The Rear View Balcony

IMG_6057One of the big highlights of our room in Medellín, is the beautiful balcony that comes with it. I can not only enjoy my morning coffee on it or watch the stars at night, it also seems to be our VIP access to the street entertainment.

There is a daily routine of street vendors, garbage trucks and dog walkers going on right outside our balcony. It usually starts around 11 AM with the piercing voice of the mazamorra vendor: “Mazamorraaaaaa Pilaaaaaaa’aaa!” I am actually not quite sure if he really says “pilada”. I did look it up and found a Mazamorra company named Pillada in Medellín, so maybe he is really selling their brand. For those of you who have no idea what mazamorra is, it is a corn-milk drink, which is really one of the oddest combinations for a drink, but Colombians love it. It is definitely not the most soothing wake-up call, but at least I know, if I am still in bed as he passes our balcony, I have slept too long! Even though he is definitely the most memorable (and loudest) vendor, there are more. There is the avocado vendor who never says how much his avocados cost, there is also an older man who sells household items, such as washing machines, driers or microwaves. And there is also the vendor who sells toilet paper, and has clearly no problem to advertise his product using every trick in the marketing book, starting with the degree of softness to the level of endurance. Besides the vendors and the dog walkers, there is also the neighbor from the balcony across the street who keeps whistling at … well, at something or somebody, that’s for sure. He could be whistling at his dog, but my personal theory is that he has an affair with a lady on our side of the street and that the whistling is the secret signal to let her know, his wife has left the house.

Today there has been a new addition to this joyful cast. A parrot. He has been quite busy imitating a cell phone ring tone, communicating with the passing birds and asking pretty much anybody who crossed the street “¿Todo bien, o qué?” (Colombian for: How’s it going?). I am already imagining a scenario where the parrot whistles to the secret affair lady across the street, and her, not noticing that it isn’t her lover calling, storms over while the wife is still at home.

All this street activity also got me thinking: How long have these people been touring the streets in our neighborhood? Is this a business that gets passed on from father to son? How do they manage to shout all day long without damaging their vocal cords? Who owns the parrot? Should I tell the wife about the affair? And, most importantly, should I just go ahead an try this Mazamorra Pillada tomorrow?

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