Weeks 10 & 11: When Friends Become Family

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

C.S. Lewis

It’s hard to believe that a mere three months ago, all the people I now spend 100% of my time with were complete strangers. There have been countless times, most especially over the last few weeks, where I have looked around and wondered how it’s possible to feel so close to people I’ve only just met. I want it to be recorded that the last couple of weeks are when I truly began to feel like the people I have met are going to be in my life for the long-haul (sorry guys, you don’t have a choice…).

A perfect example: six women on my trip have started a “goals group” where we each set monthly goals, we meet once a week, and we discuss ways to support each other in reaching those goals. At least for me, some of my goals are very personal and difficult. I’ve shared so much with these women already in the course of achieving these goals. The support I have received has been incredible. I have pretty much never been in a situation in my life where I am in a group of women and there is not a hint of competition or malice in the dynamic. It’s sad, but it’s true. Every woman on this trip wants to see the others succeed, thrive, and find happiness. Truly. I constantly have to pinch myself. There are 17 women on this trip and we all find ways to support one another without pretense. It is really refreshing. And shocking, in the best way possible.

On another personal note, I’ve noticed I have found it really difficult to cry here. It’s very strange. I actually can’t remember the last time I truly cry-cried. Like heaving sobs, blubbering, not making sense cried. I feel like I’m due for one since it’s been so long. I’ve teared up a couple of times, but it’s strange that things that normally make me super emotional haven’t been. I’m not sure if this means I am growing stronger or I am becoming increasingly distanced from my emotions (scary!). I’ve always prided myself on being in tune with what’s going on inside, but I’m feeling weirdly numb, but not necessarily in a bad way at the moment. All thoughts are welcome.

Enough deep stuff, on to fun activities! One of our activities last week was called “Intuitive Cuisine.” We were invited to this lovely couple’s home and they prepared a bunch of different mostly-plant-based dishes using traditional ingredients from the Amazon. Their goal is to teach native Colombians about their own food heritage and to empower children to feel comfortable preparing their ingredients in healthy meals. It was très cool. I learned so many new things. Like did you know Colombia has some very similar health problems in terms of obesity to the United States? Or did you know that the cinnamon we’ve all been consuming our whole lives (called cassia cinnamon) is not true cinnamon? The real, anti-inflammatory cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon) is much less widely-used and the stuff we buy at the store can actually be bad for us because of the coumarin content. Check it out. Mind blown. Enjoy some pics of the awesome food we got to eat below and at the Instagram link above!

On Friday, we rented a Chiva bus for Harry and Sarah’s birthdays. This is basically a party bus that drives you all over Medellin and brings you to different lookout points. Enjoy the pictures (that I can post publicly) below.

On Saturday, we did our tracks event to Guatapé, which is a beautiful town in the countryside. First we went to a group of man-made lakes and swam. Several people in our group jumped off a bridge (!) into the water. I opted not to do this and am glad I did because a couple people who did it got really hurt! Plus, I have already completed my goal this month of doing one thing I fear, which was riding helmet-less on the back of a motorcycle. So I’m good. We then went to El Peñon de Guatapé, which is a massive rock that requires 720 steps to climb to the top. It was actually a shockingly grueling climb for me, but the views at the top were well worth it. We then visited the town itself, which was adorable, and where I saw quite possibly the most stunning rainbow I’ve ever seen in my life. The pictures won’t do it justice. It was massive, and you could fully see both ends and all of the colors perfectly. It seriously looked like a cartoon. So breathtaking. We then went to our guide’s home where he prepared us one of the best meals I’ve ever had. (Seems to be a theme on this trip).

On Sunday, I did a coffee farm tour (this was the other track event). Even though I gave up drinking coffee five years ago (help!), it was incredible to see the intensely laborious process that goes into making one cup of coffee. Our guide was a seventh-generation owner of the coffee hacienda and the building itself was over 100 years old and perfectly preserved. They fed us an awesome lunch and did a coffee tasting with us. We did a blind taste test and, interestingly, a few people who are regular coffee drinkers blindly chose the more processed/instant coffee at first, but later on chose the natural, Colombian-brewed coffee. We then got to go to the farm itself, pick some berries (had no idea coffee came from an actual fruit?), and look at the various types of processes. Did you know there are all different varieties of coffee where they dry out the fruit with the skin still on? Or with the pulp around the bean still on to make a sweeter flavor? I sure didn’t. Did you also know there are two types of coffee species and in Colombia they are only legally allowed to export one (Arabica)? But most of us in the US drink the main one (Robusta)? So Colombia is famous for a coffee variety most of us don’t even drink in our daily Starbucks? Also, Colombia sadly exports most of its good stuff abroad so what’s left for the Colombians is the more damaged/not as good coffee. But, our guide says this is changing with the younger generation as they want to reclaim their coffee. We also got to play with some cute dogs!

Monday night, we went to a fun rooftop bar to celebrate Lindsey’s birthday. It had great views of Medellin! Then during the week, we did an exotic fruit tasting, which was awesome. There are so many incredible fruits here, I’m going to miss all of them. I am also now never eating fruits again without dousing them in lime and salt (who knew everything tasted better this way???)

This weekend, I took some much needed me-time and relaxed. I also applied to a bunch of jobs to do while remote and spent some good time brainstorming business ideas. All-in-all a great weekend (except for the fact that Game of Thrones is now over, RIP).

We are now in our last week in Colombia, which is wild to me, this month has absolutely FLOWN. I have really loved Medellin and am truly going to miss it. I definitely want to return to this country. My friend from Gibson Dunn, Mel, will be visiting this week! I can’t wait to have my first visitor and to have someone from my old life meeting all of my new tramily :-). (Also, hint hint: more visitors, please!).

Ciao, bellas. -ATZ

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