Our trip was set to last 5 days. Although it was a short trip we had our agendas packed. We new that once we landed it would be non stop. We had to shop for school supplies, travel to Puerto Triunfo (our main destination) and even teach some dance classes to a very special group of girls from the Angelito de mi Guarda foundation in Medellin.
So through this blog I will tell you step by step what we did and I hope that with my photographs and by reading this, you'll be able to feel as if you went on this adventure with us. Also, we are in the process of making a documentary of our trip and that will be posted soon.
Ok, here it goes... It all started the morning of the 24th when Adriana picked me up at my apartment at around 7:30am,. We headed to the Ft. Lauderdale airport, actually to the Park & Go parking lot near the airport. This is a service neither one had used before and we found it to be awesome! You park your car for less than $6.00 a day and a shuttle takes you to the terminal. We definitely recommend parking here. It's cheep and best of all you don't have to wait for anyone to pick you up when you get back.
Checking in was fast as we had done this online. Three things I learned before boarding:
1. Don't do laundry the night before your flight.
2. Don't leave your razor in the shuttle.
3. Don't trip over passengers waiting to board.
Trust me, these things can happen (at least it did to us).
We arrived in Medellin at approximately 1:30pm. Our driver Johnny, picked us up. First thing we did was go straight to Sancho Paisa, a restaurant near the airport. I took advantage of where I was and the fact that I was starving, and I order the most known plate in Medellin. The world famous "Bandeja Paisa" with a Colombiana (soda). Although I was in heaven eating it, I would pay the price for it later on that night.
At the restaurant we start planning the rest of the day. First, we needed to go to Unicentro (one of Medellin's main Mall) to exchange money. Then we had to head out to shop for all the school supplies we were going to donate. So we left the restaurant and headed to the mall. What did we find out about malls in Colombia? Do NOT leave your car door unlock because when you get back you will find cops inside taking photos. I guess as a precaution when it comes to car bombs that are not that uncommon in Colombia. Once we left the mall we went to a place where tourist never go. A place that although you can get amazing prices on anything you need it, you can also get in allot of trouble as it is very dangerous. It's no wonder they call it El Hueco (The hole). We parked in a guarded garage so I had to leave my camera gear in the trunk of the car. There was absolutely no way I would be able to walk through those streets with it. Instead, I took my Flip video camera and my point and shoot camera.
(Adry & ZiZi in El Hueco)
Shopping in El Hueco was an experience. Luckily we had Johnny who not only was he our driver but he was our bodyguard/guide. He knew exactly where to take us and he never left our side. We found the lot where they sold all kinds of school supplies so you can say we hit the jack pot. We were so happy to be able to get what we needed. Plus having exchanged dollars bills into Pesos (Colombian currency) we were able to stretch the money that was donated to us. We had purchased so much stuff that they had to deliver it to Johnny's house. After the school supplies we went on the hunt for boots. Not for us but for the kids. Apparently they are in high demand because of all the rain and mud that surrounds the town of Puerto Triunfo. It was one of the things mostly requested from the director of cultural affairs. So we found a place where they sold rubber boots and were able to purchase a dozen. Not as many as we wanted to get but we didn't have much money left and as I said before, El Hueco is not a good place to take money out. The good thing is that now we know where we can get them next time we travel to Medellin. Three memorable moments were 1. seeing cops and dogs guard the parking lot and trying to sniff for drugs and or bombs. 2. Adry trying to save a street vendor from loosing a Bom Bom Bum (a lollipop) and 3. The incredible view at night from the garage. By looking at it you would not think that we were in a dangerous place.
Barriotriste (iglesia Sagrado Corazon de Jesus) Medellin (photo by ZiZi)
After a day of non stop activities, we left El Hueco to go to the apartment where we were going to stay. It was the apartment of Gloria (Adry's cousin). It was a beautiful apartment with a breathtaking view. It was located in an area that we both compared it to Midtown in Miami. Full of art and lounges and yummy restaurants. Gloria and her sister Maria Victoria were waiting for us. Since it was already late we decided just to order food and get acquainted. We had to go to sleep early as we had to get up at 5:30am to head out to Puerto Triunfo. At around 11:00pm we got up to the news that the road to Puerto Triunfo was most likely going to be closed due to the 5 rock slides that happened the week before our trip. Gloria called the "highway patrol" center and spoke to the operator who said that it was highly possible that we would not be able to take the regular road but rather the longer route. So a 3 hour road trip would become a 7 hour trip. The operator said it was best to call them back in the morning before heading out to see if they had cleared up the road.
Join me as we continue our journey.