The beginning of March marked our return to the road. After just over a month of being settled in one place we were keen to get back out and explore the rest of what Colombia had to offer. And after so long in the city, we both were in dire need of a decent stretch of time in the countryside.
discovering the most colourful town in colombia
Initially we planned to visit Guatapé on a day trip from Medellin, but after advice from friends we spent two days exploring its colourful streets, eating our body weight in cheese empanadas and climbing the 740 steps to enjoy what the locals describe as the best view in the world!
cowboys, tinto cups and more colourful walls
We almost didn't go to Jardin. After so long in Antioquia, we really thought we should give some other states a chance. Despite numerous recommendations from Medellin locals, it wasn't until a chance encounter with a priest in Guatapé that we finally reconsidered. We're so glad we did.
Jardin is by far one of our favourite places in Colombia. A town of cowboys, colourful houses and photo opportunities. A town where our camera remained firmly in our hands for the duration of our stay. A town where the majority of our days were spent in the boiling hot plaza on rickety wooden chairs with a beer or strong coffee watching the fantastic cast of characters wander by. You'll find some of them in our street photography essay here.
And when you have innumerable white-washed walls and colourful doors, what could we do other than stand in front of them and pose? We have to have Facebook fodder you know!
And when old men with awesome moustaches weren't enough to keep us entertained, we also found the cheapest ice-cream thus far. About 25p for two scoops. Throw in a shop lady that indulged Andrew's love of sour jelly sweets, and we were very happy campers.
Despite Emily's reservations at once again being suspended over valleys in a metal cage, we even took a trip in the cable car to check out this view.
We highly recommend a visit to Jardin if you're in Colombia. You'll find our guide here.
walking amongst giants
Valle de Cocora is one of those magical places that contains something you simply can't find anywhere else on earth. Here, it is wax palms of giant proportions rising up through cotton wool cloud forests.
As you might expect, we took a lot of pictures. And despite a coffee break in a hummingbird sanctuary half-way through, the six hour hike left us pretty much exhausted.
Check out some more photos and info here.
coffee and countryside... with a bang!
Salento was our chance to find greenery and get back in touch with nature. During our week long stay we took every opportunity to explore the rolling hills that surround this hotspot - if only to get away from the ever increasing number of tourists (yes yes we're tourists too, but you know what we mean)!
Sometimes these jaunts led us to an intended target such as Don Elias' popular family owned coffee finca, often it ended when our bodies told us it was time for a drink!
If you get to Salento, you simply have to have a go at Tejo. Who wouldn't want to spend a couple of hours drinking beer and blowing shit up?! Seriously, the aim of the game is to throw heavy metal balls at packets of gunpowder - and scare the living crap out of any opponent that stands too close!
Unsurprisingly, Emily had about as much skill as any other game requiring hand-eye-coordination but Andrew and Jeremy (you'll remember him from last month's round-up) successfully caused a few quite impressive explosions, resulting in puffed chests for at least the following couple of hours.
Check out our article on the five must do things in Salento here.
discovering that not everywhere can be perfect
The photo below pretty much sums up our thoughts on Bogotá. We spent five days in the cold capital city, with the miserable weather doing everything it could to dampen our mood.
In a hostel wholly unsuitable for work, the days that we didn't venture out were spent snuggled up in bed watching Game of Thrones. We got through two series (sorry, Andrew steadfastly refuses to call them 'seasons'). Take from that what you will.
During our few days here, we also celebrated our three year anniversary AND one year trip anniversary. Unfortunately, despite it also being St Patrick's day, Bogota's bar scene was not on-side. Doesn't mean a few too many rums weren't enjoyed though with some fantastic karaoke performances!
One thing we did desperately wanted to tick off during our time in the city was seeking out some of the street-art its slowly becoming famous for. On the one sunny morning there was, we ventured out and did see some really cool work, but kept on getting warned by locals that the area wasn't safe for us.
And, ladies and gentlemen, that above is the largest pizza we have ever seen. And yes, we ate it all. Our excuse was a mild hangover, but in truth, we just really like pizza!
catching up on work and football in cali
You may have noticed that we don't have many photos of Cali. What we did have however, was a great hostel to bunker down in and get some work done. And with only Spanish speakers living there, we also got a chance to practice our language skills.
Andrew also joined our buddy Jeremy to see his first Colombian game of football. Again, locals were warning us that it was far too dangerous to go but we ventured out anyway.
It was a great game between Deportivo Cali and Atletico Nacional - the Man Utd and Liverpool of the country - and the atmosphere was phenomenal, including a few skirmishes in the stands. If we had heeded our taxi driver's advice that we should leave 15 minutes before the end or it may get violent, then we'd have missed three goals! Andrew has never seen such a large amount of riot police at any football game anywhere else though.
exploring the past by foot and by horse
A little off the tourist trail, and down a very bumpy road not to be attempted without a decent suspension, lies San Agustin. The main reason for a visit are the famous funerary statues which, amazingly, nobody really knows anything about.
Neither of us is actually terribly interested in stuff like this, but throw in a couple of horses that don't mind throwing a couple of gringos about whilst racing along dusty roads, some magnificent vistas and a guide offering you booze at 10 a.m. and archaeology becomes a lot more interesting!
coffee and cakes
We've learnt on this trip that when you discover something tasty, you should eat it as many times as possible because you probably wont find it again.
We took this philosophy very seriously in San Agustin when we discovered some of the best pastries we have had on this trip.
Every afternoon involved a new foray into their large selection of freshly made yumminess. At £1 for two cakes and two coffees, it would have been rude not to!
We have truly loved this country, more than almost any other. And with just a couple more stops on the trail it was here, in San Agustin, that we began to feel the familiar sense of excitement, tinged with sadness, of saying goodbye to an old friend to discover another.
This is where March and the story ends.
Where will April take us?