December 2017 (SA)

 

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95559.55 Post #17

When we left Canada, our friend Giani arranged for us to stay with his friends, Scott and Sonia in Medellin when we passed through the city. It was a wonderful stopover.

Scott is a retired geophysicist from Canada and is married to Sonia, a Colombia geophysicist. Both have worked and travelled all over the world and now call Medellin their home. It was easy to see why. Medellin is a wonderful modern city of 2.5 million people, founded in the 1600’s and is well-known for its universities, science academies, agriculture, industry and commerce. It is located in the Central range of the Andes and is called the “City of Eternal Spring” because of its perpetual spring-like weather. The city is built along a long lineal valley and extends high up the valley walls on both sides. It has an incredible train and gondola system to transport residents and has recently won awards for its innovative urban developments.

Scott and Sonia were gracious hosts and welcomed us into their 5 acre estate home with open arms. We thoroughly enjoyed the five days we stayed with them and their 5 dogs (Nico, Emily, Shadow, Lilly and the rascal Pepa). Meal times were always entertaining. We helped Scott with some of his “majordomo” responsibilities by building benches and splitting firewood. It was fantastic touring the city and countryside, with Sonia as a guide, and learning about the region and about the determination of the “Paisa” people. Her energy and positive outlook on life (“Life is Today!”) were truly inspiring.

We took the opportunity to take a day trip to Guatapé, an important agricultural region west of Medellin, enhanced by the creation of a large reservoir and lake system constructed by the Colombian government in the 1960’s.

While there, we climbed the 750 steps to the top of La Piedra Del Peñol, a 200 m high granitic monolith from intrusions dating back 70 million years. The views from the top of Peñol were breathtaking, as was the climb up, but the 360 degree panoramic views were worth the effort.

After 5 glorious days in Medellin, which included one day of bike servicing, we departed and spent a day touring the coffee growing region of Anserma. We were happy to have Sonia and Scott join us for the day and we all overnighted at the El Lugar hotel where the owner, Dutch immigrant Jorn and his Colombian wife Nohra served up fine Columbian influenced Danish meals. The next morning, we said goodbye to Scott and Sonia, who were so incredibly kind to us, and headed south toward the Ecuador border.

First view of the City of Medellin

 

Scott and Sonia’s welcoming home in the hills above Medellin

 

Tom and Scott building benches

 

Maskota mealtime (Allie loved these daily videos)

 

Waterfalls above Scott and Sonia’s home

 

Medellin from a night time gondola ride

 

Tom, Sonia and Scott

 

Christmas decorations in Medellin

 

Out for dinner with our new friends

 

Sonia’s motto – Life is Today!

 

Getting a new set of fork seals for the V-strom (yet again)

 

La Piedra Del Peñol, Guatape

 

Views of Guatape from El Penol

 

Leaving Medellin (Sonia, Scott, Tom and Emily)

 

Volcano in Anserma coffee growing district

 

Town Square at Pueblo Cauca Viejo near Anserma

 

El Lugar Hotel Owners Jorn and Nohra

 

95552.98 Post #16

Cartagena de Indias, is a Spanish colonial city founded in 1533 along the south shores of the Caribbean Sea. It was a major shipping port during the Spanish empire, moving Peruvian silver and gold to Europe and importing slaves from Africa to work on haciendas and farms in the new world.

Over the centuries, the city was the site of many battles between the Spanish and the Portuguese, English and Italians. In addition, over the centuries, Cartagena has enduring countless pirate attacks. To protect the city, the Spanish built a fort, the Castillo San Filipe de Barajas in the 1500’s which is remarkably preserved, and also built a wall, which still stands, around the city’s perimeter.

We spent 3 days exploring historic Cartagena with friends we met along our travels, and who were with us aboard the Stahlratte sailing. It was great to spend time (off the ship) with Bruce and Mary Beth (a retired Utah couple who we met in Costa Rica), Jim and Sharon (a retired Alberta couple who we met in person in Carti, but had been introduced through mutual friends and had been corresponding with online since Mexico) and Eduardo and Melinda (a young couple from Brazil who we met a month earlier on the Baja ferry).

The Cartagena historic district is well preserved with many of the buildings surrounding the parks and squares converted into hotels, hostels, and bars and restaurants, which we frequented. Along the harbour were moored many restored sailing ships (Thomas would love the ever-present pirate theme).

After reluctantly leaving Cartagena, we headed south to Medellin, high in the Central range of the Andes. It was good to get back on the bikes, and moving again, after almost a week of down days aboard the Stahlratte and sightseeing in Cartagena.

The highway started at sea level, and wound high into the mountains, reaching an elevation of over 2,600 m (8,500 feet). The weather changed from the heat and humidity of the Caribbean Sea lowlands to the coolness of the mountain air. It was the first time we experienced temperatures below 20 degrees C since late October; extremely refreshing!

After a few days of travelling we rolled into Medellin to meet, for the first time, Scott and Sonia, two geophysicists, who had extended an invitation to us, through mutual friends back home, to stay with them for a few days and see the sights of the famed city.

 

Castillo San Filipe de Barajas, a well preserved Spanish fort, built in the 1500’s

 

One of the many bell towers gaurding the Castillo’s perimeter

 

The walls of the Castillo are constructed largely of coral fragments

 

Cannons guarding the Castillo

 

Passageways inside the Castillo’s walls

 

Restored sailing ships in the Cartagena harbour

 

Perimeter walls of Cartagena’s historic district

 

Cannons atop the perimeter walls point out to the Caribbean Sea

 

Centuries-old buildings along narrow streets within the historic district

 

Churches at night time

 

Statues of important figures in Cartagena’s history are everywhere; most have pigeons on their heads

 

Spending time with new friends and fellow traveller’s Melinda/Eduardo and Bruce/Mary Beth

 

Climbing into the Central Range of the Andes

 

Traffic hazards in the Columbian countryside are similar to Central America

 

Roadside restaurant owners Resembrink and Estella, along with son Bryan, wanted to try out the big bikes

 

Riding through cool, cloudy weather high in the Central Range of the Andes