Chiang Mai + Miami = Medellin

It is hard to believe I am even leaving the U.S. The majority of my flights are domestic and my last stop is in Florida, with Colombia only 3 hours away.

I am beginning to stress about learning Spanish, but know I won’t retain anything on this last leg of my trip. I have no idea what to expect when I arrive at my new home, with a Colombian mother, contingent upon my Spanish skills…I probably should have prepared a little more.

The Colombian airport in Medellin is very small. Going through baggage, immigration and customs is seamless. Effortless. As soon as I leave the odd, movie star, sliding doors, I walk through an aisle of excited family members and less than amused cabbies. A plump Colombian man promptly starts rolling my baggage cart towards the door to “help” me find a taxi. Little does he know (literally, no English), that I have friends in Colombia. Friends who have sent me their own taxi driver. This special taxi driver has my name written on a scrap piece of cardboard, which a helpful middle-aged woman, with moderate English skills, helps me navigate towards.

Gonzalo, my special taxi driver, brings me to the pick-up area and my plump Colombian baggage carrier is still with me, where we wait for whom I think is Gonzalo’s son to bring the taxi around. My plump man rudely asks for a tip, I still can’t remember the Spanish word, and I lack the small bills to give to him. So the helpful middle-aged woman and her husband serve up the $2 bucks to appease plumpy. I was so grateful for this since I had yet to learn the customs of tipping in my new country.

Eventually, we start the journey to my new home, which address I cannot even comprehend, and I wander in and out of those “oh shit” thoughts of if the taxi is safe, is Catalina home, will I get kidnapped, etc. But I am quickly entranced by the sky full of stars that is located inside the valley of Medellin. The city is a bowl filled by busy city light. I am in love.


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