Oh Colombia, I just love you and your puentes. A Puente is a long weekend and it seems between official holidays and SENA cancellations just about every other weekend is a puente. This past weekend was Caroline’s birthday and of course, a puente so a huge group of us met up in Periera, a city in the Coffee Region for a weekend at a finca (vacation house in the country.)
The group started relatively small and ballooned to 35+ people in the end. FInding a finca big enough turned into quite the adventure. Caroline, Mudit and I with the enormous help of our Colombian friends Juan and Jorge finally found one! It was meant to be gorgeous and modern and have a huge pool. Is it available? Yes. Can we bring 35 people? Yes. A few hours later.. oh wait, it’s already booked but don’t worry you can stay at the sister finca and we’ll even give you a discount. Ok, sweet, we’ll take it!
Medellin was the first to arrive. The bus ride was far longer and more complicated then originally expected but we made it! When we straight to the grocery store and it’s time to divide an conquer. The boys were put in charge of beverages – liquor, beer, mixers and water – in that order. The girls took care of getting enough food to feed at least 15 of the 35 people arriving on Friday for both dinner and breakfast. Kinda sexist but necessary. Oh god.. now we have to check out, let the money collecting begin. We did! And it didn’t even cost quite as much as we thought. Now we have two full shopping carts and 3 people to shove into a taxi and find our finca with only very vague directions. Lets do this thang.
We arrive and our beautiful finca turns out to essentially be a private motel with zero view and a smallish swimming pool. Um.. not what we expected, kinda a bummer at first but whatever, just go with it. Ryan, Victoria and I start unpacking all the groceries. We get distracted and wander out by the pool for a few minutes. All of a sudden I hear SHIT! SHIT! One of the many cats on the property wandered in and started eating the raw meat. Ughhhh, gross. The cat is shooed away and we decided just to chop on the section that the cat got into. (Yay, hygiene!) Except it’s raw meat and it’s already gross and both Victoria and I don’t want to touch it. RYAN! Help! Like the gentlemen that he is Ryan takes care of it. Scoops of the part that has had cat near and it goes to fling it off the spoon into the yard. At this point I say, no, Ryan just throw it out! He doesn’t want to waste it. Big fling off the spoon and suddenly I hear… Oh SHIT! What now? Mmhmm, Ryan has flung the raw meat into the pool. He just keeps shrugging his shoulder and saying I didn’t mean to! I didn’t mean to! Ryan tried to reach the bottom of the pool to fish it out but even with his super long arms he is no where close. Victoria nicely offers to go in and get it. Upon sliding into the somewhat chilly pool she decides she doesn’t want to go underwater and instead tries to pick it up with her toes. Fail. The meat just starts to dissolve in the pool. At that very moment the rest of the Medelllin people arrive via bus and the three of us are dying laughing.
Good start, good start. Everyone is very surprised because the finca looks nothing like we expected. The finca in the photos is just up a small hill taunting us with its fanciness. There is a young groupskeeper/manager guy who we immediately started referring to as Alfred (the butler from Batman). Alfred informs us of all sorts of wonderful things like – no, there is not toilet paper, yes, there will be a quinceanera (girl’s 15 year birthday party) tomorrow in the “event room” aka big open air room about 100m away from our pool, no, there aren’t speakers for music and no, there are any more beds (only room for about 20 people.) Great. Listen, Alfred, this just ain’t gonna do. A#1 you have to fix the toilet paper situation. I don’t care if you have to walk into town or what but there are 8 bathroom and each one needs at least one roll of toilet paper. Speakers were promised so go break in to the big house and russle some up because we need music. No more beds, alright well we’ll deal with that later. Alfred was super nice and these things weren’t his fault specifically so I tried to be nice but firm. He came through-ish.
Time to start drinkin’! I started making dinner – pasta with meat sauce and that’s when I get my first good look at the kitchen. Alrightly.. we got three pans – a medium sauce pan, a very large pasta pan and an industrial sized pan that can only be referred to as a big ass witch’s cauldron. I get the pasta going and people are helping to chop things to put in the sauce. Pre-made sauce in Colombia is somewhere between tomato paste and ketchup. It is NASTY and needs a lot of doctoring. Elliot is chopping up a red pepper with the world’s dullest butter night and is using the cauldron lid as a cutting board. Ronan is peeling and chopping garlic. I’m browning the meat (in a saucepan) – things are going well. Whoops, the bowl of chopped pepper is dropped. The bowl shatters – peppers fly everywhere. No problem! 5 second rule! Scoop those peppers right up! Ronan goes to put the garlic in the sauce but I realize at the last second that its neither peeled nor chopped, it was just broken off of the garlic blub. Ok, a few more instructions maybe!
The meal turned out great, everyone is happy and fed and drunk. Alfred eventually brought us a few more rolls of toilet paper and he did find some decent speakers for us. The rest of the Friday night crew arrived and all had a blast. We snuck up to the fancy finca and swam in their pool, played a bunch of random games and dragged a giant trampoline to the pool area that was clearly intended for children but we spent the night jumping on and somehow not breaking. It was a good night.
The next morning we all sat around the pool hungover. A few of us tried to take showers or tidy up but then we realized the finca had no water. Alfred! He didn’t seem to concerned. On top of not having water the kitchen also lacked was any sort of dish soap or sponge which meant we had nothing to cook breakfast in or eat off of. I rinsed out the medium sized saucepan which had been used the night before for mojitos with some of the drinking water and used that to toast two loaves of bread (one piece at a time, talk about boring) and make 36 scrambled eggs at once. I had no potholder so went to the nearest bedroom and took a pillowcase right off a pillow. Through some sort of divine intervention it never caught fire even the flame of a gas burner even although there were several close calls. Basically we were camping a finca/no-tell-motel. Breakfast turned out great – white bread breakfast tacos for everyone! Everybody was was very appreciative of both breakfast and dinner the night before. What can I say… the O’Donnell need to both take control and feed people at it’s best.
More people arrived steadily throughout the day and night. More alcohol was drank. Caroline and I counted the money about a hundred times and referred to our spreadsheet to see if we had collected enough to send a group into town to purchase alcohol, toilet paper, garbage bags and dish soap. We did! Hooray. Go! Now! MUST. HAVE. MORE. ALCOHOL! They came back, drinks were drank, snacks were eaten, dips in the pool (which in addition to the raw meat now also had a huge dead spider on the bottom) were taken. Life was good.
Oh, god, we have to eat again. No way am I cooking or are other wonderful people cleaning the disaster of a kitchen again. We’ll just order pizzas. Pizza money is collected from 35 people – super fun. Everything becomes incredibly confusing but Jorge and I head into town to get the pizza. We had to make a last minute stop at the supermarket and then get the pizzas. Jorge’s dad had come to pick us up and taken us to run errands. While that was amazingly nice of him, the ride was a little crazy and I screamed more then once from the backseat while going over a huge bump. A big storm had come in and Periera flooded. The car turned into a boat. Roads were closed, alternative routes were taken. One ill timed puddle resulted in a tidal wave coming in through the front windows and nearly soaking me in the back seat. After that we closedthe windows and the car fogged up so bad that Jorge had to constantly wiped down the windshield from the inside which involved him climbing over his father as he was driving. A real father and son team. I put on my seatbelt and they laughed at me – haha you Ameicans love your seltbelts! Yes, please, this is terrifying.
We got many messages about people dying of huger at the finca so when we finally arrived it was met with HUGE cheers! We walked in just about the same time as the quinceañera arrived at her party in her ball gown with attendants but we definitely got a louder, drunker welcome! The pizza was attacked, Ronan was sure to hand deliver me a drink immediately and my responsibilities were over! The night was great but crazy. Kids from the quinceañera came over to swim in our pool and just generally run around. Then the police came because they were underage but very nicely just made the kids leave and had no problem with us. Caroline had brought face paint and glitter and Maggie became our artist in residence, getting everyone decked out. It was great, like adult summer camp and our evening program was cannonballs and an all camp dance.
There ended up not being near enough space so people slept in every nook and cranny available. Couch, love seat, lounge chairs, trampoline and a few extra people in each bed – we got cozy but it worked out. At least for me.. I think some people had a less then comfortable night.
The next day we surveyed the damage – not bad and we even had water! People cleaned up. We jumped in the pool to wash away our hangovers and it was time to get back on the road. The finca was super fun. We are planning to do it again but keeping it more local to Medellin and with less people!
** Credit goes to the wonderful and creative Caroline for the post title. Photo credit to Jorge, Marian and Maggie. Not a whole lot were taken!