Well, we did it. After a two and a half year traveling hiatus (with a few exceptions: Costa Rica & Jesse’s trip from Nicaragua to Mexico City) we packed up our lives into two backpacks and hit the road. It was a relatively easy flight to Medellin, with a short stop-over in Miami where we got a taste of the balmy weather to come. On the flight from Miami to Medellin we were split up with Jesse sitting beside a guy named Sean and Jessica in a row with two Colombian sisters who spent most of the flight giving her tips about where to go (and where not to go) in Medellin and letting Jessica practise her spanish.
When we landed we were met with the unfortunate “reciprocal tax”. A $70 fee for Canadians only – apparently we charge them the same to visit Canada. Once we paid this we met back up with Sean and rode the half hour bus ride into the city. Medellin sits in a valley surrounded by mountains. As we came over the mountain pass we got a beautiful view of the entire city lit up for New Years.
We’ve come to realize that most big cities here are divided into a few neighbourhoods, two of which are always ‘Centro’ and ‘Estadio’. Centro is the ‘downtown’ and Estadio is always near the football (aka soccer) stadium which proves how important the sport is here! We stayed in a hostel in the Estadio district which was an upscale part of town. We quickly checked in and took a cab to the ‘Poblado’ section of town. The first thing we learned is not to slam the cab doors. Out of habit we continue to do this and at the very least we get a cringe from the cabbie and at the most he completely loses his mind yelling “Suave! Suave!” (trans. Smooth! Smooth!).
Despite our faux pas the cab driver brought us to a great block party in the park where a band played Colombian music and tourists and locals alike rang in the new year dancing and drinking cervazas.