The taxi driver brought by my colleague to pick me up from the airport is asleep in the passenger side of his teeny, trunk-less car; we knock on the window and he wobbles out, a small brown man in a rumpled polo. At least I know he won’t drive me into the middle of nowhere to be mugged. Instead I am involved in an exercise of “How to pass the car ahead of you when there is no space between them and the four other cars in front,” with everyone surprisingly civil about weaving across the double yellow line and cutting corners into the opposite lane on turns. The lights of Medellin sprawl across the valley as we descend.
The hotel receptionist smiles proudly at his English recitation of the breakfast hours; I’ll try to remember to ask him something every day, for practice. My room is the size of two, with floor-to-ceiling windows running the full length from living room/kitchenette to queen bed and bathroom. Arranged on the counter next to the microwave is a carefully curated basket of the usual chocolate bars, plus a can of Vienna sausages and “Today” brand condoms. Obviously the Holiday Inn knows how to throw a party.
Welcome to Colombia!