Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gorgeous Guatape

March 16th, 2015

I decided to do a daytrip outside of Medellin and by chance my Saturday night partners in crime Carolina and Vanesa were planning to go as well.  We caught Medellin’s lovely Metro to the north bus station where we jumped on a bus for the hour and a half to two hour journey.  All I knew about Guatape was there that there was a massive chunk of rock that was originally formed by volcanic activity but now you could climb up to the top of it for a fantastic view of the lovely countryside of low lying hills with lakes and islands.  Sounds good to me.

In the bus:

The first view of El Penol from the bus:

The bus dropped us off near the foot of the rock, known as el Penol, and we took a rickshaw to the actual base of it (not surprisingly I always think of India when I see a tuk tuk now).  The monolithic rock was impressive indeed, rising up 200 meters it stuck out like a big sore thumb.  We bought our tickets and began the ascent of 659 stairs to the top, in fact to the very top it was 740 steps.  I was quite impressed with the staircase and kept thinking of the poor bastards who had to carry all the concrete and other necessary building material.  There wasn’t just one set of stairs but one for going up and another for descending…not sure why, perhaps they have some very busy days but it was overkill on the day we were there.

In the tuk tuk:

On the approach...note the winding staircase on the right of the rock:

Hey, there are Atletico Nacional supporters here too!

This pimped out tuk tuk was just sitting in the parking lot.

The back side:

The ladies beginning the ascent:

Look at the plants eking out a life on this near vertical rock:

On my way up:

At step 250...and already Carolina's giving me some grief with an obscene gesture:

We're getting higher:

Stair selfie:

I call this one "The Three Virgins":

What a gorgeous area:

The view got better and better, the higher up we went.  At the top there was a little restaurant, and of course the mandatory gift shop.  We snapped many pics and hung out for a while before climbing down.  Just the day before I had been watching some videos of an American named Alex Honnold who is surely the best free climber in the world.  He climbs massive stone faces in places like El Capitan in the States and does it with just climbing shoes and a bag of chalk, no ropes or security equipment like a parachute, so if he messes up and falls, he dies.  I kept wondering if he would be able to free climb this rock.  The first time it was climbed was back in 1954.

The lovely views:

Even Flat Stanley enjoyed them:

Kind of a strange structure at the top.  We climbed up the spiral staircase on the left and the gift shop was on the last floor before the rooftop:

Looking down at the parking lot:

At the very, very top:

Carolina happy that it's all downhill from here:

The ladies going, um, I mean descending:

The stairs we conquered:

Back in the parking lot we grabbed a taxi into the quaint little town of Guatape.  The word that best describes this village is colour.  The buildings were painted in a rainbow of colours.  Many had little pictures of sheep or people running along the bottom third of the wall.  It was just a happy place to be.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Entering the village...I waited for this old man on a bike to pass by for more effect:

A colourful park:

Vanesa posing in the park:

How much is that doggie in the window?

What a colourful place.

Even the bicycles were colourful!

Hmm...I dream of sheep.

This one is inspired by my niece Emma...she loves to pose next to a painting or statue and mimic them...this was my best attempt.

I liked this painting,even though it had no relevance to Guatape:

Walking around in the town square:

Afterwards we sat down in the nice town square for a drink.  It was a nice way to finish the afternoon before heading back to Medellin.

We ran into some traffic coming back into the city, caused by some protest.  I thought this cyclist was crazy holding on to the back of this bus for a free ride...but wait...

This was the crazy guy.  Note the speedometer display at the top right...we're going 60 km/hr!

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