I Thought I Was In Medellin

2 Oct

It’s midnight and no one is waiting for me at the airport in Medellin.  I am admittedly tipsy and am recovering from spilling my coffee all over the man who was sitting in front of me on the airplane.

“Que pena,” the passengers sitting around me exclaim – what a pain you are.

I didn’t mean to get tipsy before flying, but I also hadn’t planned being taken to a beerfest that day.  I consider my options and decide to call the hostel I booked, though I know the call will just add to an already sky-high phone bill.  Apparently, T-mobile didn’t unlock my phone, so my lack of a Colombian SIM card means American prices.

A man who’s clearly in a club answers.  He tells me to hail a Taxi and he will talk to the driver.  He tells me everything will be ok.

I listen, and five minutes later I’m speeding down a dark highway with a married couple who asks me how old I am and why I’m not also married.

This is a question I often receive in Colombia, and I just don’t know to explain it’s not time for me yet.

A half an hour passes, and I ask how far we are from Buddha Secreto, the hostel I chose because the photos looked beautiful online.  From what I can gather, the driver tells me we’re still 40 minutes away and the hostel is not even in Medellin.  However, it is in a nearby town.

At this point I’m completely sober, exhausted and praying that I’m just not understanding the man’s Spanish.  Often people speak too quickly to me, so that I only understand half of what they’re saying.  As long as I smile and repeat back some words people assume that I understand everything.

I use this tactic in cabs, babbling, so people don’t try to rip me off, “I am an expert, ” you see.

Unfortunately for me, it’s obvious that this hostel is up a gravel road in a town that’s fifteen minutes outside of Medellin.  It’s also obvious that I am the only person staying there.

A tiny, Walnut woman greets me with two large, barking dogs and asks for money.  Even though I paid online, I can’t seem to make that clear and hand over the pesos.  Then I write panicked messages to my friends in Bogota.

“Omg,” I type, “beginner traveler’s mistake – I’m not even in Medellin!”

Luckily, my Bogota friends stay up late and are clearly as obsessed with Facebook as I am.  This is how I get an invite to an  Englishman named Jonny’s pool the very next day.

I awake to a breakfast prepared by the Walnut woman, and I look around and see the hostel is as beautiful as the photos promised.  I then receive a phone call from the owner of the hostel who’s at a Salsa fest in Cali.  He says that the hostel is his home and that he’ll be back on Tuesday.

“You should stay, I will show you around.”

For reasons beyond me I lie and promise my presence.  Then I ask the Walnut lady to call me a cab.

This is how I spend my first day in Medellin.  On a lounge chair, looking out at the mountains that surround one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.  As the hours pass, Jonny and I go from hot-tub, to the steam room, to the frigid pool, and then he invites me to stay in his guest bedroom.

He tells me his story, in his Liverpool accent.  How he jumped from continent to continent and ran a business in Valencia for two years.  With his help, I book a hostel in Medellin for the very next night.

Suddenly, I look down and see that I am wrinkled, and the cool night air begins to wrap itself around the city.  That’s when we decide to  order BBQ chicken pizza and watch terrible American movies.

Though it’s not until I crawl into my very own bed that night that I thank God for all of my very many mistakes.

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