Hola, Medellín!

Everyone in our group knew that we would be leaving for our respective cities on Thursday, but we did not find out until Wednesday night at 8:00 pm that most of us would have to get on the bus to the airport a short eight hours later at 4:00 am. And we hadn’t even started our goodbye party yet!

As a result of this, to be honest, I did not go to sleep the night before I left Bogotá, but instead stayed up hanging out with a bunch of other people from my orientation group.

By the time we arrived at the Bogotá airport none of us were feeling our best, and I said a very groggy but sad goodbye to all the folks going to other cities.

I slept through most of the short flight and landed at Medellín’s José María Córdova International Airport, which confusingly is not actually located in Medellín but rather in a small town called Rio Negro an hour’s drive outside the city.  To get in to the city we took a bus to a big terminal, then from there took taxis to the neighborhood where we would be staying.

The warm sun of Medellín felt amazing after two weeks in chilly Bogotá, and I couldn’t wait to get to my new place and SLEEP.

Before leaving for Colombia we were given the option to either receive $500,000 COP (about $165) during our first month in the country, or to get free accommodation in a hostel for that time. They recommend that only people already living in their cities choose to take the money. Heeding that advice, I chose the hostel option.

There are a group of seven new teachers who will be working in Medellín. Of that group, four of us chose to stay in the hostel, while the others were already living here or planned to stay with friends or family in the area.

When we landed, us hostel-stayers learned that we would not actually be put up in a hostel but would be staying in apartments instead. Though I do sometimes like staying in hostels, I was also kind of happy to hear that I would not have to worry about securing all my stuff all the time.

When the cab brought us to where we would be staying, however, it quickly became apparent that calling them “apartments” was a bit generous.

The three girls were all put in one small room with three beds and a tiny kitchenette, while the one guy in our group got his own room (lucky bastard). The rooms are in a building that seems to be mostly short-term rental units.

Medellín apartment
Our “apartment” in all its, er, loveliness?
The kitchenette
The kitchenette

While my roommates are both lovely, living with two people in a single, small room with no personal space is not super comfortable, especially when it comes to trying to sleep.

It definitely adds to my desire to find a place of my own, though so far that has been incredibly confusing and difficult (more on that later).

The best part of our place is definitely the balcony outside, where I have already enjoyed many a delicious jugo.

Medellín apartment
The balcony

We can also go up to the laundry room, which, strangely, takes up the entire top floor, to get an even better view of the city:

View from the laundry room

And at night you can see the lights twinkling from all the barrios up in the hills that surround Medellín. It’s beautiful.

Medellín at night

My first few days here were a whirlwind of seeing sights and exploring my new neighborhood.

Our room is in an area called Belén, which is located in the South-western part of Medellín. I like that it feels very down-to-earth and not touristy. There is an adorable park just down the street where old men gather to play cards every day, as well as lots of little shops and bars where locals sit on the sidewalk to eat or have a few drinks (especially when there is a fútbol match going on, which seems to be pretty much every day!).

Parque Belén
Parque Belén

Besides walking around Belén, I’ve ridden Medellín’s famous cable car system up to Parque Arvi (a nature preserve in the mountains above the city), visited a set of outdoor escalators built to better connect a formerly very dangerous neighborhood to the city, and seen the famous Botero statues in the city’s center.

I’ll write separate posts on all those activities, but here are a few pictures for now!


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