Sunday, November 4, 2012
Cartagena to Medellin, 'Endless Spring'
We descended from the clouds, back into our old life in Victoria, BC, right where we had left off over one year ago. It took us twelve months and great effort to sail all the way to South America, and just a few hours to jet-set home. Oh the wonders of the space age! We arrived to a welcome reunion at 'The Treehouse', literally a tiny house on stilts, overlooking the woods, in brother John, and Linda's back yard in Cordova bay. Soon our BCA sailor friends were reunited for an evening of revelry and stories at Lionel and Barbs. We promptly, but gratefully, picked up Georgie Porgie from Gary and Michelle's relieved but dedicated hands, and set ourselves up on the back patio at Santa Clara for what became our nightly ritual of Happy Hour. Many hours were spent here solving the world's problems, but all good things must end, and in three short months, with recharged batteries, we found ourselves back on Chantey V. Once unpacked, refloated and re-provisioned, we headed for the anchorage at Boca Grande with the lights of Cartagena twinkling before us like fireflies, and visions of future travels dancing in our heads.
"Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket,
save it for a rainy day,
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket,
never let it fade away".
As Hurricane Sandy unleashed her wrath on the East Coast, we decided to go exploring inland, thanks to a recommendation from Alex, our bartender-come-travel-advisor. And so we were off to the bustling metropolis of Medellin, 500km away in the Andes mountains. We were immediately both gobsmacked by the breathtaking beauty of the Columbian countryside! Our coach wound precariously up a steady incline to a towering 8,500 feet above sea level, where vast, lush green valleys unfolded below, dotted with cattle, burro, horse ranches and coffee plantations. Tiny rustic huts and ranches lined the narrow roadway perched timidly on the edge of the abyss. Where was Juan Valdez?
We arrived at our destination, a little shaky after the descent, to a modest hotel , and were met by Carlos, who bestowed the usual Columbian hospitality upon us. A short stroll later, we were stunned to take in the hustling, modern district of Poblados, with all the trappings of a big American city: trendy restaurants and bars, looming glass office towers, and plenty of parks and greenspace. Later we dined at an Italian bistro in Zona Rosa and polished off the night at a funky wine bar.
A speedy and efficient Metro system whisked us across town next morning. At the end of the train line it transfers to Metro Cable ( too steep for buses) and takes you several barrios and finally to the top of the mountain. As you are whisked up the enormous bowl that encircles the city, the worlds of past and present collide. All along the hillside many barrios made of red brick houses line the cliffsides. The brick is from the red iron ore that permeates the earth here. Peering down from the cable car it was fascinating to gaze down on the urban peasant lifestyle, and the colourful world of people who live on the fringe of this developing economy. The happy chatter and laughter of the smartly dressed children at play in the schools reached up as we whizzed by overhead.
Of course, everyone here enjoys, perhaps the most idyllic weather in Latin America. Being high in the mountains, the air is cool and clear and there is much less humidity than at the coast. The days are sunny and balmy and the night cool and fresh year round! The locals call it "Endless Spring".No wonder everyone is smiling!
Our trip ended, as usual, at your local Irish Pub,with these words from the Gaelic.....