Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays to all!

I enjoyed a nice holiday with Parea, but I have to say, I was really missing home this week. I was reminded how much I love this week of the year at

Videochatting in to family game night

home as I watched all my family arrive to Franklin and celebrate without me for five days. Thanks to technology, I’ve been able to video chat a lot and even take part in a board game night. As close as I’ve gotten with my Remote Year family, no one can replace actual family. And while the heat of Colombia was amazing, it did not make it feel like Christmas. C’est la vie, it will make me appreciate it that much more next year!

Culture Notes…a bit skimpy:

  1. Medellin is known for having some of the best Christmas light displays in the world. From the beginning of December all the way through New Year’s, most of the public parks are filled with lights. Parque Norte is namely the biggest and winds you around a big pond. Took a trip there this week and it did not disappoint. Although, I was there on a Thursday night with what felt like all of Colombia. Also, soooo much electricity.
  2. Christmas is celebrated mainly on Christmas Eve, until midnight, but everyone seemed to be off all week. The traditional meal is ironically eating turkey, similar to a Thanksgiving dinner.

    Empanadas at Parque Arvi

  3. When asking locals about how Colombia has changed in the last ten year, they not surprisingly say ‘it’s changed a lot’. One noted, as the country was made safer, tourism brought money that hugely contributed to development and economic growth. Because it’s safer, there are also more rich people who invest in Colombian companies. Tourism as a way to grow the economy has definitely been a theme this year.
  4. There’s a ‘Plaza de Bolivar’ in almost every town here (supposedly required by law) to honor Simon Bolivar ‘The Libertor’ who played a role in many South American countries gaining independence.
  5. I wrote last week about Rappi delivery. Took it to another level this week (by my standards). Rappi’d a hair straightener for $15 to my door. Also, on Christmas Eve, we had 6 deliveries within 2 hours, bringing food and bottles of wine.

Week’s Activities:

  • Monday night Hanukkah Celebration. Lindsay, one of 2 Jewish remotes, cooked a crap ton of potato latkes, we lit the menorah, and heard some Hanukkah stories.

    Secret Santa’s speech for me <3

  • Christmas Eve was spent with friends on an excursion to Park Arvi, a huge green space along the metro cable car, up in the hills:
    • Took public transit and grabbed the ticket up to the Park. If nothing else, the cable car up is worth the views, first of the city, then of the forest
    • At the top, there’s not much to do without a guide, we peeked around the little outdoor market, ate some empanadas, and came down
    • Still in love with the cable cars being built into public transit. Did amazing things for city development and for tourists, such a cool way to see the city, watching the vivid life below
  • Christmas Eve night was spent with friends at home, watching Christmas shows, drinking champagne, and going to bed just after midnight after watching the fireworks around the valley
  • Christmas Day was spent video chatting with the family in the morning and then with Parea at a rented house:
    • Another cooking adventure trying to make traditional dishes with inadequate ingredients and tools. I wish I videoed the craziness Christmas morning as 4 of us tried to make dishes. I ran up and down the stairs to others’ apartments many times to gather materials. I made Portuguese ‘queijadas de coco’, like coconut cupcakes.

      Parean Christmas Gift

    • SO much extra food at the house, no one went hungry. Ate our meal while watching the Christmas classic ‘Mean Girls’. Lol. We all paused and watched the Christmas scene intently.
    • Had a Secret Santa swap, I got an audio book and a very sweet message from my Santa. Watched the ‘shitty present’ swap in which people brought random items that they already had, wrapped them, and tried to persuade people the items were worthwhile. Such items included a used bag of laundry detergent, random ear plugs, free hats/shirts, and shoelaces
    • Our Program Leader surprised us, coming back early from home and delivering us matching trucker hats. Just what I always dreamed of: a royal blue and white trucker hat with a screen printed blue cooler on it…
    • Spent the rest of the evening chatting and food coma’ing
  • Work Thursday from a café in Laureles, the other touristy neighborhood. A lot like El Poblado, my hood, but wider streets.

    A new level of Xmas lights

  • Last night ‘bang out’ with the squad. Started at La Octava, a bar with a BALL PIT that was actually kind of scary because of how deep it was and how hard it was to stand up once fallen over. Also so many germs. Ended night at Bolivar night club. Fun, fun way to end the month.
  • To officially close out, got a visit from my uncle’s friend that I had spent so much time with this month. We shared an arepa breakfast, went to a private club, she lent me cupcake pans, and this morning, she handmade and delivered a fresh arepa with a hug. So grateful to have met Jenny and her family.

    Reggaeton music and a ball pit?

Currently writing this from an airport lounge. We said checked out of our apartments at 3pm, got to airport at 3:45 for an 8pm flight. We were here so early that security wasn’t even open. The flight was then delayed two hours…then another hour..then another 2 hours. So if you do the math, that’s 9 hours at an airport. Thanks Remote Year and Interjet.

And that’s that! Month 11 done. Holy hot damn. Minus Lisbon which is on a different level, this is the first place I really wanted more than the allotted time in/didn’t want to leave. So much more of Colombia to explore, and Medellin was the perfect home base! Also my apartment, that view, the natural light, gym downstairs, amazing. I can’t wait to be back!

Mexico, here I come….well if this flight ever takes off!