A Week of Salsa & Betty’s Bowls – Days 71 – 80i

Thu 12th to Sat 21st Apr

So back from my little jaunt to the Pacific, I decide to settle in Medellin for a week or so. My main focus here is to dance, enjoy being in Medellin and chill with my new friends.

I wake up early Thursday feeling fresh so decide to go for a run, something I’ve not done in bloody ages and it felt good…even though there are some tough hills in El Poblado.

The rest of the day consisted of breakfast at Betty’s Bowls

A cool little eatery adjoined to my hostel ran by 2 super cool chicas Maria & Camila and also Santi and Fede (their husbands). I while away a few hours chatting to them before heading to my first salsa class with Edison at Dance Free studios. I’m a bit rusty but the steps do come back to me and soon I’m twirling around like on an episode of Strictly!

That evening there is a small get together in Betty’s for Fede’s (Yolo Hostel Owner) birthday. Many of the guests are there but all his family also who were so lovely and welcoming. This was a great and unique experience for me to sit and chat with all Fede’s family in Spanish…a real treat and one of the great reasons I love travelling so much.

Friday I set off to visit Arvi Park. After getting off the metro at Acevedo, I get the cable car to Santo Domingo. For this leg of the journey, it is still part of the metro network so no need to buy another ticket. The cable cars are another project set up by Fajardo to improve the links between the poorer neighbourhoods on the mountainsides of Medellin to the city.

This ride in itself is great as the views over barrio Santa Elena are spectacular.

At Santo Domingo u change to another cable car up to Park Arvi and this costs 5,000 and takes about 15 minutes each way. Again the views are great as u climb further up into the mountains.

I was hoping the ascent would make my still blocked ear pop but it didn’t!

Arriving at the park, there are food stalls, an information desk, café restaurant etc. This is more of a national park and there are many hikes u can do from here in varying lengths and capabilities. I opt for a shorter one as the weather up here is much to different to that when I left – it’s cold and looks as if a storm is about to set in. The route a few of us take isn’t really that interesting..u just walk along a road to a picnic area and back again. If u really want to get the most out of here….allow enough time to do a proper walk and bring the right gear for changes in the weather.

Back on the metro and the storm sets in – when it rains in Medellin, it chucks it down! I chat away the afternoon with my 2 favourite chicas in Betty’s before another salsa class.

Saturday I have 4 hours of salsa so don’t bother going for a run!

Private classes cost quite a lot, maybe the same or more than back home, but these people are awesome and some used to dance professionally. Salsa is in their genes so they are the perfect instructors. Dance Free do offer free evening group classes but they are rammed and if you are serious about learning/improving then private is definitely the way to go.

Following salsa, there is a party back at the hostel for Fede’s bday. A dj has set up outside Betty’s and the hostel and I’m armed with beers and rum! I drink away the evening with many of their friends including one chica loca Leidy…a lovely girl but every time I get a drink she decides to yell ‘fondo’ at me which means to down it!

We are told to stop the music around 10/11pm and the rest of the night is a bit of a blur!!!

Sunday I awake feeling pretty shit! I go to Betty’s for my breakfast and meet a lovely French guy called Benoit….but it turns out I actually met him last night but don’t remember!!! I knock salsa on the head – with a thick head and 2 left feet I know it will be nothing but disastrous so spend the day like I do on hangover days back home – in bed, watching tv with snacks!!!

Monday is a new day and I feel so much better than yesterday, apart from one thing – my ear still hasn’t popped and I feel like I’m living in a bubble. I speak to my friends in Betty’s and they give me details of a hospital so off I trek in search of a doctor. I go to Clinica Medellin

and after filling in a few forms, I pay 300,000 (about £80). I’m then called through to see the doctor. Spanish skills to the rescue again and after explanations and checks it turns out I have an ear infection and am prescribed an array of drugs including antibiotics (which I triple check 3 times aren’t penicillin).

I receive my doctors receipt and his bill is only 70,000 so the woman I originally paid now refunds me the difference – I have no idea why they do it this way. I go to the pharmacy next door and that’s where the biggest shock comes. To see the doctor was only £18 but my drugs cost me £55! A tip from my local friends – if u are in need of a prescription, go to a normal pharmacy not the ones next to the clinics – they are usually a bit cheaper….

As the clinic is near a shopping mall, I decide to take a look around Oviedo and treat myself to a beautiful leather bag from Vèley

More salsa in the evening and grab a take out on the way home – I found a great Indian restaurant called Masala on Calle 10 (opposite Subway) and it’s just like a proper curry house at home. Netflix and curry a great way to spend an evening!

Tuesday I venture back into town and take a look around some of the places I visited on the city walking tour last week.

For lunch, I head to Hacienda – one of the best restaurants in Medellin to try local Paisa food. I’ve waited until here to finally try the famous Bandeja Paisa…a dish made up of frijoles, rice, powdered beef, chicharrón, black pudding, chorizo, egg, plantain, avocado and an arepa!

I opt for the child’s portion as an adult size of all that is far too much. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone wanting to try local dishes.

The rain sets in again so I go see my friends Maria and Camila again before going to salsa. Always carry a rain mac or brolly with u in Medellin – the weather changes constantly.

Wednesday is pretty much more of the same – breakfast and chatting to my 2 fab friends in Betty’s, lunch with Benoit and more salsa. I’ve also met an amazing guy called Charles from Manchester. He is one the funniest people I’ve ever met and has the regular crew in Betty’s constantly in fits of giggles. The guys at the hostel/Betty’s used to live in London. Having told them about my fabulous curry the other night, they’re keen to go also so 8 of us (and Emilia) head off for dinner there tonight.

This was one of the best nights I’ve had and haven’t laughed so much in ages. Charles is pure comedy gold and Ricky eating a spicy curry for the first time was hysterical.

Thursday after breakfast I have a bachata class. I absolutely love the music and dance and José taught me the most basic step back in Ometepe a year and a half ago so now I want to try it properly whilst having dance classes. My instructor for this is Julien and he’s awesome at this kind of dance. I learn about 8 moves and put them all together for one of my favourite songs.

Bachata is beautiful and I wish I had more time here to focus on this…hopefully I can pick it up in other parts of South America. I end of shopping again – the Levi’s are quite cheap here I couldn’t resist! My poor rucksack is now at breaking point!

I have my last salsa lesson and it’s awesome. I’ve learned so much from Edison and my moves are much more rhythmic and fluid than they were when I started.

Back to Betty’s for a few beers and Santi starts going on about a big party that’s happening tomorrow night and that I shouldn’t be leaving and should go with them etc. Within 5 minutes, my bus booking and subsequent hostel bookings have all been changed and I’m staying in Medellin an extra night to go party with the guys that have now become great friends.

I take advantage of being in Medellin an extra day and book more dance classes for tomorrow! To end my now not last night, myself and 3 other good friends I’ve made head out for dinner and a bevvy or 2.

Friday morning I rock up back at Dance Free to some puzzled faces as I’m meant to be on a bus to Salento! Situation explained, I get down to busting some more bachata moves with Julien before my now final final salsa class with Edison.

Back at Yolo, I pack my bag ready to leave tomorrow…big night out tonight n all that!

Few beers drank with the guys in Betty’s…all looking forward to tonight’s antics! I decide to treat myself again and get my hair straightened….I look and feel human again and it only cost £5! We all hook up and Betty’s, and shut up shop promptly at 8pm and head off en mass to Heard From. There are guest dj’s playing some kind of techno music. Not really my scene but it’s nice to be out with everyone I’ve become such good friends with.

Leidy from the other night is also out (no fondo tonight thou chica) and her friend Carlos.

After a few hours here, myself Charles, Leidy and Carlos head off to a salsa/reggaeton bar and I get to put my new dancing skills into practice! It was fab and I loved it!

Charles and I end up at some dodgy locals bar after this, have a beer and pizza and head home around half 4!!!

Tomorrow on the road again is sure going to be interesting!

I awake not feeling the best but I’m up and ready to hit the road…after my last breakfast at Betty’s and one of my toughest goodbyes to date.

Maria and Camila have become such dear friends and it is extremely sad saying goodbye to them who have more than made my time in Medellin.

Travelling isn’t just about the places u go but a lot about the people u meet and my hours spent chatting with both these and everyone else I met at Yolo/Betty’s are some of the best times I’ve had.

I hope our paths definitely cross again

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