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(Re) Learning to Travel SLOW in Medellín

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It's a day off here in Medellín - a day off from all day adventure anyway. After dropping off our laundry around the corner, we stopped in to hang out at Cafe Revolución with a bunch of other digital nomads. Colombian coffee is soooooo good. They serve it many ways but the cold brew is especially good.


The change is pretty dramatic from not even two weeks ago when we still had Ruby, understood the language (Spanish in Mexico was much easier), had reliable internet...as Scott said "it's like going from training wheels to riding a Moto GP bike (for the non-motor sports fanatic they're the Formula 1's of motorcycles)."

"Our rhythm is to take the mornings to ourselves and get going out and about between 11:00 am and noon. We get lunch out most days, spend the afternoon sightseeing or driving, and then head back to home for an early evening with Cadeau...An outcome of this is that I've had to scale back on what I can plan for us to see in any given day. Yes, this Virgo has had to accept that we just won't see it all or get it all done. And, you know, I'm getting okay with that. This is our life, not just a permanent vacation."

I wrote this back in early May 2018 in Memphis at the beginning of our travels in North America. It's so interesting to look back at our old posts because my inner Virgo has definitely resurfaced here in Colombia. Something about being on the move again and feeling like I HAVE TO HAVE A PLAN! In other words, we have to see all the sights! We might miss something! I really didn't expect this and it's taken us both by surprise. We had a long talk about it last night with Scott reminding me of our goals (slow travel, getting to know places, finding favorite places, just enjoying where we are). This morning I was talking to another American traveling with her boyfriend and asked where they were going next. She replied, "we're not very good at planning, we just do whatever each day". That's more like it, I thought to myself. I need to get my chill back on, my tranquilo, my here and now.

Don't get me wrong, we don't want to just veg out and drink coffee all day. We have maintained a "day on-day off" kind of schedule and have gotten out to see sights. It's more about letting go a little and not worrying about the future so much but really just enjoying today. I'll keep you posted on how I do with it. And if your worried about Scott, don't be. He's as chill as ever (other than having to put up with my crazy!). Yesterday he said to me his favorite part of being retired is just waking up naturally, sometimes just waiting a few minutes to get up, sometimes longer, and sometimes rolling over and going back to sleep. Yesterday we were up early for our day trip, today we got up at 9:30! Can't quit this section without a huge shout out to him for his patience and understanding. What a lucky girl I am to have a travel partner like him.

COLORFUL GUATAPÉ...was not our thing

Yesterday was an "on" day and we got up early to head to the bus station for a day trip to Guatapé. It's a pueblo about two hours from Medellín. The bus ride was interesting as the Pueblo is up in the hills outside the city and the road is a twisty-turny up and down through the countryside.

Guatapé itself is set in a valley in which a dam on the river Nare created a large lake similar to Lake of the Ozarks with hundreds of small fingers sticking into valleys. In the second photo below you can see the river.

The highlight, other than the town, is a giant rock called variously El Peñol/El Peñón/La Piedra. It is composed of approximately 66 million tons of granite, quartz, and feldspar and resembles an oblong Devil's Tower covers in ferns, moss, and bromeliads. You can see it across the valley as you approach it.

There is a walkway to the base and then a set of steps up the side of it. As it was an overcast day with limited views, I opted for just taking photos from the base. It had nothing to do with not wanting to climb the 1,000+ stairs!

On to the town of Guatapé, we found a very vibrant town filled with tourists, mainly Colombian. As it was Sunday, it was really crowded, all of the vendors were out, and people pushing boat tours and restaurants were everywhere. As advertised, it really is a colorful town - every surface painted a different color.

And their big claim to fame, other than La Piedra, is the colorful raised zocalos (plinths) that decorate every building and tell the story of the town. These were my favorite part!

Many line up with what the building houses, such as a pool hall or bar.

Ok so you may be thinking great day, right? Well...here's the thing. Visiting pueblos like this feels like visiting any tourist trap anywhere. It's not really very tranquil to have a coffee and get pestered every couple of minutes by someone selling something. Also, the only real thing to do other than the canned stuff is shop. We don't shop. We've learned you can stop into one store and see virtually everything that will be on offer in all of the others. We learned this when visiting similar towns in Baja and I suppose should have known better. It is interesting to see the local crafts but really it takes about 15 minutes. So now you've had a coffee, walked around the town, stopped in a shop or two and it's taken about an hour. You now have four more to kill before your bus back...Ugh.

It was a milestone for me though, to say "Ya' know, that wasn't so great". Living in the world of Instagram and travel blogging where everything ia always perfect, I can get caught up in not wanting to admit something didn't live up to expectations. But you know, I realized, we are going to do things and go places that miss the mark for us and that's ok. It's a part of our learning and as Scott says, gives us something to compare to so we know when we hit it big!


Ending on a positive note, we are still really enjoying Medellín and the sights here. We even dropped the other day trip we had planned (see all of the reasoning above) to just stay in the city and enjoy it.

The other day we stopped in at the Jardín Botánico. It's a beautiful space with a very nice restaurant overlooking the gardens. It was a nice respite from the heat of the city.

Iguanas have the run of the place, the jardín not Medellín!

Riding the Metro, which is elevated most of the way through the city is a great way to get a quick look at the city. There are many, many large cathedrals in Medellín; here is one we saw from the Metro.

Nighttime is rocking in Medellín. We miss most of it as the salsa clubs don't really get going until midnight but as soon as it gets dark the party buses come out and all of the clubs put on their lights and put out their balloons. Yes, balloons. It's a thing here.

I can't really recommend Colombian food but Medellín has lots of good international restaurants and mixologists to match any in the US. Last night I had a perfect infused Gin + Tonic and Scott had a Old Fashioned.

So to sum up, let me borrow from the sign above the door of Cafe Revolución...

Stay tuned for more from Medellín and more of our learning. And remember to follow us on Instagram @arrradventures for more frequent updates.

Posted by mrb430 11:01 Archived in Colombia

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Sounds like you had a great time guys!

by ToddP

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