Redeye to Medellin

Trip Start Sep 15, 2008
1
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Trip End Jan 01, 2009


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Flag of Colombia  ,
Friday, September 26, 2008

After eating some street Perros Caliente (literally hot dogs) from a street vendor our friend Tanya got really sick.  We decided to skip the jeep, bus, boat trip and head straight south to Medellin, the City of Eternal Springs.

The trip to Medellin was our first of many overnight buses.  We´ve found a great bus company, Brasilia Expresso, that has  clean modern buses with seats that recline to almost laying down.  The strange part is that the drivers crank the AC until the bus reaches almost sub zero temperatures.  An Israeli couple we went to the Mud Volcano with   were also on the bus and managed to convince the driver to show one movie in English since there were only backpackers on the bus, a nice break from dubbed Steven Segal movies.  The trip to Medellin consists of a steady climb into the Andes, before dropping into a valley where the city of Medellin is.  We hit the summit at sunrise and it was beautiful.

After dropping our bags off at the hostel we headed out on the town.  Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia.  Hometown of world famous Fernando Botero who paints portraits and various scenes were everything looks fat.  Some say he is the most important artist alive today.  Medellin is also the former centre of the world drug trade when Pablo Escobar and his cartel sold upwards of $30 billion of the white stuff per year.  The history of Pablo is pretty interesting.  When operating his drug business he was ruthless, responsible for the killing of over 4000 people including dozens of judges, hundreds of police officers, and anyone else who got in his way.  For the rest of his story check out his wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Escobar

There is a skytrain like Metro system in Medellin and at one end there is a cable car that climbs the mountain for a nice view of the valley.  The cable car was added to the Metro line to connect the poorer neighborhoods (barrios) that have been built into the steep mountain side with the rest of the city.  At the top of the cable car we toured the barrios and had a good following of local kids either singing or asking us questions about where we are from or what we are doing.

Our hostel, Casa Kiwi, has a great atmosphere, pool table, theatre room, free wifi and patio.  It is also in one of the nicer areas of town, the Zona Rosa.  The area is like Colombias yaletown with modern open patio bars, restaurants and lots of well dressed people.  In fact it is such a nice place most people in our hostel have been trapped their for weeks.  We also heard that there is a lot of silicone in Medellin and its true.  Talking with some locals they said it´s common for a girl as young as 15 to get a new set as a gift from her parents.

Our first night in town we went to a soccer game with some people from our hostel to experience the Colombian futbol passion.  The stadium wasn´t completely full but the hometown fans were going crazy the entire game.  Even our German friend was amazed at the energy.  After the game we stopped by the Zona Rosa to rub shoulders with the locals.

Our second day in town we decided to get high...not that kind of high... Charis went para-gliding with Tanya and Arik took a trip to Climb El Penol (the Stone).

Charis:  The guy who runs it was trained in London and he picked us up and drove us for about an hour up hill. We got to the top of a mountain sitting at about 2500 meters and waited for the clouds to lift so we could have a better view. After hanging out for about an hour they said it was time to go. So we got all our gear on and off we went. They strap you in and they tell you to run as fast as you can towards the cliff and by the time you reach the cliff you are flying in the air. Charis went up to about 3500 meters right away and it was an amazing view, where Tanya´s guide missed the air pocket and they were almost in town. We soared around the sky for about an hour, it was a great feeling and strange flying up past the birds and the clouds. After about 35 minutes of going up and up we decided to pull the shoot and fly down towards land - it felt like the craziest roller coaster I´ve ever been on.  Then we would make our way back up before coming in to land. We were lucky that we went on a week day because usually they cap the rides at 20 minutes and we were up for over an hour. Once we were on land we were quite shaky from going to different altitudes so quickly but it was a blast.

Arik: The bus ride to El Penol was the bumpiest ride of my life.  After 2.5 hours of jolting my kidneys while heading higher into the Andes I was dropped off at the base of El Penol, a 700ft high monolith that rises from the ground to create a spectacular view of the surrounding area.  650 sketchy steps later the view from the top of this strange rock formation was amazing.  The surrounding area is a beautiful resort type area with a maze of lakes and bays.  After hanging out on top and running into our Israli friends from the mud I caught a cab back and was able to negotiate the same rate back as the bumby bus ride there.

That night we splurged on one of the fancy restaurants in the Zona Rosa and then headed to a Germanesque pub with Tanya, a couple from Portland, and an Australian guy.  The couple from Portland, who we met in Tayrona, is staying in town to take 2 weeks of spanish lessons.  We were a bit jealous as it would be a cool city to study in, but we are looking forward to our spanish lessons while canoeing through the Amazon basin of Ecuador.  Next stop of the night we met a Colombia who had lived in New York for 5 years.  He encouraged us to try some of the bars´ slushies.  The deadliest was called Nightmare in spanish.  Vodka, Tequilla, Zambucha, Whisky, Rum, and pretty much anything else they could find to put in it.  We made the wise choice to just have a sip and it was as bad as we imagined.  Our Colombia friend said it´s popular with local students.

We decided to head down to the Zona Cafeteria next, but before leaving we made a cultural stop at the Museo de Antioqia.  The main focus of the museum is the Botero exhibit with lots of fat pictures. 

Medellin is a really nice city and we´re sure we´ll return...
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Comments

cmarytracey
cmarytracey on

Packing lots in!
Wow! Sounds like you are sure packing a lot into your travels.
Weather has been great here!
Keep up the blogs!
Love Mom and Dad

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