The Bridge Between Developing and Developed

Today is the day I am apparently turning a new healthy leaf. I agree to meet a coworker for running on the avenue they shut down on Sundays (and holidays). Running sucks, but feels empowering. I actually feel like I am participating in something Colombians do, and I feel like I belong! Until some guy on a bike abruptly tells us in Spanish that we need to get out of the way for the bikes.

We struggle up my mountainous side of the Medellin bowl. My legs literally feel like jello. I haven’t done this much cardio since 2012. We stop at my house for my wallet and water. Have a brief chat with my house mom, where she persistently questions my language learning again.

Next stop, Body Tech in the San Lucas Plaza. It’s a chain gym here in Colombia, but the San Lucas location is apparently one of the nicest and possibly the most expensive. Get ready, because this is going to be good. 

We head into the plaza and my friend inquires about where the gym is so we are directed down through the parking garage. Ok. There must be another entrance, but whatever. Sure enough at the end of the second level is a dim entrance to what looks like a swanky hotel or spa reception with of course some type of flashy shop near the façade.

Approaching the desk, the front desk staff have the “oh shit what are these gringos doing here” look. My friend explains to them that I don’t speak Spanish, but am interested in a membership. I had hear a rumor that the gym would cost me $75 a month, but my friend’s membership is almost half that, so how could the difference be so monumental if only 15 minutes away from each other…

Indeed, the gym in San Lucas, 5 minutes away from my apartment, is the nicest in town and hence the price is $75 a month. Wow. Ok. I contemplate joining my friends’ gym nearby and just commuting there to save the money, but I of course want a tour of this mansion first. As we walk, I am shown the 3 floors of cardio equipment, free weights, circuit training equipment, aerobic rooms, spinning rooms, steam showers, sauna’s and we are told about the different membership plans. 

I have always been a champagne taste on a beer budget kind of girl. I’m sold. I need this. I need to have routine and membership means being included. This will be great.

As we head back to the desk, he asks how I will pay since I am American and I show them my Visa, but no gusta. They aren’t convinced it will work since my bank account is in NY…My friend explains she uses her US credit card and it works fine. So the obvious solution was for them to just add me to her account. Duh.

The registration process takes about an hour, in which I am asked three times if I have children/am pregnant/have children I don’t know about. I’m asked if I have any health problems and if I have gotten plastic surgery before.

I take a picture of the front desk with the Body Tech logo and my friend in the shot, and the kid completing my registration asks to see it and gets very giggly. He wants to be sure he looks good. It’s so funny how self-conscious this country is. All the groupons are for plastic surgery. Girls are practically naked at the gym and men’s jeans have just as much pizzazz as women’s clothing.


We end the process with them insisting on me setting up a consultation with their staff (which is free with my $75 membership) in order for me to get my fat measured. I try to tell them I don’t want to know, but they insist it is helpful for the personal trainers (which are also free with my $75 membership). I give in and schedule the appointment for early Friday morning.

My friend has to sign all my paperwork, since I’m being added to her US payment info that works just fine. I notice that the kids’ name who is handling my paperwork is Andres…This was definitely a good decision. They reassure my friend that they will be there to help me when I come my first time. I reassure myself that Andres is asking me about my unborn children because him and his green eyes are interested 😉

I glance at my fat check appointment and notice my name has been taken down as Marieh, probably pronounced as Mariah. I have never seen my hyphenated last name be interpreted as this, so that’s new.

Along with my $75 gym membership comes the necessity to finally shave, the same feeling of spending above my budget and the potential for an environment to get happy and take anger out in.

I return home happy and accomplished. I am feeling more at ease. It just comes and goes haphazardly. I relax a little and finish my Spanish homework. To my surprise I get a sweet text from a co-worker inviting me to meet up with her and a friend at the favorite coffee shop. I hesitate at first, but realize I can’t pass up the offer! 

I change quickly and hop in a cab after giving the bus a ten-minute chance. My cab driver is young and cute with his thoughtfulness in asking me which way I would like him to go, in which I respond yo no se (I don’t know). He changes the radio to some crappy English song station and I tell him I liked his reggatone radio. He is a bit surprised, but happily changes it back. 

The coffee shop meet up is really nice. I disappointed in my Spanglish L but it will get better, right? It’s just clearly such a struggle when I am attempting Spanish questions and answers. Like really painful. Sweat and stuttering ensue.



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