Published: April 6th 2012April 5th 2012
The bus ride from Santa Marta to Medellin was an experience in itself. With it being my first night bus in Colombia I was open minded as to what procedures they might have...the first thing that was new to me was once we were on the bus a security guy comes on with a video camera and goes round each person getting a mug shot (good idea I guess), must be to pick out any known criminals but a weird experience none the less. Also throughout the night the police would come in and have a look around the bus, one of the times we all had to get off and they searched us as well as looking in our bags. 17hrs later we did arrive and when getting off the bus the heat hit us...it wasn’t due to the outside temperature being extremely hot, more to do with the minus degrees we had in the bus due to the air con being on flat out. After checking in at the hostel we took a walk around and scouted out the places to be in the night. In the evening we returned to a place called Lleras Park which we had
visited in the afternoon that has a load of bars around a park and we had a few drinks before finding a club...as me and Karl decided to do our own thing the first night and find the local scene we asked around and found ourselves at a club in a place known as Barrio Colombia...we went in and were definitely the only gringos in the place but I liked that and although we had a lot of eyes on us everyone was friendly and we spoke to a few locals and had a good night.
The following day after talking to some Australian girls in our room we decided to go on the Pablo Escobar tour in the afternoon. I had heard the name but didn’t know too much about him just the fact that he was a drug lord in Colombia and there is a split between locals that like and dislike him. We got picked up around 1pm and there was a fair few of us on the tour, myself and Karl, a few Ozzies, a couple of English girls, some Irish dudes and an Argentinean. On the minibus there was a TV screen and the
driver put on a DVD which explained the life of Pablo Escobar and also his name sake Andres Escobar which although not related we soon found out the connection. Our first stop was outside a property that Pablo owned which wasn’t very spectacular as it’s not in the best of states. Next up was his grave which was a bit creepy, I did expect a massive room or something that he may be in but it was just a grassy area with a small head stone...alongside him are his family including his Mum and Dad and also his Bodyguard who was shot at the same time. We then moved on to one of his properties where we met his brother Roberto Escobar which was surreal as well as being in the house and seeing the place he was in just hours before he was shot in 1993. Our guide explained to us the different items around the house including his car that is still sat in the garage and also some pictures throughout his life, Roberto said a few words to us which was translated by our guide and we were also shown a secret cupboard which was used to
hide from anyone trying to find Pablo. I then had a photo with Roberto along with most of the others and we made our way back in the bus. We continued to watch the film which goes on for well over an hour and was extremely interesting due to the connection between drugs and the rise of the Colombian National Football Team. Colombia rose to 4th
in the World Rankings in 1993 due to the money made by drug lords like Pablo Escobar who used his passion of football to money launder his drug cash through the transfer of players, he wanted the best team and would pay officials to make sure that happened and on 1 occasion actually had the ref shot after the game as his team lost and important people lost money through betting (ruthless!). The link between Andres was explained due to his rise in the football ranks and his belief that football was a way to avoid drugs and give Colombia a better reputation...a view which was shared among the other players but all fell apart after Pablo handed himself in. Colombia had been backed by many to win the world cup including Pele but
went out in the first round and it was Andres Escobar who scored an own goal to send them out, during the world cup many players also received death threats if they played. After this Andres was shot in the streets of Medellin in 1994 and all chaos broke out with many International Colombian footballers retiring with them fearing for their safety and also out of respect for Andres. That’s a summary although probably not a very good one but you can read about it on the internet if you’re interested! When we returned which was around 5 or 6 we got changed then spent most of the evening in the bar playing pool and darts before venturing out into another area of Medellin.
Another day passed then it was time to meet a fellow Guernsey man in Jack Byrne. He had flown to Medellin from Costa Rica and was staying with some friends so we went over to meet him. The people he was staying with were from a previous tour he had been on so we got to know them a bit and hung out in the top floor apartment admiring the amazing view from the balcony.
After a catch up and a few others joining the party we then went to a nearby pub and had a good time. The next day Jack moved to our hostel and we had a look at things to do around the city, definitely want to go up in the cable car to get a decent view of the city as well as checking out the Botero Plaza so we decided to go the following day.
The following morning myself and Jack got up quite early and got the metro towards the cable car, the metro system was impressive compared to some other cities with it being so clean and efficient...our metro ticket included the first part of the cable car so when we arrived at the Acevedo station we could just walk straight into a cable car and start our ascent up the mountain. I assumed that the cable cars would be similar to the ones in Rio but they were a lot smaller and only around 8 people maximum capacity although most having an average of 4 people in. Once we got going I looked through the glass window and was immediately amazed by the view below,
and as we continued to rise it only got better. Medellin is situated in the Aburra Valley and is surrounded by mountains and part of the outskirts of the city is built on the sides of them making a spectacular view. We did get to a point where we had to change cable cars as the next section was to a park...we weren’t sure what was in the park so paid the little extra cash to hop on a another cable car and continue climbing up the mountain, the cable car we got in this time was rapid and we immediately set off at a quick pace and ascending steeply with it feeling more like a roller coaster and one of the locals in with us switching sides so she could see the ground as she felt queasy. It eventually levelled off and we actually started travelling horizontally across a forest to the park. With a total of around 30mins travel time since getting off the metro we made it to the top...the park didn’t seem up to much with most pictures advertising it having various plants on so we weren’t too interested so had a coffee and a stroll
around before making our way back down. We then jumped back on the metro and got off at San Antonio in search of the Botero Plaza. With the hostel not giving too much information apart from saying it was near the station we took a quick look then decided to get a taxi, the taxi driver agreed to take us then dropped us 1 minute down the road at the Plaza and charged us around £2 for the privilege (what a bunch of muppets we are!) we could of walked and it would of taken 2mins...it was our fault but the driver could of just pointed us in the right direction, anyway lesson learnt. At the Plaza the main attraction is the variation of large statues created by the famous Fernando Botero Angulo, the reason they are so unique is due to the exaggerated and disproportionate design of them and also the humour in some. I got a few photos and we wondered around laughing at some of the statues and areas of them that were disproportionate ha. It was then time to get back to the hostel for the Barcelona game which we just about managed.
following morning it was time to say goodbye to Karl as he is off on his Asia adventure so I wished him all the best as did Jack for the rest of his trip and also the 3 solid days of travel he has ahead! Myself and Jack then made our way to the bus station to visit Guatape which is a small town 2.5hrs outside Medellin and is home to an attraction called La Piedra meaning ‘the stone’ in English where you can climb the 659 steps to the top and get a stunning view over the lake and the surrounding pieces of land. I can safely say after climbing all of them that my fitness is non-existent but I could take some comfort that Jack was also puffing pretty hard and many locals where taking breaks on the way up! We took a good half hour up there admiring the view, taking photos and getting our breath back (it is 7012ft above sea level!) before making our way down passing many a tired tourist climbing to the top. We took a tuk tuk back to Guatape town as La Piedra is just outside and strangely enough the driver
had Eminem playing which we didn’t expect to hear in Colombia. The town itself is really nice and extremely colourful, with it being Holy Week in Colombia there seemed to be a flood of Colombians in Guatape having their holiday climbing La Piedra, enjoying the town and also taking part in water sports on the lake which looked good fun. We found a local restaurant to eat at then found a bar showing the Chelsea game which we won so rounded off a good day and a decent trip to Guatape. After getting the bus back we then took the metro to the area where are hostel is and it must be said seeing many a beautiful woman along the way.
Had a great 7 days in Medellin and it must be said that in all that time I don’t believe I have seen a flat chested woman, definitely a lot of silicon in the city and I can’t really argue with the ‘the most beautiful women in the world’ tag but I would definitely say its more of a case that the majority are beautiful not the minority...eye opening ha!
Salento up next...
There are more photos below