Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guatape and Bucaramanga

Not far from Medellin is a lovely small town called Guatape. It is (somewhat) famous for two things: a big rock and the brightly coloured houses. It is about a two hour bus ride from Medellin so is doable as a daytrip. I however, stayed overnight. 

The town is quite beautiful and that's really all there is to say about it. Here's a bunch of photos to prove it.

Apparently the owners of these houses have to repaint them every year, which would explain why they look so good.

Front desk staff at the hostel:

The big rock, aka "el Penol":

This rock only takes about 20 minutes to climb up if you're reasonably fit. There are cafes and stuff at the top and all the stuff has to be carried up. That would be annoying. There are 740 steps to the top.

At the top are some more paintings.

You then get some really good views of the surrounding lakes:

Apparently these lakes are used for hydroelectricity. Someone told me they drain the lakes for six months and then let them fill for six months. I don't really understand how that creates base-load energy since you would need to use the water all year round. Anyway, the lakes are half empty at the moment, which looks a bit shit.

On one side of the rock are the letter "GI". Appapently the locals thought it would be a good idea to graffiti the rock by writing Guatape on it in big letters. But the locals in el Penol (the next town on the other side) cracked the shits since they think they own the rock. So they only got as far as the G and half the U. Now it just looks stupid. I don't know why they felt the need to ruin a cool piece of nature by spray painting it in the first place, but anyway...

After returning to Medellin, I then caught a flight to Bucaramanga. It is not very touristy but quite a nice place. In my one day of being there I decided it kinda reminds me of Brisbane. Nice place to live with good weather, but a bit boring. It does have a lot of greenspace, and a bunch of veggie restaurants, which was good.

What I liked most about this city is it has a shoe district. Literally streets and streets of shoe shops. Unfortunately, I am not buying any shoes on this trip until maybe the end when I can chuck out all my clothes and fill my bag with new stuff. And I know that "just one pair" couldn't hurt. But one pair of sparkly sandals would end up being a gateway pair of shoes, then before I know it, I'm carrying around 15 new pairs. 


Must. Be. Strong.

I only stayed a day here since there is only one hostel and pretty much everyone without a prior reservation was getting kicked out cos a bunch of school kids were arriving. So next stop, Colombia's adventure capital: San Gil!