I am going to back up a little with this post and make a few comments about cleaning the apartment and packing to leave, before I write about the journey back to USA.
I realized as I started packing, that I could filter my packing list in the Packing Pro app by bag. Since I have each of my packing cubes and smaller bags in the app as ‘bags’, and my backpack and shoulder bag in as ‘people’ I was able to pack each cube one at a time. Before I would run around grabbing things, looking for them on my list to see what bag they should go in, so all the cubes were scattered around while I was packing. Since each of the cubes is numbered, I just sorted the list and packed bag by bag. When I had checked off what should be in a bag, I zipped it up and placed it into the backpack or shoulder bag.
I couldn’t believe how fast I packed. It was a good thing because cleaning the apartment took longer than I expected. It wasn’t like I had to do a deep cleaning, since I had payed a hefty cleaning fee ahead of time. I just did the sort of cleaning I always feel compelled to do before the maid comes. After I cleaned everything well enough, I made sure I put things back where they were when I came. I noticed that the old and worn wine opener still had the wire tie on it. I had meant to cut if off but never got around to getting my scissors out of the sewing kit. While I was cleaning and putting things away, I took a few random photos.
I amazed myself by finishing at two in the afternoon, as I had planned. I always feel a little worried about walking out the door of an Airbnb or a hotel room and letting the door close behind me. I always have a fear that the door will click and I will remember something I left behind. This wasn’t an issue with the place in Medellin. The door had a key pad, so had I needed to I could have easily went back in.
It felt good to hoist up my bags and head out toward the bus station. I had lots of time since I could get to the hotel in the evening. I took out my camera and started taking photos. Since I hadn’t been walking much, I had very few photos of Medellin, and this would be my last chance.
I was surprised to find that the front of the building was decorated for Halloween. I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me since the stores had their Christmas goods out the month before. Even more surprising was the big Colombian flag. I took a few photos before heading down the street.
As I walked, I noticed, that though it was Monday, there were few people on the street and none of the them were rushing around. I began to notice too that most of the shops were closed. I finally began to sink in that it must be a holiday. I later found out that it was Race Day, which is a celebration of the various races that make up the population of Colombia.
I noticed that an approaching train was coming, so I headed for the sidewalk. I stepped up and finally it got me. (The sidewalk, not the train.) I am not sure what I tripped on, but the weight of my bags took me down. First thing I knew I was laying face down with my nose squished on the concrete. I had no more than realized I was down, that hands were picking me up. I was a little dazed, but realized that a man an a woman were lifting me up, and two policemen were asking me if I were okay.
The first thing I did was make sure my iPhone, which I had been taking photos with, wasn’t broken. Damned that was a good case I bought. I am glad that I keep it on a lanyard attached to my wrist. I am sure that helped in its not breaking. Realizing that I was being silly, I checked myself over and though my knees were bruised, my pants were not torn.
In my broken Spanish I assured the caring faces that only my nose seemed to be hurt. When I touched it my fingers came away with a little bit of blood. The woman dug a tissue out of her purse so I could dab at my nose. Once I was sure and had assured them that I was okay, I continued on my way, stepping very carefully.
I found the hotel where the busses to the airport pick up, but saw no buses. I went to the doorman of the hotel for help. He lead me through the hotel to the other side, and there sat two of the buses. I was really glad to sit down and check out my nose. It really hurt, but had stopped bleeding.
The ride to the airport was uneventful. When I got to the airport, I asked about taxi fare to my hotel and decided it was too much for such a short distance. The lowest price the drivers were asking for was 10,000 pesos, the same amount the hour long bus ride from Medellin cost. I walked over to the hotel and was really glad I did.
I came to a street where I was unsure about crossing. There were two young men waiting to cross, so as they crossed I went with them. They saw and understood what I was doing. We all were laughing. On the other side of the road we stopped and talked. They asked me were I was from. I told them I was from Hawaii. They were very impressed and wanted to take a photo with me. I let them, but told them why my nose looked so bad. After the photo, they sudenly flagged down a passing bus and took off. It turned out that the unmarked spot was were you could stand to get the bus.
I only had two more blocks to get to my hotel, so soon I was in a nice room relaxing. I set an alarm so that I could get up for breakfast before the hotel shuttle took me to the airport. The next morning, breakfast was really good. It was served with buñuelos, the one food in Colombia I love. I later found out that they are made with white flour, corn flour, cassava flour, or mashed cassava. Those of you who read my posts about Ecuador will remember the yucca buns I loved so much. Cassava is another name for yucca.
Medellin is a stress free airport. The line at security was very short. I spoke to the man in front of me in Spanish and he turned out not to speak Spanish and was an American. We chatted about Colombia as we went through the line. I went through passport control quickly and was heading towards my gate when a man working at one of the shops pointed out that the man back at passport control was waving me back. As I went back, I passed the man I had been speaking with in line. I just shrugged my shoulders, and grinned, when he looked concerned.
I was a little worried that I might have over stayed my visa. He asked me for my passport. He took it and asked me to take a seat to one side. He was on the phone for awhile talking way too fast for me to follow. But I am pretty sure he was having someone else do the math to make sure I hadn’t overstayed. He got off the phone and gave me back my passport, and told me all was okay.
I walk fast, so it wasn’t long before I caught up with the man I had been speaking to, and assured him that all was well. It turned out that he was on my flight. We walked to the gate. Once I knew where it was, I doubled back to the lounge and found that I was the only guest there. I really didn’t need to get to the airport as early as I did, but it was nice to sit around in the Copa club drinking more coffee.
When I got on the plane I was surprised that they sat me at the exit row. When asked, I assured the flight attendant that I knew enough Spanish to help get the door open if needed, and dutifully sat down and read the instruction card.
While I was waiting for the plane to fill, I got into a conversation with the couple in the row behind me. They both spoke fluent English, and lived in Texas. I told them about my disappointment with Medellin, though I loved the people. They told me that next time I come to stay in one of the smaller towns outside of Medellin and I would have a very nice time.
Copa airline is very nice. I was surprised that on such a short flight they served us a small meal and a drink. When the flight attendant came by me, she was trying to ask if I wanted a ham or chicken sandwich. The man next to me told her the right English words. It was sort of funny since I understood every thing both of them were saying in both languages. I didn’t point this out, but asked for the ham sandwich and thanked the man for his help. I was glad that I got the ham when I looked over at his chicken one. My ham was freshly made and pipping hot. The chicken sandwich was cold. I would have been happy with my sandwich in a restaurant. It was that good.
When I got to Panama City to change planes, I hurried to find my gate then found the lounge. I didn’t have much of a layover, but I really wanted a drink. I didn’t need anything to eat since I had had breakfast and the sandwich. I saw an empty chair and asked the man next to it if it were free. As I was setting down my stuff, he said he was going for a beer and did I want one. It turned out that he was a comedian from New York City, and he was on the same flight as me to Houston, where he was catching a flight north.
We talked about New York and our lives. I gave him my card, and he had me send an email to myself on his phone so he would have my email and I would have his. He told me that he would show me around New York next time I was there. It sounded like it would be fun. I really liked the guy. There was just one problem. I must have typed my email in wrong, because I never got the email. Oh, well.
We chatted until it was time for me to head to the gate. He said he was going to have one more beer before following. Hum, he had been drinking before I got there, we had three each, and he was going for another? He must be a nervous flyer.
When I got on my plane to Houston, the folks from the first flight were right behind me. This time a man with a Viet Nam veterans hat on sat next to them, and I got into a conversation with him. It turned out that he was, Miguel Reece, and was on a book tour. I gave him my business card. He didn’t have one left, so he gave me an ink pen engraved with the information about his book and his website. His book is “The Disabled Veteran’s Story: The Sacrifices of Our Veterans and Their Families.” It has five stars on Amazon.
The flight was uneventful, and my seat mate seemed to be terrified that I would try to start a conversation with her, after I made a few short comments. I pointedly put in in my earbuds, and settled in to read a kindle book, not listening to anything. It was an uneventful flight. I passed on buying any food on the flight because after that free sandwich, I wasn’t about to spend $10 or more on that crap United Airlines sell.
It was good to get to my friend’s house. It was like Christmas as I opened the things I had ordered and had delivered before my arrival.