July 24 – 25
On the 24th we got going early to head out of town to Guatapé. It’s a small town on a big lake that was created by the daming of a river. It’s a favorite spot for locals to escape the hustle of the city. We were going mainly to climb to the top of La Piedra- the rock. It’s this rock formation near Guatapé that has great views if the lake and surrounding hills. Only catch is…. it’s 750 steps straight up to the top 😳. As you may have guessed, I was not thrilled about this idea.
We took a bus out there and chatted with a family from Florida on the way. By the time we got there and made the trek up to the ticket booth, my tummy wasn’t feeling great and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. But whatever it was subsided and we paid $6 each to go up. I was a hot n sweaty mess by the time we got to the top, but we made it and the view was pretty great. So was the breeze!
After we got back down we hopped on a bus to the actual town, got some lunch and wandered around a bit before heading back to Medellín. Guatapé is a cute little place and all the houses are vibrantly painted. There are lots of coffee and pastry shops and places to eat. Very quaint, but definitely touristy. I liked it better than the big city, but I still wasn’t feeling well so we didn’t quite get the full experience.
On the 25th we paid to do a guided tour of Comuna 13. It used to be the most dangerous neighborhood in like all of South America, but the government has put a lot of money into programs to help it become much better. And the residents there are helping too. The tour was mainly focused on the graffiti art/artists in the neighborhood who are working hard to beautify it and make it a safe and welcoming place. Our guide took us on the metro to one of the other cable cars over the city. Then we went on foot through Comuna 13. Medellín is in a valley so all the communities are up in the hills and if you don’t have a car or a motor bike, it takes a lot of effort to get up and down the miles of stairs. So, the government installed escalators to help people move through the community. At a few of the landings there are English language learning centers and people can get job placement help. Pretty innovative stuff. The graffiti was awesome and we also samples a bunch of food and drinks which was my favorite part. The tour was great and gave us a new perspective on the city and Colombia.
Upon arriving back in town we packed up, showered and prepared for our final overnight bus to Cartagena. Ugh. We had to take the metro during rush hour, which was a straight up nightmare and we barely fit with our big bags. Then, the bus tickets were several times more than Ethan was expecting so that was a huge frustration. Luckily they took credit cards. THEN, the bus ended up taking 15 hours instead of the 12 we were expecting. It was so miserable and so uncomfortable.
We made it all in one piece though. More on our time in Cartagena later!