This week primarily consisted of being sick in bed (just your standard head cold) BUT saw another amazing region of the country and got some very exciting job news!
Things to note:
- Rappi food delivery, similar to UberEats, is used all over South America but is Colombian and is commonly used here. And it saved me when I was sick because it delivers groceries, even cheaper than in store. I ordered tea, OJ, chocolate and it came in less than thirty minutes to my apartment door, not just the entrance to the building! The app also allows you to Rappi errands, like if I needed them to pick something up from a friend and bring it over, but I haven’t tried that out. Craziness.
- Medellin is known for its textiles. Used to be home to a huge textile factory and one of the buildings in the center city is shaped like a sewing machine needle. Clothes are fairly inexpensive, including those from the little boutiques in El Poblado.
- COFFEE. Colombia has arguably the highest grade coffee in the world and is one of the top three exporters. Spent the weekend on a coffee farm and these are the things I learned. I have to say, I’m not a coffee drinker and knew nothing about the industry, but the whole experience was very interesting and I do like the taste of coffee.
- Arabica coffee is the most common kind produced, followed by robusta
- Part of the reason the coffee in Colombia is so good is because they have prime soil/climate for it. They grow plants in the mountains (coffee triangle of 3 states) because it gets regular rain and cloud cover as well as heat and sun
- Coffee starts as a berry. When ripe, the skin is peeled revealing two jelly covered seeds. From here, there are two common methods (and many specialty ones) for creating the roasted bean. In either case, that jelly part is dried and gets removed to reveal a green bean. The green bean is what is roasted as dark, medium, or light to be used for making coffee.
- 10 grams of coffee requires about 50 coffee beans, or 25 berries. Of those 25 berries, only about 85% are top quality. In other words, you have to pick 30 berries for one cup of coffee. And these berries are handpicked. Hope you appreciate your three cups a day.
- Mocha as we know it is coffee with chocolate syrup, but it’s actually originally a type of bean with cocoa flavoring.
- In summary, 100% Arabica labelling is not enough of a sign that it is top quality because that is a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly of coffee beans. Gotta be more specific.
- The response to ‘gracias’ here is usually not ‘de nada’, it’s ‘con gusto’ or ‘con mucho gusto’. Likewise, I rarely hear people say ‘hola’, it’s always ‘buenos’.
- Names in more remote and coastal towns in Colombia can be…unique. For example, people give foreign names like Usmail (U.S. Mail) or Usnavy (U.S. Navy) or Maxell (like the cassette brand). People see these sayings on things/clothing but don’t necessarily know the meaning and find them to be nice names. LOL.
- Lemme just mouthwater over plantains for a sec. Fried, mashed, in soup, sweet, salty, I love them all.
- I mentioned before that there’s a constant background of salsa music, but I wasn’t wrong! A local explained that Colombians are always blasting music whether they’re partying or working out or cleaning. I ain’t complainin’
- When sitting at a stop sign the other day, a man circled the car with a wooden stick and ‘inspected all the tires’. Our driver gave him money and explained that on the one hand, he may be encouraging begging, but on the other hand, he’s discouraging stealing. Interesting perspective.
- Colombia has a machismo culture. Google defines this as ‘strong or aggressive masculine pride’…yea, accurate. Most reggaeton songs have that theme, there’s just a confidence men walk around with here. Lots of honking and cat-calling too.
- We got an interesting lesson from our tour guide this weekend on the way to the Corcora Valley. He explained that a lot of Colombians struggle to have pride in the country. He said there’s a lot of shame in saying you are from Colombia because people assume danger or drugs. Even though Narcos was almost twenty years ago, the country still has a huge stigma. I hope that this will change as more people visit and see how amazing of a country it is.
THE EXCITING NEWS: I have officially been hired as a full-time remote employee with the company I’ve been contracted with this second half of the year!!
As previously mentioned, I work for a healthcare tech startup out of NYC. We have a specialized technology that streamlines the ordering of durable medical equipment (DME) from a hospital to a supplier, on behalf of a patient. In short, we help people get the devices they need faster and more accurately for coverage under insurance. My supervisor is travelling with me on Remote Year and we will now continue to work together past January.
I am very happy for many reasons, not the least of which is that I really enjoy the work! It is a great company and I get to use my logic, problem solving, and technical skills a lot in this ‘Clinical Intelligence Lead’ role. It has given me a peek into life as a programmer, and I don’t hate it! Wouldn’t be surprised if I continue in that direction this coming year. But of course, this also means I get to keep working and travelling! Likely spending a month stateside and then heading off to Lisbon and beyond!
This week’s activities:
Feeling a bit more alert, took off on Friday morning for the coffee region on an RY sponsored trip. Funny story about this is we flew out at 5am and I’d put ZERO thought into the trip. I went to the check-in counter and the lady asked ‘where are you going?’ and I literally replied ‘uhhh, I have no idea’. After fumbling and checking my boarding pass, I came up with the name of the airport we were standing in. She had to rattle off a list for me of possible destinations. This is the beauty of having everything planned for you….and just a reflection of how next level my life is these days….oy, lucky.
- Early flight to Pereira in a tiny propeller plane that had me asking ‘where’s the rest of it?’, followed by a two hour drive to Hacienda Venecia, a coffee farm in the state of Manizales.
- Worked from the coffee farm, in and out of a hammock overlooking a pool and the lush farm. The power and Wi-Fi went out for most of the day but thanks to mobile hotspotting and portable chargers, I was still able to work. #digitalnomadhacks
- Again, food all weekend was very good, spoiled with local cuisine
- Take off early for the Cocora Valley with the five other friends I was with and a great tour guide
- Stop in the town of Filandia, a traditional Colombian town with very few tourists. It was magical really to just get coffee like a local, walk around the weekend market, try various snacks and arepas from the vendors. Would highly recommend the visit.
- Two hour hike through the Cocora Valley, known for its tall ‘wax palm’ trees. These trees are the third highest in the world. Beautiful scenery. Just a tad touristy, would have like to hike deeper into the valley, but glad I got to see.
- Two hour drive back to the coffee farm after a delicious farm fresh meal near the valley
- Coffee farm tour where I learned about and tried the local coffee
- Delayed flight back to Medellin
- Chill night watching Elf with other Remotes, a classic.
Got (most) of my energy back and ready to ring in Christmas in Colombia this week! Planning for post Remote Year is also in full swing, relieved to know the job situation.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!