Medellín, Colombia

April 14, 2019

Welcome to Medellín, Colombia

I'm back in Medellín, the words are flowing and there is so much to say here. But before that, I want to pull your gaze around this city. Let's look out the back door of my apartment. See what we see.

Green.   Green valley walls wrapping the city. The valley bends right going North, but from here in the city, you'll never see it. In every direction you look, up to the sky, walls of green. But look down. Green there, too. It's spring here. Always. From April to August, December to June, you'll see every manner of plant growing. Plenty of sun. Plenty of water. Rich soil. A plant's paradise.

Red.   Brick red. Bricks. Most of the buildings here are made from bricks, stacked onto concrete cores a dozen, two dozen stories high. It's a soft red, sometimes orange, sometimes peach, pressed against the green.

Gold.   Let the sun swing down (6pm every day, we're nearly on the equator), and you'll see those hillsides shift darker and darker green until they're almost black. Then they'll start to sparkle. Homes and streets and parks perched up the sides of the valley blink to life, tendrils reaching up the hillsides. A golden, glittering galaxy, glancing up at the stars.

Feel.   The air, cool against your skin at night, comfortable all day, the a hint of warmth in the afternoon sun. Not too dry, not too humid. A city where people could afford air conditioners and heaters, but where nobody has them. There is simply no need. The temperature is perfect. Every single day.

Sharp.   Flick a tap, fill a glass, and drink down some of the best water you've ever tasted. It hits your mouth crisp, sharp, bounding like a mountain stream. And that sharpness is everywhere. The crisp way the valley edges cut the sky. The edged acridity of diesel decaying to oxygen as it rises. A hint of metal that's just out of reach, just impossible to place - but everywhere.

Clean.   Maybe the secret here really is the water. The thunderstorms that meander in every afternoon, then wander off by sunset. The rivulets pouring into the hills on hills on hills that surround the city. But what all that clean means practically - is that the fruits and vegetables here are peerless. Everything tastes just picked. Fresh. How, somewhere in your bones, you knew it was supposed to taste. Maybe that's why the international food scene here has really only picked up with the tourists. For hundreds of years, good food has been more than good enough.

Real.   It's the way the sounds of kids playing mixes with birds and motorbikes and a violin and some reggaeton. The way things weather. Dull and then shine in the rain. The shaking through your chest as thunder cracks, ripples through you. The echoes as it cascades down the valley. The calm gravity of drops dripping, after the storm.

Song.   Every day, around 11 in the morning, a man pushing a fruit cart comes around my neighborhood. I hear him before I can see him - song echoing off the brick blocks away. "AguacateeeeeeeeEEEE. La Papaya La Piña La Mandarina. AguacateeeeeeEEEE". Every day, the same song. The first day, I wasn't sure what I was hearing. Now, it lights my heart.

Alive.   There's one more thing. Something harder to pin down into hard science. There's a heart here, beating. You can feel it in your footfalls. Pulse through you as you pass a disco club. You'll find it on bookshelves; in parks and markets and taxis. On rooftops and in deep-carved highways. Beat-beat. Beat-beat. Alive.

This is a special, special place - one of my very favorites in all the world. I'm so glad, so grateful to get to share it with you.

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week was a collection of articles and videos on an astounding discovery. A hundred years ago, Einstein predicted that black holes should exist - but we've never seen one.  Until now.  This week, after years of using a handful of giant telescopes to turn our entire planet into one big lens, we saw a black hole for the very first time. Here's the awesome official video on how we did it. And here's my favorite on the actual discovery. It's a cool time to be alive. Enjoy. :)

p.p.s. Just another reminder about that email system switch - now that I'm back to sending the letters, I don't want them to disappear for you! Keep an eye out, same time next week, and please check your spam folder and let me know if you don't see it. There will be a letter waiting. :)

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