They say the beauty of their women, warmth of its people, and gorgeous flowers allows Medellin to attract like a magnet. Personally, I vote for the beauty of the women. The people of the region are called paisas, perhaps due mostly to their proactive spirit and hospitality. They say that loving life on the street and exaggerating colorful stories keeps their spirits high. We shall find out.
First, let’s address the food issue. Here are some of their traditional dishes:
•Bandeja paisa: Traditional Antioquia dish with beans, ground beef, egg, rice, plantain, chorizo sausage, pork cracklings, arepa and hogao (a sauce based on tomatoes and onions).
•Mondongo: A soup based on tripe, pork, hen, and cassava, and flavored with cilantro.
•Sancocho: A soup based on chicken, potatoes, and plantains.
I see a problem already. None of that sounds healthy or even appetizing. My vote would be to try to find some seafood. We did find some deep-fried trout yesterday for lunch, and it was quite good.
Next, they say the best tourist attractions are museums, churches, and squares. I have met enough squares at home, I need not meet more. And who uses that term any more? I think we call them geeks or nerds now.
Medellin has the only two cable car systems linked to a metro in the world. The price to ride the cable cars is included in the metro card fee.
Columbian coffee might be a good diversion for an afternoon or day trip. Coffee is the third most consumed beverage in the world, behind water and tea. Did you know there are 8000 species of coffee trees? The fruit of the coffee tree takes on a reddish-brown color. The seed inside is toasted (or roasted) and ground. One of the byproducts of coffee is the famous alkaloid, caffeine. Coffee is also used in a wide variety of rituals around the world. The one we are most familiar with is the morning wake up ritual.
Speaking of alkaloids, we left the coca leaves we purchased in Quito in a trash can in the Quito Airport. We decided Columbia would not be a good place to bring something with such a storied past. By the way, we bought the coca leaves on the street, ostensibly to chew the leaves to help deal with the towering altitude of these two cities.
Both Quito and Medellin brag about their beautiful and prolific flowers. Yes, we have seen some, but I have been to weddings and memorial services with more flowers than I have seen here.
This is beginning to feel more like the Latin America that many of us have seen on TV or read about in travel books. We are beginning to see the true spirit of the young people. It is so refreshing compared to the young adults back home. They behave in a polite and respectful manner. They give up their seats on the bus or Metro to their elders. And the Metro was about ten times cleaner than BART!