Fri, 5/2/2014 at 4:57 PM Colombia: The Arrival

It's been over a week since I first arrived in Medellin, Colombia and yet I still feel like I am processing the experience. When I was invited to Europe for a two week tour, I decided that I had tried waiting for trips to "come to me" so if I wanted to go I would have to be a little more pro-active. After Europe was planned I was invited to Colombia. I figured that if I was going to try to break out of my comfort zone doing so a few weeks earlier wouldn't make much of a difference. Looking back I can't say for sure that I would make the same decision if I knew then what I know now. What I can say for sure is that I am so glad that I went, and very thankful for the experience. 

Leaving on a 1:35 pm flight out of Newark set to arrive in Ft Lauderdale some high wind conditions caused a delay in our departure and subsequent arrival. Usually I make an effort to fly direct, even if it costs more to avoid any chance of missing a connecting flight and my reluctance was nearly justified. My plan from Newark was still taxiing into the terminal as boarding was scheduled to begin for my next flight. Fortunately I believe the pilot from my first flight also flew as the co-pilot for the second leg so boarding was slightly delayed until he could arrive. The first flight and most of the second seem little more than a blur of passing time. As it was my first time out of the country I was a little surprised when each passenger was handed a customs form. Of course I had nothing to declare, seeing as how I wasn't transporting any rolls of bills or other goods, but it was the first time that I had to fill out a form to that effect.

Arriving in Medellin (MDE) was a lot like arriving at any other airport at night. Looking back I guess I should have realized that the airport was pretty small, considering the size of the city, but almost every airport I have been in after dark has the default feel of midnight. That is to say that you're not necessarily spending a lot of time looking around or thinking overly hard. At that point you are thinking "ok, where's my luggage... oh, in my hand. Now how do I get out of this place?" The answer to that of course is to follow the signs and other passengers. I traveled light so I could skip the baggage claim and arrived to the customs line in time to realize that my passport wasn't where I thought I had stored it. Finally finding it after a frantic search of my backpack and stumbling through the customs process in some for of Spanglish it was time to make my way out of the airport. It was kind of an eerie experience. The space was clearly meant to handle large amounts of people but I passed through in a lull so I was the only one. A quick pat-down, handing over a form, and then walking up to one of the tallest doors I have seen. The door was pulled aside to let me pass and the difference between my own height and the size of the door amused me, until I saw the scene on the other side. It wasn't chaotic, it wasn't overly noisy. It was just solid people lined up behind the flimsy barriers that you see in government buildings everywhere. It's good that I stood out in the crowd as probably one of the tallest lightest skinned individuals there so I was easily spotted by the beautiful young woman I was visiting because this was about the time that I was starting to get overwhelmed. 


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