It seems like I am setting a new record for getting pulled over here in Northern Colombia. Since leaving Cartagena I’m averaging 2 or 3 times per day getting stopped at police and army checkpoints. Most of them are pretty quick and friendly, just asking me where am I coming from, where am I going, check my papers then on my way again. In one small town two police officers on a motorcycle pull alongside and hit the siren. I think they’re just bored; after the usual questions we chat for awhile about how long I’ve been in Colombia, how do I like their country, how long have I been traveling.
I go to the giant rock of El Penol outside Guatape to climb the 675 steps to the top. It’s a sunny day and it gets pretty sweaty by the time I reach the top. Luckily there are several little cafes on top selling cold drinks and ice cream.
Quite a view out over the reservoir. It’s a very popular tourist area for people from Medellin, just a few weeks later there is a major disaster when a party boat loaded with people sinks right out there, killing many people.
I drove through Guatape for a bit, hoping to stay for the night. It’s famous for its brightly colored buildings and packed full of tourists. There was no overnight parking anywhere that I could fit into, so had to drive back past El Penol to a little hotel on the reservoir.
Next day on to Medellin, second largest city in Colombia. Located in a large valley of the Andes mountains the weather is pretty much perfect all year long, giving it the nickname of “City of the Eternal Spring.” Since it’s very long and narrow one subway line covers pretty much the whole city.
The highlight of central Medellin is the Plaza Botero, filled with lots of sculptures by Fernando Botero. The Museum of Antioquia is located on the plaza and is also chock full of Botero paintings and sculptures. The museum has a cafe on the square that is the perfect place to have a snack and watch the city pass by.
I’m staying at a hostel in the upscale Poblado neighborhood. They offered to let me camp in their driveway but it’s really tight so I opt to just park there and stay in a dorm bed.
The Metrocable is a cable car line that ties into the main subway line, giving the poorer people up in the hills easier access to the rest of the city, as well as panoramic city views for tourists. Unfortunately when I got there it had just shut down for the entire month for maintenance.
Whoever opened this burrito shop has been to Chipotle once or twice. It’s almost an exact copy of the Chipotle menu and assembly process, in about the space of a one car garage. The burritos were excellent, I had to come back for more.
When I got insurance in Cartagena I only bought one month, as I didn’t have clear plans for Colombia and didn’t yet know how amazing this country is. The month is at an end so I need to get another month or so before driving out of Medellin. I didn’t think it would be a problem as the agency near the port in Cartagena had no problem writing a policy for any amount of time, but everybody in Colombia buys a year at a time. It proves very difficult to buy less than one year of insurance here, but after a full day of chasing around to different offices I finally find a place that will give me a two month policy.
I am really enjoying life in Medellin; the weather is perfect every day, people are very friendly, the Poblado area is packed with restaurants, bars, shopping.