J buying flowers for our lovely Spanish teachers
With a last wash of our pants in our very own washing machine, we crammed our lives back into our backpacks, bought flowers for our lovely teachers (in Spanish), loaded our hire car (the collecting of which took 5 hours of our lives away…. Top Tip: do not use Expedia. They are really really shit. Cheap, but really, really shit) and waved goodbye to the wonderful city of Medellin.
Medellín is what Egypt isn’t. If you want historical marvels and desert sunsets, don’t come here. If you want your days filled with bouncing from one museum or ancient site to the next, don’t come here. If you want to be hassled by thriving tossers every time you step on the street and witness gender inequality everywhere you look, don’t come here. If you like expensive beer and shit wine, don’t come here. Well, the wine is a little expensive here, but the practically free beer compensates for that.
Medellín has been about the people and the experience of being in a different culture. In a month we felt like we were really getting to know the place....... or at least the bits we hung about in......
I’ve covered Spanish classes already, but they were a very important part of the experience as the teachers weren’t just teaching us the language, they were helping us understand the country, and the more we learnt, the more we liked it.
Outside the classes, 99% of our experiences with other people have been fantastic, 0.9% just ok and the final 0.01% was a Trump voter from the US who told everyone he had a Maserati and thought all immigrants were bad people. He was a c**t.
Colombia seems to be a kind society that looks after family, where often men stand for women on public transport, no matter if they are young or old, where people queue nicely (at least in Medellín.... we have been in a few undignified scrums since we left the city), where people go out of their way to help others. They are happy to see tourists and they are proud of their city. Pretty much everyone that we have spoken to for more than 30 minutes has given us their number and made us promise that if we had any problems or needed any help, we would contact them.
It is a clean city, not because the council employs an army of people, but because very few people drop litter and most go out each day and sweep the street outside their homes. They pick up their dog poo, they use bins, they think about their environment.
We have sat outside bars watching happy people enjoy life in any way they can and have seen lots and lots of great behaviour. In some of those bars, we have been a novelty and very much welcomed by the locals. One guide told us that Colombians have an off switch for their memories; bad memories don’t exist, so if the present is good, they are happy. The same guide asked us to consider if in our own countries we really had so much to complain about.
There is noise, colour, music and laughter everywhere. In December it is more than everywhere somehow. Everywhere plus…….not always great at 1 am…..
We loved the Museum of Antioquia, with it’s lashings of Botero. We loved the ability to get to Parque Avi so easily. We loved the other small bits of sightseeing we did. But what we really really loved was just being in the city, meeting people and living a different life. People wanted to talk to us and they are interested and interesting.
All this, plus having had a ‘routine’ for a month (i.e, not living out of a backpack and having the discipline of school) means that we leave recharged. It is sad to leave but we know we have great adventures ahead.
Some more of the wonderful Botero.