Caracol de le Campana

I used the “emergency” What’s App number to ask Responsible Travel if we could add Roxana and Ricardo—the friends we were meeting here in Medellin—to our tour the next day.

“That’s fine,” was the answer, “But they will have to pay five dollars per person.”

Five dollars.  For a four-hour tour.  Done.

“I have no illusions of being able to find anything based on addresses,” I told Lynn.  We had both tried to make sense of the system.  The address of our hotel was CLL 11a 31a 70.

Lynn and I consulted the map, took a left outside of the hotel, and were immediately lost.  Medellin isn’t quite as high as Bogota—5,000 feet—but we were still plenty breathless.  Whichever way we turned, we were headed up a hill.  The few signs that existed made no sense to us.  But the neighborhood was lovely and I was in the mood for a hike after sitting in airports and planes and taxis all day.  There was little traffic, so hailing a taxi seemed unlikely.

“Let’s hail a taxi,” I heard Lynn panting behind me.  And as if she had magical powers, one appeared.  In minutes we were at Patrick’s Pub having a beer in Park Lleras, where we had agreed to meet Roxana and Ricardo.  As soon as I got a wireless signal there was a message from Roxana saying they were too tired and wet from getting caught in the rain to join us; they would meet us at our hotel in the morning for the tour.

Park Lleras is a neighborhood with many bars, much like Division Street in Chicago.  It’s a “safe zone” for tourists.  In addition to the Irish pub there was a British pub, complete with a red phone box out front as if to signal, “It’s okay!  We’ve got your lager here and sport on the big screen!  You can even call mummy from the phone box if you’re scared!”

We had a burger and chatted with the owner of Patrick’s, a guy from Boston.

“You should have seen this place on St. Patrick’s Day,” he recalled.

“We had 600 expats and tourists in here drinking green beer.  There’s this Irish expat, Jerry O’Brien, he drinks in here all the time and it’s scary how much, but on St. Patty’s Day he brought this Colombian woman he’d picked up at his bank for a ‘date.’

“Har, har, har!”  Somehow he even managed to laugh with a Boston accent, which I can’t capture in writing.

“After he’d had about six beers she asked him if they were just going to sit here and drink all day.  So he walks her out to the street, puts her in a cab, gives the cabbie a ten and tells him to take her wherever she wants to go, and waves her off!  Har, har, har.  Then he came back in here and drank eight more beers, then switched to Jamison and had 11 shots.  He was back the next morning for more.  A true Irish alcoholic.”

I felt queasy just thinking about drinking that much.  Time for an early night.

I always wake up first and go down to breakfast so as not to disturb Lynn, but it never works.  The more I try to be quiet, the more likely I am to bump into something in the dark and let out a yelp.

The breakfast area at La Campana was outdoors and surrounded by beautiful gardens.  I sat next to one of those walls of water that comes from some invisible source, making a nice swishing noise.  The breakfast was the same as in Bogota—eggs, arepas, fruit, juice, and coffee.

My appetite was a bit dampened by this large poster nearby.

“Avoid touching, transporting, and eating.”  I could do that.  Thankfully, I never saw any giant African snails.

Lynn joined me, then Roxana and Ricardo arrived and there were hugs and kisses and introductions all around. I had met Ricardo but Lynn had never met either of them.

“I can never remember how many kisses,” Lynn said.  “It’s different everywhere.”

“One kiss—on the right cheek,” instructed Roxana.

So now you know.

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