I landed in Medellin on the night of December the 29th at 2 in the morning. I was exhausted and had surreal taxi ride through thick jungle foliage and thicker fog to a small Hotel outside the city, Casa Mosaica where I could lock up all my trip gear until I could drop it off at a friend’s house the next day.
Medellin is pretty much paradise. It’s 80 and sunny all year long. You can get a meal for $3 and a beer for a dollar at a bar. The scenery is unreal. It’s surrounded by mountains and jungle in every direction and you can be on a Caribbean beach in one day by car.
There’s very few Americans here that I’ve met but apparently Europe and the rest of South America got the memo. The hostels are packed with Europeans, mostly swedes, danish, german, and french, who seem to be averaging at least 6 months on their trips. They think it’s weird that we think that’s weird. They seem to subsist mostly off of shitty house music and the $4 a gram cocaine (which it is legal to have up to a gram of).
The city is surrounded on all sides by 5000 - 6000ft hills (the grand canyon is 6000ft deep for reference). It’s amazing in person but it’s so expansive that I couldn’t find any good way to photograph it. When I caught a taxi from the hotel into the city I wasn’t expecting anything and I was blown away when we turned into the valley and you immediately see the entire city from 5000ft.
I moved into my first hostel, Tiger Paw hostel in the Foreigner heavy El Poblado neighborhood (maybe almost 50% tourists in the neighborhood) and then met up with my friend Brian who showed me around the city. We went back to El Poblado that night, went bar hopping and did some shots of the local anise flavored licquor aguardiente and ended up getting pretty drunk.
We stayed out until about three and I went to pee in an alleyway at the end of the night when a police motorcycle with two cops pulled up behind me and told me that the alleyway was not a bathroom. The had me put my hands up on a wall and grabbed my wallet straight out of pocket to
check my id and it was missing a $100 when I got back. It seemed pretty steep given that people were blatanly selling cocaine in the street less then a block away but I’m sure they had already paid their bribes. Not much I could do and I was happy no to have had anything worse happen so I went back to the hostel and passed out.
I spent the next two weeks moving to different hostels around the city, and getting ready for the trip. I moved over to a much more localod called Laureles( Buddha Hostel, Enso Hostel, and an AirBnB). Pretty quiet during the day but once it gets dark the salsa clubs light up and the street food comes out and things stay open all night.
I met up with the other guy I was going to be riding with and he was actually pretty helpful in getting a bike because his spanish was very good but it became apparent really quickly that I didn’t want to ride with him. He was really self absorbed and was doing coke all day every day in the hostel. I didn’t want to be around when he couldn’t get any more once we are on the road. I ended up just moving to a different hostel without saying anything to him because I didn’t feel like debating what was already a done decision.
I ended up buying the bike, a brand new Honda XR 150.At $2600 I shouldn’t lose to much if I am able to sell it at the end. I think that might mean I have to come back to Medellin though which is a big change of plans. It’s smaller then I wanted but I’m not riding high ways anyway and I really coudn’t afford any more bike anyway.
So, I have a couple more days, to finish up setting up the blog, load the gps, plan the course, and hit the road.
My plan is to ride from Medellin to Quito in about two weeks. Once I’m in quito I’m going to head to the shore and do some surfing and stop and study spanish for a month because my spanish is shit and it’s going to need to be better once I’m in more remote areas. The trip until then is:
Medellin -> Aguadas - > Manizales -> Salento -> Cali -> Popayan -> Pasto -> Ipiales -> Otovalo -> Quito 1251 Km and 27 hours on the road, lots of small colombian towns, the coffee region, Cali (the salsa capital of the world) and the border crossing into Ecuador.
Cannot wait to get on the road…