Medellin to Buga (and Miracles)

Trip Start Jul 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 21, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Faro Buga

Flag of Colombia  , Valle del Cauca,
Monday, February 20, 2012

Today we are leaving the big city and resuming our southward journey along the Andes towards Ecuador. The next stop is the small town of Guadalajara de Buga (which everyone calls Buga). I originally spotted it on the map because it was about a day's drive and an alternative to Cali (the 3rd city in Colombia). After a few days in Medellin we don't feel like staying a big city for a while.

We leave around 10am and manage to get on highway 25, only to lose it because of one of these intersections without signage. It takes us about 15 minutes to get back on track, which is not too bad. Medellin seems like an endless urban area. The "highway" crosses one village after another and is only a two-lane road, steep and twisty. We find ourselves stuck behind trucks again and again, to the point that after 2 hours on the road we've barely travelled 60km. I calculate that at this pace we won't arrive before nightfall. Not good. Landscapes are gorgeous with scenic views of peaks and valleys, villages located on mountain crests. And trucks, lots of trucks. Buses as well, which overtake the trucks with or without visibility.

Fortunately after another 2 hours the terrain becomes flat and the road gains 2 more lanes, so we finally drive at reasonable speed and manage to arrive in Buga in about 7 hours total. 

Our hotel is within walking distance of THE local attraction, the reason that makes Buga famous across South America: the Basilica del Seņor de los Milagros. People come here on pilgrimage. The monument itself is esthetically pleasing but there's something a bit disturbing about commercial exploitation of religious beliefs: strips of stores selling souvenirs, one called "Lourdes", another "El Vaticano". Inside the Basilica a special area displays a carved statue of crucified Christ (protected behind a glas). Pilgrims go to this area to give offerings, to pray and ask for miracles. Jesus really looks like a wooden corpse. Like most of the artwork in this basilica it is very macabre. It's a bit much for me, and I have a hunch that JC himself wouldn't appreciate this kind of attention... but I digress!

For dinner we try a local restaurant that specializes in arepas, delicious corn tortilla-like thingies (except moist) that can be eaten dry or with stuffing. Mine comes with chicken, cheese and pineapple. It was Ok but not great. I'm sure we'll have plenty of chances to eat better arepas soon!
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