Dedicated to those you keep asking me for Medellin updates…
The trip started in the dentist’s chair and a $3.8k quote to fix two crowns. Teeth didn’t hurt so I decided it was best to wait.
A few months later a friend told me he gets all his dental work done in Medellin Colombia. Odd choice I thought but I was intrigued. I started looking at flights, hotels and the City but I hadn’t quite pulled the trigger.
The following week at a fancy restaurant my buddy and I had dinner with six very attractive ladies. One was my best friend who sat beside me.
“So how is everything going?” asks Liz
“Great! I am really excited about possibly going on a trip to South America to get my teeth fixed” Dan
“Me too, except the teeth part. So where are you going” Liz
“Me too. But what city?” Liz
“Me too. What dates?” Liz
“Last two weeks of March” Dan
“Me too.” Liz
Then we rejoiced over many glasses of wine and I was booking the trip before my hangover was over.
March comes and my dentist in Medellin, Juan Carlos (real name and hard not to repeat), emails me to say his country and his office is closed. I gloomily stood at my window with my packed bag sitting anxiously by the door and watched the mindless running to buy toilet paper. Their idiocy scared the shit out of me so bag and I escaped to Puerta Vallarta instead.
However my Medellin flight and hotel were non-refundable – so I waited. On November 6th I learned my dentist buddy was on his way to the airport and hadn’t told me Colombia was open!! I spent the rest of the weekend re-booking my trip and would be on the plane four days later.
Jay, my new co-worker, drove me to the airport. Airport seemed empty but as I walked in a decent crowd had formed at the entry point to Spirit’s queue ropes. Every person was busy filling out forms. Shit, I must have missed something – but what? I had checked both embassy websites and both government websites for Covid restrictions. Last week I would have still had to do the PCR test and also download a Covid app to track my movements but that was all gone. The only thing I had was the printed copy of my Colombia immigration form which couldn’t be it because there were like 400 warning and notifications insisting that this must be done online and prior to arrival at the airport. Nope. That was what everyone was doing. I wiggled past the blockage and zoomed through the post and rope queue to the empty counters at Spirit and was on my way. Almost.
For some reason my Trusted Traveler number didn’t register with Spirit so at TSAPre security I was shuffled to the regular line. I moped slowly down the sad line watching those in front take off their shoes and belts and then I remembered all those free agents waiting for people to fill out their forms. I stopped – gosh darn it I am better than this and people like me. I walked back to the Spirits counters and the nice lady went to work. She tried the TT number again but it failed. I then showed her my Global Entry card and she used the number from that and it worked!! I headed back and proudly showed the same TSAPre agent my new approved creds. We talked for a bit because he really wanted to know how I managed to do as it happens a lot and he doesn’t know how to help anyone. If you want TSAPre get a Global Entry card and take it with you. I felt like a pro.
Ate some Cuban deep fried bread things at the Fort Lauderdale airport and waited for my now much shorter flight due to my recent move to the East coast.
Landing in Colombia’s MDE airport I grabbed my bags and made a rookie mistake. Possibly two. But actually three. I am skeptical of the first gauntlet of transporters trying to grab my bags as it is almost always the most expensive way to get from the airport to your hotel. So I wrestled my bags free and called an Uber. Like an idiot I then waited on the wrong level, with my nearly dead phone for my unknown-at-the-time illegal Uber driver. I know better than to wait at arrivals for Uber. I had checked on the legality of Uber and knew It was once illegal but a recent article had said it was back to being legal. I also really need a new phone or at least a battery upgrade. I have been living with a 30 minute lifespan phone for far too many years.
I realized my level error with 8% battery life and ran up the stairs. I called another Uber and was on the road with 1% left. I didn’t find out Uber was still illegal for another 3 days.
I checked in to the Charlee Hotel and walked to my first meal. I had planned to be eating Ajiaco soup at Mondongos by 4:30pm but I still made it before 5pm. The soup was amazing!! Chicken soup and fresh amazing avocados – I loved it. The slight extra work of picking out both restaurant and entree is absolutely worth it.
Arepas: See the white round disk at soup’s 1 o’clock. That is an arepa. I would later ask a few locals and tourists “Who invented arepa’s? Why do they exist? And can they be stopped?” Everyone laughs and wholeheartedly agrees that they are terrible and inedible. I love corn, which is their primary ingredient, but the only way to make these better is to entirely change the recipe. They are hard tasteless cardboard. See more on areapas on the Medellin Fruit tour post.
I met up with my Michael Cheng, dentists buddy, later and we ate doner kebabs near my hotel. Just average and would not go back. But this is where I figured out that Colombians don’t eat spicy food. As the trip went on all I can say is that if you ask for hot sauce I have no idea what you will get and only occasionally will you be happy.
It started pouring. Hard. We had plans to hit a few bars but the rain seemed like it could go on for hours. We hoped in an Uber and went to one bar. I of course ate again from a food truck which was a really bad idea and will go down as the worst meal of the trip. Colombians fry everything and their oil had turned rancid.