Come for the arepas, stay for the puppies

By Colin McFadden
This post is part of a series called Colombia 2017
Show More Posts

There comes a point in every trip where you need to just flop around for a while in the morning.  Today was that day. Our apartment came stocked with some bread and eggs, so we made first breakfast around 8, brewed a second Moka pot of coffee, and enjoyed the view.  Around nine, we finally rolled out the door, and down the hill to the metro station.

Medellín’s metro system is credited as an important part of the turnaround of the city, post-Escobar.  It’s fast, efficient, and cheap.  We took it a few stops north to the Minorista market.  Getting there involves a walk through some rough-and-tumble neighborhoods, made up of lots of small industrial shops. Folks retreading tires, cutting sheet steel, and otherwise engaged in loud, dirty jobs.  It’s a neighborhood that you might not want to be in late at night, but it’s a lot closer to “normal” Medellín than the ritzy area we’re in.  It’s exactly where you’d expect to find the massive Minorista market.

We spent an hour wandering the market and still only saw a fraction of it.  It’s not even clear how many floors it has – 2? 3?  It’s obviously grown very organically over time.  Eventually, we stopped at a small food stall and got some arepas with eggs and salsa, along with chocolate and some fresh juice.  It was a good chance to sit and watch the market scene.  Later, we found the “pet store” section of the market – cats and dogs and bunnies, but also things like peacocks.

Leaving the market, we walked north to the Parque Explora, Medellín’s science museum and exploratorium.  It’s an incredibly impressive place, with really well designed exhibits indoors and out.  Outside, you can experiment with lots of physics principles.  Helpful attendants explain things if you’re confused, and keep everyone safe.

The museum is split across three buildings, and four floors.  There’s a very impressive aquarium, with both fresh water and salt water fish.  There’s also a herpetarium and arthropod… tarium.  From there, you move on to large exhibits on how the brain works, the principles of light, and lots of other great science.  We ended up spending a few hours exploring.

By now, it was mid-afternoon and we were ready for some lunch.  We finally had a chance to try “loaded” arepas – arepas filled with meat and veg and mystery sauces.  They defeated us, but in a delicious way.  We rewarded ourselves with ice cream.

Needing some more walking, we went up the street to the botanical garden.  It’s another impressive space – free to the public, with trails and benches and plenty of space to just hang out.  We spent time in the butterfly enclosure, and got to chat with one of the employees responsible for raising the butterflies.  The whole place was awash with energetic school kids, which added to the fun.

Leaving the botanical gardens, we hopped the metro back to El Pobaldo and camped out in a coffee shop for a while to catch up on work.  Then it was on to dinner at Mondongos, a restaurant that specializes in (big surprise!) Mondongo, a local tripe soup.  It was a ton of food, and we were defeated once again.  Damn you Colombia!

It was another day of perfect weather, and we enjoyed the cool evening air as we wandered back to our apartment.  The neighborhood is full of gardens and streams and interesting plants.  The only thing it doesn’t have enough of is doggos.  But now we know where to get some…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *