Columbia Continues to Impress

Trip Start Dec 25, 2009
Trip End Feb 13, 2010

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Friday, January 29, 2010

We take the Metro after a nice breakfast.  We walk in everything but circles to get to the station due to high rise buildings and highways with walkways above them.  After asking 8 people and getting good directions but being poor at following them, after all we are all three managers and know what is best.....

The Metro is 1500 pesos for all you want to ride in a day.  We meet some Columbian women who live in North Carolina.  We chat with them but when we tell them how we got here they think we are loco and move away.  We get off the very modern and clean Metro and move up a floor to a free Metro that is a 6 person Gondola!  It goes up four stations to the top.  Locals can use it to reach the top terraces of homes up the hill.  As you will see in the pics there are houses everywhere and right on top of each other.  At the third station they build a very modern architecture public Library.  I think it is smart to build it in the middle of the poverty section.  At the summit house we get out to take a few pictures and are met by an employee who speaks English, how could he tell.  Perhaps it is the facial hair that we sport.  I have only seen a few men with mustaches and virtually no locals with beards.  The guy tells us he will let us ride the tourists gondola to the top and into the equivalent state park fir free.  We are happily escorted to the brand new gondola a 100 meter walk away.We ride the 14 minutes one way to the top passing over the last of the hovels, over a few small farms and into the park proper.  We go Up to 15,000 feet!  We could not get off at the top due to construction in progress but really enjoyed the trip.  No wonder this wasn`t in the guid book it has just opened.

We meet the coach of a soccer team all dressed up for a game who appraoches us with the kids.  He wants to give the kids an experience with Gringos.  We get on the same Metro car and the fun begins.  Jene is the center of attraction as he `steals their nose`` and gets the kids laughing.  We exchange names and fist bumps.  The car is rocking with laughter and the crowded car is watching the gringos and the kids play.  We get some pictures with them and feel very good about reaching across the boarder to these kids.

We get all of the way back to the down town city and walk to the park of San Antonio.  There are several Botero`s statues including La Gorda.  There is one Botero of a bird that has been blown up.  The sign states that on June 10 1995 it was blown up in a terrorist attack that killed many citizens.  There names are listed on the plaque.  They have replaced the sculpture with a new one, but kept the blown up one as a reminder bad times.  Interesting.

We meander through the city killing time till the Fiesta de Torro.  We walk safely through places we would probably feel uncomfortable in if in North America.  One such place is a street or 6 that has repair of vehicles as its main theme.  Work is being done on the street, from heavy equipment to radiator repair.  We stop (Rene stops) and talks to people who are happy to give their time for no sale. 

The arena is guarded by police of all kinds.  There is a team of about 40 special riot police in full gear standing in the sun on the bridge we cross.  We ask if they expect problems. No.  Good.  We get them to pose with us for pictures and joke with them.  I find a couple of mounted patrol and when I ask them if I can take their picture, they straighten their uniform and put on their chin straps.  They are proud and should be.

We get to the Macerena Bull fighting ring early so just watch the people.  We take our seats and listen to what I suppose is the National Anthem played by a 20 piece band in the stands.  The modern arena has a retractable roof that is now retracted to show the summer blue sky.  The City of Eternal Spring in all of its glory. The first bull is let out.  It is a beautiful animal well cared for it is obvious.  After the horse mounted rider spears it in the neck so it cannot raise its heat to gore the Matador the Picadors place their Pics.  The bull responds to the red cape and continues till it is tired.  Then the Coup De Grace, the bull dies within a minute.  Thats enough for my amigos.  Up they go to watch no more.  I stay for one more bull.  This one, at 460 Kilos, is a prime bull and is masterly maneuvered by the Matador.  The crowd yells Ole with each pass.  This bull goes down with in seconds.  The animal is immediately pithed by another matador when it hits the ground.  The draft horses come out to pull the bull, who`s head had been raised on a cart off the ground, in a lap around the arena.  The crowd claps for the bull.  I don;t think it cared. 
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John Cilmi on

What an amazing trip, J.D. ! Glad to see that you're having a blast.

Gary Lockrow on

Great pics, keep em coming!!!

Karen Zwart on

Thanks for the update. What a trip! You guys are the bomb!

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