Viva Guatape with Viaja Medellin

It felt amazing to sink into bed last night after a very long day. Another asi asi night of sleep and we were up at 6:00 am for our early morning pick up at Parque El Poblado, about a 7 minute walk. It felt great to feel dry, dressed and prepared for the day with layers, a rain coat and a backpack rain coat just incase.

I’m trying something different with the blog today as yesterday I took notes all day but found it hard to put into words and especially by typing on my phone and it was pretty intense and an emotional history that would be hard to communicate in words without being there…but I will try later when I can sit by a computer and take my time…maybe tonight or when we are in Santa Marta later this week.

Our tour was with Ginna who is paisa (pie-sa) which means native to Medellin area of Colombia. She said she did not speak good English but she was great! She even gave us a chance to get better at our Espanol by explaining things in English and starting by saying “hey guys….” she then would say the same thing in Espanol and start by saying “hey amigos” It did help practice my Espanol!!

We started the tour with breakfast about an hour outside Medellin. On the way we went by crops vs ranches which are unique to the area. The most popular crops Ginna said grew here are watermelon, coffee, corn, green vegetables, and black berries. We drove by some beautiful crops!

Ginna said to notice how the crops are separated, this is to prevent plants from one plant stealing all the nutrients!

We arrived at La Cascada for breakfast and we had a traditional Colombian breakfast: eggs, cheese, bread, empanadas and had our choice of 5 drinks and we chose the more traditional, which was like dark hot chocolate. The breakfast was SO GOOD!!! Great way to start the day. Gina also said in Latin culture, after someone makes a meal for you saying thank you means it was OK but saying “you can marry” means it was very good!!

After breakfast we gathered together in a circle and all introduced ourselves (loved this!!) Ginna said it’s a was to get to know each other and also ask questions about possible things to do if we ever want to go to that country. There were a lot from Poland, two from US (Texas and New Jersey), a stag party from Canada, and many for many different countries all over the world. We then all screamed together because it’s fun but more importantly it releases the lazy 🤣🤣🤣 I loved it!!

With our new found energy, we then ventured to the boat part of the tour (needed to wait for the sun to move to the other side of the rock). On the way to the boat we passed through a town called El Peñol but it is known as the Fénix of Antioquia because fénix represents the rebirth of this town. This town was new in 1978 as the old town was destroyed to build a man-made lake that was created for a hydroelectric dam. Hence the meaning behind Fenix or rebirth. Here they grow a lot of tomatoes so every year they have a tomatoe festival. We drove by their church which was called Nuestra Señora de Chiquinquirá or Rock Temple, it is created to look like Piedra del Peñol. We didnt stop at this town 😥 but I was able to snap a the couple pics above of this really neat church.

Here is a pic I found on Instagram- the only one I could find online.

We arrived at for our boat tour which was actually over the old destroyed town! I had no idea.

I thought we would be in a small boat but we actually met up with about 5 other tours and were on a huge party boat – 3 stories!!

Above is the cross that remembers the destroyed town, it sits over where the church was. The boat ride was relaxing and beautiful!

We did go by one of Pablo Escobar’s houses that was bombed. Given what we learned in Narcos and what we heard yesterday from our tour guides who lived through the pain and how Pablo affected Medellin – the site of one of his vavation houses made me sad and upset, definitely not something to be glorified or to take selfies with.

After the boat ride we went to a tourist trap 🤣 it was a recreation of what the old town looked like since the new town we drove by is very modern. This was pretty cool but most of the “town” was gift shops with things from China. It did have some great views and cheap water that we bought for our climb!

Pictures of the old town and the destruction…

The center attraction is the recreation of the church: Réplica del Peñol

After taking pictures and enjoying the view, we were off to El Peñón de Guatapé.

Here is some info on this massive rock.

El Peñón de Guatapé is the largest rock in Colombia and is composed of quartz, feldspar and mica.

The Stone of El Peñol (Spanish: La Piedra de El Peñol), or simply La Piedra or El Peñol, is a landmark inselberg also known as The Rock of Guatapé (Spanish: El Peñón de Guatapé), in Colombia. It is located in the town and municipality of Guatapé, Antioquia. The town of El Peñol, which borders Guatapé, has also historically claimed the rock as their own and thus the monolith is sometimes referred to as the “Stone of El Peñol” instead of the “Rock of Guatapé”.

The indigenous Tahamí, former inhabitants of this region, worshiped the rock and called it in their language mojarrá or mujará (meaning “rock” or “stone”). The rock was first climbed officially in July 1954, when Luis Villegas, Pedro Nel Ramirez, and Ramón Díaz climbed the rock in a five-day endeavor, using sticks that were fixed against the rock’s wall. A new species of plant, named Pitcairnia heterophylla by a German scientist, was found on the top of the rock. It is said that Luis Villegas dreamed his whole life of climbing the rock and finally purchased the rock with 3 cows and some cash. After he climbed it, he wanted everyone to see the beauty, so he built stairs up the rock. At first it was free, then over time the price increased, today it is 18,000 Colombian pesos, around $5.00 American Dollars.

It is possible to see the 500 km shore-perimeter dam. There are 740 steps to the uppermost step atop the building at the summit, a fact reinforced by yellow numbers also seen in the climb up the stairs.

Here we go!!!!!

In the 1940s, the Colombian government declared it a National Monument. The Rock of Guatapé is the second largest monolith in the world. Read more about monoliths here! https://www.touropia.com/largest-monoliths-in-the-world/

The owner wanted to write Guatape on the rock but once he started the Colombian government stopped him since it was a national monument, so the G and part of the U are still on the rock. Luis Villegas died in 1996 but his 6 children still operate the rock and all the restaurants around the base.

It was a tough climb, Gina said it takes her 20 mins (the record is 4 min 18 seconds!!!!!), it took us longer but the views up the rock wrte amazing, it was like climbing a mountain!

We made it to the top!! It felt like getting to the top of Pikes Peak-tons of shops and food and gift shops 🤦🏼‍♀️ we took our triumph picture and enjoyed the view!

We hurried down in time for our departure at 2:00. It was great there was another set of stairs on the inside of the mountain. The only downside is it was a little claustrophobic and really tight/dark in places. The way down, per usual, was harder on the legs and by the end mine were shaking.

Took somemore pictures at the bottom and then we were off for a traditional paisa lunch, Bandeja Paisa, with variations known as bandeja de arriero, bandeja montañera, or bandeja antioqueña, is a typical meal popular in Colombian cuisine, especially of the Antioquia department and the Paisa Region, as well as with the Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis, and part of Valle del Cauca and the northwest of Tolima.

Lunch was super yummy but that could of been because we just hiked up a mountain!!

After lunch, honestly we were ready to go back, but we had one final stop, a town close by that is famous for their colors, Guatapé, which is located next to the massive man-made lake that was created for a hydroelectric dam built in the 1970s. So, it’s now a lakeside pueblo with many sidewalk restaurants and cafes plus water activities in the area.

Many are the colors that intersect with local tradition. The basis of each house is characterized by the Zócalos, the drawings in relief, which tell a broad spectrum of the different historical and current aspects of the community: from everyday life, to cultural traditions to political events.

Every house distinguishes itself with Zócalos, typical reliefs telling the story of the village and its inhabitants: from everyday life to cultural traditions and public events.

After our visit it was finally time to make the long journey back, which was warned could take as long as 3 hours….it did. We collapsed into bed when we returned – the end of two very long days.

We mustered up the energy to go eat as there are just too many amazing places nearby to not enjoy – plus it was Saturday night!!!

Dinner was at perfect, I’m so glad Derek talked me into changing and going out. We had a place in mind – one of the top reviewed on Google/Trip Advisor but wanted to check out others in the area. It was really interesting to see that everywhere that didn’t have a good review or was known on Trip Advisor or Google was completely empty!

For dinner, I was super proud of myself, I asked in Espanol if the ravioli was fried and if the sauce I thought was marinara was! No sweat!

I also asked (after we had amazing corn on the cob), if in Colombia they cut their corn from the cob – it was a very firm and proud NO! 😊😊😊😊

BTW the corn was amazing!!! Who knew putting toppings on corn could be so good?!?!

It was the perfect end to a long two days but we continue tomorrow!! Or last day in Medellin already 😥 it’s a coffee tour – which I’m super excited about!! And have mi madras and papa to thank for gifting to Derek and I ❤ Buenos Noches.


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