A few days later, I made another trip to the airport, this time to pick up my very first visitor to Medellin. My drive up was uneventful, until I missed my last turn and had to take an extra trip around the roundabout ('Look kids: Big Ben, Parliament'). No problems, though. I got off at the right spot the second time and made it to the passenger pick up area with plenty of time to wait for Brian to get through security and make it out.
We spent a few days in Medellin, which included checking out the Botero statue plaza outside Museo de Antioquia, riding the metro cable to the new library on the hill, showing off my school grounds, typical lunch, and sangria followed by Ron Medellin in the park (Parque Lleras) with Tina H.
We took a night bus to Cartagena, which was a much more pleasant experience for me than for Brian. I took one of the super-duper sleeping pills I'd picked up (only ONE each day) and crashed. Poor Brian was in a jenky seat that jerked back and forth with the acceleration and braking of the bus. Oh, and don't forget that it's windy mountain roads and he got a little seasick. He was a little worse-for-wear when we got there.
We spent 4 nights at this great little hostel/motel within the walled city of Cartagena, Casa Relax. We spent our time tooling around and checking things out. The walled city is amazing--the architecture is just beautiful--and we walked up to the castillo. One of the days we tried to take a boat trip out to the Islas Rosario with our hotel owner and other guests there, but we got totally rained out and had to turn back. I was soaked to the core and will never again ignore the 'wash before using' warning on a brightly colored towel (I was also blue from the dye). The following day gave us much better weather and we were able to get on a boat to the islands with tons of other tourists. The boat ride was fun, but the overall trip was less than spectacular. We ended up at a beach, Playa Blanca, which was touted as the best beach in Cartagena. It was disappointing; the beach itself wasn't that great (I've actually been to so many better ones just in my travel here) and it was saturated with vendors. Vendors who would NOT leave us alone. Apparently 'no gracias' doesn't actually mean anything. One guy, I finally had to basically say that I didn't care how cheap his bracelet was, I did not want it. It was less than relaxing. In fact, much of Cartagena was full of these vendors who were very pushy and would not leave us (allegedly) rich gringos alone. Some of the highlights of Cartagena:
- Sunset drinks at Cafe del Mar, on the wall overlooking the ocean.
- Awesome eating, most notably Pelikanos, where we got a full meal including appetizers and dessert and a full bottle of wine each, for roughly $40. Total. And that is actually pretty pricey for Colombia.
- Views from the top of the Castillo.
- Museum of Modern Art, where we got in for $1 each.
- The beautiful churches and the unexpected wedding we got to witness.
- The emerald salesmen-lord, they were everywhere! And there were promociones (sales) all the time!
- Running all over the walled city looking for a bottle of wine that wasn't 100 degrees.
- Buying beers from the only street vendor who kept getting in trouble and being asked to leave the area by the police.
- Unexpectedly running into Daisy and Luke and getting great advice on where to eat and where to stay next on our adventure (keep reading for more info).
After 2 nights at Barlovento, we packed up our stuff and hiked out to the highway in hopes of caching a bus to the entrance of Parque Tayrona. The bus never came and we ended up walking the whole way, which was maybe 5 km total, but which felt like AT LEAST 6 km. It was damn hot and humid, and we both had all of our stuff for roughly 2 weeks. It was a good time.
When we got to the park, we rented horses to carry us and our stuff the 45 minutes into the area where we planned to stay, Arrecifes. The horse ride was uneventful, but it was definitely less than comfortable in the shorts I chose to wear. Once we got there, we booked a small cabin for the night and headed off for the beach. The area itself is more of a surfing beach due to the currents and big waves, but there is a decent swimming beach about a 30 minute walk away. We spent a few hours on the beach, but that was pretty much the excitement of our time there. I've heard that there is great hiking around the area, but we didn't have enough time there to do much adventuring. I think I'd like to go back and spend more time there. After one night there, we grabbed a taxi into Santa Marta to catch our plane to Bogota.
Bogota was so different in comparison to the week we had just spent: big city, faster paced, not to mention much cooler weather. We stayed at my favorite little motel, La Casona del Patio Amarillo, and explored the city. We checked out the Botero museum, part of the Gold Museum (which is currently undergoing reconstruction and only part of the collection is available for viewing), La Candelaria, Monserrate Cathedral (and the fantastic view of the city), and a really fun dance club--it was like a frat party: pay to get in and get unlimited drinks until 2 am. It was awesome. Made for a rough morning the next day, but also made for a really fun night.
I'm having a hard time remembering what else we did in Bogota (Brian when you read this, feel free to add in the comments). We decided to take a day time bus back from Bogota, which took way more time than we expected. As soon as we got back to Medellin we took a cab to McDonalds for some good old American food and called it a day.
Brian's last day in Medellin we did some last minute sight-seeing and souvenir shopping, where I randomly met a woman who sells AVON here and a man selling his own cds. The next morning we both left town on a flight to Panama City, Brian on the way to Denver and me to Wyo for some much needed family time.
My time in Wyoming went by much too fast, but it was wonderful. The highlights:
- 4th of July at the Cabin with mom and Dad, Jason and Christy, Terry and Renee, and Christy's folks.
- Seeing the cousins at South Pass (missed you Jill and kids!).
- Sleeping in my bed at home.
- Dinner with the Gray family.
- One day with Lindsay, Jeff and Rebecca (ending with being locked out of my own house by Kemmerer's finest).
- A quick trip to Denver for some live music (Mile High Music Fest) and visits with dear friends-and awesome homemade fish tacos at Brian's.
- Dinner with Jana and Greg and a trip to Wal-Mart to stock up on necessities.
- Good, familiar food.
- Good beer.
- Wonderful alone-time with mom and dad.
- Taco Time,
And that concludes 'How I Spent My Summer Vacation.'