Can You Ever Go ‘Home’? An Account of Returning to Medellin
Generally, my theory is not to back-track when it comes to places to live. However, after four days in Santa Marta — a small tourist town complete with surfers — it was time to go.
Then I melted into Barranquilla — where the average daily temperature in the shade is 33 degrees — for a month. It was so hot I had to hide out in the air-conditioned room I’d rented. The other ‘sin’ is that the apartment was situated in the suburbs between the two biggest malls in town, a twenty-minute walk in either direction. Ick as I need to be downtown.
So, the logical thing was to return to Medellin. I stayed in a hostel for five days and Alvaro found me a place that rents furnished rooms.
Perfect, as it is in Boston, the barrio I lived in before. I know where to get my hair cut, buy whatever, and have already figured where not to eat.
Doña Luc is an architect and two years ago she completely renovated a two-storey Spanish villa. To give you an idea of the size, it has 18 bedrooms as well as large communal areas. Other ‘small’ things that count are the automatic floor lights and that people have to lock and unlock doors that don’t slam with a key.
My new space includes a private bathroom, a fridge, a fan, and a television. Oh, and the rent — which covers all utilities and high-speed wifi – is $300CAD a month.
Who needs an alarm clock when the massive trucks and buses start horking down the street outside at 05:30?
People need to get to around, so I use ear-plugs or play white-noise to cover the lumbering traffic sounds. That said, it beats the hell out of the evangelical screamers in Santiago de Chile as nothing could block out their hysterical drivel. No screaming kids and no barking dogs. Yes!
Tatiana had stored my desk and chair for me so it didn’t take long to settle in.
The communal areas
Tatiana and Alvaro were the only people who knew I was returning. It was wonderful to walk down the street and be kissed, hugged, and greeted. According to Alvaro, ‘Darling, you know everyone and, of course, they all remember La Gringa de Boston.’
What has changed in the year I have been away? More construction, bigger motorcycles, and more people – women in particular — sleeping on the street.
What has stayed the same? The friendly generosity of the people, the ideal weather, and the tasteless food.
The sort-of plan
My visa for Colombia will expire in mid-December. Since I don’t want to be an illegal alien or an overstayer again, I will go to Panama for a couple of weeks. Once the clock strikes 2020 I can return for another 180 days.
At the beginning of June – as there is a Hanson Tribal Gathering on the 6th in Sheho – I will head for Canada.
After that — and in order to comply with the 183-day visa in Peru — I will need to stay on the prairies for a few days into July. Not sure my mother will be able to put up with me for that long so perhaps I can do the Rio Grande (Spanish for Big River) trip this year.
The idea of bouncing between Medellin and Arequipa with a break between in Canada appeals. Why not? If the Canadian snowbirds can do it so can I — particularly as I get agreeable weather all year around.
Some photos of a few of the people and the places in Medellin