Medellín Part 2: El Peñol, Guatape & Bandeja Paisa

Saturday morning is upon us and we gather in the bedroom to squish together a plan for the day. Before you can say City of the Eternal Spring, CJ is up and off to explore the city. The Rest of us take a little longer to get ourselves ready. We get on the Metro train, and hop off at the Terminal de Transportes (Transport Terminal, obvs). Bus tickets bought we are set to head off to Guatape and visit El Peñol, a colonial style town outside Medellín with stunning man-made reservoirs and a huge rock formation that allows for spectacular views.

The bus ride is rocky and rough. Several times Rob, Kirsty and I find ourselves in mid air above our seats and we struggle to secretly munch on our breakfast empanadas. We arrive finally at The Rock (La Piedra, known as El Peñol). Not too tempted by a horseback ride up to the beginning of the steps, we hike on up the windy path enjoying the panoramic vistas below. At the foot of the impressive stone feature, we grab a fizzy drink and catch our breath before we embark on the 700 or so steps to the top.

We start to walk. Alex and I are a bit on edge due to the sheer height we’re at, and Jay seems to power up without a bother but the rest of us need a few rest stops. Three weeks of dance classes obviously haven’t done much to help my fitness. At the top the views are magnificent- we take a wee breathe before we gather ourselves to look down below us. We take some great photos, have a laugh, and swat lots of midges away from us as we try to maintain our camera-smiles.

At the bottom we hire a Chíva to take us over to Guatape. There we snap pics of the colourful colonial buildings, and finally settle on a place for lunch. Rob, Kirsty and I decide to share two Bandeja Paisas between us, and Alex attempts the feat of eating this 9000 calorie meal all to himself. Bandeja Paisa, which means Paisa Platter includes a fried egg, sausage, a Colombian version of black pudding, some kind of minced meat thing, patacon (fried plantain), pork cracklings, avocado, rice and beans. I have to say it was very nice (Guess which part I didn’t eat? Egg of course) but I am definitely glad I chose to share and not go for one by myself- it’s a lot of food for one person to handle!

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After our wee meal we got an ice cream and dandered along the promenade, before heading to get the bus home. While waiting this girl started waving at me. At first I thought she was waving at someone else, but then it transpired she wanted me to come over so I did, and despite finding it slightly strange, I had a lovely chat with her and her family. I have no idea why they wanted to talk to me- but it was nice to meet such friendly people!

Getting on the bus early to grab the best seats, we were slightly miffed when the driver then instructed us to move as seats were allocated. So not fair, we were there first! So on the way back we all tried to sleep, but it wasn’t very successful.

Back at the hostel we were over the moon to find that Patrick had arrived! Some of the lads headed out for a few cervezas, but Kirsty, Rob, CJ, Patrick and I stayed at the hostel. Kirsty drifted off fairly quickly (nice snoring) and the rest of us amused ourselves by playing childish games. I was shocked at how long it took for the guys to catch onto the rules of “Crossed or Uncrossed”, and playing “Sun, Moon and Smiley Face” was hilarious as Rob and I couldn’t believe that CJ and Patrick took so long to figure out the secret to passing the task.

As Kirsty was sleeping, we headed out to TV-Room in the hostel. Rob patted the cat for ages. I tried to stay away from the cat for ages. And eventually it was time to go up the wooden hill.

Medellín Part 1: Soccer, Shots and a Shit Situation

By good fortune of a Colombian world cup qualifying match and a bank holiday clashing together, I managed to grab a whopping 5 consecutive days off work- whoopee! Along with other language assistants from the UK around Colombia, we decided our puente (long weekend) would be spent in the City of the Eternal Spring, Medellin.

Colombia’s second city, once rated as the worlds most dangerous (due to the infamous Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar) is in the paísa region, and before I headed off I was told to expect beautiful women; a vibrant and attractive, cosmopolitan city; fantastic weather; wonderful art; and (from my Mum) ‘a lovely wee woman at this square and she has a wee stall where she sells this famous drink, it’s like a slush puppy but it’s famous in Colombia!’.

I arrived at Medellín’s airport around midday. I got myself a wee bite to eat, found the bus stop and hopped on. I arrived at the hostel in good shape, and the lovely receptionist Maria showed me a map of the city, explained all the main tourist things and how to get to them and gave me a brilliant welcome to the city. That evening I set off for the Exíto (a supermarket) and stocked up on a few essential supplies (Water, Recreo biscuits etc.). That evening it thundered and it lightninged (Yeah looks like I’m forgetting english) and it rained so I chillaxed with other guests in the hostel- an international bunch of English, Australians, Kiwis, Americans and even Venezuelans. We watched Ratatouille, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. (No joke it was nearly as bad as The Three Musketeers, and that’s saying something!)

Friday rolled around, and after 2 months of eating Colombian food, the call of an English fry (not as good as an Ulster fry but beggars can’t be choosers) was too tempting to resist. Out of the blue, around the corner I bumped into some of the other assistants who had just arrived- perfect timing! Rob, Kirsty and CJ were here. So after they dropped their maletas off at the hostel, we got our big fry with delicious baked beans, lovely bacon and scrumptious sausages! It has hopefully quenched my cravings for home foods just a little longer.

That evening Kirsty, Rob and I settled in a little trendy bar in Medellín’s popular Zona Rosa to watch the Colombian match. We had such a ball! Colombia won the match with relative ease, and everyone was in great spirits! Then we met up with CJ and got on for dinner.

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The 4 of us then got some very strong cocktails, and played a perfectly innocent game of Never Have I Ever while we awaited for Jay, Steven and amigos to show up. Soon they came in tow with a big group of hot Colombian girls, and the party was in full swing! Several more drinks were had, some people may or may not have taken topless pictures (boys only, of course.) and we all had a hoot. Getting in the party spirit I decided it was time for Rob and I to do a shot. Deciding on my favourite just give us the strongest one (My Mum will kill me when she reads this), it really was a complete laugh-and-a-half when the bartender gave us two huge shots and lit them on fire. Rob’s reaction was priceless- a mixture of fear, intrigue and awe. I managed to down mine in one (using a straw, for any flaming-liquor virgins) but Rob was a little less successful. He was determined to finish it despite my constant reminders that I wouldn’t think any less of him if he couldn’t, but nonetheless after 3 4 goes he finally managed to get it in him.

Alex joined us as the party continued, having come straight from the airport, suitcase in tow. A little later, I joined Rob and Kirsty in the early taxi home. It was a long day for us! Rob took Alex’s bag to bring to the hostel and we shot off. The taxi driver played great music. We arrived at the hostel and waved him off with a “que le vaya bien and set for bed.

As I was brushing my teeth, I could hear Kirsty and Rob talking. “Those feckers are talking about me!” was my first reaction so I went to check out what the fuss was about. F-our-L. We had left Alex’s bag in the boot of the taxi. The receptionist tried to find the licence plate on the CCTV, but to no avail- and we kind of broke down, not knowing what to do. “Surely it’s only clothes… I mean his passport isn’t in there… Is it? and similar questions floated around. Eventually we realised there wasn’t much we could do but hope for the driver to return, so I got us to put our trouble in a bubble and we went to bed.

I awoke to good news- the Taxi driver did indeed return, and despite some bargaining for the bag, it was finally back in the hands of its rightful owner- close one!

Chao
Daniel

Painting Birds in the Sky

Here in Colombia I haven’t exactly been loving the music- Ballenato and Salsa just isn’t my thing. I’ve tried my best and I like a few songs, but nothing has really hit my buttons to be totally honest.

That’s until I heard this. It’s by a band called Yandar y Yostin from Medellín, and it’s super-catchy! I’m determined to learn the words