Guatapé is such a pretty town and I took so many photos I had to do a separate photo post. It’s not called Colombia’s most colorful town for nothing!
The decorations on all the buildings are called zocalos, and as I mentioned, every building has different ones. Some are very specific to the business inside, and some? We don’t know, but it was really fun wandering around looking at them. Another reason to visit Guatapé!
Our first day in Medellin and we saw a lot! This morning we did a self-guided tour of Medellin’s fancy metro system, including the cable cars (more cable cars!)
Things I have heard about Medellin from Colombians: It’s the best climate; the people are very impressed with themselves; they love their subway; they like plastic surgery. Things I’ve noticed: the climate is pretty good!; the people are very nice (like everyone across the country); their subway is very nice and clean!; I have not noticed plastic surgery. It’s certainly not like Beverly Hills where you can’t avoid it.
We knew we needed the exercise, and our host Robin was willing to take us up the nearby mountain for some outdoor entertainment and views of Bogotá. We got up early this morning and left at 6:30am for a long hike up a very high hill.
We walked from Robin’s apartment to the mountain and then up and back, so all in all it took about 3 hours from start to finish.
We left so early because this land is privately owned and only open to the public until 10am. It’s a beautiful spot along a river with eucalyptus and pine trees so it also smelled great too!
Robin told us the mountain doesn’t have a name, but the river site is called Quebrada La Vieja. I’ve also seen some tours online call it Chapinero Mountain, but there really is not much info about it online. It’s a “secret” locals hike, which in parts felt like it was alone to us. It was also steps from city streets but looked, sounded and felt very remote at times.
The guidebooks call it “The Old City,” or “The Walled City,” and the locals merely call it “El Centro” but either way they’re talking about a beautiful place to visit.
Cartagena’s tourist area is a beautiful mess of narrow streets filled with colorful buildings, art, crafts and people. The old city is surrounded by an old stone wall, which makes for a great walk overlooking the sea at dusk when the blazing sun isn’t burning you to a crisp.
Horse drawn carriages mix with taxis in the roads, and tourists work around vendors on the sidewalks. Stroll around and see old churches, modern art sculptures, craft stalls and lovely plazas.
My last few days of volunteering have definitely not been boring! The kids don’t even know it’s my last week, but they are still making life fun!
Things that have happened this week:
A little girl threw up all over herself and the little boy sitting next to her – fortunately they were outside. They do have a shower here to wash them when these things happen! I didn’t know! The little boy was sitting there with puke on him for a few minutes when I finally took him and washed it off his legs. No one noticed lol. The little girl was still seated for lunch. She didn’t eat.
A little boy peed himself and continued to sit in it looking at himself until someone noticed and took him to the shower. He did the same thing the next day only he was standing outside. Just stood looking at the wet ground until someone took him away. He did it again today. Is this a hat trick?
A little girl tried to bite me.
Massive food fights in the cafeteria (I cheated though because that happens every day)
UPDATE: MORE PHOTOS ADDED AS OF AUGUST 15 early AM
I did so much on my 5 hour self-guided tour of Cali, that I didn’t get to include the street art I saw in my previous post.
I didn’t know very much about the street art in Cali until I walked around and saw it for myself. I now know, from this article, that it’s a growing movement here. I am a big fan of street art in general and am fortunate to live in a great neighborhood for it in Toronto (plug for my other blog!), so it was fun to take some photos of the work here.
So I have mentioned that for almost 4 weeks I am staying with a Colombian family in Cartagena. They live in an apartment in a middle class barrio called Campestre. I stayed with them for 2 nights in their old place, but they have since moved to a bigger and better place a few blocks away.
This is by no means the lap of luxury. Part of my plan in coming here to volunteer was immersion, and living with a family was better for that than living with other foreigners or by myself. This is a simple home with enough amenities but not everything we are accustomed to having. I realize everyday here how spoiled we are and how little we actually do need to get by. I am not saying I am thriving in this environment! I have some internal struggles being the spoiled brat I am. But it’s going OK so far, and the people are so great it helps a lot! Still, there have been a few times I’ve dreamed of checking in to a hotel for a night – with AC of course, including a search I did on hotwire a few hours ago!