Caucasia to Medellin

Trip Start Jul 01, 2011
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103
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Trip End Jul 21, 2012


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Where I stayed
Blux Apartments (www.theapartmentmedellin.com)

Flag of Colombia  ,
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today's journey takes us from the town of Caucasia to our destination: Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia. Until now we've been more or less at sea level but Medellín is at almost 5,000ft elevation so today we're going to be climbing!

Before leaving Caucasia we need to find an ATM because almost the entire road is subject to tolls. The first ATM we find doesn't let me take any cash - this is the third time it happens with a Bancolombia so I suspect that there's something wrong between this bank and mine. In the meantime we're stuck without any idea where to find another ATM. The Bancolombia is located next to the local branch of Department of Justice (Caucasia appears to be a regional capital) and two soldiers are discussing next to an army truck. I ask one of them for directions and before we know it the other soldier tells me to follow him: he'll lead us to the nearest bank and the road to Medellín. The generosity and helpfulness of Colombians never ceases to amaze me! A few minutes later I'm taking cash at the BBVA located right next to a big sign that indicates the road to Medellín.

The change in landscapes is quite dramatic: during this 6 hour-drive we go from hot and relatively dry plains to amazon-like jungles near huge roaring rivers, then uphill to green mountains and canyons sparkled with farms and villages. The road is narrow, curvy and steep. There are plenty of trucks carrying all sorts of agricultural and industrial goods to Medellín, so we often find ourselves following a line of vehicles driving at snail pace. Cars, trucks and buses alike seem to have no issue overtaking with little to no visibility, and I catch myself clenching my teeth several times witnessing reckless maneuvers.
  
 
After following other cars in overtaking super-slow trucks (in a pretty safe manner, there was plenty of visibility) we get pulled over by cops. Ooops. Although the maneuver was totally safe, this was a double-yellow-line zone... like the entire road it seems. The policeman tells me it's forbidden to overtake. I honestly tell him that I just followed the two other cars who did it before me. He replies "I know" and asks where we are from. Upon hearing that we are both from the US, he wishes us a good trip and lets us go. I love Colombia, and it seems to love me back!

  
 
We cross entire villages dedicating themselves to washing trucks. They have pressure water hoses (natural ones, hooked up to waterfalls) and ramps to elevate the vehicles so they can wash underneath. Truckers stop when they want their ride to be thoroughly cleaned. Our chassis does need a good cleaning to remove all the dirt and mud collected in Costa Rica but we prefer to keep going: we don't know yet how long it will take us to arrive in Medellín and find our lair in this enormous city.

   
 
As usual entering Latin American cities, signs are scarce and extremely confusing if you don't know the place. Soon we find ourselves stopped on the side of a big avenue, asking a taxi driver if he can lead the way. The guy won't do it because our address is in a vey busy part of town (Poblado) and he doesn't want to get stuck in traffic there during rush hour. The man does want to help us so he gives me instructions on how to get to the Poblado neighborhood. After another 30 minutes and two more stops to ask for directions, we find the rental office. The staff gives us a detailed map and instructions to get to our apartment.

After a round of grocery shopping at the nearby supermarket, we sip wine and enjoy Mai's delicious home cooking while filling our eyes with the amazing sight of the city lights from our apartment on the hillside. Life is good.
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