A lot of my students were going away for the long weekend as was I – so we wanted to get out of town early. Traffic here is awful and the people really take Puentes seriously. The city tends to empty on the long holidays. Puentes almost always fall on Mondays unlike the U.S. when they are usually on Fridays.
Class went well, but ½ of the students were already gone – again due to the long weekend. I couldn’t go too far ahead, as I have to revise all that I covered with the students on Wednesday coming again – so didn’t want to go over all the material. So we spent a lot of time practicing English conversation which the students really love doing. It is helpful as well as reading and understanding is so different from hearing and understanding and then being able to say what one wants to say in a fluid and understandable way.
I went back to the flat to pack and clean up and wait for Gaby to get there so that we could head off to meet our ride to Medellin. The two of us are hitching a ride with a guy in the military that also teaches English to the soldiers here. His name is Sargent Rodriguez and he has a girlfriend who lives in Medellin so drives down there most weekends. It is a great deal for us, as all we need to do is chip in for gas and cars are so much faster than buses on the road! The car usually takes about 6 hours while the bus takes up to 9 hours.
I was a little stressed about being late – as usual – we ended up being there earlier than they were so, yay! Mark was the latest – which is good – because I hate being the one who makes everyone wait. The trip was very windy – the roads around here make me so carsick!! They all wind up and down mountains. It is crazy how being among the mountains, while beautiful, is super uncomfortable to drive amongst. He drove super fast and crazy (like everyone else) – I felt sick – like I was going to puke most of the way. Gaby did as well.
We stopped at this gorgeous place on the side of a mountain that looked down at an amazing valley. It is owned by a French couple. They have an open-air restaurant on one side and their house on the other. In the middle they have a coffee shop and patisserie. They own a bee farm and sell honey and other products from the bees. When we went inside the bakery building, it was very cozy and comfortable. Sargent Rodriguez bought us all this drank fermented drink called mazote – it was delicious – it was made from corn and tasted nothing like what he described. I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much.
We stopped at Pablo Escobar’s old animal ranch. It was night-time and dark – so closed, but it was cool to see. They had made a major tourist attraction out of it – there was a restaurant (African themed- which I found really weird – but maybe it was because some of the animals were from Africa?) just by the entrance and a huge hotel across the road. It was now a wild animal park that one was charged admission to – a smart way for the government to make money on it – as people would come by and see the place because of his notoriety anyway. The entrance had the first plane he used to smuggle drugs on top of it painted black and white stripes. It was just in front of the town called Punto Triunfo – The park is huge and a bit pricey, but rather cool. I walked down the road inside of the park to see if there were any animals out, but soon found the way blocked. I did find some cows!
About ½ hour out of Medellin there was a huge traffic jam. We were stuck in there without moving for more than 2 hours – it was terribly boring and dis-heartening. I texted our Airbnb lady that we were going to be late – though reception was spotty, so the conversation was tense. I felt awful as it was about 11pm at night! Rodriguez is a huge fan of heavy metal music and we listened to this music the whole way – my head was hurting and I was hungry at this point. I was tired of listening to the same Metallica album 3 times in a row as well!
But.. we made it finally! The lady heard us arrive and came down to meet us, then Ekatarina came and we all had a burger at a stand below our Airbnb apartment. I was so hungry!! It was good to see her – we talked and talked and then slept! I’m ready for you, Medellin!