to hostel so she admitted it was nice that she now had her own bedroom and bathroom (that she didn’t have to share with randoms), and could wash her clothes. I agreed with her that washing ones clothes was a necessity not a luxury!
The following night we met up for drinks with her friend who was staying in a hostel in another part of town and we went to a really great Caribbean restaurant called Malanga Del Tropico where we all thoroughly enjoyed our food and drinks and the best thing about it was the price: super cheap! We will definitely be returning. Her friend was telling us about her plans to go back to Peru (where they had just come from), to spend some time with a tour guide guy she met there before she returned back to work in February. I wished her the best of luck as having a long distance relationship can’t be easy!
When the sun goes down..
El Pablado was considered to be the “gringo” (foreigner) part of town. Because of this description, I wasn’t particularly keen on spending too much time there as I did not wish to be identified as a gringo thank you very much, alas all of the great coffee shops were there (as surprisingly coffee drinking at least in the Western sense anyway), isn’t much of a thing here.
We had gotten used to drinking Espressos in Brazil because the coffee was pretty good but we were still waiting for our apartment manager to put a coffee machine in our apartment so we were really looking forward to finally having some Cappuccinos and Lattes in El Pablado. Getting used to speaking Spanish as opposed to Portuguese was a bit of a transition for both Josh and I. Despite their similarity it was not the same language and there were many words and phrases in Spanish that I had yet to learn because we had just come from Brazil and I had more familiarity with French. I was just hoping that it wasn’t as complicated as the Portuguese language that I had found so challenging.
El Pablado was around a 40 minute walk from our apartment. Uber’s operated here too and were so cheap that it was criminal (how does £1 for a 20 minute journey sound to you?), but unfortunately the powers that be, much like back in the UK, were trying to shut them down and had been successful (Uber was due to stop operating in Medellin on the 31st January), which meant that we only had a few weeks to take full advantage of the service. The walk to El Pablado was nice but very hilly and the further we walked the more pleasantly surprised I was about how well the city seemed to be doing. Far from the limping second world country that I had imagined it might be, and looking more financially healthy then Brazil when taking into consideration all of the infrastructure, roads, banks, casinos and the cars that people were driving around in not to mention all of the building work that was going on it would seem that they were doing more then okay. When we arrived in El Pablado I surmised that this gringo part of town looked and smelt a little rundown in my opinion, but that there seemed to be many businesses here, and of course the coffee shops that were promised.
We walked around the almost empty streets and I looked around trying to get a sense of what it was all about. I couldn’t really see any gringo’s at this point, just a few market stall sellers selling identical items, perhaps this place comes alive in the evening. Not long after walking around a bit longer we came across a sign on one of the lamp posts warning of sex tourism. No Sex Tourism it said! Go somewhere else! Well that shows them I thought. But then I had the disappointing memory of what it was like in Thailand, where sex tourism is most definitely a very obvious thing. I didn’t realise that this was something that had been exported to Colombia too.
Santa Fe Mall
We made the mistake of venturing into one of their malls, the Santa Fe mega-mall, and it was so big that we almost got lost in there. There were so many shops that we were simply overwhelmed, and as we didn’t actually want to go shopping it was just like getting trapped in one big maze. The first shop we ventured in we were accosted by the shop assistant in there who once we found out that we weren’t Colombian but from the UK, proceeded to tell us how happy she was that we had come into her shop and that we were visiting Colombia. As I was gathering from my various encounters with Colombian’s they were NOT very proud of their history, most specifically with regards to the rampage of Pablo Escobar, who murdered many people and made life a living hell for the residents of this beautiful city.
So I knew what she meant when she asked me eagerly how we were finding it so far and what we thought of the city as it was clear to me how important it was for these very friendly people to finally get some recognition for what the city had become rather then what it once was. And though I had been looking at doing some tours like we had done in Rio De Janeiro, I most definitely would not be doing the Pablo Escobar tour, which I now know that the locals found offensive. Despite the international obsession with the life of Pablo Escobar with help from the Netflix blockbuster Narco’s (which I thought was an excellent series), the residents of Medellin, (where Pablo was born) did not wish to revisit it, and even though in many ways they had cleaned up the city, there was still an ever present undercurrent of seediness, danger and the presence of drug gangs that would probably always persist.
After 30 minutes of talking to this girl who asked us to promise her that we’d come back to visit, we left. The mall was so big that my head started to spin and I could feel a really bad headache coming on. Josh was also starting to get a little frustrated. We both realised that we really needed to sit down and gather our thoughts aswell as have something to eat as we were starving. What we had realised in this short time of being in Colombia was that they loved a mall. We had passed about 4 on the way to this gigantic one and all of the people who weren’t in El Pablado seemed to be here in Santa Fe – and they even had a huge ice rink. Thankfully we eventually found somewhere to eat in the crazy mega-mall that we had gotten ourselves trapped which sounded interesting: Crepes and Waffles.
Perhaps we were just missing our French crepe lady in Brazil a little, but this crepe restaurant was no joke: it served both crepes and waffles in a huge and creative variety of sweet and sour offerings. The crepes, both sweet and savoury were very impressive, and I had also found a new favourite drink: Coconut Lemonade. Yum Yum!
The day I arrived in Colombia I started my search for someone to do my braids. Since I couldn’t find anyone in Trancoso for love nor money I realised that Medellin was probably the last chance that I would have to find someone to do my braids since we were in a big city with a large Afro Colombian population. Naturally, I had the language barrier to look forward to, and as with in Brazil, the concept of local businesses actually having a website to advertise their service and allow you to make a booking seemed to be beyond the scope of South American business acumen. So, I had to do some serious research.
Eventually I managed to find 2 options, the 1st one had an Instagram page but no website but she didn’t bother responding after I told her that I could wait the following week for her to do my braids, and the second one had an Instagram but no website but on her instagram page she said that she done home visits and would bring the hair! Bonus. Both of the Instagram pages had some really nice examples of braid hairstyles but I was a little concerned since they seemed to be very artistic in the main then what I was looking for: simple box braids. The kind I have take awhile to do and I wondered whether it would be a little too time consuming for them, however when I sent over the picture of my current braids (which were doing pretty well for 3 months considering), she said it would be no problem and charged me the super low price of £56 to travel to my apartment, take my current braids out, provide the hair AND put the new ones in again. In the UK I pay around £70 (and that’s from a cheap hairdresser in Croydon), to get her just to put them in! So already I was experiencing the absolute bargain of Medellin living and I liked it!
I had brought some packets of braiding hair with me but I had left out the blonde so I asked the girl to bring some with her so that I could see what she had. She was supposed to arrive at 11:00 am but at around 11:30 am I got a message from her telling me that she was going to be late. She was now not going to be there until 13:00. I was annoyed but I was more perplexed about how she expected to take my current braids out and put new ones in before midnight as I knew that the later she arrived, the later she would leave. Usually it takes around 8 hours to put my braids in but this girl seemed determined to do all of it on the same day. Fair enough I thought.
Up until this point I had been communicating with the girl using Google Translate so she didn’t actually know that I was British but when the security guard called me to tell me that she had arrived (another hour and a half later that she told me she would be there) and I went downstairs to collect her, I used my Translater device to communicate with her. Though it worked I was a little concerned just how this braiding thing was going to go considering the fact that I couldn’t communicate with her properly. I know she was doing it for cheap but I didn’t wait all of this time to have someone do a bad job with my braids, especially when they would have to last until I returned to the UK. Thankfully since my sister was now here, we three (me, my sister and the hairdresser), set about taking my braids out. The girl (who couldn’t have been more then 20 years old), was lucky to have had us both helping her do her job as it would have taken much longer then it did had we not. I never put braids in back to back but I unfortunately didn’t have the luxury of giving my hair a little rest as this girl wanted to do it all on the same day so I had to wash and condition my hair myself (which thankfully was in pretty good condition), and then she set about braiding my hair. I decided to go for the hair that she had brought with her as it felt better quality then the hair I had brought my with me, and the blonde hair that she had brought with her which I decided to use was the same brand so I thought it made sense to keep it consistent. I didn’t have a hand held mirror and couldn’t speak Spanish so I couldn’t give her instructions as to what to do but I had showed her the picture of what I wanted so I just hoped that she would do as instructed. I became a little paranoid towards the end as I saw her using a little more blonde then I would have liked. I enjoyed having some blonde in my hair but this blonde was much lighter then the one I used before and she seemed to be being a little more generous then I would prefer so I stopped her and ran to the toilet to have a look.
I was right, she had used quite a lot of the blonde. Also, the hair had been braided thicker then I’d had before, which was what I said I wanted but the partings she had made were bigger, meaning the thick but sleek look that I liked was now very sparse looking, with thicker braids and a lot of blonde. I figured that I’d probably get used to it, afterall I did like the lighter braid look, but I wasn’t sure about this bigger parting thing, the hair wasn’t as long as I liked and the blonde seemed a little too noticeable to me, but I figured that perhaps I just needed to get used to it. Since the girl was there until after 10 in the evening, we had to provide both lunch and dinner to her. I was thankful that she had done my hair after she left, but I decided that since it was so reasonably priced, if I didn’t like it in a couple of weeks or before I left Medellin I would get to her to do it again exactly how I liked it.
Now that I’ve had the hair in for a couple of days I can say that I have identified the problem. Firstly, she probably did less hair because it’s quicker to do. Then, she should have used less blonde. The plaits could be slightly less thick but they’re okay – they are very neat. It should have been longer too, but the worst thing of all is the hair itself – despite me feeling it and comparing it to my own hair that I had, and the fact that it said it was “Premium” the hair I had was definitely of better quality. The hair she brought was very dry and brittle, it breaks off and it tangles. Mine never tangles. I liked the sheen-free look that it had initially as it’s closer to my own hair texture but now it just looks dry. Basically, I’m not really a fan. It is more then likely now that I will get it redone properly before I leave her as I don’t fancy my chances finding another hairdresser in Cartagena and I’m not convinced that this hair will last until April. A waste of money? – perhaps. But since I couldn’t see what she was doing and could hardly communicate with the girl it was probably inevitable, however that won’t be happening again!
Fernando Bolsero is a famous Colombian artist. Dedicating many of his sculptural works and paintings to the Antioquia Museum, located in Botero Plaza, a green space which has been dedicated to Botero and his work, so we decided to spend the day at the plaza and see some of his work.
After walking to El Pablado and having lunch at the beautifully designed Azul Selva, a hotel aswell as a cafe, we jumped into an Uber to take us there.
We had briefly considered walking it but soon decided against it when we realised that Uber would be a more logical choice. We were still being surprised by the cheapness of Uber in this city. Having such bargain basement prices for transportation was still a bit of a shock but it was a no brainer when considering the other options available. Why take an overcrowded public bus in the heat when you can have a private chauffeur to take you there for £2?!
So far, we’d been discovering some of the best areas in Medellin: El Pablado, Laureles, Evigado, and I had been finding that Colombia was not what I had imagined. For starters, there was the amount of money that was clearly sloshing around, with a huge variety of restaurants, hotels, coffee shops and mega-malls to choose from. And then there was the people themselves. I had imagined wrinkled, dark and olive skinned Colombian men, wearing fedora hats with cigars sitting down playing Dominoes excitedly on the street corner whilst voluptuous women wearing red lipstick and a red dress sauntered confidently down the road to salsa beats.
I was imagining a riot of colour and noise, lots of pretty, colourful buildings everywhere, music, people and lots of trees. But now that I was stood here in this thoroughly modern city, which could be anywhere if it weren’t for the shop signs written in Spanish, I felt a little letdown. The people too, seemed much more reserved then I was expecting. Indeed it took me a few days to remember that these people were Colombians, not Spanish. Where was the energy, that Latin fire, the friendliness that I was expecting? – sure, it was here but these pale skinned, suit wearing, softly spoken people just looked and sounded like Europeans to me. Soon it dawned on me that I wasn’t likely to see the kind of Colombia that I was looking for. Not here anyway, because this was a city. The second largest city in Colombia and the success story of this formerly blighted and overlooked, crime-ridden city. The people that I was seeing here were the success stories of Medellin. The wealthy and well to do of Colombia. Many of whom had a good standard of living here in Medellin, a well paying job and yes, likely studied in Europe too.
What I was looking at was what Colombia was hoping to become: A safe city with good infrastructure that could attract tourists and international business. It wasn’t trying to be the salsa district of the country – for that, I’d have to go to Cartagena, which luckily for me, was the next stop on our travels! So once I had come to accept that this was essentially a latin american city break I was able to finally begin to enjoy their offerings.
What they offered was Uber (at bargain basement prices), a reliable (and cheap!) bus service, modern buildings and businesses, a fascinating culture and a beautiful (and reasonably safe) city. Of course there were still places that it was recommended that we did not venture as a tourist but largely the drug gangs were operating on the down low as the police presence was high.
As we drove through the city on our way to Botero Plaza I marvelled again at the buildings that we passed by. There was some really cool architecture going on here, and most of it looked pretty new. But as we turned a corner from the main stretch onto one of the side roads that connected us to the centre of town, I looked out of the window in horror as I suddenly saw hordes of people crowding the road and the pavements: filthy looking people, a combination of bedraggled locals many of whom looked as though they had mental issues, many without shoes, homeless women with babies dangling from their teets, people with maimed feet, other south american refugees begging for food, people with missing teeth, women wearing clothes far too small for them advertising their bodies for sex, people who were clearly on drugs, helpless, dirty desperately poor people such as I’d never seen before.
The road went on for what seemed like forever, with hundreds of desperate and desperately poor people flashing before my eyes, carrying broken bit of tyres, plastic, discarded cans, blankets and flimsy looking mouldy bits of cardboard. I saw them on the sides of the road bartering with one another, teeth blackened and falling out, to exchange what must have been people’s dumpster trash for other pieces of trash. It was a given: these people were resourceful. Scurrying to and from these people were busy concentrating on their daily tasks and didn’t seem to even see me staring at them with curiosity and shock as we went by. I was not only astounded by the filth that I could see all around, but by the fact that these people were trying to preserve what could only be described as trash by our standards. They didn’t have broken tv’s, toasters and kettles to fix, these people were bartering with one another for shards of glass, deflated rubber, broken pieces of wood and plastic.
People were wearing filthy rags for clothes. Clothes that hardly covered their bodies, stumbling around in this concrete jungle. Homeless people with physical deformities sat helplessly on the side of the road. The contrast between what we had just come from to what we had come to was staggering. I had simply never seen this kind of abject poverty before. I certainly didn’t see this in Brazil and Colombia is clearly doing much better financially. So what was this about? Why was this this much destitution and poverty? Road after road after road I saw the same thing. Hundreds of poverty stricken people. My heart went out to them but equally I was feeling some concern that the place we were going would be near here. I simply would not be able to deal with being amongst these people. Call it disgust, call it guilt, call it what you will, I had no desire to see this level of poverty up close and personal.
When we finally arrived at Botero Square after what seemed like a lifetime of passing poor people on the street, we were relieved to get out of the car. We had all been equally affected by what we just saw. It had become clear that what we had just seen was a representation of how far Colombia had come, but also how far they had to go. Because the contrast between the parts of the city that we had seen and this was STARK and I was finding it hard to hide my shock. I only hoped that whoever was in charge was aware of this and had a plan to do something about it. Now I could finally say that I was seeing the real Colombia: a city on the up with a dark past and with alot of visible poverty.
The square was full of people. The artist Fernando Botero was renowned for his sculptures, most of women: very plump and voluptuous women with round tums, bums, and chubby faces, sensual women who looked very cuddly, almost like a caricature of a normal women blown up. But his sculptures must have been fashioned off a real women I surmised, as they were so very precise, afterall the women of Colombia were very curvaceous. Even more so then the Brazilians. The Brazilians had incredible figures that were well proportioned but they weren’t big necessarily. Colombian women had wide hips, big bums and this Botero guy was clearly wanting to celebrate that.
We walked around the square which was filled with his fantastic sculptures of both men and women and surrounded by trees. It was teeming with people, some tourists taking pictures of the incredible sculptures which were gigantic and made out of bronze and black metal, and lots of locals just sitting on the surrounding benches. They were probably so used to seeing the sculptures that they didn’t even notice them anymore.
After walking around for a bit we went into the Museum that was on the square: Museo de Antioquia. It wasn’t free but we figured that since this museum was rated as the best museum in Medellin then it made sense that since we were here that we should check it out too. And we did. Many of the works both the paintings and sculptures had been donated by Fernando Botero himself and some of them were (much smaller) copies of the sculptures that were on the square but though I enjoyed many of the artworks by the other artists, I found Botero’s himself to be the standout. He really was a master of his (big and bouncy woman) craft. Every time I looked at his work it made me smile.
Fernando Botero’s muse? 😉
My sister kissing the handsome stranger!
Maxin’ & Relaxin’
Botero’s cute looking Jesus
I had heard before that Peruvian food was the best in the world but I equated that with a particular dish that they created: ceviche (marinated cold fish). In theory, though I had never tasted ceviche before, I could grant them that it probably was very tasty, but it had taken me some time to come round to the idea of eating raw fish (sushi), so I knew that it would take me a little longer to come round to ceviche. So I had never had Peruvian food but I had doubted that it would be as impressive to me as Thai or French cuisine for example. Alas, we had decided that we all fancied having some seafood and I found an interesting looking Peruvian restaurant in town so we rocked up there ready to enjoy some good hearty seafood. Another bonus of living in a city was the variety of cuisines we now had access to. In Brazil I was very dismayed with the food selection on offer, and though it had been better in Trancoso, it still wasn’t quite varied enough for my tastes. However on the other hand, I really enjoyed it’s Brazilian authenticity. But now that we were in this huge city of 2 million people I could pretty much get whatever kind of cuisine I felt like having. So far we’d already had Italian, Caribbean, American and French and as we were on our way to the restaurant I saw a few more interesting looking restaurants for us to try.
I liked the decor of Rocoto. It was surrounded by the beautiful trees that were everywhere in this city, giving it a permanently fresh and lush feeling. The walls were exposed brick, with dripping candles built into the walls for maximum effect. The restaurant had a dark, moody vibe with ropes as the ceiling decoration and it was open on all sides allowing you to indulge in people watching while you ate. It was pretty cool but it was the food that was the stand out.
Reading menus that are written in Spanish (particularly when you’ve just come from a country that speaks Portuguese and you never learnt Spanish), is challenging, but thankfully both our Google Translater app (which works offline if you download the language over wifi), and my sister who after studying diligently using Duo Lingo and travelling in Spanish speaking South American countries was now a pretty impressive Spanish speaker (at least by our standards), so she was able to translate alot of the menu. But still, particularly with this kind of cuisine which was very ingredient heavy (most of which I’d never heard before), it was very hard to even imagine what you might get when you ordered. In the end I resorted to guessing.
We each ordered a cocktail, mine was a variation on the Peruvian national drink Pisco Sour and it was delicious. I absolutely loved it. Best drink so far in my travels and edging to be my best drink yet! It was lemony, it was sweet, it was salty and it was sour. I’ve no idea how they managed to pull all of these flavours off in the one drink but they did and it was refreshing and delicious. It was also heavy on the alcohol: bonus!
The first indicator of the food being good (besides from all of the reviews I’d previously read claiming so), was the starter. Some kind of a meatball, on a bed of rice, with a delicious sauce, it was presented perfectly and tasted unlike anything I’d ever had before. Then came the mains: I had a potato dish that had been made with bell peppers, with breadcrumbed prawns, avocado and another spicy, tangy sauce accompaniment. The potato was cold which put me off at first as I do not like cold food (unless it’s sushi), but my initial shock quickly died down once I’d actually tasted the dish: it was incredible. My mouth was experiencing a taste sensation: tangy, spicy, creamy and with texture too: Magnificent. Now the French certainly know a thing or two about textures and flavours but these Peruvians had taken it to the next level.
Each of our dishes were completely different but they were all presented thoughtfully and creatively and tasted different from anything we’d ever had before. I didn’t know what ingredients these people were using but the food was delicious. And as with most of the restaurants in Medellin, the food was SUPER CHEAP. Our mains, including the starter and alcoholic drinks came up to £40 TOTAL. Now this is what they’re talking about when they speak about living a good lifestyle. You could easily live very well here and we already were. We were dining out at fancy restaurants whenever we felt like it, living in a beautiful penthouse apartment (which included a weekly cleaner) with an incredible view of the city, I could get someone to come to my house and do my braids, food shopping was easy, and we could travel by Uber anywhere we wanted to go, all for unbelievably cheap prices. Now don’t get me wrong, not everything was cheap, all of these mega-malls that the Colombians had around the city were not so cheap but that was mainly because they had imported many of the brands. American brands and other European brands were taking up alot of retail space and charging accordingly and the average Colombian couldn’t afford it. But everything else was extremely reasonable and I could very well see that if you were perhaps able to make your money online (because finding a job here as a foreigner would probably be next to impossible), you could have a good life here, but for me, it wasn’t in my sights: it was too far from the UK for starters – I would miss my family, I didn’t really wish to learn Spanish, and I don’t really see the point in switching from living in the best city in the world (London), to another city even when the standard of living is so high and they have better weather. But for other Digital Nomads I could totally get it and I know that Medellin already had a high Digital Nomad culture.
Talking of weather, they do have it right in that it is the city of eternal spring, however, coming from Bahia it is perhaps a little too cold for me now, lol. My tan is rapidly disappearing and though it is warm everyday (with an average of around 25 degrees), and of course the tropical heat in Bahia was becoming very oppressive, I liked the feeling of being on a permanent holiday. I feel a little too much like I’m living here now with the usual chores that comes with that and I’m missing all of the incredible Brazilian beaches. Alas, we have many options here, with activities in and outside of the city, museums to visit, a lovely apartment to enjoy, shopping malls to peruse, restaurants to sample, plus my sisters here now, so I really cannot complain!
In addition, even though my sisters friend said that she’d seen a few cockroaches aka barratas where she was living in Laureles we are 2 weeks in and haven’t seen not one!
I think we are lucky in part because of where we live. There aren’t lots of restaurants around here, it’s mainly residential and it’s also very green with lots of trees and open spaces. And because we are on this side of town the temperature is a little lower here so perhaps that also keeps the bloody buzzards at bay. Maybe it is also because there are alot of hostels on the other side of town. When we went to dinner with her in that area and dropped her back at her hostel we saw lots of hostels in that area and not to be horrible or anything but hostels attract “hostel people”, many of whom are looking for the cheapest possible prices no matter what the standard of living, and some of the people for whom have questionable washing and living habits. We have no hostels here in San Lucas where we live, it’s all fancy schmancy high rise apartments with their own security guards and thus I have seen no sign of a cockroach here or anywhere else in the city thank goodness and I haven’t been bitten by a mosquito once!
The Peruvian restaurant (food-wise) has been the highlight of my trip so far both in Colombia and in Brazil. If this is what these Peruvian people are dealing with then I will have to do some research on fine dining Peruvian restaurants when I get back to the UK! My sister however has confirmed that the quality of food we had there was in the minority as she was in Peru for almost a month and she said that she never had food of this quality or anywhere close. Something to bare in mind. Alas, I will be returning!
Panorama & Drama
I could never tire of this view. No, I could never tire of this view. Kind of like a New York penthouse (but better as we aren’t in New York), it feels like we are on top of the world, with the most dramatic view of the green encased hilltops and mountains in the far distance surrounding the entire city. High rise can be seen as far as the eye can see but unlike in some parts of London they are quite handsome looking – you can see that they are very new and modernised so they aren’t an eyesore. It actually showcases more then anything else the contrast of this city, with a busy bustling centre with lots of buildings, malls and good roads (unlike Brazil it has to be said!), hugged by a magnificent abundance of trees and a stunning landscape. I’d never seen anything quite like this before and it is impressive indeed from every angle. Every window in our apartment has a view of these gigantic mountains and at night we watch as the sky turns from blue-lilac to black with thousands upon thousands of city lights twinkling in the distance as far as the Barrios. Being that we were so high up that we aren’t overlooked we have this privileged position to enjoy at all times of the day from the comfort of our generously appointed balcony. Because of the temperate climate and comfortability factor Josh and I are finding that it is much easier to work here and going food shopping isn’t a big deal either – we could simply walk it to the impressive Carulla Supermarket or take a £1 Uber to another supermarket nearby.
Living here in Medellin, life is real easy. Alas the same cannot be said for my hair situation as despite me finally finding someone to do it and having the convenience of her coming here (and it being so reasonably priced), I have decided that I don’t like it. The hair quality is too bad, therefore I am going to ask her to come and redo it before I leave here for Cartagena, Colombia in around 4 weeks time!
The dish that changed my life!