We arrived back to Barranquilla (from Riohacha) late Monday night and quickly all scurried to bed after the what-seemed-like-forever bus ride back (it was really only 4.5 hours). Tuesday and Wednesday Eliza got to explore Barranquilla some with Ele, and I started a new semester at work.
After hardly enough time to recuperate and rest, Thursday we all headed to Medellin. Ele and Eliza left Thursday morning to take advantage of ThursDAY, and I joined them there Thursday night (as I had to teach my class on Thursday). While Ele and Eliza did some sightseeing on Friday, I visited around 10 schools and universities in Medellin to help promote the 2012 CLIL Symposium that I am co-organizing (these are the same types of visits I was doing in Riohacha). It was interesting to visit the schools and universities in Medellin and since they were spread all over the city, I got to see a lot of the city during my visits. I was also lucky enough to have Lucio, who works with Pearson Longman, as a super host in Medellin on Friday. He accompanied me on all my school visits, which allowed me to make all my visits on time 🙂
Quick dinner after arriving to Medellín
On Friday night, we met up with our friend Monica Florez who just moved back to Medellin. Monica lived, worked, and studied in Tuscaloosa while I was pursuing my undergraduate degree, and has become a close friend of ours. While I got to see Monica when I was home in September 2011, Ele had not seen Monica since July 2010. So, it was good getting to catch up with her a bit.
After our catch up with Monica, our friend and amazing host for the weekend, Marcela and her husband, Andres, picked us up for finger foods and drinks at a restaurant overlooking the city of Medellin. We had typical Colombian refajo (a mix of beer and Colombiana, the national Colombian softdrink) and lots of small portions of typical antioqueño foods.
Out with Marcela & Andres
Saturday, after a good nights rest, Marcela took us to what has now become my favorite Colombian pueblo–Guatapé. Guatapé is a small town located about an 1.5 outside Medellín. Guatapé is quickly becoming a “tourist” destination for people visiting Medellín, and I now know why. Your first picture of Guatapé is a larger than life size rock sitting in the middle of several interconnected lakes. This rock has become famous and is now known as la Piedra del Peñol. I knew about the rock beforehand, because when Ele visited Marcela last year they took a day trip and climbed the rock. What I did not know, was just how incredibly big the rock actually was… BUT, before I tell you more about la Piedra del Peñol…
Entering Guatapé with la Piedra del Peñol in the background
After passing la Piedra del Peñol, you begin to see an array of brightly colored houses, each one with a unique design painted across the middle. As you make your way closer to la plaza en Guatapé, you can’t escape the labrynth of colored houses and buildings. I was mesmerized as we looked for a place to park.
Once we parked, we took a quick walk around the town, admiring all of the intricate paintings belting the houses, toured the town church, and then found somewhere to eat lunch. As we were in what I call the “bean-zone” of Colombia, I told Eliza she had to try bandeja paisa, my favorite Colombian dish, and mazamorra, another typical dish found in Antioquia (the department of which Medellín is the capital city).
After we stocked our bodies up on carbs, we headed to la Piedra del Peñol. The closer we got to the rock, the more daunting the task of climbing up became. In the past I have climbed many many many famous staircases–St. Paul’s Cathedral (376 stairs) and the York Minster (275 stairs) to name some of my most recent ascensions. However, what a surpise when we reached the top of la Piedra del Peñol and realized we had climbed 740 stairs!!! My legs were beat, and I descended barefoot, thanks to the toe cramps my sandals had given me, but the view from the top was incredible, and the experience was worth the 740 stair climb.
Having completed the task of climbing la Piedra del Peñol, we all headed back to Medellín for dinner and relaxation. While Marcela and Andres invited us to accompany them to a friend’s birthday party, we declined keeping in mind we had to be at the airport at 4:30am the next morning…
Waking up with just enough time to dress and pack our pajamas, we quickly said good bye to Marcela and hopped in a taxi to the airport, getting one last look at the city as the sun began to set…