Neighborhood life in Medellin

The city is growing and transforming after years of fear and isolation. Nearby construction crews and machines wake us too early everyday. We are in Provenza/Poblado, a great part of this 3m city which is described both as mellow and innovative. The contrasts are great-sparkling,sophisticated high rises, gleaming medical complexes,manicured grounds next to muy typico cafes, family shops, street corner vendors,ubiquitous coffee shops and open air casual dining. The streets are surprisingly clean, the hills steep, the motorbikes fast and furious around corners. Everyone complains about the traffic and when you ride the bus you get rap performers or messages of salvation followed by a donation cup. Riding the metro is easy and people are polite and give up their seat to mothers with babies…and to me with my grey hair!

Out our front door are many choices for lunch, drinks, a nice or low key dinner, think of an upscale NYC neighborhood. College friends from FL are in town so we are touring a little and speaking English, a welcome treat. The city is full of young people, maybe studying Spanish? We could use help.

We are working with some young artists who agreed to give us some drawing classes; we go twice a week for couple of hours, even do homework! We met them at an art store after making inquiries for a class. Julio, Valentina and Daniela are talented and delightful. Later, we were picking up a couple of food items at a neighborhood store and ran into the gallery manager but none of us could do more than smile. Still, we felt like we knew someone close to home.

We have not met Americans yet! Our guides, earlier in our trip, have been fascinating (thank you, upscale Amakuna Travel, Boris Seckovic)and yesterday we did a beautiful Lake District tour with a charming local, Willisbestguidemedellin.com. Always lets to learn. Today we will try to play duplicate bridge at a nearby club followed by a farewell dinner with Mimi and Bo. We are figuring out how to order medium rare beef!

Impressions, Colombia

Unfailing politeness
Many opportunities for niche travelers/entrepreneurs
Construction and traffic-Medellin
Great pastries
Bird life abounds
Magnicent countryside
Occasional English
Shopping malls
Endowed women
Cartegna Romeo and Juliet balconies
Everyone loves dogs
Fabulous coast north
New airport
Metro works
Thanks to Boris at Amakuna Boutique Travel
Long, straight hair
Fresh seafood, good soup
Delicious fruit juices
Holidays often
Impressive Bogota graffiti murals
Authentic experience
Rainy season is real
Safe and clean
Air BnB apartment
Water and taxis fine

First week Medellin and more

Called the Coffee Triangle, the countryside from Pereira airpordt to our drop dead gorgeous Hacienda BuenaVista, is full of fincas(farms), bamboo forests, plantations of pineapple, banana and avocado,fruits and flowers of all colors hugging the windy road. We imagine everything we see are coffee bushes but it’s not true.

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We learn most of the coffee operations are small and family owned. Farmers join a collective to operate, distribute and sell. Santiago, our coffee owner, runs his family farm with his sister and they will travel to Portland soon for coffee testing/competition and contacts. The business is many-layered and Santiago is a young man with a vision.

From the infinity pool and terrace, the river valley spreads below us in silent, vulnerable beauty beneath mountains often covered in morning mist. Late in the day we take a drink on our balcony while we scan for bird life. We are rewarded with flashes of fluorescent scarlet and brilliant yellow. We walk out the front door to a nearby path with binocs in hand.

We visit the famous wax palms and have lunch of river trout with the locals. Again, more lush green and bougainvillea and who knows the names of all these blossoms? Or birds? Rob S., where are you when I need you?

Colombia is huge so it takes another plane and car to deliver us to an ecolodge retreat on the ocean. Our drivers is lost, it is very hot and we slap at mosquitoes as we check in. Two dogs greet us affectionately but Dan is allergic so we are careful. The ocean pounds away as we find fisherman hauling in a catch and the sun sets on an idyllic curve of Robinsoe Crusoe beach beneath a range of mighty mountains.

No one speaks English or so it seems since the 8 other guests only smile and nod at us. We play cards as we sip mojitos, then drink table wine with really fresh fish. The starry night rivals Sedona. We enjoy our private, al fresco shower often especially after yoga and tubing the river. We have the guide and river ( which ends at ocean’s edge) to ourselves, a great privilege.

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Colombian tourism is growing rapidly and we certainly hope for a new Santa Marta airport for all concerned. It is rainy when we are greeted in Medellin and arrive at a lovely part of town, high in the hills. We get a good work out daily as we wander and explore. Booming and coming into its own after too much violence, there is construction everywhere and it is noisy near us, too bad. High rise buildings own the skyline even as a creek runs almost outside our door, next to chic cafes with a Latin beat.

We learn a little about the bus and metro as we navigate to the University and Botanic Gardens. Tomorrow we will draw and paint at home and at a gallery around the corner (after Paula’s pedicure). Just another day in Medellin.

PS Later for Cartegna and Bogota…running too long!