As those of you who follow my travels know, Medellin turned out not to be for me. I have come to the conclusion that for the most part, larger cities are not for me to live in for extended periods of time. Of course I love to visit large cities. I put together the table below with some cities I have spent some time in. The populations I quote are from the internet, so just consider the numbers to be ballpark. It looks like I should stick to cities between 500,000 and 1,000,000 in population, to maximize the chances of my being happy with them.
|Boston||685K||Loved living there and would like to again.|
|Honolulu||350K||Loved it, but that part of my life is over.|
|Guanajuato||174K||Loved living there and would like to again, despite how small it is.|
|Warsaw||1.8 mil||The city didn’t seem that large. I loved it.|
|Arequipa||one mil||So far so good. Big enough to have lots to do, but not so big that I am overwhelmed.|
|Cuenca||580K||Almost too small, but had lots to do.|
|Medellin||3.9 mil||Too crowded, while having little to do.|
|Houston||6.9 mil||How many ways can I say loathe?|
|Atlanta||5.9 mil||Ditto. The population number and my opinion, as the one above, reflects the metro area. I have never lived downtown in either city.|
|New York||8.6||A nice place to visit, but I have never lived there. (Ditto other large cities around the world.)|
|Nantucket||11K||Way to small, and the winters are long.|
|Canton, TX||4K||Way to small, and the summers are long. (see comments for Houston)|
My first impression of Medellin, wasn’t a good one. I assumed that it was just the effects of having partied to hard before leaving Houston. I thought that I would grow to love the city as the weeks went by. That didn’t happen. I like the people of Medellin, and enjoyed interacting with them during my weekly shopping trips.
Besides the shopping trips, I stayed in my Airbnb, which was very nice. From time to time when I left my apartment to go to the store, I would be filled with the excitement I often get when I am walking down some street, and realizing that I was in someplace very different and exciting from where I came from. When I was overwhelmed by that feeling, I would decide to walk past the market and see some of the city. That wouldn’t last. By the time I got to the market, I was tired of having to press through the crowds, while keeping a sharp lookout on my feet. The sidewalks in the area of Medellin, where I was living, were harder to walk on than a railroad track.
Being stuck in my apartment, with nothing much to blog about, wasn’t a bad thing. I got a lot done on my next novel. I broke out some of my old computer games, which I hadn’t played for a while and had fun with them. One of my biggest entertainments was cooking with the limited selection of foods from the market closest to my place.
As I travel from country to country I find that each one has foods which are different from those I am used to. Often the selection of products is small. This also is not a bad thing. I can’t tell you how much time I have wasted in supermarkets trying to chose between vast amounts of competing brands.
In Medellin, I had my choice of two brands of eggs, three types of white potatoes, one brand of pickles, and one brand of olives. For cheese, I needed to walk down the street to a larger market, crossing several harrowing streets. They had about a dozen different types of cheese, but for the last month I was there, the store had no cheddar. I loved making up a version of a plowman’s lunch with local ingredients. Since I always kept boiled potatoes in the fridge, I made my lunch with potatoes rather than bread.
Early in my visit the nearby market ran out of American chocolate candies. I didn’t like the looks of the local ones, so I decided to make fudge, using my mom’s recipe. I think she got off the back of a can of Hershey’s coco powder. It is a recipe that I have used since I learned to cook. I have always been very particular about making it. I had to have a 12 inch cast iron skillet, Hershey’s coco, real vanilla extract, and corn syrup. If not, I didn’t make it.
After a few days without chocolate, I gave in. The first three batches of fudge were made with bitter baking chocolate, sugar, milk, butter, and something I had never heard of. I wasn’t able to find normal vanilla extract. what I found was a vanilla caramel extract.
After making three batch of fudge, (don’t judge me, it spanned over two months), I got the idea to buy some sweetened squares of chocolate meant for making hot chocolate. I though I could eat them the way I used to eat sweetened baking chocolate when I was a kid. I was surprised that the squares were granulated sugar compressed with coco and cinnamon. They were very gritty, and unpleasant to eat.
I had bought two packets. One I put to one side to take to my friend in Houston, so that she could make some excellent hot chocolate, in what promises to be a bitter winter there. I needed to do something with the open packet, and I didn’t want hot chocolate in such temperate weather. I got the idea to make fudge out of them. I had enough to make to make two batches. I adjusted the amount of sugar I added to make up for the sugar in the compressed coco.
I was really surprised that it turned out well. the cinnamon and caramel were an interesting combination. I am chagrined to admit that after all my fussing about the cast iron skillet, the deep, heavy, non-stick skillet was better for the job. If you are counting that was five batches of fudge in 90 days. Yes, I am wearing larger pants right now.
While it is fun to try making my traditional recipes using what I can find locally, it is also fun to buy something, thinking it is one thing only to find out it is something quite different. I bought some cans of tuna, and found that it was a sort of tuna salad, like those old tuna molds without the jelly. As it turned out, I liked the salad, which could be eaten straight out of the can, and kept buying it.
Though I rarely left the apartment, the large bedroom window overlooking part of the city was a big distraction from my writing. I often found myself drawn to the window by strange noises, to find something interesting to watch. One day, I was working on my current novel, when I heard an unholy screeching and chattering outside my apartment window.
My first thought was to grab my everready earplugs and pop them in. My second thought was that the crows in Medellin were even more raucous than the crows in Warsaw. I figured that they must be huge to sound so loud. I went to the window and looked out. I am on the 15th floor, and there is a 15 floor building nearby. I saw the birds on the roof. It took me a moment to focus in on them. They were huge bright green parrot like things. OH, I thought, I am not in Poland any more.
The only thing, I really hated about the apartment was the noise. Remember that I lived for nine years across the street from a fire station for nine years, which never bothered me. Most of the week all was quite, but on weekends and holidays things got rocking. I guess the apartments on either side of me were used to mine being empty. I wasn’t a jerk about it. When the music started I put in my earplugs, but when it go so loud that it was too loud with them in, I went pounding on doors. That brought the noise down to a dull roar. Lucky for me the noise from the local night clubs didn’t ever get past my earplugs. I was so glad that I had bought some over the counter earplugs, which were softer than my custom made ones. Weekends and holidays, I would be sleep with them in. The partying didn’t stop until way after my bedtime (1 a.m.)
I decided that since my flight was so early in the morning, to leave the Bnb the night before and stay at a hotel near the airport. I just didn’t want to make the hour long trip from Medellin to the airport worrying about the time. The day before my flight I got up early and packed. Once that was done, I gave the place one last cleaning and headed out.
I am going to stop this post right here. The story of my trip back to the US needs it’s own. To be continued …