Medellin, You Changed EVERYTHING

Medellin-10

I felt like I was going to puke. My travel nerves were at full force that day – something I hadn’t really experienced since Mexico. I was a pro at this. Why was I feeling so shitty?

“You’re already missing them.” Shaun’s replied.

And you know what? He was right.

Our travels have taken a completely different direction. As we are on our last leg of our budget, we have practically spent the entire past month in care of Couchsurfers. The dynamics have changed. It is no longer the locations that make the place, but the people we have come across and taken us into their home.

After our recent experiences, I just can’t imagine going back to hosteling alone.

We arrived to Cristina’s house exhausted after a night bus through the windy roads of the Andes. A little scared (this was only really our 3 or 4th actual time Couchsurfing), we were invited in with love and care. A full meal was set in front of us at lunch time and famished, we destroyed it.

OH GOD IT FELT GOOD TO HAVE A HOMECOOKED MEAL.


Over the next few days we were taken under her wing along with her little girl and older sister, Laura.

Cristina’s daughter voraciously eating a hot dog.

We had a night tour of Botero park and parts of downtown our first night. Laura should have been a tour guide. Good lord. We got the skinny on some of the major buildings around downtown and the history of the parks. We could feel the love for the city’s architecture from Cristina. The ladies were in love with Medellin and their excitement to show us around was contagious. I was already loving it as well. It is not the most glamorous place in the world but the charm was thick.

Botero Park, Medellin

Lookie at this awesome architecture!

Did I mention that people who live in the state of Antioquia are like Texans? They tend to relate themselves to their state before their country.

Oh yes, I love it here.

Laura and Cristina joined us as we took the tram to sight see the massive city. Coming from a smaller city, it takes my breath away when I see urban sprawl. It is indescribable. HUGE. WOW.

Medellin-9

Shaun and Cristina

Medellin-7

One night we were invited out to a friend’s bar (The Creed Bar) to get a few drinks with friends. This is when it hit me. We were no longer just visitors to them. We were officially long lost friends or family. Conversations were free flowing (as was the booze) and for the first time since Guadalajara, I felt like I belonged. Hugs were genuine. Our new friends were not treating us as a commodity. They wanted us to be part of their lives.

Friends in Medellin

Friends in Medellin.

Creed Bar in Medellin

It still pangs my heart when I receive messages from Cristina and Laura. I so want to be part of their community. I have to force myself to move on. We have a major traveler’s dilemma. We have the rest of the continent to see and not that much time to do it in. Do you sacrifice not seeing things to stay put? We will eventually have to leave. Will forging stronger relationships be detrimental in the long run?

And this is why I felt like hell leaving Medellin. So many thoughts in my mind. So many emotions filling my heart.

Our travels have already changed so much.

33 Responses to “Medellin, You Changed EVERYTHING”

  1. Brooke vs. the World December 12, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Aw what a great experience you had, though, Couchsurfing. How lucky to feel like you were a part of this community, even if only temporary.

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:14 am #

      @Brooke: I think we’re considering going back for New Years and Christmas since we seem like bastard children trying to go anywhere else. Getting accommodation during the holidays is rough!

  2. Carlo+Geneva December 12, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    Wow. You can feel the love in the pix. So happy for you guys! Travel for the sake of travel can be lonely w/o the human element. Hope to find this on the road :)

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:23 am #

      @C+G: Aww! We felt so loved being there! We’re even considering going back right now!

  3. The World of Deej December 12, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    What a great experience…always good to feel like a part of a community, but sadly, yes it does make it harder to leave…

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:23 am #

      @Deej: For sure! I mean, what do you do when you are taken in like family? :D

  4. Erin December 12, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    You should stay! One thing we learned on our first RTW trip was never to leave a place until you are ready. You’ll regret it and the places you have on your list to visit may well disappoint. We’ve been taking things slower now that we’re permanent travellers and we love immersing ourselves in a place for a few months. Having a real, local experience and making connections with people isn’t that easy so you should take advantage. Medellin is a great place to spend a month or two.

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:24 am #

      @Erin: You guys convinced us. Depending on what we hear over the next few days, we’re buying our tickets and heading back to Medellin. I need to be with my “family”.

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures December 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    One word: stay.

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:25 am #

      @Andi: Thank you for this lady. We’re taking this comment to heart and seriously considering our return.

  6. Emily in Chile December 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    These are the good problems to have, right? Trust me, I can relate to having people all over that you wish you could just group up and take with you, but that’s what frequent flyer miles and meet-ups in random countries are for!

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:26 am #

      @Emily: Good problems but heartbreaking to deal with for sure.

  7. Gerard ~ GQ trippin December 13, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    Can understand why it would be hard to leave that scenario. Q & I are pretty new to couchsurfing ourselves. We haven’t been successful with many or any of our couch requests in New Zealand so far. We’re hoping it’s mainly because it’s holiday season because we really want to experience towns & cities with local peeps. :-\

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:27 am #

      @Gerard: Why howdy there stranger! We wish you the best of luck in your Couchsurfing endeavors. The experiences really are life changing. We have had terrible luck trying to find people over the season – so much we’re looking at returning with our CSer in Medellin for Christmas and New Years because we’ll have a place to stay!

  8. Stephanie - The Travel Chica December 13, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    I am hoping to try CouchSurfing soon. I tried finding a place for my Patagonia travels, but there just aren’t enough options. Will have to wait until I get to a bigger city in Chile I think.

    Can I ask them to make me a home-cooked meal? :-)

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:28 am #

      @Stephanie: I can imagine that finding people for Patagonia can be quite daunting. I know we’re looking at spending time down there. Let me know how it goes. Also, we may need to bother you for information once we reach BsAs.

  9. Amanda December 13, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Aww, what a great post! It totally is the people that often make the places, though. I can totally relate!

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 2:29 am #

      @Amanda: Thank you! I’m so glad I’ve learned that lesson. I can’t imagine going back – I’m in a hostel right now and am missing the human element of CSing. Don’t get me wrong, my hostel is badass, but just so different.

  10. Dave December 14, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    So glad you had a wonderful experience with Couchsurfing in Medellin. I wasn’t new to CS when I arrived there in 2009, but for the first time, I participated in a social way (vs just staying with hosts). Parties, dance performances, walking tours of downtown, informal salsa lessons.

    They welcomed me openly, and within my first few days, I’d already made good friends and felt as though I had a social circle. I stopped in my tracks and spent 6 months there much as a result of those connections. Glad to see the spirit is still alive!

    • Erica December 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      @Dave: I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of this community. We took some of the informal classes at this one hostel – so many CSers there! We took part of Austin’s CS scene a lot like you did in Medellin and we have made some awesome, albeit crazy, friends. :) I’m trying not to spend 6 months there. I’m really hoping we make it to Argentina!

  11. Ali December 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    The people definitely do make the place. I’ve never had more than a couple of days here and there that came even close to what you just described. I haven’t met too many people I really click with on my trip, but yours sounds amazing. Glad you’re having a good time, but sad to hear you’re nearing the end of your budget! I hope you figure out something soon to keep you traveling!

    • Erica December 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      @Ali: And this is why we’ve bought tickets back to Medellin for Christmas. We need to be around the people that make this so special. Yeah – the budget thing is disheartening but we’re trying out hardest to make things work for sure! I know we are planning on going home and saving more money.

  12. Camels & Chocolate December 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    I REALLY want to go to Colombia. It seems like everybody I know is temporarily living or vacationing there these days!

    • Erica December 19, 2011 at 12:08 am #

      @C&C: Apparently Medellin is the blogger hub? I think everyone was out traveling when we arrived. Regardless, I LOVE COLOMBIA.

  13. Ayngelina December 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    I heard Colombia has one of the biggest couchsurfing communities and I believe it, make sure you couchsurf in Cali, really great people there.

    • Erica December 20, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      @Ayngelina: I met some of the Cali folks at Tin Tin Deo, popular salsa club. They look like cool kids.

  14. Abby December 20, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Yay! I might have to pick your brain about couchsurfing someday. You always have such a blast in your posts!

    • Erica December 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      @Abby: Totally! We are already planning out our week and I’m TOTALLY EXCITED.

  15. Federico December 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Many travelers have found Medellin to be a great place where to spend more time than expected, some even decided to call it home!

  16. Nomadic Samuel December 23, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    I can’t believe I’ve yet to try couch surfing. I know I’m missing out. Also, I’ve only heard rave reviews about Medellin.

    • Erica December 24, 2011 at 3:23 am #

      @Nomadic Samuel: Good lord man! GET ON IT!

  17. HappinessPlunge January 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Today is my last day in Medellin. I’m going to miss it. Definitely a special place…

    • Erica January 22, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

      @HP: I cried like a baby when we left. Part of my heart will be there for a while.

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