While Mom and Nate continued onwards driving to Medellín, Amelia and I flew. We wanted a bit of rest and relaxation. After a several hour flight where we watched various TV shows and played video games on the computer screens in the back of the seats, we landed- and there was Abuelita, Abuelito, and the three Tíos waiting for us! We said our hellos to everyone and went to the restaurant we always go to when we arrived to Medellín, where they serve a variety of Colombian food. We talked about how everything was going for everyone, how the various family members were doing, and how the trip was going. After dinner, we left to Abuelita and Abuelito’s house, where we said hello to Yarnes.

Over the next few days, Amelia and I relaxed. We watched Netflix, talked with Rita, the house parrot, and went to the various tíos’ houses. It was very good to have fast and reliable Internet.

Rita, the house bird. Photo by Nate

Rita, a parrot recovered from injury and rehabilitated. Photo by Nate

That weekend, our cousins from La Ceja invited us to El Parque Norte, an amusement park in Medellín. In my personal opinion, they do the absolute minimum possible to keep the park safe and operational. I don’t like roller coasters, but this one (at a glance) doesn’t look that scary. Well, the horrible clacking and grinding combined with the small but fast drop made it scary. Besides that, the Jurassic Park Boat Ride, though with good animatronics, still had leftovers from the ride before, the Safari Boat Tour. Perhaps my favorite ride, probably the most dangerous, was the Go-Karts. Small, with very little chassis and a gas engine, they raced around on a track going at speeds of 15-30 miles an hour. It was excellent, with a long strip of track were you charge down 60 or so feet before swerving into a tight turn. It was very much worth it.

Paintball with the cousins! Photo: Tío Esteban?

Paintball with the cousins! Photo: Tío Esteban

After that, we went with the cousins to La Ceja, where a good chunk of our family resides. There, we said hello to the various dogs and Lola, the highly aggressive parrot that resides there. We hiked around the countryside, with dogs running underfoot at the worst possible moment, such as when you’re trying not to slip while climbing on wet rocks when next to a waterfall.

Back in Medellin, we were back to the same routine of sleeping in, watching Netflix, etc., with breaks where we went to the tíos’ houses. I also was invited to go look at my cousin Pablo’s brand new gaming computer, which was a marvel to behold. I shall not mention the specs here, but I now have a model for when I can afford one.

We were invited to the local channel, Telemedellin, where we were interviewed about the trip and checked out their studios. No news of our story yet. Photo: Tío Teban

We were invited to the local channel, Telemedellin. We checked out their studios and were interviewed about the trip and  No news of our story yet… Photo: Tío Teban

On weekend number two, there was to be a family reunion at Tío Mauri’s and Tía Mariza’s house. The same day, I was invited by my Tío Esteban to go play role-playing games with him and his friends. And that morning, Pablo invited me to go to his house. So my schedule was rather busy.

First, I played and watched video games, one very fun one which featured a monster hunter and many gory sword kills (beheadings, sliced in half or diagonally, arms and legs being cut off), as well as another video game which also featured gory deaths, but instead with guns and a three- bladed knife/buzz saw/grappling hook combo that was particularly useful at throwing people 30 feet and messily slicing heads off. Whatever the case was, both were fun to watch and play.

After several hours, I went to Tío Mauri’s  house. Upon arriving, we said hello to everyone and of course the dogs. There, we played walking tag, frisbee, and other games while eating snacks. As it began to get dark, my cousin and I had a sword fight, where we attempted to hit each other while blocking the other’s blows. The time came, however, when Tío Esteban and I left to go play role-playing games. It went from 8 to 11, and it was very good fun. I had played once before, also in Colombia, and really liked it, and this was no exception.

The following weekend, I got sick. We went to eat burgers, and I felt ok when I left. But on arrival, I felt awful. After a bit of throwing up, we went home. I was sick for a good part of the week. Also that week, Mom and Nate arrived! It was good to see them. We began to do homework, which we needed to do by a certain day. We also went to a thing called a ‘Novena’ that weekend, which is basically where the family gets together and sings prayers to Jesus Christ. It’s not my favorite due to its high repetitiveness, but besides that, the rest, such as seeing family, was fun.

Mom and Nate's arrival. Photo: Tía Tere

Mom and Nate’s arrival. Photo: Tía Tere

Also that weekend, we went for round two of the role-playing game and ate pizza. Tio Esteban invited me to a third session, this one called Shadowrun. I needed to make a character, and spent the next week doing so. However, I was doing normal homework as well as procrastinating a bit, and didn’t complete it, so I finished it at the house. We played for several hours, and then went to watch none other than the new Star Wars movie! In my opinion, it was pretty good. It followed the plot of A New Hope a bit much; in fact, I would say it was almost the same movie, but with different characters and a slightly different plot.

The next day, we drove to La Ceja, as it was Christmas Eve! Unlike in the U.S, we did presents that night. It was a madhouse, but in a good way; all the cousins and uncles threw crumpled wrapping paper, while the aunts all tried to stop it relatively unsuccessfully. Everyone talked loudly, trying to talk over everyone else, making it even louder. Two different Santas were there, one giving out presents, and the other one yelling, ‘HO, HO, HO’ at random times. It was very fun, and we finally went to bed at 3:00 in the morning. It was also Steam Winter Sales, and of course I purchased all sorts of games.

I woke up and went up to my cousin Vero’s house, where Nico, my third cousin, had received a bow and arrow set. My uncles Esteban and Santi, Nico, and I all had a competition with it for several hours. But after a bit I went back down to the main house and helped make a fire.

Since everyone was on break now, we decided to go to Tio Carlos’ property, a piece of land that he’d bought with his cousin Mauro. It took an extremely long time to get there; the line for the cable car was SHOCKINGLY long. But once we got there, we had a very nice afternoon.

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Medellin from Parque Circunvalar. Photo: Nate

New Year’s Eve came along, and it was like the craziness of Christmas, but slightly more contained, as there were less people. One of the traditions is to burn a small doll in the fire, an ugly one for the last year. We burned two. An ugly one burned very well, but a nicer one was made of mostly synthetic fibers, and therefore required quite a bit of mezcal to burn it.

The next day, it was time to go. We got in the car, said our sad goodbyes, and left to Medellin; only for the turbo to stop working. Long story short, the turbo was fine, but we had to change some filters, and were forced to leave the third. Regardless, it was goodbye family, goodbye Medellin, and thank you!

Since we’d left Medellin a bit late, we had to rush to the town of Pasto, because the two most important days of the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros were on January 5 and 6. After two ten-hour days of driving and a flat tire, we arrived and met up with Tío Esteban, Sara, and her family.

Before the Carnival.  Photo by Nate

BEFORE the Carnival. Photo by Nate

On the way to Plaza Nariño, we bought goggles as the majority of everyone was either shooting foam from canisters or throwing flour. Amelia and I decided it was time to join the battle. Newly armed with cans of foam, we sprayed everyone carrying a canister, and they sprayed us back. It was a lot of fun.

Corn starch fight at the day of the Blacks. Photo by Nate

Corn starch fight at the day of the Blacks. Photo by Nate

Amelia behind layers of foam. Photo: Nate

Amelia behind layers of foam. Photo: Nate

Benjamin covered in paint and foam. Photo: Nate

Benjamin covered in paint and foam. Photo: Nate

After. Photo by ?

AFTER the Carnival. Photo by ?

Carnival de los Negros y Blancos. Parade Day.  Photo by Amelia

Carnaval de Negros y Blancos. Parade Day. Photo by Amelia

From Pasto, we went to Laguna de La Cocha and then to Laguna Verde, where we camped with Tío Esteban and Sara. We hiked up for three hours to the Laguna the following day. Since it was a volcanic lake, it absolutely reeked of sulfur.

Fishing at Laguna de la Cocha. Photo by V.

Fishing at Laguna de la Cocha. Photo by V.

Sulfuric smelling Laguna Verde in the Volcan Azufral. Photo by Nate

Sulfuric smelling Laguna Verde in the Volcan Azufral. Photo by Nate

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to Colombia. We stayed one more night in Ipiales, a border city, and the next day it was goodbye to Tío Esteban and Sara, as well as Colombia!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Wayne

    Nicely done Benjamin! What a blessing to have such wonderful extended family. Good times. Good memories. You and Amelia are fortunate indeed!

  • Nancy

    Sounds like so much FUN!! And to be with so much family in one place is so very special!!

    Safe travels!

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