I arrived in Colombia last Thursday, and instantly fell in love with the people and the place just as much as Costa Rica and Panama. I’ve done quite a bit in my first days officially on South American soil; I literally hit the ground running…
In my first 24 hours in Colombia I landed in Medellin,
milled with the idle crowds filling the city on Jueves Santo, took pictures of almost every voluptuous statue in the Parque Botero (“my figures aren’t fat; they’re just full of life”),
visited the Antioquia Museum- which is bursting with even more Botero sculptures and paintings,
enjoyed my first cup of Colombia coffee in Colombia (a free promo!) in the museum courtyard, met 4 members of my friend’s family, drank several shots of local Aguardiente Antioqueño (literally translates to “firewater,” but is really a sweet anise flavored liquor reminiscent of Turkish raki)
and several more local Pilsen beers (which I’m still not sure whether or not have anything to do with Costa Rican Pilsen…) at a gay bar in one of the city’s nightlife hubs, saw hordes of teenagers on their motos- all wearing reflective vests that match their license plate numbers, making it look like they’re in some street version of the X Games, woke up early the next morning and jetted off- careening through stunning mountain passes with jaw droppingly stunning views of coffee carpeting the mountainsides,
to Ciudad Bolivar, where I met 6 more members of my friend’s family, watched the stations of the cross be carried through the city for Good Friday processions, followed by most of the town- all dressed in their best, relaxed in the tree shaded central park drinking tinto (which is super sweetened black coffee, not to be confused with Spanish red wine of the same name), ate arepas and frijoles and crispetas (sweet street popcorn) and sipped tea cups full of aguapanela, bought a shiny new pair of black farm work boots at the “Coffee Farmer’s Warehouse,” got back in the car to wind up the mountains- all the passengers toasting with more tragitos of Aguardiente and belting Vincente Fernandez corridos staring slack jawed out the window at the coffee slope after coffee slope,
arrived at the finca,
met 5 more members of my friend’s family, immediately helped catch 15 tilapia and 3 cachama from the tilapia pond, then cleaned and gutted them all,
peeked into the beneficio, and made friends with the 3 dogs and 3 cats that run the place.
After 48 hours in Colombia I’d peeled fresh picked loofa (I knew it was a plant, but, like, someone went and picked it for us to wash dishes!), picked oranges, eaten a fresh fried whole tilapia filet with my hands,
drank chocolate batido, listened to wailing local radio, found lots of coffee trees crawling with broca (but none with any leaf rust…), visited 2 more members of my friend’s family and toured their tomato “field” (but really a vertical hillside),
inspected the coffee drying in their front yard,
eaten even more arepas and rice and soup, and on my second night in the country fell asleep next to two stuffed bags of Medellin Excelso coffee, waiting to be sold.
It only took 48 hours for me to be hooked.