Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Final: Day 6: Medellin

I wake up, stand up, walk a few paces. I am pain free. I luck out. My fall last night did not injure me.

This is the view out my hotel window.

I stroll down for my complimentary breakfast buffet. There's even an omelet bar. I don't know how to say mushrooms to the cook. Every guest at breakfast is either wearing a smart European cut suit or tailored business casual. There are no women here. A lot of flowers must get bought and sold here.

Other than resting, I have three goals today.

One, I have to go to the bus station to buy my final bus ticket-- from Medellin to Turbo. Tomorrow, I will complete my odyssey. I take a tiny Hyundai cab. I ask my driver what the top industries in Medellin are, like a seventh grade teacher.

"Tourism, textiles, and women."

I was not expecting that answer.

There are two bus stations in Medellin, north and south. I arrived at the south station last night from Cali. I leave for Turbo from the north station. Before I buy my ticket, I go to the Western Union office to see if they will exchange my Peruvian soles for Colombian pesos. My poor customer service representative has a terribly botched nose job.

I get my ticket. It's crazy how a bus trip to the Darien Gap can just be printed out like this.

My second goal is to buy a plane ticket from Turbo to Bogota. After completing my trip to Turbo, there is no way in hell I am going to ride on a bus for another 18 hours.

I go to the smaller, domestic airport in Medellin. Fortunately, they have a flight on a prop plane from Apartado (30 miles from Turbo) to Bogota. In November 2017, the largest seizure of cocaine in history (12 tons worth $360 million) took place in Apartado. Neat!

Talk about bad judgment. This huge sign inside the airport commemorated tango legend Carlos Gardel's fatal plane crash at the airport.

I take advantage of the free WiFi at the airport and FaceTime with my wife. I start to cry as I see my son on my phone. I quickly hang up.

My third goal is to meet my internet friend BK and deliver an Amazon Fire Stick to him. BK and his partner are retired American expats who now live in Medellin. We have a fine lunch and he gives me a quick primer on everything Medellin. It is so nice to speak English with someone who also happens to know a bit about my life back home.

I want to note that inside our menu, there is an advertisement for shipping services to Miami. Okay.

This is my lunch. Potato, chicharron, plantain, egg, rice, dried beef and a bowl of beans and rice. I must say, Colombian food is a bit on the bland side. This restaurant is very popular with the chichi locals. The men and women here can all be models.

After lunch, BK and I walk around a little. As we head towards my hotel, I have the worst stomach pain in my life. It was the bus station soup from yesterday. I am about to explode. I ask to sit down on the side of the road, multiple times, trying to gather myself. I am sweating, dizzy, and a hot mess. I don't know what to do. And poor BK. BK watches as I speedwalk the last block to the hotel. I made it to my room, barely.

The next ten hours was touch and go. I packed two rolls of Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets. Being the cheapskate, I brought an opened box of Imodium. I just had three tablets left in the box. How do I ration these effectively? I just need to make it to Turbo, which is about 18 hours from now. BK emails me the whole time with words of encouragement, health advice, and offers to pick up meds at the pharmacy (no prescription needed!).

Fortunately, my symptoms subside by the time I fall asleep. Tomorrow, Turbo.

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