February 16 2020
I've been in Medellin for a week now. It's crazy how slow and fast the week went, too. My days have been filled with Spanish classes, work, and events in the evening. The heat of the day has a way of slowing things down, hours passing slowly amidst the noise of traffic in the streets, conversation, and music.
So without further ado, here are 7 things that I've learned about Medellin during my week long stay thus far.
1) It's noisy here. I don't mean that in a bad way, either, but compared to other places I have lived, Medellin is full of sounds. In the evening and morning there is the sound of dishes clattering and cooking being done. The street outside my AirBnB is always full of cars and motorcycles. My neighbor has taken to yelling at her son and husband from morning till evening, and I hear her as though she is just outside my door. And the music! There is always music playing somewhere nearby. The noise travels with ease because the houses here are built to catch the breeze, so all the doors and windows are open to the world.
2) Hot water and air conditioning are luxuries. This isn't surprising as much as it is just a fact. In Spain, it was rare to find air conditioning in any home. This is true of many places in the world- air conditioning is expensive and not common. Same goes for dryers. But here too, hot water is a luxury, but one that is, thankfully, commonly indulged in. Showers are linked up to electric heaters that kick in during a shower. But if you're looking to wash your dishes or clothes in hot water, you're unlikely to find a place that has that hookup.
3) You don't flush anything down the toilet. This one I didn't know, and had to constantly remind myself of else I back up the toilet and find myself in a mess. The plumbing system here is delicate and can't handle anything more then... well, you know. Here you wipe the bum and toss the toilet paper in a conveniently placed trash can.
4) We are on the same electric system. Which means all the plugs work without need of a converter, and that's a delightful thing. One less thing to carry around and worry about.
5) Cafes and working spaces are common and awesome! Medellin has become a huge expat community in the last ten years. Not only have they been recognized for their leaps in urban planning, but they also pride themselves on some dang good coffee shops. Just around the corner from where I live, there are two cool places to work away the day. They are also blessedly cooler then my AirBnB. (This cheesecake was also out of this world delicious.)
6) The food isn't just rice and beans. Though there are a lot of rice and beans. Medellin, however, is a modern city with a modern food scene. Here you can find a large variety of food; Japanese, sushi, hamburgers/hot dogs, Chinese, ramen, ect. Also huge on the food scene here- fruit. Tons and tons of different kinds of tropical fruits. Through my language school I attended an evening of learning about all the different kinds. Most are very tangy and sour, some are sweet and strange, but all are new to me. Except the mango. God bless the mango.
Juices and lemonade with different fruits is very common, and freaking delicious as anything.
7) Salsa dancing is a big deal. For some reason, this wasn't on my radar at all. I know culturally I should have been in the know, but I wasn't prepared for the massive amount of places that center their nightlife around salsa dancing. There is a salsa bar nearby that offers lessons and dancing on Wednesday nights. I did this after my lesson on fruits and was able to, badly, learn the first three steps of salsa. And while I am a long, long way off from being even considered average, it doesn't take away from the fun of watching the experts. There is an elegance and beauty in watching a couple dance salsa with expertise.
*8) One final thing that also just has to be noted- it's hot here! There is truth behind the phrase that it is the city of eternal spring, but that should perhaps be upped to eternal summer for those of us who consider anything over 75 to be hot. Temps during the day average, thus far, in the mid to high 80's. Add to the fact that people dress quite conservatively here, and you're pretty consistently sweating. Buttt the evenings are cool and refreshing, making for a good sleep with just a thin sheet.