OK we’ll try this post from my phone. Pictures exist but I’ll have to sort out how to move from my camera next time I have a working computer.
I’ve been in Medellín now for 13 days and with about 3 and 1/2 weeks in Colombia, I suppose that this is the longest “trip” that I’ve been on (that being one that is for no other purpose than “to travel”).
So what have I been doing here? What happened after this free walking tour? Well, I made some plans with two of the Italians on the tour to meet for another tour (of Guatapé) the following day. I went for some coffee and later met with my two couchsurfing friends for some drinks in Parque Poblado and a night out in Laureles. The following day, I caught the bus with my Italian friends at 730 and we set off for a day exploring Guatapé and the areas around it. We climbed the Piedra el Peñol, ate lots of local food, and took a boat ride through the lakes of the area. At only COP $69mil, the 8 hour tour was a bargain. It was completely in Spanish which was also great for practice but I did make a fool of myself when the guide asked if anyone knew the English word for “repollo” and I answered (only half hearing the question) with “chicken?”. I will now never forget the Spanish word for cabbage.
On Monday, I started school at Toucan but since it was a public holiday, we went with some the instructors on a “field trip” to Santa Elena. Santa Elena is a little town about an hour away from Medellín that is famous for their festival of flowers in August. Even though we missed the main event, we we’re able to see the elaborate flower arrangements and meet with the silleteros that made them. I can’t recall for certain what I did in the afternoon when we returned back to Medellín but if I were to guess, I probably ended up back at Pergamino.
On Tuesday, I started my first official day of classes and to my surprise I was not placed in a class a few levels above the one for total beginners. As of now, I’m just between A2 / B1 which to me means that I can express myself in most situations and I can hold a conversation with most Spanish speakers I meet here (granted that they speak relatively slowly and don’t mind being asked to repeat a few things). I paid for group classes but was happy to find myself in a class of only two, me and one other American. Classes are 4 hours long every morning and consist of a lot of conversation and a few written exercises. 4 hours is a drain but I’m happy for the progress I’m making in the class. On a particularly draining class on Thursday, we finished out the final 30 minutes with an episode of El Principe del Rap (which is the name for the dubbed version of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air).
After classes, there are sometimes activities arranged by the school: beginner lessons at a Salsa School, a group outing to watch Colombia futbol matches, and language exchanges (intercambios) with the English school nearby. I’ve been doing all of them and yes, I am a salsa pro now.
In the evenings, I’ve been going out with some more Colombian friends I’ve met along the way and with students from class. Parque Poblado remains a favorite spot of mine as you can get a liter of Aguila for COP $3mil (or a box of rum to share with your friends) and drink it on the steps of the park with locals who are usually happy to meet some foreigners interested in practicing Spanish. The local musicians also use the spot to busk and the party can go to the wee hours of the morning there. I’ve tended to stay further away from Parque Lleras which sits in the middle of the most popular hostels. You’ll hear more English or German than Spanish and a beer will cost 3x as much.
So first week in Medellín has been a success. I’ve gotten a bit better at my Spanish, discovered some great restaurants and bars, haggled for a Colombia jersey to wear while watching a match from 50 to 20, spent far too much time in Pergamino, and met loads of new people.
Other random memories that could have their own article if I had the time…
- Standing taco restaurant
- Aliens within the Earth
- Jumping on the party bus to dance for 10 minutes only to jump back off when realizing it was not a free party bus
- Luz and Blanca’s House
Will update later with stories of the weekend and what I’ve been up to in my second week of classes.