It is hard to believe that this is the city, which was dubbed the Murder Capital of the World over 25 years ago. Today Medellin is a vibrant relatively safe city. It is a large city, with homeless, petty thieves, drunks, prostitutes, and the expected number of murders in those areas of the city where you are warned not to go. So is Honolulu. Medellin, isn’t even on the list of the 50 most dangerous in the world. World Atlas’ list ranks St. Louis in the United States at #13.
So far, I have found Medellin to be boring. There really isn’t much to do, unless you are into Narco-Tourism. I understand that there was a series on Netflix called Narcos, which set off this craze. I never even heard about the series until I got to Colombia. I can still remember seeing the news about all the killings here, I don’t want to glorify the man behind it by visiting the sites of his life of crime.
Yes, I am complaining again, and I know that I tend to do that in the first weeks of getting to any new town. When you get right down to it, I picked out Medellin for two reasons only. 1: low cost of living, 2: cool weather. The city has lived up to both expectations. I really did not want to spend s summer anywhere hot. Later in the year I will be scampering way down south to a different, but cooler summer.
My apartment is nice, which makes it easy for me to not bother about going out to see the city. I have walked around a little and found that the crosswalks are not very uniform. Sometimes there are crosswalks, and sometimes not. Pedestrian walk lights are only at the very largest intersections, not necessarily the intersections with the most traffic.
People here do a lot of jaywalking. Foot traffic is heavy enough that I can usually wait and cross the street with a group. I find crossing the street alone a little too thrilling. Now, I have to admit that I have only walked up and down two major streets here. I have another route planned out to walk down to the park and cross over to the shopping mall, which I am hoping won’t be as exciting as the first two streets were. I am saving that one for when I just have to go back to the mall, or I get cabin fever.
When I start complaining about there being nothing to do here, I have to remind myself that I am traveling because it is cheaper to travel than to maintain an American lifestyle. If I were still living in Honolulu, I would be complaining that there is nothing to do. Sure, there really is plenty to do. I need to get back to writing the novel that got derailed last year. I need to study my Spanish, and I need to keep up with this blog. And don’t even get me started on getting caught up on my personal record keeping.
So what is life like, living like a hermit in Medellin? I live in a very comfortable apartment on the fifteenth floor, overlooking a pretty section of the city. The building is very well maintained, and there are security guards in the lobby 24/7. Though the place is small, it is large enough for me to walk back and forth for exercise, when I don’t want to go outside to walk.
There is a proper desk with a proper desk chair, where I have been spending way too much time watching YouTube and playing games on my iPad, while complaining that there is nothing to do and ignoring what I really need to get done.
What follows are just some images and comments about my leisurely existence as a semi-expat.
In the kitchen, there is a new clothes washing machine, right next to a utility sink. As you can see I put the drying rack for my dishes in the sink. No my dishes do not touch the mop. The angle of the photo makes it look as if the mop is far closer than it truly is.
I found another use for my neck pillow (down jacket). When I am doing my Spanish lessons, if I try to use the keyboard as a stand it turns off the iPad on screen keyboard when the edge of the iPad is slotted into the keyboard. I like to use the onscreen keyboard for Spanish, since when the program asks me for the English translation, I prefer to dictate, and the physical keyboard has no dictation key. By folding back the keyboard, and wedging in the pillow to make the angle correct, I can use the onscreen keyboard.
As I was typing this I thought, rather belatedly to do a search on the subject and found that yes there is a way to activate dictation with the keyboard connected. Click here if want to know how to do it.
Getting used to the currency here is taking a little time. Before I go out shopping, I run some numbers, so that I will have the general idea in my mind of what the prices of certain things should look like. I also have the app on my phone so that I can check prices at the store. The app I am using is the EX currency exchange app. I have been using it for a few years and have been very pleased with it. I keep the last few currencies I have dealt with in the list because it helps me get a grasp on the currency here.
Another exciting time of my day is shower time. Yes, that is a flash heater shower head. As you can see, it hasn’t killed me yet. If my mother was still with us, this photo would have been left out. Showering is interesting. First, I turn on the water. Then I walk into the kitchen and turn on the breaker. When I get back to the shower the water is warm.
It really doesn’t get hot on the number three setting, but I really don’t need it to be hot. I wonder if the number three setting or the number one is the hottest? I will have to check sometime. When I am through showering, I go turn off the breaker before securing the water. I am not sure if that is the way you are supposed to do it, but It seems right to me.
The funny looking thing above is the seam of a pair of my pants. The stretchy filaments have broken. This a brand new pair of pants. They have only been worn a few times and washed once. The funny thing is, they have never been tight. I bought them large to have for those days when I feel puffy. They are now my hanging around the apartment pants, until I can get around to replacing them. During my travels, pants have been my biggest headache. None of them, expensive or cheap, wear well.
On the day I walked to the mall on one street and back on another, I finally spotted something pretty. Of course there was a homeless man bathing in the fountain. Medellin is pretty from a distance, but is gritty up close, so don’t expect too many pretty photos.
The shopping mall was quite modern and all the sells people were very nice. When I was checking out at the grocery store, I notices these books. I guess that Napoleon Hill reads well in any language. I would like to go to the mall again, if i can find a walking route that isn’t quite so hair raising. I was almost hit by a taxi walking back that day.
A few blocks from my place there is an area where the chess players set up occasionally. I would have liked to have hung around and watched, but I was loaded down with shopping bags. Having a wrist strap on my iPhone makes me more confident to use it while juggling groceries.
I am always happy when I can find saltine crackers in the city I am living in. Now, will not pay the prices at expat stores for Premium Originals, but If I can find a local saltines, I will get them. I was charmed by the saltines here since they are triangular rather than square. The triangular pieces you see above are the same surface area as a square saltine.
I was a little bummed that the BnB didn’t have a toaster. I learned at the mall that what I thought was a trivet (above) is a bread toaster. As it turned out having a toaster, even this one, wasn’t an issue.
On a later shopping trip to the market down the road from me, I was buying what I needed to spice up a pot of beans. I am pretty sure the above is chicken bullion. I think Hen Broth, is a much cuter name. When I got home, I got the beans on to soak. I haven mentioned many times that I always sort the beans before soaking, though it is rare nowadays to find pebbles in them. This time I found a clod of dirt and a kernel of corn. I have to say, I have never found a kernel of corn in beans before.
That huge thing is a mango. It cost only cost $1.34 USD. And yes that is a five cup coffee maker next to it. When it was soft enough to eat, it had turned red all over. It was one of the best mangos I have ever had, very sweet and almost no fibers.
I made a special trip down the street, with several hazardous road crossings to buy bread from a bakery. When I cut the loaf, I found out that it was not a loaf of bread, but a stromboli like thing. This is why the toaster turned out to be a moot point, no bread and butter for breakfast.
I made the best of it, by heating the stromboli slice in the microwave and having it with my eggs. This place has the perfect egg skillet. It is just a cheap little thing. Next time I am at a BnB without one, I think I am going to buy a cheap one to leave behind.
One of the things I like about this building is that there is a garbage chute. Unlike the place I had in Honolulu, there seems to be no bug issue connected with the chute here. Maybe, I did just have a dirty neighbor in Hono. The other day I saw the notice above at the chute, so I photographed it and ran it through Google Translate.
When it was time to wash clothes, it was time to run a photo through Google Translate again. I also found a YouTube video on how to use this machine.
I do stand in my window and enjoy the view a lot. This is looking down on the low building below. At night, I can see down into some of the courtyards, and see that in the ones that I can see, there are no walls between the courtyard and the rooms next to them.
Everything here was going well, until I made a rookie mistake. I ate an orange without washing it. It could have been much worse, but as it was I was sick for three days. When I was finally hungry again, I was too tired to go grocery shopping. The next few days I finished the food I had left, but still didn’t feel up ot shopping. I found an article on Medellin Guru, which had some recommendations for food delivery.
Domicilios.com was one of the suggestions. I checked out the others, but decided to go with this one. It wasn’t until later that I realized that Uber Eats is here too. I will try Uber next time. I really liked them in Warsaw. Compared to the local apps, the Uber app is better. On it it all the text can be in English. One of Domicilios app is all Spanish, but I was able to go through the website and use Google Translate. The Uber website is better than the local ones because it has fewer technical glitches, and it gives detailed descriptions of the food, that locals wouldn’t really need.
I hate to pay a delivery fee on a small order, so I ordered enough food for two or three days. When it was near the time that the delivery guy should have been here, I went down to the lobby to wait. As I was waiting, food delivery men from five or six different companies came though. The guard checked them in and sent them up. When I realized that I could get my food at my door, I went back up to wait. The food took two hours to get there rather than the one listed on the website. It was worth the wait.
One of the dishes asked if I wanted salsa or lime. I asked for lime, and got a whole lime, rather than the slice I was expecting. All this food cost less than $18 USD. I am budgeted for $10 USD for food per day. This food will last me longer than two days, so I think I can keep ordering in if I want to. I took a bite of everything as soon as I opened them up and decided which ones would keep best for rewarming. I put those in the fridge at once.
From left clockwise: Empanadas, Papas Rellenas, tamal, lechona plate, and in the middle salsa and lime. For scale, the cups of salsa are two inches wide. he Empanadas were jammed with meat. I had the empanadas for my fist meal that day. The papas rellenas are a mix of potatoes, vegetables and pork, breaded and deep fried. The lechona plate was as good at the ones I had at the market in Cuenca. The pig skin was fantastic.
The tamal is like a very big Hawaiian laulau. It is big enough to make at least too meals off of it. It is cooked in a banana leaf rather than a taro leaf. The tamal seemed to be the one dish that would last longest in the fridge, so I am saving it for last. I tasted a small part from the top before rewrapping it. It tasted wonderful. I hope it taste as good reheated. There might be more layers of goodness once I really dig into it.
This morning I was wondering how far I had traveled since starting my adventure. I went into Tripit and saw that totals. There is no way I traveled so far. I added up my flights using an air distance chart and found I traveled only 34,000 miles in the past year. I wonder if Trip it assumes that I am going back to Honolulu at the end of each trip?