Where are we?

Medellín WOW!!!

Enjoying a pretty latte while updating my blog

Wednesday Oct 30th

The drive into Medellín from Guatapé. Just a reminder, you can click on a picture and enlarge it :)

Driving thru a small town leaving Guatapé - even the horses can use the bike lanes 

We get into Medellín around noon - kinda busy time to be driving downtown but we're use to this crazy traffic! LOL!!  As we are driving along a guy yells through his open passenger window ‘Welcome to my city' with thumbs up. Lots of moto’s giving us thumbs up 👍 and smiling as they pass us!! Great city! Hard to believe that back in the 80's-90's it was known as the most dangerous city in the world because of Pablo Escobar.

Cant get over how HUGE it is - for having 3M people it is really spread out. Up one mountain and down thru central Medellín and then up the opposite mountain. These houses are just stacked on top of each other! The are cable cars going up the the steep neighbourhoods from the metro (all above ground) so people can get into Medellín central. Another neighhood has 6 escalators to take people up to their homes high up the mountain.

We stop at Jumbo to stock up since the campground we are staying at is about 20kms up the mountain. By the time we finish shopping and having lunch its 1:30. I enter the campsite address on maps.me and we start heading up the mountain.  The road is so congested and narrow and curvy!! But we get thru until we see the buses turning right yet maps.me indicates to go straight - we do and then we see this HUGE STEEP hill!! No way can we get up there Dwayne says. But he starts and not to far up we run out of power. I kinda close my eyes because now we have to back down and then I can hear that we are slipping on loose gravel on the pavement a little YIKES!!! Luckily no one followed us up this hill!!
Going under one of the cable car lines on the way to the campsite - which is up on the mountain near the red arrow 
We get down, turn around and I figure out how to get us back down to the main highway and we are going to go back towards Gautepá and come in the backway to the campsite. We've already spent and hour just getting up to this road.  If we weren't meeting Paul and Tanya we would have said THWIt and park downtown! LOL!! But we get back on the highway and another hour and half passes when we finally get to the campsite!! By now its around 4:30 and Paul and Tanya haven't arrived yet. So we're thinking maybe they won't make it today. But after we've registered and got settled they drove in 😁 They told us that they were also at the same hill we couldn't get up and they also tried and had to turn back - LOL!!! Maps.me doesn't always make sense!!!!

There is one other camper up here and they have a really cool unit and are from the Netherlands. They must be in the city because no one is around. After Paul and Tanya get settled we get together for a few beers that end up lasting until 10 pm!! We had a bag of chips for dinner LOL!!! Which was OK for us since we had a late lunch. The Dutch couple get back around 8:30 and join us and we chat about our travels and where we've been and where we are going!

Vanna is quite happy to be parked after having to try and do a hillclimb!!!

All the overlanders & backpackers adding their travel cards and notes to the board. Can you see ours where the red arrow is on the upper right??? LOL!!!
Here it is!

Our Kiwi friends Paul and Tanya - with our casa rodantes behind us 😍
Paul and Tanya arrived in Chile in June from New Zealand (home) via China, the UK (family) and then Chile. They came with a couple of bags and were lucky to find a van with Washington plates that was rigged up for overlander trips and bought it. It was to cold down south in June so they traveled north to the caribbean to warm up and now are heading back south again.  They'll be travelling for about a year - but nothing is "written in stone" LOL!! We'll be running into each other as we both travel south.

Atte and Marijke are from the Netherlands and have been travelling in their fantastic unit since 2012. They have travelled South Africa, the middle east, Australia and in April 2015 shipped their truck to Chile from Australia. They go back to the NL for 6 months every summer and just park their truck wherever they are at the time and come back to it later. They still have a house in NL. Atte is retired pilot from KLM and designed the camper part of their truck. Wow if we knew back in 2010 what we know now we could have spent money on a great overlander truck instead of buying in Honduras! Probably would have had to spend another $60K LOL!!! But what a great way to travel!! TOTALLY secure, go ANYWHERE vehicle. They are travelling north now on the way to Alaska :)  Will be following their blog and hope we can meet up again once they are in Canada.

That evening Tanya books the 4 of us for a free walking tour of Comuna 13 - Pablo Escobar's territory - the wealthiest criminal in history (worth $30 Billion in 1993 when he was killed)  Should be interesting.

Thurs Oct 31st

In the morning we leave the campsite and walk out to the road and catch a bus to central Medillín which takes and hour and by that time Dwayne is feeling a little green since we are in the back and he's on the aisle seat.  After I've taken a bunch of pictures we trade. We were happy to get off the bus! We still have close to 2 hours before we need to be where the tour begins so we start looking for a place for lunch.  We choose the first chicken restaurant and head in. Get our orders and enjoy lunch and try to figure out how we get to the metro station to get to our tour site.  I find the way and we start walking off our lunch LOL!! Luckily there is a guy at the metro station and he gets our tickets out of the machine for us. The metro arrives and I see that we have to get off this one to transfer to another one to get to San Javier (Comuna 13) which is the end of the line and where we meet the tour guide - great!

This is one of the tramlines that goes thru downtown area to the main metro line 

This is the metro line  that runs north and south thru the city and the tramlines and cable cars feed off of it.  Built in 1995 and the only fast transit in Colombia 

Stole this pic off internet to show the metro and a bit of downtown Medellín
Had to get one picture in of a church, even though we never got to go in. Took the picture behind the railing waiting for the metro.
We get off and we have time to figure out how we will be get back to the campsite at the end of the day instead of taking a taxi back from central Medellín. We can take the metro to the north end of Medellín and then take 2 different cable car lines up to a park that is about 10km away from the campsite. Pretty sure we can find a cab once we get off.  So since there is no lineup at the ticket office we buy cards and load on 3 trips each. Only comes to 10,400 $4C for 2 of us. So cheap to use the transit system.  Think our bus ride was 3,000 $1.50C for both of us!

We meet up with our guide Laura and we start walking up to Comuna 13. Comuna 13 is a neighbourhood which goes almost straight up the mountain. If is famous because of Pablo Escobar recruiting kids from this area to help ship the cocaine over the mountain and from there there was easy access to get the product to the US.  Off course since the pay was so good lots of kids worked for him. But eventually they were also killed since it was dangerous work. But people loved Pablo because he was a kind of Robin Hood, he would give to the poor. Laura shows us new buildings that been built by the government since 2004 to help the people. This is also where 6 sets of escalators have been built to help people get down into the city. Otherwise they would just stay in their homes since the stairs are steep and many! She also showed us paintings on walls that depict problems that were in this area and how people are now healing. They have competitions each year and new paintings are added to the walls.  We also watched a group of 6 guys do street dancing another way to keep kids busy and away from drugs. It was an interesting tour of a small section of the city.

Comuna 13 -  over that mountain was the quick way to get drugs out and to the US

Wall art all over Comuna 13

Love these birds 😍

These are the escalators 
Bunch of our tour group going up the escalators
We ended up being at the top of the escalators and in Laura's home so when it was time to go it was already 4:30. So we hoofed to to the metro station which was almost 2kms away.

Looking down to downtown Medellín - quite a long ways away

Arrow points to where Laura lives

Walking back to the tram station and seeing all the kids dressed for Halloween

Even the dog is people watching LOL!!

Proud of his baby dressed as a mouse 
Even the dogs get glittered up with a few rhinestones on her nose and bows in her hair 
When we get there we quickly get thru the gate and onto the metro. Since this is the first stop its not very full. BUT when we had to change lines we were on the main line going north and south and IT WAS FULL!! Couldn't believe we got on but no use waiting for the next one since we were right in rush hour it wouldn't be any different. Off course today being Halloween, kids and adults are all dressed up. Think this may also be a reason it is so busy in the streets and metros - Halloween.

As it turned out we ended up being in the wrong car to get off at the station for us to go up the cable car. There is constructions being done in the station and only 3 cars' doors open. We are stuck! So we keep going until the next stop, get off and take the return metro. One of the passengers that got off with us understood our problem and he pointed and said to get on one of the last 3 cars. The metro was already in the station so we ran to the last cars and got in - almost left Paul behind because the door started closing - Dwayne helped keep it open so he could slip in LOL!! Now that we are going the direction of the centre there are hardly any people on the metro. When we get off I see the sign for K line (the cable car) and head out but get stopped by a metro employee and asked where we were going and once I told him he said we have to get to the back of the line. What??? I asked at the end of the line if this was the lineup for the gondola - yup!!! They only allow so many people at a time going up the stairs. The same goes for people coming down to catch the metro - only so many are allowed on the platform.  Guess that stops people from being pushed onto the track by accident when there are lots of people waiting!

We finally get up to the top of the stairs so see AN UNBELIEVABLE LINEUP!!  It's going to take an hour for sure. But we stay since "we have a plan" LOL!! To think these people have to do this EVERYDAY to get home. They aren't stuck in car traffic just people traffic! But its all done very orderly, no one pushes, everyone stays in their queue line and when we finally get into the gondola it seats 8 and they put in a couple of extra to stand! Dwayne and Paul end up standing until the first station. Then some got off. We have to get off at the third station which is the last one. There we switch to another gondola to get to the park. BUT when we get off the second gondola has been shutdown for the evening - closes at 6pm. Guess not many people go to the park any later, and guess maybe not that many people live up there??

The lineup to the right of the yellow arrow are lined up for the cable car to their neighborhood , the others are leaving the station or coming down to get onto the metro

Believe it not this is a very organized queue to get on the cable car. 
So we leave the station and the number of people outside is CRAZY!! Traffic is stopped - NOT even moving a little!! Cabs are in the lineup, buses are lined up and no one is moving except motos since they go where ever they want!! We walk up the hill to see if we can get a cab home.  But since nothing is moving we decide to stop and have supper and figure our next plan!!

When we find a restaurant - ohhhh it's another chicken restaurant LOL!! We give our orders and once finished we see that traffic has NOT moved at all!!! This is crazy!!! Soooo next plan - we are going to go back down on the gondola - forgot to mention before that Tanya is NOT lovin' the gondola ride at all, but she's a trooper and gets on. Actually there is no choice at this time LOL!!!  We are going to take the metro BACK to the centre and find a cab there and have him drive us back to the campsite.

This line of buses, taxis and cars didn't move a foot while we had our dinner!

Coming back down the cable car
Good thing not many people on the metro 😉 We get off at a station that I think should be close to where we originally got off the bus this morning, and should find a cab. We eventually do but the cabby is having a problem figuring out how to get to El Bosque! Hey welcome to my world - just don't follow maps.me to get there!! I show him on maps.me the name and he finally gets it figured out. We know the trip is going to cost us 35,000 since that is what Atte and Marijke spent the night before coming from the city. So off we go - the four of us in the little Hyundai, Dwayne rides shotgun much to his displeasure, he figures I should be in front LOL!! But as it turns out he and the cabby have fun even thought the cabby can speak no English!  Cabby goes down so many streets trying to get around all the traffic and people - has to be because its Halloween. He turns up the raggae music on the radio and it's having a great time driving and racing thru the streets. He's real happy once we finally get out of the city and up the mountain in the fresh air.  He stops so that Paul can get a picture of the city at night - absolutely beautiful!!  We finally get back to our site around 8:30. The fare is 33,000 but we give him 40,000. Probably after this fare he can go home for the rest of the night!

The 4 of us jumped in a taxi like about to get back to the campsite! A small Hyundai ??

City shot taken by Paul on the ride up in the taxi
We were all pretty tired so went into our homes and crashed!! What a day in the city it was!!

Friday Nov 1st

Wow can't believe we've been in Colombia for a month already!! We have decided to move on further south. Paul and Tanya are hanging around the campsite today and getting laundry done. They'll probably stay a couple more nights.

We leave about 11 and it took us about 2 hours to get down to the city and out! No other way to go south other then through Medellín!  Once on the highway we dont get anywhere fast, lots of traffic and curving high roads.

This is why it took so long just to get out of Medellín (1.5 hrs)

Plus all the traffic!

We drive to the top of mountains and along the ridge where villages are right on the edge - steep drop offs on both sides!! Then we see why there are villages here - coffee plantations all along the steep mountain sides.

Lots of café fincas (coffee farms) thru this valley and up the other side

So many homes all over the place here

This screw up might be hard to explain to El Jefé (the boss)

This was usual - lots of traffic backup because of volume and big trucks trying to get around tight corners

Coffee plants 

Closeup of the beans that are ready to be picked

When the waiting becomes more like 20 mins we decide to call it a day
The traffic is getting worse.  It's 4.30 and we've travelled 110km in 5 hours! LOL!!! So turned around and headed back to a spot we could park for the night.

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