Bogota and Before

Nice weather in the city folks always say is cold and rainy. The paisa (locals) in Medellin are hard on this place but it is working for us. On Sundays they close a major street and open it to pedestrians, runners and cyclists. All morning and into early afternoon come the crowds of bikers and runners, kids, grandmothers, and everyone out for fresh air. Instead of feeling crowded, it is more like sharing and enjoying. We did three hours with only one sideswipe from a kid. Of course, we stopped for coffee. We bought some last week after watching our guides ask many questions. Most packages here have a “sniff and savor” patch which folks take seriously. Coffee culture is big and growing and is a big part off an expanding tourism.

We have found the mountains and canyons which attracted us to explore Colombia. The landscape and views are lovely but we pay our dues by miles on hard roads. After some miles each town and city draws us into its central plaza, now lit up for Navidad, and we sip on fruit drinks or coco lemonade or Club Colombia, the local cervesa. Pizza is good here and all the fast food places have a presence in the cities. Local Colombian fare is fine but we miss good bread and eat their croissant instead of arepa.

Colombia has their high desert which is scrub and hardly impressive to our spoiled Sedona eyes. A lasting impression are flowers we cannot name in glorious profusion and a good variety of vegetation and trees. Motor scooters weave in and out of fast traffic and cafes are full often. Still, life in the village is pretty slow and can be primitive. We have always to use our halting Spanish and we are received ever so nicely. Stranded at the Bogota airport in pouring rain, a kind man made a call for us and pointed us toward the right transfer.

We have missed the late night salsa scene which our Cali guides claim is best in their city. One of the disadvantages of being silver-haired in the land of long hair. What do curly-haired people do here?

A Month in Medellin

November is rainy season and we chose it to avoid the December crowds around early school holidays. We also chose to live “city life” which is in direct contrast to our normal routine.
We found two young artists at a local gallery who are teaching us to draw figures and faces and who give us homework. “Muy good” makes us all smile.

We cafe lunch or fine dine on our way home from class. We have learned about the local bus which takes us to the Metro which is above ground and reached by enough steps to make you breathe hard. Medellin is very proud of its sleek system. Yesterday we took bus, metro and second bus straight up the mountain through several pueblos which gave us a close up look at street life. Parque Ecological, Envigado, has lovely views, picnic sites and gazebos, a zipline, paths to stroll and beautiful plants and trees. It brought us a needed dose of green in this concrete world of high rise and we were stopped in our tracks by a most unusual bird with a brilliant blue head and a longish plume of tail. It made our day. Good thing,too, as it is pouring again today.

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We exchange only smiles and !hola! With our building porters and Camillo at the corner coffee shop because none of us has enough skills to do more than a sentence or two. At a holiday duplicate bridge party about 1/3 of attendees had a little English. Everyone at our age has lived through the drug cartel violence but it feels rude to ask how. The crowd playing cards is well-heeled and well-dressed and the party is a gracious one. I am complimented on my Spanish accent and we get a lesson during the dinner break from a married couple who befriend us.

We have met few ex-pats and are on our own all of the time. Climbing up steep hills to our apartment gives us some exercise but we are glad to be leaving the city next week for more travel. We will see colonial towns which we like, more mountains and Colombian high desert.

Last week we had Peruvian food and tonight, a French bistro in the neighborhood. Our typical Colombian lunch is soup of the day, fish or chicken, potatoes and a slice of avocado. Some of the simple cafes do fine. We are certainly not overeating but we have enjoyed local food and natural juices.

We continue to notice the very open and agreeable attitude of the paisa(Medellianos)one to another. Their greetings are so polite and cheerful. The city driving is aggressive but understandable because frustration is high due to traffic. Taxis are difficult to flag down so we walk a lot. We have not felt unsafe at all.

That’s it from the land where the women really are beautiful and the body-builders work out on the street corner for all to see and enjoy.