A Retiree’s Morning in Medellin

I wondered what retirement would be like especially after my savings and my home in California got leveled in the 2008 Depression.  It didn’t look good.  It would have been a serious drop in my standard of living.  Health care, car costs, utility bills, rent, were eating up what I got from my teacher pension and small Social Security payments.

I was thinking about this today as I walked my favorite route to Belen Park in Medellin.  I had found a way in the neighborhood of Belen Rosales, Bethlehem of the Roses, to pass through six landscaped, pocket parks surrounding my home.  Belen Rosales is not considered posh, mainly level four out of six such in Medellin, but it is lovely IMHO and extremely walk-able.  The rents are low , extremely low  by US standards.  So we, my new family and I, make it easily.

Here I live with my Colombian wife, Beatriz, and her daughter, our daughter, 10 year old Andrea.

After our usual breakfast, typically a corn arepa flapjack with butter and a slice of local white cheese, cafe con leche and perhaps a local peach or pear, I took off for my walk.  It was a little warm today, 78 degrees with a slight breeze.  Today was one of the warm spring days as opposed to a cool spring day.  Every day in Medellin is one or the other all year long.

On my walk I was greeted by neighbors and tradespeople and shopkeepers with “Buenos Dias, Caballero! “ Smiles and hellos are a habit here.  Since my Spanish is a work in progress I smile a lot too!

Midway I found a little bodega selling Aguardiente to the locals… a morning anisette like in France.  I had A Coca-Cola Zero and continued on to the park.  

I was watching the older gentlemen playing dominos and some strange form of Gin Rummy, when  I noticed a group of shoeshine stands.  I indulged myself for a hand shoeshine for COP$2000, that’s eighty-seven cents, tipping an extra thousand. The older gentleman was smiling a great smile of “Gracias, Senor!  Hasta Luego!”  See you next time, and Thanks!

Well the walk back along coffee shop and restaurant-lined Av. Bolivariana,was fun with spiffy shoes.  The subtropical trees especially the gigantic Chucha, create a green tunnel on the Avenue's way to the local Catholic University, UPB, where I get free Spanish brush ups.

This afternoon Beatriz and I are planning on going to an artesanal fair, part of the Annual Feria de los Flores, at the los Molinas Mall near to Parque Belen.  Tonight a concert of Las Trovas, itinerant troubadours on guitars as we saw in Spain.  It’s a contest, a gentle Battle of the Bands in many ways.  

Maybe it was a good thing to have gone bust in the States.  Life is good!

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