I had two day trips planned for my four night stay in Medellin. I decided to take the first of these to a well preserved colonial town called Santa Fe de Antioquia on Monday - am still having problems with my feet and they needed a rest! Got to the right bus terminal via the metro OK but when I saw that there were more than 50 counters selling tickets nearly turned tail and fled. However a helpful young man at the ‘punto de información’ pointed me in the right direction and I was soon getting on the bus. All very simple and straightforward. There are so many people checking your ticket that it would be difficult to get on the wrong one and they even put the bus's registration number on your ticket. A succession of vendors then came on to the bus to try to persuade us to buy their wares. I can only conclude that the driver gets a cut as they quite often travel on the bus for a while before he stops specially to let them off. The most interesting was selling a cream which contained 'coca' and marijuana and which he claimed would relieve pains
caused by almost anything from colds, to arthritis to back problems - you just rubbed it on the affected part. Quite a lot of people bought this - needless to say I didn't.
The scenery was spectacular. You climb through green hills covered with thick vegetation including palm trees going out of Medellin and as you do so the housing and general environment deteriorates - the slums are located on the highest part, furthest away from the centre. Then you go through a tunnel after which you start to descend through extremely steep gorges.
The historic centre of Santa Fe is quaint with much of its colonial architecture still intact but it would look much quainter if it wasn't overrun by motor bikes and three wheeled vehicles powered by motor bike engines which are used to drive the tourists to and from a very old bridge. (I didn't go, as apparently the wooden planks are rotten and there have been instances of people falling through and drowning.)
I was wandering around when an older man wearing a cowboy hat greeted me, announcing: 'Estoy de aqui'. I didn't know it then but I gradually found out that I
had been cornered by a Colombian Jehovah's Witness -and his wife!! Fortunately he wasn't out to convert me but rather seemed to want to acknowledge his debt to other countries which had introduced these ideas to Colombia. (Turns out he made a habit of introducing himself to tourists). Having extricated myself from this situation I followed Lonely Planet's recommendations on where to eat - a traditional restaurant with tables set out in the beautiful courtyard of an colonial house. I was just about prepared to pay £5 or £6 for a main course (yes, I know it doesn't sound much but we are in Colombia) but spotting what other people were eating asked if they had a ‘menu ejecutivo’. They did and the food was great: tasty chicken soup, some sort of potato ball, lots of salad with dressing, fish, chips, rice and fried plantain(?). That cost me £3 and I struggled to finish it and declined the coffee.
After that I could hardly move but thought I should see the rest of the place and its main museum. I foolishly asked the young man there a couple of questions and he was so impressed by my Spanish that
he followed me round in order to provide supplementary information. That will teach me.
Thank goodness, have finally persuaded a pharmacy to give me something appropriate for my mosquito bites. Noticed that one was looking particularly nasty so went along with the idea of showing this specimen to a pharmacist. However as it was 8.45 at night I had to resort to shouting at one several feet away from me through the hole in the glass door specially provided at head height. Felt very stupid! Anyway asked for anti- histamine pills which I got, arrived back at the hotel to discover there were no instructions with them so had to go back again. Fortunately it's only about 300 yards away.
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