Before I delve into the city that is Medellín, I first have a few more things to clarify about Colombia and it’s inhabitants and add to the list of things that are unique, different, or annoying aquí:
—The internet places here in Colombia all close by 7 every day, and none are open on Sundays. It’s like, how I am supposed to post insomniac creative scribblings in the middle of the night? And what’s up with Sundays, anyway? Is it ungodly to surf the net? C’mon, the boot store is open on Sunday! It really makes me miss Perú, where there was always a late night cheap internet place on every corner—even in the middle of the fucking Amazon jungle! You could only get there by boat or by plane, and yet you could duck into an internet spot around the main plaza in the middle of the night after dancing to cumbia and getting your drink on! And yet in a major fucking city you can’t find anywhere to do a late night post! And in smaller cities like Santa Marta they even close for fucking siesta time! . . . . Ahem.
—Just a side note on Cartagena: if you are ever there, do yourself a favor and desayunar at Mila. It’s this fancy little yuppie pastry place (right next to El Bistro) that serves heavenly hot chocolates and cappucinos, and they also serve the best damn pancakes you may ever eat. These ain’t your mama’s pancakes, neither—I don’t know what the hell they are, but they are served up hot with cream and blackberry jam and syrup, and you will never have a better breakfast anywhere else in Colombia.
—The tinto dudes. These guys are great. They walk around everywhere (especially in Cartagena) slinging carafes of tinto, chocolate, and café con leche. They hop on the buses and proffer their goods, sometimes with homemade sanduches (sandwiches). All you need to do is shout out tinto, and one will appear out of thin air and pour out the hot liquid into a miniature plastic cup for a few pesitos. Even at 5 in the morning, when we were on a taxi on our way to the bus station, we saw these tinto guys walking about everywhere. People really need their little shots of tinto here.
—Arepas. Arepas are these pancake looking things made out of maíze dough and fried with some butter. They are everywhere in Colombia, and they aren’t good. I’m sorry Colombianos, but these little wafers are just pretty damn bland and tasteless, and I have trouble understanding why they are served with every friggin’ meal. I mean, I know that Colombianos love them their white bread and all, but let’s move on from the arepa thing, huh? Let’s try us some wheat breads, maybe, something with raisins, perhaps, or nuts, or something other than bland tasteless dry fried shit!
—Which leads me to my next one: fried shit. Fried snacks are a way of life here. Which means that it segways quite naturally into the acceptance in general of the ubiquitous comidas rapidas (which god forbid if you actually advertised them as such in the States). Here they proudly advertise their presentation of nutritionally deficient foods on their restaurant sign.
—The ATMs, or cajero automaticos, ask you for donations to some children’s charity everytime you withdraw money. It kind of takes you aback at first, and then you just get used to it.
—One last thing on Cartagena before I’m done with it: another aspect of our lovely mildew infested room there was that the ceiling fan was located directly above our head. As in, if you stretched up your arms, your hands would get promptly chopped off. This provided a source of worry and stress in the comfort of my own room, as I had to constantly be aware of not standing on the bed, or putting my arms up when I pulled my shirt over my head, etc. This was further compounded by the fact that these fans are terrifying in general in these old run-down hostals, as they squeak menacingly from side-to-side at high speeds and appear to be ready to fly down directly towards you once they’ve freed themselves from their temporary loose installments.
—There are two places that you are guaranteed to find in any well-to-do neighborhood in Colombia, in any city: 1) a Juan Valdez café, generally situated around the nicest, most expensive plaza (think Starbucks of Colombia); 2) a Crepes and Waffles restaurant. Guaranteed. I’m not complaining, by the way, as we have spent many a happy afternoon beating the heat in the air conditioned cool of a Juan Valdez café. I’ve done at least half of my Life Divine reading there. Thank god for yuppie franchises!
—One last thing: we’re both learning the concept of restraint and sharing when it comes to ordering food. It’s occurred all too often now that we each order a dish and are unable to finish even a 1/3 of what we’re given, and thus made to feel like fat, wasteful Americans. We now share many dishes, and all deserts. I am hoping that we will continue this practice upon our return to the States. Instead of taking shit home in a doggie bag, we’ll finish a whole plate between the two of us, for half the price.