Monday, March 29, 2010

Medellin: Part 1

Well, we are safely two days into Medellin.

Funny how there can be so much build-up, anticipation, anxiety about things like being caught in the middle of a terrorist attack, shark attack, alien invasion attack. And of course, nothing happens. Kaitlin has been calling me a "fatalist" quite frequently the last few days. I'm not sure if there has been a drastic increase in my "worrying" or if we are both just a bit more sensitive to these issues as we are so near to our "safe" return in the "safe" US of A.

The truth is though, I feel quite comfortable in Medellin. Most places in SA, even Chile (which is touted as one of the most "Western" countries in SA) I felt we were followed by more lingering stares than here.

Medellin is a busy city. There is so much going on in this city that has no bonafide "center" aside from the modern, clean, quiet, metro that runs North-South through the bottom of the valley. People just seem too preoccupied here to mess around with two frumpy gringo backpackers. Not to say that the people here are not friendly - quite the opposite. Every location, whether it be a bar, restaurant, sports facility, hostel, etc... people have done their best to be accomodating and thorough. ¡Que bueno!

Our two days, have been two full days. The "Tiger Paw Hostel" was fully booked, but they recommended us to Hostal Tamarindo - which I think is ultimately more our speed and the right place for us to be at this point in the trip. Clean, quiet, organized, and thorough with all the relevant information for getting where you want to go in the city.

From this base in Poblado we have gladly made the fifteen minute walk to the metro (though yesterday we discovered the bus that eliminates the walk) to seek out just a little of what Medellin has to offer:

A staggeringly thorough and active farmer's market (where we had a deliciously unhealthy concoction consisting of various fruits, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and another mystery sauce.

Unidad Deportiva de Belen where I was able to join in on an eight-a-side soccer match in a quality synthetic turf complex with some nice and very talented Colombians who play a refreshingly thorough version of the game - PASSING AND DRIBBLING!

The Juegos Suramericano - the South American Olympics. The metro takes you literally to the door-step of the facilities that host the major indoor events. After waiting in line for a little under two hours we were able to view men's basketball Venezuela vs Brazil and Colombia vs Argentina.
Although the quality of play was a little below high school basketball in the States - the energy of the capacity crowd (particularly during Colombia vs Argentina) was quite electric and made what should have been a slaughter an entertaining match. Never-the-less, the superior size, speed, and depth of the Argentina squad allowed them to pull away at the end, but that didn't stop the home crowds chants of "Si, se puede!" and "Co-lom-bia! Co-lom-bia!" Great to see such and atmosphere for a sport other than soccer and it was free for all!

Palm Sunday processions with palm fronds, olive branches, replicas surrounded by young and old that can only make me think of my mother and how she would love South America.

And each night finishing with a ride through the valley surrounded by the twinkling yellow lights that make Medellin a beautiful glimmering bowl. ¡Que lindo!


Today we should be off for another full day of activities..

Starting with my last camiseta search on the continent. Then we're off to the farmer's market to haul home sundry ingredients for a king's dinner, then hopefully we can catch women's rhythmic gymnastics, and finishing the day with a pint or two at the Tiger Paw microbrew!

Tuesday should be another packed day as we have heard that there is an exceptional aquarium here with a botanical garden next door.
Wednesday is my Atletico Nacional match..and I'm sure by that time Thursday will be packed full of activity as well.

It's busy, but good, we've found that the little down time we have had so far has allowed us to start thinking of home and how these five months are coming to an end. It's a mixed bag of emotions which has us a little nervy.
For so long we've been in this mindset that there is an unknown "next destination" and to now be looking forward to Denver-USA is good in that it is familiar and we are excited to be with Kaitlin's family again, but also a disruption in that it is familiar and we know what to expect - which breaks from our five month routine.

Alas, we are making the most of Medellin while we can. I am making up for my long drought in drip-coffee and last night I had a wonderful "mulata" beer from a local brewery. It's almost enough to make a smooth transition, but with Semana Santa and the Juegos Suramericanos and varios barrios there is still much of unique Medellin and Colombia to see..

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