Here I am, back in Medellin, the Paisa region of Colombia. For the next month i’ll be living with a Colombian family whilst also attending Spanish school. This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. A real immersion experience. I’m aiming to secure a good foundational level of Spanish – hopefully i can then build on this going forward. That’s the plan anyway. Time and effort will tell…
So here I am 2 weeks later. My hosts, Ellias and Gaby have been nothing short of amazing. They have treated me like a king. Cooking me breakfast the moment i wake up, constantly providing fruit, homemade fresh juice and having the patience in dealing with my basic level of spanish and going over grammar are just 3 of many kind gestures made towards me. This evening I cooked a 3 course meal as a token of my appreciation.
Their house/my house is located in the Laureles suburb of the city. It’s about a 10 minute walk to the Metro station, which is conveniently Metro de Estadio. You guessed it – the city’s football stadium. Perfect. It’s home to Medellin and Nacional, the 2 teams in the city. More on this another time.
The commute to school takes around 45 minutes door to door. In the first few days of catching the metro, it reminded me of the commute back in London. Oh what good times… The funny thing is that most people will agree that the Tube in London is a very busy, stressful and at peak times over-crowded. Don’t get me wrong, It’s incredibly efficient and i’ve always thought highly of it, but there have been many a time where i’ve found myself frustrated. Standing there literally melting whilst holding on to the greasy standing bars wearing your suit only to eventually climb 1000 esculator stairs to be greeted by “fresh” London air and more often than not, several hundred rain drops.
This however, is a breeze compared to the Metro here. I’ve experienced my share of a Undergrounds/Metro’s; Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Sydney, Barcelona and London to name a few, but none reach the madness of Medellin. When boarding the train, it really is like a driving maul. That’s the only way to describe it. You have people running into the packed train, dropping their shoulders to puncture a gap in the crowds contained within the carriage. Carnage. It’s so busy that in just 2 weeks, I’ve seen 3 people faint, 1 suffer a bloody nose and 2 women being carried off in tears. Watching the station staff getting involved and pushing people onto an already packed train resembles someone blowing a balloon full of air until it bursts. The 3 words “Health and Safety” do not exist here.
School has been great – a wonderful experience so far. I’ve been fortunate to have made several good friends – some staff, some students. A wide range of activities have been on offer including Football, Language Exchange evenings, a trip to the University and tours to Coffee and Chocolate farms. I’m happy to say i’ve been making the most of it. My Spanish is coming along. Very much a work in progress but it’s still early days. The basics have been mastered; who i am, where i’m from, where i work (or don’t work!), my birthday etc amongst many other introductory questions and answers. Building a vocabulary so i can offer opinion and insight is the next step.