And then off to Salento in the hills!
Little Salento doesn’t have its own airport so I flew from Bogotá to Armenia to avoid a 7-9 hr bus ride. From there it was an hour drive to go 41km.
When I leave it will be from Pereira airport, because it had better flights to Medellin. Another one hour drive and 45 km.
Salento is in the incredibly green lush Valle de Cocora.
There are palma de cera (wax palm) which grow up to 60 m and are Colombia’s national tree.
Views from Alto de la Cruz, which was up steep stairs from town.
The colourful Paisa architecture is all over town.
This is Calle Real, the main pedestrian street lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Green hills and grey skies.
Mornings started off dry but afternoon thunderstorms every day.
Temperatures are 12-20 and it feels very damp. I washed a t-shirt and it isn’t drying.
‘Willys’ (Jeeps) leave from the main square to Cócora for hiking in the valley
I didn’t really fancy ruining my only walking shoes for a 4-5 hour muddy hike. I had checked out people coming back.
Fourteen people to a load – 3 in the front seat, 4 each side of the bench seats, and 3 riding on the back. About a 30 minute ride.
Wee Willy rides
Ponchos are traditional, and worn over the shoulder when not needed.
Also a popular souvenir, along with the sombreros.
A hotel I poked my head into.
My hotel. With the church up the street it was easy to find, but it would be hard to get lost here!
No glass on the windows, just wooden shutters.
Growing coffee is a big industry here. Amazing how hard it is to get a good cup though. It’s always so weak.
Trout farming is also big. I had trout for two lunches.
This was ‘hawaianos’ with fresh pineapple. Sounds weird but it was delicious.
It was served with a patacon (huge plantain crisp), soup, rice, salad and a beer for 33,000 (Cdn $9.50 with tip)
Chicken empanada made with cornmeal. I found it absorbed more oil so preferred the flour crust.
I’m not fond of deep fried food so think I’m finished my taste testing of these street treats for now.
Think I’ll break the rules and eat uncooked street food like fruit.
Dr Leslie has used all the meds before!
Loved this feeder for the street dogs.
Another quick flight (instead of an eight hour bus) and I was in Medellin.
Because a double ‘ll’ is pronounced ‘y’, it’s Med-ee-YEEN’.
Plaza Botero in the city centre.
More statues from Fernando Botero. I saw his work in Bogotá, but he is from Medellin and donated much of his work here.
Museo de Antioquia in the background
Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe was started in 1925 and finally finished in 1982.
Originally planned as a government office building, it is now a centre of art and culture.
There really wasn’t an interesting Centro Histórico like most cities I’ve been in. These buildings were all around Plaza Botero which is beside a large metro station with tons of people just sitting on the steps. Add in all the outdoor vendors selling everything from shoes to fruit. And homeless people sleeping everywhere.
When you read about sites to see in Medellin, there is a huge emphasis on all the parks and green space outside the centre.
Catedral Metropolitana de Medellín was built over 50 years between 1875 and late 1920’s.
Over 1,120,000 adobe bricks were used, which makes it one of the largest baked clay structures in the world.
La Communa 13 used to be one of most dangerous areas in Medellin. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, it was run by violent drug trafficking organizations.
The hills behind the poor, sprawling hillside barrio were a transit route for drugs.
In 2002 the government moved to crack down on the gangs, improve housing and access.
Because of the steep incline they built a series of outdoor escalators. I lost track, but at least 6-8. Much appreciated!
They have a saying ‘make art not war’ and the streets are full of great graffiti depicting their history.
Notice the hummingbird/helicopter and ant/tank.
This is our guide Sebastian, buying our mango and passion fruit popsicles.
It’s recommended to go with a local guide. I found his explanations very helpful, as well as getting us through the little paths!
Medellín’s sleek metro and cable cars
El Poblado was the area I stayed in, about 20 minutes from downtown.
My favourite hotel so far with green space outside. I could still hear traffic but I can tune that out!
El Poblado is also full of restaurants. For a change from Colombian food, I had some excellent tacos with shrimp, fish and spice!
Tacos & water & tip 33,000 pesos (Cdn$9.40)
Burger & beer & tip 46,650 pesos (Cdn$13.50)
After the Communa tour I ended up downtown so I stopped in a local restaurant.
No menu but ended up with deep-dried chicken breast, rice, egg, plantain, potato, arepa, beans, salad, avocado and lemonade. 25,000 pesos (Cdn$7.35)
Little boiled potatoes with butter and salt! 3000 pesos (Cdn$0.85)
Tomorrow morning it’s a flight to Cartagena, my last stop in Colombia. I also have three nights in Mexico City before I fly home. My three months has gone quickly!