¿Plata o Plomo?

I’ve been living in this apartment in Medellín for about 6 weeks, tallying about two months total in Medellín, which I think is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in a few years. The theory was it would be good to have some more consistency and become part of a community a bit more. Which makes sense in theory, but I think you actually need to make an effort to engage with the community for it to work.

I actually really love my apartment. It has great views, it’s modern, and exactly my style down to the black and white. Here is a picture of it.

Apartment in Medellin
I really only used the table

And like the other one, it has a nice city view of Medellín.

Apartment in Poblado Medellin
Woke up to a rainy version of this most mornings
Apartment in Poblado Medellin
It was a nice backdrop for Skype calls

So I like being in there. I’ve cooked a lot (nothing special really). It’s amazing how long it takes for one person to eat a few bags of beans. Those “eat on $1 day” challenges don’t really seem like they’d be hard now. How was Gwyneth Paltrow not be able to do that? Anyways, I’ve been eating a lot of beans. And when I go to the cafes, I get a lot of carrot cake. I think I’ve eaten more carrot cake the past two months than I have in the rest of my life so far. It’s not even all that great, but I like the Spanish word for carrot.

Speaking of good places to work in Medellín (I haven’t bothered with coworking spaces), there are quite a few. My building is right next to a Starbucks (and a Krispy Kreme), so I go there quite a bit. There’s an outdoor Juan Valdez across the street (the national chain of Colombia) too.

It’s about a 20 minute walk for me to get to the real gringo area, which is a walk I make often. By and large, I go to three different coffee places that I like in the area: Pergamino Café, Velvet Café, and Cafe Zeppelin. Pergamino is great because they make flat whites (but honestly I feel this place is a little overrated – I don’t usually stay long), Velvet has the best Lattes, and Cafe Zeppelin has lunches in addition to just being a good place to have a coffee and hang out. Velvet and Zeppelin are better for getting some work done (Zeppelin has a location in the Laureles neighborhood as well, and I visited and like that one too).

Pergamino Café
Cafe Zeppelin Poblado Medellin
More gringos!
Cafe Velvet Poblado Medellin
I assume that guy on the right is trying to learn Spanish

My daily routine frequently consists of having breakfast in my apartment and working in the morning, going to Poblado for lunch – there are a few nice vegetarian places there for lunch, hang around for a coffee and work for a bit, and then head back to apartment in the afternoon and stay there for the rest of the day. Maybe a walk to the grocery store.

It thunderstorms a lot here. Pretty much every day, but usually just in the afternoon and only for an hour or two. I like that.

I’ve gone and seen things a couple times in the center of the city. It’s not exactly a cultural hub, so it’s not like I can go to an art exhibit or show or something. I did get my Yellow Fever vaccination though, so now Ecuador will let me in when I get there (I hope). I also went to the Botanical Gardens. I took some pictures of those.

Medellín Botanical Garden
I don’t see what the hubbub is about
Medellín Botanical Garden
El Volador Hill across the street
Medellín Botanical Garden
More gardens

I did some solid walking that day. I went to El Volador Hill too, which seems like a nice place to go for a hike and run.

While I managed to be completely anti-social while staying in Medellín, I did rejoin the tourism circuit a bit on a couple weekend trips I did to nearby towns. The first was to Jardín. Met a nice group of people who were doing something similar to me – staying in Medellín and taking a weekend trip. So we hung out the hostel, got dinner and such together, and then I did some hiking and waterfall seeing the next day.

This is the town square, which is headlined but the church of course. But I really think it has one of the prettiest church interiors I’ve ever seen.

Church in Jardín Colombia
Needs more trees.
Church in Jardín Colombia
I like my churches like I like my women: pretty and empty.

The area is known for it’s nice hikes and scenery. We watched some people do some waterfall rappelling, but I was satisfied to watch and just wander around the wilderness. Here are some cool looking Eucalyptus trees.

Eucalyptus Trees in Jardín Colombia
The Colombians eradicated the Koala population, though

And here are some more pictures of the general wanderings.

River in Jardín Colombia
Pathetic river
View in Jardín Colombia
Lots of green. And a jeep.
Jardín Colombia waterfall
I cropped out the overweight Colombianas shooting what could only be a terrifying calendar
Jardín Colombia waterfall
What’s a post without a vertical photo?

I had picked the hostel outside of town a little, which was a bit of a walk, but worth it. It had a nice view, and the WiFi still actually worked (it actually works really well everywhere I’ve been in this country so far).

Jardín Colombia
I could probably live here (in the hammock)

The other trip I took was to Salento, which is known for it’s coffee plantations and super tall palm trees. So I went to the coffee plantations and valley with the super tall palm trees. And I took pictures of them.

Salento, Colombia
Another colorful town in Colombia
Salento, Colombia
View from the top of the town

The day I arrived in Salento the weather was lovely (see the above picture). The day I left, it was also lovely (see the pictures of the coffee farms below). The full day I was there, when we planned to do the hike through the jungle, it rained all day. Since I’m wearing runners and no waterproof clothing, it made for an interesting trek.

Bridge in Salento, Colombia
Lots and lots of bridges
River in Salento, Colombia
This is why they have the bridges

In the middle of the hike is a hummingbird refuge. Which are pretty difficult to take pictures of. They also serve hot chocolate with horrible cheese.

Hummingbirds in Salento, Colombia
Build a house of sugar water and they will come
Hummingbirds in Salento, Colombia
Got a sweet wing shot
Muddy Trail in Salento
Not falling on this trip may be my greatest accomplishment
Cloud Forest, Salento
“Why is it called a rainforest?” – No one here
Beautiful overlook, Salento
Another classic “viewpoint” picture for the annuls

After the cloud forest part we came to the Cocora Valley, which is mostly why people visit this place. The tall wax palms are quite famous, and they’re the tallest palms in the world I guess.

Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
This is a valley
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
It made me think of The Lorax, but then I searched for it, and the trees don’t like that
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
Foggy trees
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
The trees were too tall to take a picture of
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
Some more jungle or whatever
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
These should be the only trees allowed on golf courses
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
Green things and clouds
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
More green things and clouds
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
Mostly inhabited by cows
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
Stroll through the valley
Cocora Valley - Salento, Colombia
Boom, tree

After successfully finishing the hike, we played Tejo. Which is pretty much horseshoes except little pieces of paper explode and catch on fire. It was interesting, but honestly kind of boring.

Tejo - Salento, Colombia
I was above average but not great at this

The next day I walked an hour to a coffee farm, waited nearly an hour for the “tour” (in classic South American fashion), and then left to go back because I didn’t have time for it. But I got a nice walk through the coffee fields at least.

Coffee farm in Salento, Colombia
I realize this just looks like wildlife
Coffee farm in Salento, Colombia
This sort of looks more like a crop field of some kind

I met some people headed to Medellin and ended up hanging out with a guy from Norway for a couple days, which was ok. We did a day trip which turned out to be pretty cool, starting with the oldest bar in the center of Medellin.

Malaga Bar
Any bar with old guys day drinking is fine by me
Malaga Bar
Solid decorations

And then we took the metro to see what used to be the most dangerous part of Medellin. But now it’s all graffiti and escalators – the Comuna 13 district.

Comuna 13 Escalators
It literally is covered escalators going up the neighborhood
Comuna 13 Escalators
View of Medellin from that area
Comuna 13 Escalators
Like a poor Cinque Terre

I should have taken more pictures of the artwork, but I didn’t. I did take one though, so at least there’s that.

Comuna 13 EGraffiti
Pretty much all the walls are painted with things like this

Did I accomplish what I wanted to while in Medellín? No, not really any of it. I didn’t really care for the city from the start, it was fine, just not somewhere I’d like to spend a lot of time.

I think for my next stop I’ll pick somewhere off the beaten path a bit more, as long as they have decent WiFi and not too many snakes. But for now, I’ll be traveling for the next month or so throughout Colombia and into Ecuador.

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