Another jam-packed, fun week in Colombia! It brought ‘gingerbread houses’, Colombia’s national sport, great workspace café’s, and tubing on a lake! Man, I just love it here.
Also, Wednesday 12/11 marked officially one year since buying a one way ticket to Cape Town. A milestone that sparked a lot of reflection over how much has changed in a year. Not only have I worked from tens of different ‘offices’ this year instead of just the same one every day, but I have set myself up to continue this lifestyle beyond Remote Year. Could go on, but yeah, life-changing. #buytheticket.
- So what is the national sport you may ask? Tejo! A corn-hole look-alike, the object is to throw a shaped stone into a crate of hard mud that’s a bowling alley distance away (roughly). In the middle of the mud is a metal ring with little packets of gun powder on top of it. You break up into two teams and take turns throwing your stones. If your team gets closest to the ring, you get a point. But if anyone hits one of the packets, your team gets three points. If you land it in the ring, six points. And there’s a way to get 9 but I don’t remember. Anywayyyy, you’re trying to explode the powder. Nothing like a social drinking game with explosives.
- Medellin is a series of carreras and calles (both meaning street). Carerras run north to south (along the river, that took me a while to find but does exist!) and calles run east to west. A standard address is Cra. 28 #45-12 where 12 is the exact location. Straightforward, right?
- Fruits I’ve been loving this month: granadilla (kind of like a passion fruit), pitaya (a dragonfruit variety that I like better than the normal one), lulo (like a cherry tomato-y orange)
- Ok, drugs. Yeah, this is a common safety concern when coming to Colombia. Unfortunately, one of my fellow Remotes was on a Tinder date this week and got drugged. Doesn’t remember anything past dinner but did make it home (minus phone and credit card). Friend is doing well, but scary for sure. I have not drank really at all here, but if I did, I suppose the lesson is be REALLY aware.
- Fun fact: The mayor of Bogota, elected October of this year, is a gay woman. How’s that for progression?! Side note: gay marriage is legal here.
- We can drink tap water here! It’s not recommended in some smaller areas of Colombia but Medellin is cleared. We can also flush toilet paper (mostly). It’s the little things…
- Similar to Santiago, Colombia has lots of political protests going on, mainly in Bogota but some in the university area of Medellin as well. When I asked what they were about, the response was: inequality. More specifically, people believe their tax money is being improperly managed and used for the benefit of the politicians themselves. Shocker.
- Fun fact: Colombia is one of the top exporters of roses/flower bouquets. In 2018, an approximate $1.5 billion of flowers were sent abroad.
- This week we visited Guatape, a town about 2 hours east of Medellin. It’s known for the Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir, a man-made winding lake, and Piedra del Peñol, a giant rock with 700 stairs you can climb for a stunning view of the region. Highly recommend the day trip, we travelled with company called ‘Do It in a Van’.
- This month’s Positive Impact initiative- Fundacion Cultivando Sonrisas:
- A home for about 20 girls that are from unstable families/families in crisis
- Mission is to offer a safe place to grow, learn, and be successful in the future
- Girls are ages 2-15
- Girls currently live in a temporary space as the new house (funded entirely by donations) is built in Santa Elena. They expect to move in early next year.
- The girls attend school during the school year but are now on holiday break.
- All the food, clothing, and materials are from donations
- We visited the home as well as donated money from the Tejo event and our general PI fund.
- Visit to Fundacion Cultivando Sonrisas with 5 other remotes! The girls were incredible, so warm and fun (and a little bit crazy).
- Thanks to the creativity of my mom and aunts, I put together a gingerbread house making activity. Made of crackers, frosting, and candy, the houses came out great! And nothing says the holidays like feeding young girls a bunch of sugar. One of my favorite moments was watching a 2 year old lick sprinkles off her hand from the table. Some had about as much frosting to eat as they did on their house. All in good fun…
- We also did some holiday crafts and the girls sang us Christmas songs in Spanish.
- Normally, I’m a bit wary of the ‘here come a bunch of white people to play with kids for two hours that they’ll never see again’, but honestly, the leaders of the house were so grateful just to have a night off. I can’t imagine taking care of 20 girls all day and night. And of course, it was a blast! I hope to revisit when I come back to Medellin.
- Work from the café Ceres Marketplace/Justo Restaurant. Would recommend, good Wi-Fi and open air, jungle vibes.
- Tejo event! I sadly did not hit any of the packs of gun powder, but I was remarkably consistent in hitting the board #thankscornhole.
- Work from a café we discovered by accident called Matilde. Honestly a dream workspace café, although the food could have been a bit better. They outdoor porch area was 10/10 and Wi-Fi great!
- Assemble a clothesline on our balcony to dry clothes. Honestly one of my greatest accomplishments of the year.
- After work outing at Envy Rooftop Bar, nice place with a pool and good vibes
- Learn to Dance class! Our Experience Manager this month led a Latin dance class and normally, I feel really uncomfortable in these but it was actually a ton of fun! We got a taste of merengue, salsa, reggaeton, and bachata. Still searching for my hips but we made a little progress.
- Taco dinner at Criminal Taqueria, yes please.
Saturday- RY TRACKS DAY
- After a bit of a delayed start, make our way to Guatape with almost the entire Parea squad. Definitely the most we’ve ever had all together.
- Along the ride, in true Colombian style:
- Picked up a live musician who drummed, maraca’d, played the harmonica and serenaded us for ten minutes before dropping him back off. Lol.
- Tried numerous foods off the street that our driver would just grab and go. Literally so fast I had no idea one time that we’d stopped.
- Stopped in a tiny ‘replica’ town near Guatape
- Loaded breakfast at the host, Rafa’s home.
- From breakfast to a bridge that people jumped off, a group of us rode on the roof of the vans that were carting us around. Ride on roof of van through farmland Colombia: check. Safe and legal: check?
- Despite my last jump from a cliff going so well (broke my back), I opted out of the bridge jump into the lake. But I enjoyed watching others do it!
- Climbed Piedra del Peñol, the giant rock. It was covered in tourists and started pouring on the way down, but worth the view! I mean this area is just gorgeous.
- Ok, and here’s where things get not so fun:
- Because it’d been pouring rain, the dirt road to take us down from the rock had turned to mud. On our second switchback, the van started sliding, and sliding, to the point where our driver was yelling ‘shit, shit, shit! JUMP, jump out of the van, GO!’
- We were unable to get the door open because it’s an older van and we hadn’t learned the trick. By the grace of God or something, the van stopped about a foot from the edge of the cliff.
- Lessons learned? 1. Know how to open the van door. 2. Sit near the door. 3. If possible, avoid riding a van in the mud entirely.
- One of those woah, lucky to be alive moments.
- Lunch at the house where we’d spend the night. I’m just going to say it now: the food the whole weekend was AMAZING. Rafa is a self-taught chef that prepared every meal from scratch with a plethora of delicious options.
- Walk around the town of Guatape. I’m sure it’s really cute but at this point it was rainy, overcrowded, and I was a bit stressed from the scare so meh, I’ve seen it.
- Chill at the house before a homemade pizza dinner in the outdoor kitchen area, equipped with a pizza oven. He made a cornmeal crust for me, and holy moly good.
Sunday- RY TRACKS RELOADED
- Woke up to a rainy morning and despite being cold and questioning, set out on a morning boat ride on the Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir.
- Ended up being EPIC. Tubed for the first time, watched others wakeboard, jammed to reggaeton music, and soaked up the December sun/warmth.
- Chilled the rest of the day doing crossword puzzles and chatting by the pool before journeying home
And because I pretty much ran around all last week, I’m now writing this from bed with a really bad cold. BUT worth the lows and as always, feeling super grateful. I mean, I could be shoveling snow right now.