Ok, so Medellin for the weekend right?

Trip Start Jul 06, 2005
Trip End Mar 10, 2006

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, September 15, 2005

We seem to have a knack for getting wrapped up in cities for slightly longer than planned - as evidenced by the month in Quito and now, the 11 days in Medellin, Colombia. A really cool city that we have JUST managed to get away from now - but mind you the hostel had FREE fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. Met lots of locals who took us to some cool spots. Where to start then...

Local Immersion

First day out in the city we took the "Metro-Cable" up the hill side. Once at the top we did what apparently few tourists do, we just wandered out into the local neighborhood (we being Mark, I, and Rob, a cool American guy thats been sticking with us for the last couple weeks). Craziness, we found a little bar with a terrace overlooking the street and just hung out for the afternoon chatting with the owner while he ordered and had street food DELIVERED from the guy down the street, got mobbed by local kids for pictures and just soaked up the scene for an afternoon.

That night out we met some local chicas at one of the bars that turned out to be pretty cool girls - when we did finally leave town they brought us a cake and hand made cards to say good bye! Took us to a bar one afternoon to watch Colombia LOSE in a world cup qualifying game in - cool atmosphere and pretty intense game. Were approached, as you are, by a completely random group of local girls to take pictures with them! Later in the week the girls took us to "see the univercity". We never made it past the bars on the edge of the campus and had a full day of just hanging with the local univercity kids - probably one of my favourite memories of Colombia so far - just integrated right into the scene you know? Most importantly though, these girls came with us to the FUTBÓL!!!!!!

Futból Madness

Meet the newest fans of Nacional, Medellin´s favourite team. Went to two games while in town and its seriously nutso - non-stop singing, flag waving, yelling and chanting for 3 hours, occasionally interrupted by a goal. We "sat" in the south end, the only place to be if you´re cheering for Nacional, and did our best to pick up on the cheers with some help from the girls. Crazy fun, even rocked up for the second game all decked out in our new Nacional jerseys. All the better, the second game ended with a near riot outside, police ripping through the crowd on horses, a little tear gas, big tank looking thing rolling through, (me up a tree) - no harm done though, just over anxious police it seemed. Seems we picked the right team, they won both games and even in Cartegena the jerseys are everywhere!

Other Highlights

Hmmm, well, while were in Medellin there was a guerrilla attack further south, where we had just come from essentially. No-one hurt, they set a couple bombs off in Buenaventura, some dodgy port town we connected through on our way to Armenia, and took out a power station in Popoyan, the peacful little first town we stopped in. Guess the constant army presence you see everywhere isn´t just for kicks....

One night on the town we went to this cheap place where you are supposed to buy your beer and drink it in the street or in the park. Problem being the night we went the police rocked up and arrested anyone drinking in either of those places. I showed up late to find our crew scattered halfway across Medellin on the run. Took awhile but everyone was accounted for, not in the back of the army truck with the 57 people they did arrest, apparently due to some timely help from locals that hid various culprits in bathrooms, warned them in time, or argued with police to let them go. Funny thing is you can drink on the step in front of the shop, so the police came and told us to get off the step, then proceeded to try to arrest people for drinking in the street when they brought their beer! Nice.

Went paragliding!!! Sooooo cool - Medellin is in a valley with mountains up either side, and we went right up to the top for a spectacular view of the city and surrounding area. Once there the wind was strong enough that we essentially went straight UP from the take off spot for just an unreal experience up with the birds (or above them). Convinced my guy in spanish I could handle a few tricks so we spent the next while flipping and spinning our way back towards the landing site. Only cost like $20 US too.

Headed to a nearby town called Sante Fe, a city that one time served as a regional capital so was very nicely built, but then essentially forgotten, so they managed not to knock down all the beautiful colonial architecture. Long bus ride there and back, got stopped at an army checkpoint where they weren´t exactly thrilled that none of the five of us had our passports.

For something a little different we decided to go out with this random guy we met at the club to....a Colombian cock fight! Not something I imagine I´ll do again but it was pretty crazy stuff, probably 60 people or so there - families and dates, soldiers and shady characters, people betting and throwing money around. Our man had a cock in one of the fights so we all threw a little money on it (like 9 of us went), and lost, although it was a good match. These things are brutal though, really go at it and take eachother apart.

Asuntos del Corazón

Other than that basically made ourselves VERY comfortable in yet another hostel. Here´s the part where I hide why we REALLY stayed so long...despite all warnings against from Mark and others (including her), and the ridiculously impossible nature of the situation, I went ahead and fell head over heels for the local girl working at the hostel, Diana. Sigh, so Mark was essentially kind enough to hang out in Medellin, admittedly a very cool city, while I spun myself out over this girl for 11 days, and then we left. Productive, no? I do now have an excellent MSN partner for spanish practice (as I´m finding out for the first time as I write this).....

Onwards, finally

Sigh, so, if somewhat reluctantly, people´s (ie Mark´s) patience only runs so far and we´ve moved on to Cartegena. 12 hours overnight on a bus (a nice bus mind you). Highlight? Probably when we flew around a corner and the laptop our buddy Rob had in the overhead compartment flew out, across the aisle, within an inch of Mark´s head and landed squarely in his lap! So here we are, there now, that wasn´t so hard....Cartegena is freaking hot! and humid! My favourite activity so far is cool showers. We spent the first day just wandering the old city, which is really very beautiful - perfectly preserved colonial city, surrounded by several forts and a massive stone wall all the way around as it used to be a very strategic control point for trade on the Carribean. Cool history as well with several rounds of attacks and counter-attacks over the centuries.

Yesterday we splashed out a bit and paid for a boat tour of some of the surrounding islands. Ripped around the Carribean coast on a very fast boat, hit a couple of perfect white sand, bright blue sea, coral reef beaches, did a little snorkeling, before having lunch on yet another island with a massive fort and EXTREMELY pushy locals demanding money for everything you do once you set foot on the island - not the high point. They essentially lock you in a big room with bars on the windows so the vendors, guides, beggars and story-tellers can´t get in while you eat, and then you are released to the wolves for the walk back to the boat. Had a fairly feisty conversation entirely in Spanish with one guy who followed us all the way back to the boat, and then tried to guilt trip me for not giving him cash (as someone else had).

So, today is essentially a day of rest before moving on to Santa Marta tomorrow. Hope to sort out a trek to Ciudad Perdida, 6 days, straight into the jungle to a massive ancient city only discovered again in 1975. Living it up as always, sunshine and kittens from Colombia,

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ddacruz on

why the big shoe...
Hey Shawn. Good to hear from ya,

from what I remember about this 'there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do....' shoe is symbolic for fertility- women back in the day had lots of children after they got married and were left home with them- big shoes to symbolize fertiltiy - i'm sure there are many more interpretations...take care- D

stepha.munoz on

U r AwEsOmE
Ok so i'm from medellin, Colombia..but i live in Alaska..crazy i know anyways i have an American boyfriend, good ol' boy from Wapwallopen,PA..lol n he's scared to go to Colombia w/ me cuz he thinks he's gonna be an outcast or a target..haha anyways ur blog was really helpful...Muchas gracias..n it makes me really happy to know my people were so nice to u

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