Sunday was a long, long day. We got up at 5 AM, so that we could catch the airport shuttle at 6 AM. We ate a banana for breakfast which we had gotten the night before on the snack bar. The airport is close by which is nice for early morning flights. We did not have to wait in line very long to get checked in.
We stopped in the airport to get something to drink and eat
After the plane took off, I got really tired. I think it was because of the long week of visiting, short nights, and not entirely sleeping well each night. The adrenaline finally tapered off and my body was relaxing. I dozed for most of that flight.
We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica where we had 37 minutes to make our connection. They were working on the escalator, so the only way to pass through to where we needed to go was by using the elevator. Only 4-5 people could get on the elevator at one time. Fortunately, we were seated in the front of the plane, so our wait was not as long as it could have been.
We arrived at our gate and had a few minutes. Scott went to look for food, but decided he did not want to pay the price they were asking. We boarded our flight--on which I slept again--and landed in Bogota. There were rain clouds all around the airport, but it was dry at the airport.
They are doing construction on the International Airport. It just opened less than a year ago, and they are still finishing parts of it. So, after we landed out on the tarmac (not next to the building), we all had to get on a bus that took us to the terminal to the immigration area. Then we had to go through customs, and wind our way around to find the bus to the Domestic terminal. We got on the bus and rode to the Domestic terminal, and had to ask where to go as it was confusing. All of this is because of still finishing the International terminal, and having to transfer to the National terminal. We made it and had a few minutes to rest before boarding.
Again, because of the construction, after we were let through the gate to board, we had to walk down this very long temporary walkway to our plane out on the tarmac--gate 6 out of 6--to board our plane. We boarded and were ready to take off at 4 PM, but there were storms in Medellin, so we had to wait 45 minutes before we could take off. I used the time wisely and took another nap. This is highly unusual for me.
We landed in Medellin and we could see the evidence of the heavy rain all around. There were puddles everywhere. After de-planing, we retrieved our luggage and found the hotel transport man. We loaded up our luggage and headed to Medellin.
It is 32 Km from the airport to the hotel, We had to go up and over a mountain and then down into the city. Going up the mountain reminded us of pictures of Europe, or of Lican Rey in Southern Chile. It was very picturesque and pastoral looking. By the time we started entering the city, it was raining heavily.
When we got near the city center where we were staying, the roads were completely flooded with water up to the top of the curb. There were a lot of people hanging out in and along the streets. The taxi driver said they were transients. It looked like a situation where we did not want to go or be involved. He said it would be dangerous for us.
We finally arrived at the hotel, and we were beginning to think this was a mistake. We chose this hotel, as supposedly it was close to some of the people we were to meet.
When we entered the hotel, it felt like we had entered the twilight zone. They started construction on the hotel in 1937 and it opened in 1945, but it was supposed to have been completely remodeled in 2013 according to internet information. The lobby was eerily quiet inside, dim fluorescent lights and hardly anyone around. We felt like if we checked in, we might not be able to check out. It did not have the appearance of a newly remodeled hotel--just the opposite.
We went up to the room, and it was a mix of modern--brand new white bedding and towels, with a mix of ancient, 1945 tiles on the wall and floor, lamps and furniture from some by-gone era, but I am not sure which decade. It was like going through a time warp from the hotel we had in Guatemala to here.
We had arranged to meet Jaime F. and Jafet at 6:30 PM for a bite to eat. Jafet showed up, but Jaime did not because of the heavy rain. One reason I chose this hotel, as it said they had several restaurants in the hotel. I wanted this because at night it is not always safe to go out. There definition of restaurants in the hotel was a bunch of Food Court type restaurants, not a sit down restaurant. And because it was Sunday, only one of them was open. We had forgotten that like in Bogota, most restaurants are not open on Sunday.
I asked, and then Jafet asked for a nice restaurant with waiters that we could take a taxi to. They said that there were not any close by, but we could take a taxi to a Centro Commercial and there would be sit down restaurants. We have encountered this before and there ended up not being any sit down restaurants, but they assured us there were some there.
We finally got to the Centro Commercial (Mall) and we walked clear through the mall--very few stores were open--until we came to where they told us to go, and it was a food court--ugh!! We were tired, hungry, and it was late. We decided this was all we were going to get. We ordered and ate. When we finished, nothing was open except the restaurant we had ordered our food from, and no one else was around in the food court . We walked back through this immense mall and found a taxi to take us back to the hotel.
We thanked Jafet for helping us make it through our first night in Medellin. It was so nice to have one familiar, friendly and happy face to meet us. We said our good byes. Jafet said he would walk home as it was only nine blocks, and there were not a lot of people around. We crashed when we got up to the room. We prayed that it would be safe, quiet, and secure.
When ever we go to a new city, it is always challenging, stressful, and a growing experience. We have to look at things as "this is the way it is" and go forward from there. The experience may not be what we want, but we learn a lot from it.
Travel Day--Twilight Zone
Sunday, December 01, 2013