Friday, April 20, 2012


Hello avid followers of the epic adventures of the Shapiros!!! After our lengthy journey from Cartagena we arrived here in Medellin, the city of eternal spring, early on Tuesday morning. We were surprised by the price of the bus tickets, $118,000 each, more expensive than almost every other bus trip we have taken, although it was about 14 hours. After being on the bus for about 45 minutes we realized that the added cost was most likely due to the extra fuel used to run the air conditioner. Everyone on the bus was wearing a jacket and had blankets. Sarah was bundled up in her jacket, my jacket, thermal leggings, and was still shivering. Anyways, we watched a few movies and arrived in Medellin around 8:00 AM. The bus let us off in one of the northern metro stations, and we got onto the metro and rode to Poblado. The city of Medellin follows a river from north to south and the metro is very efficient with frequent trains and modern, handicapped-friendly facilities. When we arrived in Poblado we did our usual backpacker´s tour, wandering around to local hostels and hotels. We settled on one that was closer to the metro station and a short walk to the Zona Rosa on Calle 10. Unfortunately, the mattresses were about as hard as granite and after two nights we decided we had to move. We have since moved to another hostel in the Parque Lleras area, right in the Zona Rosa with plenty of trendy bars and clubs around. So it´s a little noiser, but at least our backs are comfortable. Poblado is a very wealthy area of Medellin, supposedly during the reign of Pablo Escobar, all the wealthy residents of Medellin (called Paisas) moved to Poblado to escape the hitmen and drug violence. There are troves of tall apartment and condo buildings with nice pools, and plenty of BMWs in the parking lot. On wednesday we went to the Museo de Agua, the local water musuem, which is across the street from the Parque de Pies Descalzos. The water musuem is put on by the EPM, which is basically Medellin´s public works group. The musuem is very modern, and is staffed by friendly, knowledgeable guides. We ended up with two guides who spoke passable English, which wasn´t really necessary, but I think they wanted to practice. It is a musuem about water and water conservation, where Medellin gets its water, and is very high tech. The elevators are controlled by iPads, and many of the exhibits have motion sensors and elaborate computer systems to aid in the explanations. There is a really cool floating orb that can have different things projected on it, like the sun and different planets overlaid to do size comparisons. Sarah was dissapointed that Pluto was no longer included in that exhibit (though later, she said she was glad Pluto was no longer a planet - it makes Gustav Holst´s suite complete!). Across the street from the water musuem is the Parque de Pies Descalzos, or the barefoot park. Here paisas are encouraged to kick off their shoes and hang out in some small pools and a large sandy area. Unfortunately, on the day we went it was rather windy so we didn´t go too far into the water. We also wandered around the centro a little bit and took in all the art and architecture. Apparently during the 80´s there was a local ordinance that required all new buildings to put at least 5% of their budget into art, so there are a lot of interesting sculptures. Yesterday, we went to the Museo del Castillo. This is a European style castle, built by a German family almost a hundred years ago that looks over the city, and is also located in Poblado. This wealthy family collected a lot of art, as well as various peculiarities. They have a collection of over 650 spoons, venetian glass, etc. It also displayed some of their personal effects from that time like an old polaroid camera and their old passports. As we walked back to our hostel, Sarah decided to stop at the local mall, which turned out to be a seven story monster - each floor had 4 ¨plazas¨ each of which was about the size of the WestSide Pavillion (old side) and the bottom floor had a big open courtyard in the middle of the plazas with a large play place for kids, including a ferris wheel! This really is the Beverly Hills of Colombia, this mall had some very upscale stores, the food court had a Boba shop, and now Sarah is convinced that she wants to live here. As we speak she is looking at the real estate section of the classifieds. Today we may head out to another musuem, or check out a few more places in the centro, we will update you soon. Pictures to follow after a quick recharge of the digital camera. Sarah´s note: Matt has been talking about Medellin ever since we began planning this trip! He has ¨known¨ all along that this is where we will want to live one day. The irony? Medellin reminds me a lot of Los Angeles! (Except for no movie biz and better public transportation and allegedly better public education, I need to check on that). The Centro is so much like Downtown, traffic included, and Poblado is sort of a mix between Beverly Hills and Santa Monica! Overall, the city is comprised of several small neighborhoods that blend into one another that each have their own personality - just like LA! Some neighborhoods are flat and grided, some are hilly/mountainous, and some are river-front, instead of ocean front. The people are very fashion concious and cultured, and plastic surgery is big here. After all the complaining that Matt does about LA, I find it hilarious that the city he has been obsessed with is South America´s LA! It is a great city, so far, and I am excited to see more!

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