THE WEEKLY #101: SEVEN DAYS IN MEDELLIN
With our first week of travel in Colombia under our belts, Josh and I left Santa Marta and headed towards the heart of Colombia, Medellin. We checked straight into Selina Medellin Hostel with thanks to Hostelworld.
So far my Spanish was slowly coming back to me from my college days, but the daily struggle to communicate was real. Unlike Southeast Asia, the burden is not shouldered by the locals to learn English, the tourists instead must quickly grasp the Spanish language to get by. It’s a necessary challenge I’m taking on with four months to come to Central America.
Medellin will always remain in my memory for its hills. On our first morning in Medellin, Josh and I went for a run and found ourselves charging up a hill that never ended. 506 meters of incline in 5 kilometers. Welcome to Medellin.
It seemed hard to avoid the hills and we managed to flatten out our runs throughout the week but the incline became a staple in our diet. It’s not the kind of meal you crave, but god damn it’s got to be good for you.
Our first outing in Medellin was up into the hills. We were paying a short visit to the Marina Orth School thanks to the Givingway. The Marina Orth Foundation and this school are important because they are going against the grain. I love people and organizations who go against the grain.
This school was the first ever bi-lingual public school in Colombia. Each student uses a $100 personal educational computer loaded with games, English lessons, coding, programming and much more. The school is a model for education worldwide. It’s a place that thinks through everything that could benefit the students and then puts it in place rather than finding the most cost-efficient, easiest or mass consumable product.
The school welcomes highly-skilled English speaking volunteers to teach for six months or more, giving the students a global education and an eye-opening experience as they get to see first hand, many other cultures from around the world.
It was an awesome visit and a great initiative that is spreading throughout Colombia quickly. You can find out more about the foundation here.
The next day we ventured out to the infamous, Comuna 13, the place Pablo Escobar was killed. It was formerly one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin and in Colombia. However, the last 15 years has seen a remarkable transformation. The community has become a place of expression rather than violence. Street art covers every inch of the walls, performers spread their positive vibes and vendors look to earn their living from the growing tourism interest.
I can tell you right now, after 30 odd countries, this is one of the most amazing communities in the world that I have ever seen. We had an intense game of futbol with the kids on the court at the bottom of the hill. The backdrop was just insane and so were a few of the nutmegs we send through the kids’ legs. The game on that court is one I will never forget. Thanks lads.
Selina Medellin Hostel was a great base for our adventures throughout Medellin. The hostel was huge and had a super cool bar area and even a really amazing co-work space where Josh and I got some solid work done in between adventures.
The neighborhood around Selina Medellin Hostel is kind of like the Canggu, Bali of Colombia. Every restaurant was super fancy and had a hipster vibe. If you wanted tacos you could have them in a cone, sushi or if you are like me just regular. Coffee shops and hangouts were around every corner and it was a great little spot, although not the authentic ‘Colombian’ style of food in most restaurants.
Josh and I spent the next few days in Medellin working out at the local gym, running and getting some serious work done on the computer at our Airbnb. The local gym was a premium outdoor facility with a bench press and lat-pulldown machine. Take not rest of world, this is how you build an outdoor gym. Not surprisingly it was immensely popular.
On a Friday night, after watching the Socceroos battle through an unlucky loss to France earlier in the morning, I joined in with a futbol game on the local court. It was a high-quality affair and the best hit out I’ve had in quite some time. Friday night lights. It felt good to be back.