Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spice It Up

While visiting the local nursery in search of flowers and plants to brighten up the hostel, Miles and I built up a collection of our own. The first plant we bought was basil. This was very exciting because the basil from the store comes in a big bunch that you couldn’t possibly use all at once and goes bad absurdly quickly. I’d started to feel guilty every time I bought it, already knowing that so much would go to waste. The second trip brought home a rosemary plant, but the third purchase was far and away the most exciting.

We bought a chili plant! And . . . wait for it . . . they’re spicy!!! I flipped when I saw the plant but when Miles asked the lady about it she told us they were decorative chilis. Huh? Does such a thing exist? Then it came out that there was one customer who said she eats them. Good enough for us, we decided to take our chances. Not only are they edible, but they are the perfect spicy chili for the missing half of my Thai cooking repertoire. No surprise though that to a Colombian palate the spice content would classify the chilis as ‘decorative!’

The Friendly Paisa

A constant conversation among guests at the hostel is how nice Colombians and especially people in Medellín are. Travelers observe a distinct difference between Colombia and many of the other countries they’ve traveled through either on their way down or up. Aside from the fact that Colombians have generally not followed the common trend of taking advantage of foreigners, they also go out of their way to help you and ensure that you are having the best possible experience in their city. In Medellín I think that citizens are especially cognizant of their dark history and are eager to ensure that visitors are exposed to the new and improved version. This city has something to prove as it enters the global consciousness as a travel destination rather than the playground of Pablo Escobar.

My favourite friendly Paisa story is a time when Miles and I were searching the center without success for a table lamp. We asked in one store that didn’t have what we were looking for. Rather than sending us on our way, the woman came out from behind the counter and escorted us two blocks to another light shop that she thought might be able to help. Talk about going above and beyond! We hear similar stories from guests all the time and judging by this, I’d say locals are doing an excellent job of promoting their new image.