Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 47 - Medellin (Frisby's Fried Chicken)!

Today started off like any other day. I get up (way before anyone else does), I take a shower, and I have breakfast. Since I wanted breakfast to stick to my sides, I opted to cook some scalloped potatoes with onions and tomatoes. Eggs would really go well with this meal, but I think I am afraid. Afraid of high cholesterol. Remember I had eggs EVERYDAY for about 2 weeks. 

What can I say it was included in the rate and I could not say no. It was not until the end of the first week that I started to be able to communicate egg whites, lol. Besides eggs in the city are pricey! I know, I know it's all relative, but I am referring to COP (colombian Pesos) when in Colombia! 

But not to bore you with the details, the signifance of the above was the interactions that came with me deciding what I was going to eat. A fellow backpacker from Australia, who I suspect just finished his high school studies was an extra talkative young fellow this morning. 

I remember leaving him the previous night still pounding drink for drink. I had asked him today if he had been to sleep and he said no. He also referenced that he was hammered after a bottle of the local spirits and some coke. I hope he was playing about the last, but no matter. He just kept talking and talking. Asking were WE going to have eggs and did I need some help and why was I cooking potatoes the way I was and why was I doing this or that. I felt like I was talking to a child who just learned to talk. There was another guy in the kitchen, Sergio. He had just returned from the grocery store then the talkative one decided to attack. He picked up his groceries and then his yogurt in a bag. He went off on a spill about why do Colombians package things in bags.. and what are you supposed to do with it, etc, etc. People like him remind me why I have cut back on drinking significantly.. well at least in Colombia. 

I type all this to say I LOVE YOU GUYS, my friends, my wall between making a SUPER ass of myself, the ones who keep me hidden from most public scrutiny. Maybe this is secretly why I've been relatively sober on this trip, lol, so watch out. 

Now the kicker was that his drunk/high self decided to walk to the grocery store barefoot. When I asked him why.. he said, why not. The streets are clean. HE did all that to get some..

I love this stuff! I don't drink it much, but I like it better than SunnyD!

So during breakfast, Sergio and I started chatting it up about what just happened and what we had planned to do for the day. I had ZERO plans and I was open for some simple exploration. After an hour of CNN (<-- How in the know I feel now) we were off! It was a fruitful interaction, he is pretty good at English, but there are words he is still learning, and he offered to help me with my Spanish throughout the day. So my vocab has increased 5% (don't ask me what this is based on tho) and I feel accomplished.

We ended up walking a good bit around the University area of the city. Went to the Botanical Gardens saw more butterflies..

I think they were mating... Do butterflies mate? I know I can google this, but I am lazy!

What was interesting was that this lizard, iguana maybe?, came out of nowhere while we were at the Gardens! Now during this time, these two older ladies were soo friendly. They were just chatting it up, mostly with Sergio. I figure I understood about 4% of the whole conversation. One of the senoras, in Spanish, was like got take a picture, go take a picture. I felt soo accomplished that I knew what they said.. So, wearily, I ran in and ran out to take a picture. I was not sure if they were killers, biters, etc, so I decided to make it quick!

Now maybe I should not be surprised, but the cleanliness of the city is fascinating. They are true advocates of recycling. 
I learned today they have some of the best tasting water (tap water) around. They use some kind of bacteria to clean the water! Ha.. I wonder why more people have not done this around the world..We tried to visit one of the Universities, but they politely told us NO! The interesting thing is that Medellin is building this huge structure that is suppose to bring more technology to the city. They've decided to engage some local artists to share their talents on a wall surrounding the construction site. This graffiti was awesome!

After deciding that we did not have much to do, Sergio suggested that we go to Santafe Mall. This is the ritzy mall of Medellin. The mall was fancy.. the neighborhood was fancy. 

Views from the mall/neighborhood..

Retracting roof.. 


Views of the neighborhood...

Fancy me..

I am just fancy.. until I saw Frisby's Fried Chicken, lol. Now mind you I referred to how people eat Frisby's earlier (with a plastic glove).. and I figured I wanted to try the chicken and not the glove. I ordered the Snack which was chicken strips and fries. Now I did not take a picture of the chicken, but I wanted to moreso show this quite inventive thing. 
Now if we have this, I just haven't seen it.. but genius! My first thought was who needs a cupholder-chicken thingy when most people walk, bus, or taxi.. then I thought maybe it is for the aristocrats of Medellin. Most of them have cars and this does create something rather ideal for them. Albeit, kind of dangerous, but I like it! The chicken was okay, but FINAL VOTE: IT has nothing on Popeye's!

After a great day, we decided to head back! I swang in the hammock (<-- is that correct) did some reading and fell asleep right there! Can you say uber-relaxing! Aww tomorrow is the big day. Since its my last day, I think I can get a pass. Whatever happens, I plan on trying to stay awake and go straight to the airport. There are not that many flights in and out.. can't be taking any chances.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 46 - Medellin (Colombian Independence Day)

Since today was a holiday on Wednesday, a lot of people stayed up last night and had good fun sipping on lots of beer. I opted for reading a few pages in my latest selection, Girl with the Dragon Tattoos. I figured today I wanted to take some time and see how Colombians celebrate their Independence Day. They are already very similar to the states as in staying up late at night since there is no work the next day!

In the interim, I decided to enjoy me some good ole store brand Granola and boxed milk. No need to repost those pics, but I quickly began thinking about what is for lunch. After some serious brainstorming and realizing my limited ingredients, purposely limited, I opted for not just soup, but HEARTY soup.. I threw in some potatoes and more noodles for thickness. It came out better than expected, and not just because I made it!
This afternoon, Erika and I planned on meeting in Botero Plaza to have dinner and explore the city's celebration offerings. While I was waiting on her, a funny thing happened...

This uhm greyed Colombian, which you could tell was suave in his day, decided to slide up next to me. I mean he was close. I figure it had to be some kinda mating contact that has to have worked on other Senoritas. He tried talking to me and I told him that I spoke little Spanish and he decided to break it down to me. He told me how beautiful I was and how he liked my skin color. He was very surprised that I was not from Colombia (I suppose because of my color). In addition, his thigh dayum near overlapped mine. A bit uncomfy, but entertaining that he worked so hard to make sure I understood what he was saying. After we exchanged all we could, he told me goodbye and it was a pleasure, while giving me a once over. It was a Class Act..I guess he was feeling confident on this day. Maybe I too will try this on a confident day to see how it fares in the states.

I wanted to capture this photo of a worker in the central part of town. He was proud to be a Colombian as he served up fruit cups in his Colombian colors.

Erika had heard of a free concert in one of the parks about 20 minutes away from the Central area of town. Unfortunately, I was told not to whip out my camera during the walk because my camera was less than safe. I hate I could not take a picture of my latest tasting, Buñuelos. They are a fried pastries and stuffed with different things. This was more dough and cheese, which is more commonly found in the streets.
Borrowed from:  
As we continued to make our way, it was nice to see the kids and families out playing in the park sprinklers and enjoying the sun and some street food! The closer we approached our destination, I wondered what I had stepped into. It was the alternative crowd of Colombia. I guess this free concert was to raise awareness and acceptance of individuals based on race, sex, color, sexuality, etc. And trust me when I say, it attracted all those who defied the "norm." Now I am all for acceptance, but these folks were high as a kite and drinking to their hearts content. I am not sure how much of the message they actually heard. My words don't quite capture the moment like a few pics.

This shirt below really summed up things, lol.

If you look closely at this pictures, it contains a lot. If you can't figure it, then email me on the side!

This picture does not quite capture it, but another band came out and played this music and people starting running around in this circle, throwing bows. It was madness! I'll try to get the video posted eventually.

On my way back to the hostel, I tried to capture an image of Ave Setenta. It used to be this happening place, but it is where all the Colombians hang out. It is just a cool street that's quiet because of the holiday.

When I arrived back at the hostel, I decided to have a beer and chat it up with some locals who were having drinks in the bar! It was amazing how friendly they were. One was trying to learn English and his friends were pretty good at English and played translator. I decided to get in since I wanted to learn Spanish! So we chatted, their was some language exchanged played. I was quite proud of me that I could identify some words and sessions. I decided to call it a night around 10:30ish. The locals invited me out for a possible outing on Friday. We'll see what happens! It's been a good day! Time is passing by soo fast! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 45 - Guatepe (1 Hit and 2 Strikes..)

I planned on making another attempt at doing nothing this morning, but heading out midday to get into Medellin at a reasonable time. I figure this could be important for two reasons. The first is the most obvious one, I have no clue where I am going. The second is that I want to try to miss rush hour since I'll be lugging my two backpacks onto the metro. I mean the metro is like $1550 versus a $7000 - $10000 taxi ride to the hostel. I am a budget traveler here!

Well I was chatting it up with a fellow backpacker who said that he planned on doing this Vista Trek which is supposed to go up in the mountains and have great views. He said he planned to do this early and catch the same early bus back to Medellin. Welll me being me, I can't pass up a decent sounding adventure. We were told that the walk could range from 8km - 20km. Instead of km, I decided to use hours, lol. After an hour and some changing of walking forward, I planned on walking back.

So we are off and walking. It is like 5hunnid degrees outside, but it's okay I suppose. It makes for a pretty day AND I have plenty of sunscreen on. No additional burns for me. Along the way were these inviting still lakes. Don't they look tempting?

We get to walking and there are some nice views of the city, lakes, and El Penol (the rock). 

However, I quickly realized a few things: this trek is not "vista," the views are really no better that what I saw a few days ago, and no matter how high we get things look the same. Can you tell me the difference between these two sets of pictures from different angles?
But we try to wait it out and walk a bit further, this trek is no trek.. It's nothing to look at and we decided to head back. The real highlight was the Colombian playing Sade's Smooth Operator from his work truck in the middle of nowhere. Who would have thought. Oh well, one strike.
The second strike was almost deadly! By now I am starving. We find this little restaurant and I order this chicken on a stick. I have a bad habit of looking at my food before I eat it. THIS is why I wouldn't eat wings for a very long time. Looking at them made me sick. So back to THIS chicken.. This chicken skewer is a thing of beauty no?
I bit into the first piece and got to looking at it and it just didn't seem right. I decide instead of biting into it again, I would pull a piece off. WHY, I MEAN WHY, is this chicken pink? Not beige, not rose, effin PINK! These folks tryna kill me. Flag on the play. I would offer up more strikes, but I saved myself before it was too late. I successfully communicated to them I did not want this or anything else from them for that matter. *sighs* still hungry!

We quickly load the bus and are off to Medellin. I feel good because once again this feels somewhat familar. I exit the bus and head for the Metro. I've written out the directions and I am ready as can be with both bags in tow. 

Sidebar: I think I am getting pretty good at offloading and onloading my big backpack. I'm like a smooth operator, lol. I can get it on, whip it off without hitting anyone, and lodge it between my legs to take up as little space as possible. All while swinging my small sack onto my chest! Call me a professional *does the cabbage patch*

Anywho, I successfully get to the terminal and I head off in what I think is the correct direction. I walk a bit and then turn off and then turn back on and then turn off again. To my dismay, I was holding the map wrong, lol. After turning it right side up, I arrived. This was ALMOST a strike, but I quickly recovered.

I checked in and this hostel is a thing of beauty. I chose a new area of Medellin to explore called Laureles. I hear this is the true local area and you can experience the real Colombia. I get settled in and I am told that there are free Salsa Lessons tonight. Based on previous experience, I asked was this Zumba or real lessons. The owner confirmed real lessons.

I am soo psyched! So the night can't get hear quick enough, I am ready!

I walk to the said area and there are a few people here. I tell them I have no clue as to what I am doing and they say no worries. Okay, okay! We get started and I have two left feet, but the night progresses...

And two hours later, I have an inkling of what I am doing and I am ti'd! Who knew salsa, when done properly, can be such a workout.. Or is this my inexperience?! Who cares nonetheless. 

This is something I must learn when I get back to the states. My dance partner, the best friend of one of the instructors, was awesome. He made it easy to follow and worked with me very patiently when my feet got turned around, lol! He was also easy on the eyes. A rarity for me since I have been in Colombia. 

Now this activity/evening was a HIT!