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Medellin and moving south

Crossing over to the other side

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After a good time rafting and hiking in San Gil and Villa de Levya, we decided to cross over to the western side of the country to Medellin. Originally we only planned to spend a day in Medellin, and then head of to the coffee region. Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia and only 15 years ago it was virtually prohibited to visit. The city sits in a valley with the majority of the poor population stacked on top of each other along the hillsides. Many people recognize the name Medellin as having been associated with the drug empire of Pablo Escobar (the Godfather of Colombia).
Medellin is an extremely interesting city with a dynamic mix of people. The natives of Medellin call themselves paisas and take great pride in occupying what they say is the heart of Colombia. After years of Organized crime and guerilla warfare the city and its people have been left permanently marked by the distress. The main center has a park called Botero Park. There you can see dozens of the most famous sculptures of Fernando Botero. Botero is famed for having created all of his works to over exaggerate the obesity of his object. In San Antonio Park he placed the famous "bird of peace." In 1996 it was partially destroyed by a Guerilla bomb, it was left damaged and a replica was placed beside to express the damage and futility of violence.
Some good films to give you a bit of a feel for what life was like just a few years back in Medellin are Rosario Tijeras and the documentary The Sierra or La Sierra They both have a lot to do with the violent hillside slums of Medellin. If you take a ride on the subway, your ticket includes a cable car that takes you up to the top. You get a view from the window, although walking around is not recommended. A young Australian who was with me told me he just loved those types of places and wanted to walk around. I enjoyed the view from the top and headed back. Overly cautions? Maybe, but if you see La Sierra you`ll understand.
After 5 days (it was supposed to be 1) we were finally ready to head of for the coffee region. A kilometer and a half worth of landslides turned our 4 hour journey into 13, but we arrived safely to Manizales. Manizales as a town/city leaves a lot to be desired, so we didn`t stay long. Instead we decided to head to the small town of Salento.
I did however, like the attitude in Manizales about kidnapping translates say no to abduction
Salento is home to the national tree of Colombia, the waxed palm. The trees grow to up to 200 feet and tower high above the forest. The trunk is coated with a thick white wax that protects it from insects and gives it the strength to withstand the high winds and its top-heavy nature. A 30 minute jeep ride takes you to the Valley of Corcora where you can set of a 8 mile hike through a nature reserve and finally to the peak where the palms grow. A Dutch biologist discovered the trees and said that they formed a canopy above the canopy, unlike any other in the world.
I’ve placed a few photos here because this place is spectacular.
Here’s one of a lonesome palm just before sunset
Here is a field of them that reminded me of a windmill farm in California
The hike takes you up to two small farms. These farms have their own trout ponds, cattle ranches, fruit orchards, and coffee fields. The finca Montaña has amazing views of the nearby central mountain range and the snow capped volcanoes. They offer lodging and if I had been better informed I would have taken them up on it. We tried to go back a few days later, and arrived on horseback. However, catching a 7:30 jeep is harder than it seems for a couple of travelers and we had to make other plans.
Our next plan was get a move on to the nearby city of Pereira and look for an opportunity to stay for a while on a coffee farm.
Befoire leaving the center we were treated to a marching band in the center. The buses are called "Chivas" and are really traditional Colombia transportation. They all have names, and some sort of painted theme. Pasengers can be seen riding inside, outside, and on top. Everything is transported this way in most rural parts of Colombia.

Posted by natewhd 12:37 Archived in Colombia

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Well, hopefully, saying "no" to abduction works out a lot better for you than saying "no" to drugs ever did.

by mwoodhead

Hey Mike,
I wonder how you'll feel that I was about to post the very same comment??
Oh and Nate,
Frankly, I'm surprised you did not check out the hillside. That is not your typical response to the "warnings of others". Remember triple dog dares and dog pooh? Anyway, I'm glad you showed restraint in this case :).

by SWoodhead

Say No to Abduction?... You see that's why travel is good.

It continues to broaden ones awareness. You get to learn the differences in other cultures. I myself had never realized one could just say no when being abducted in Columbia. So this comes as a bit of a revelation. So, is the proper way to reply to a potential kidnapper with a rude "No way, get lost" or a firm business like "NO! I do not wish to be abducted!" or a more polite "No thank you, I'd rather not be abducted"? Anyway based on what I've read in newspapers and seen on TV over the years, abduction there has often had very unfortunate consequences. So I'm surprised, but I guess umm, pleasantly…? (maybe, relieved is a better word) to know that at least it's been voluntary.

Sorry, I'm a bit tardy in reading your blog. It's been a very busy two weeks. We had back to back water losses at Norfolk General and Bayside Hospital. Good size drying jobs in both cases. They love us of course so we're in with Sentara Group.

Please stay safe and keep making those uncharacteristically wise choices and just say "No!" or at least "No thank you."
Love, Dad

by PeteW

Dad, Glad to hear you are keeping busy, although Im not sure I know how that feels anymore. As it turns oput a firm No! gets the job done. I have now successfully left Colombia all in one piece. Im sure that will come as bad news to all of those who are benificiaries to my life insurance policies, and undoubtedly take a no negociation stance to abduction and terrorism.

by natewhd

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