Something draws me to Medellin – is it the mountains or the allure of a place that no longer wants to be defined by it’s past and now only looks forward?
I almost consider going to Santa Marta and then to Medellin to hang out longer with new friends but I knew if I went that route, then I wouldn’t be able to go to Ecuador or Bolivia and maybe even more so I make my way solo to lovingly referred to as the city of eternal spring. Medellin: there is so much lore about this city and for much of the world, it revolves around Pablo Escobar and his Medellin cartel – but that was ages ago and the city has changed so much. It is a huge sprawling city that spreads up as much as it does out and has this amazing energy. It was also named the WSJ’s Innovative City of the Year in 2013 for it’s progress and potential. It just feels right to be here and I know that I made the right decision to come.
First day in Medellin isn’t so great. So I learn a downside to this solo traveling thing: being a 100% dependent on yourself means that when you aren’t feeling well it may mean you end up having to spend the day in. But it was a good break for me because I realized I need some serious solo me time – it had been quite the few months for me before embarking on this adventure and still trying to adjust to my new life, what is my new reality. So day two, I realize that I should start at Parque Arvi. 1. I will ride the metro system that is above ground and be able to see what parts I want to explore and 2. I could use a good hike being the Colorado girl that I am. The park is at the very top of the Metrocable line and is stunning. Perhaps it is strange for a solo female to go hiking here so I am told repeatedly to stay on the main road unless I take a guided walk with a ranger. I am caught a few times when I leave the road…an actual road…to venture off on a path and even have two young Colombian males that are told to stay with me. Let me add that I don’t think it was mean spirited since the majority of Colombians I met were very friendly and warm but came from a place of concern for my well being. But I am determined and eventually find a few paths to hike on. And I find the solitude in nature soothing – reminding me (as my Chilean friend Pepa also told me) that I couldn’t rush things and that I needed time so I just hiked and enjoyed myself for a few hours.
After, I walked around a few neighborhoods and stumbled across Jardin Botanico de Medellin. I absolutely adore botanic gardens – there’s something about these amazing green and gorgeous spaces located within a bustling metropolis. A study in contrasts and for me, these gardens have always felt like oases in the middle of city chaos. That proves to be true again as it was just nice and relaxing especially after being in the hustle and bustle of Medellin trying not to get lost and still fumbling with my Spanish. And have quite the interesting evening/night with old and new friends. The next day, I am on the bus to Guatape and I get a message from the paragliding company that the weather might hold out for today but we have to get going ASAP. I have quite the fear of heights and it looked like such a cool thing to do in this city but i take the forecasts of thunderstorms quite seriously. I am quite disappointed as the weather was supposed to be bad until Thursday and again wish that I had one more day here or that I would have felt better on Monday. But I guess that just means I have yet another reason to come back to Colombia!
There is this rock (La Piedra) that overlooks the lakes and the view at the top is worth all 700+ stairs…even after hiking and exploring and a late night the day before. It is a gorgeous day and the sunshine and clouds just enhance the vantage point. I had made friends on the bus and we explore the town and do a boat ride on the lake – and the day and my time in Medellin comes to a close too quickly. And I realize that my new beginning had already begun and begin to enjoy what is now the latest chapter in this amazing thing I am fortunate enough to call my life!