Playing catch-up: Columbia

Howdy folks! This is coming to you from a motel in Missouri, where I am waiting for the rain to blow over so I can hit the road on my motorcycle. But more if that soon…

I have seen and done an awful lot since my last post, some of which is starting to blur into a homogenous mass of “fun memories”, so I shall commit them to the virtual page so that they not be lost in perpetuity.

Where was I last? Oh yes! Lima. Whilst it had not been part of my original itinerary, I had a week before I needed to be in New York so I decided upon a visit to Columbia. An airline deal meant that tickets to Medellín were considerably cheaper than the more touristic destinations of Cartagena and the capital, Bogotá. Home of the infamous Pablo Escobar, Medellín had the dubious honour, in the 90s, of being the world’s most murderous city. Homicide rates have dropped 92.5% since then, but the history remains.

Cityscape of Medellín
On arrival, I ordered an Uber and the garrulous Huber (yes, Huber the Uber!) arrived to collect me. I began to suspect, as he drove, that the legacy of cocaine in the city might not be entirely dead. He was talking at the same speed as he was driving: 100mph. He was also doing that disconcerting 1950s movie thing of looking at me instead of the road while he jabbered. He told me he had not yet been to sleep. It was 8am.

I arrived, a nervous wreck, at my hotel in El Poblado – an upmarket district popular with tourists and with the city’s upper echelons of society. Kolor Hotel Boutique is a delightful place where the rooms are all colour-coded (I was in Azul) and, in the foyer, interesting ornaments adorned the walls

Interesting décor at the hotel
I had asked Columbian friends for tips on what to do in Medellín and there was a consensus that visiting La Piedra de Peñol (a large rock in the countryside nearby) was well worth it so, having acclimated, the following morning I joined a tour.

A monolithic church hewn from the rock
The news that we would have to scale 720 steps for a view from the top of said rock was unpleasant. I hoped the view was worth the pain.

“Erm….I don’t suppose you have a lift?”

Having seen the labyrinth of waterways from above, we then took a brief boat trip to see them at ground (or water) level. As we chugged along an unfeasibly green channel, our guide pointed out Escobar’s erstwhile hacienda and the tunnels used for escape in times of necessity.

“Please don’t drop my phone!”
The tunnel entrance is just about visible
The tour was completed with a trip to a nearby town known for it’s colourful murals.

Straight out of a fairy tale
One of the murals for which the town is famous
A fish swimming in colour

I spent the rest of my week in Medellín less in pursuit of touristy photo opportunities and more in the enjoyment the culture, the great food and the friendly people.

Traditional paisa (from Medellín) food
A beautiful, outdoor bar in El Poblado

My time in Medellín drew to a close, my Uber ride back to the airport was less eventful, I flew back to Lima, spent an evening there with my friends, Sally and Corin, and then boarded a flight to New York.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hasnaa says:

    Amazing pictures, thank you John for sharing. My favorite is the stairs in the mountain. Magnifique!


    1. seen2screen says:

      Thanks, ma petite! Comment vas-tu? Ça fait des années qu’on ne s’est guère parlé.


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