Just when I thought the kids had finished partying I was awoken at 3:30am by their boom box blasting out over the valley. It seemed they’d all gotten up for the sunrise albeit a little earlier than necessary. I suspected their drugs of choice had either just taken effect or worn off. Either way the earplugs just weren’t cutting it so it seemed I’d gotten my sign it was time to leave Las Delicias. I packed up my room and headed down to Lilia’s place. You can imagine I jumped a few times during the dark walk. You think an iPhone torch puts out a bit of light …but it doesn’t! I arrived too early to knock so sat out the front until I could hear movement – it was a good thing Paula is an early riser!
After a sleep at Lilia’s Paula let me know we were being picked up by Mario that afternoon. Mario had popped by Lilia’s on Sunday, while I was at the spa, asking to speak with the English teacher! …hope I’m not breaking any laws running these classes …I figure they’re free and I haven’t advertised I’m actually a qualified teacher.
Turns out Mario was a guy that Tato (the artist) had told us about ages ago. He’d lived in Sydney for 21 years after doing his economics degree there. He was a colourful character having been good friends with Margaret Olley and other Sydney artists. He’d returned to Colombia to build an ecolodge on some land that was previously his mother’s. He was trying to get English lessons for one of his workers and once he met Paula was keen to share ideas on the projects they both had underway.
We visited his property, La Oculta, that afternoon. It was absolutely magical. The gardens were delightful with their well established gingers and haleconias. There were hummingbirds and butterflies fluttering everywhere. The accommodation was hidden on the top of the hills of the property. The views down to the Rio Cauca were fantastic. We farewelled each other with the promise to catch up again sometime soon.
We finished the public holiday with a look at a three bedroom apartment that Paula thought her sister, Omaira, might be interested in. It was quite nice and seemed pretty good value to me at 115,000 pesos ($57k).
I returned to Las Delicias to pick up some more of my stuff and to give Valentina, Andrea and Cruz Elena their English lesson. As suspected the kids had left a mess so Cruz Elena was in the process of cleaning it all up.
I communicated to Alsides and Cruz Elena as best as I could that I was going to live down at Lilia’s but that I’d see them when I got back from my trip to Cuba and Costa Rica. I couldn’t understand what they said in response but I got the sad faces and the tapping of their hand on their hearts. They had been so good to me, helping when I had trouble with stuff in the house and just keeping me company. I would certainly miss them.
I’d left a bag and my mozzie net up at Las Delicuas for Paula. Popo picked me up in morning and I shifted some of my stuff down to Lilia’s.
We had apparently had an earth tremor that morning but none of us had felt it.
It was then back to the job on Tuesday. It’s certainly a fluid project. Paula had been concerned about the structural integrity if the walls go the planned 4 metres so had decided to keep it at one level. That will mess a two bed, three bathroom, kitchen and living room house. The plan would be to extend the volume of rooms through the construction of individual earthbag bungalows. This will obviously make the main house a lot cheaper and will reduce the build time. I could get to see the finished product yet!
Paula had employed one of the guys we’d been drinking with on Friday night to replace Negro. He was only a wiry young guy but he was very strong – reminded me of my dad and brothers.
Poor Lilia had to deal with the fallout of my English classes. I had a few kids turn up at Lilia’s house that night asking for me to help translate a song. They left happy – I just hope they didn’t make it a habit.
I awake to Lilia mimicking something that looks like her falling out of bed. The new apartment had a real mould problem with Lilia’s room being so bad she wouldn’t sleep in it instead choosing to sleep with Paula in a single bed. I was sure she was saying Paula pushed her out, which was later all cleared up when Paula and Lilia shared what actually happened – all very innocent. Language barriers hey!!!
Now that I was living in town I’d finally gotten an opportunity to start to use the gimnasio – I was doing yoga sessions; it wasn’t about to shift the extra holiday tummy but it would certainly be great to get stretchy again.
First trip to the gimnasio for a bit of yoga. Wasn’t about to lose the holiday tummy overnight but determined to stretch out the body.
A former Palermo teacher and now friend of Paula’s, William, came to town on Friday night. We joined him for drinks at Jaime’s park bar. It was a nice night although I was a bit anti-social trying to get my blogs up to date.
Late in the night I headed up to the library as I could get strong wifi at the front doors. When I got there I found it open. Turned out the main hall doubles as a movie theatre so all the older kids were watching a movie. I was sitting outside when all of a sudden I heard a a mass scream and then the lights came on ….scary movie! It took a while for all the kids to settle down before the lights went out and the movie went back on. Hilarious!
We’d decided to head off to Jardin for a night. I was really keen to check out some sewer cabins I’d seen on line. Jardin is supposed to be one of the prettiest towns in the Antioquia department. We’d decided to go part of the way on motorbikes for a bit of fun so Paula found some moto taxis and we set off. It was a bumpy ride on some dirt roads with plenty of corners. The views were lovely following the Rio Cauca and passing a varying terrain – even a eucalyptus plantation forest.
One of the corners we stopped at we had a guy walk up to us with the insistence that I looked just like Senior Gonzale’s daughter (whoever he was). He kept stating it with that the locals sitting around laughed. We figured he was a local with a few mental problems – probably says the same thing to every woman that stops at the corner!
The next corner we stop at the guy checks the wobble of his wheels and then we’re off again – wasn’t sure if it was a precaution or in response to a perceived problem. I decided to form the view it was the former!
I was glad for a stop at the pretty town of Hispsania as an hour and a half in the saddle was tough on the legs and butt!
As soon as we get off Paula gives a big hug to a guy who looks remarkably like her cousin who’s apartment we’d looked at recently. I decide it has to be his brother … and I was right. There was even a pretty balcony above us that had the same lovely wooden frames hanging plants
I felt safe enough on the bikes. They were pretty small only managing a top speed of 90 kms and that was downhill but when the phone came out for some text messaging it was a different story!
We’d passed a few landslides but they weren’t big enough to affect the traffic lanes. It really was beautiful scenery.
The guys dropped us off in a town called Andes and directed us to the road that the buses take. We decided to have lunch in the town before heading off to Jardin – of course the plaza was on the top of a hill and the guys had dropped us off at the bottom! We found a nice spot on a balcony overlooking the plaza – there was an anti-family violence educational campaign going on in the plaza so lots to look at.
We get down to where the buses were supposed to leave but of course it’s further up the road. We jump in a taxi and it starts raining. We decide to go the rest of the way in a taxi. We were glad as the road was very hilly and full of bends.
After checking out our lovely accom, Charco Corazon, we returned to the town. It was a lovely town but honestly I thought the little town of Hispania was more beautiful with its park full of gardens and the colourful homes of Tamesis were just as nice. What was great though was the night food market and the buzz of this town that was watched over by a really unique church with aluminium spires and it’s pretty blue ceilings and gold plated column carvings.
We were just about to place our orders when we hear a roar and all the cooks go running off to the bars. Turned out Costa Rica were playing Colombia in the America’s Cup which may have explained the buzz of the town.
We decided to have a final drink in a bar. Well the final beer turned into three. We’d wandered into a bar when a local guy was out with his kids and they were all so excited to be together that they kept sending beers over to our table despite our request to the bar staff not to send any more. One of the daughters finally joined our table and with that Paula has acharvabd we extricated ourselves.
The stay at Charco Corazon had been great. We found out the pipes were actually just formed concrete rather than actual sewer pipes, which was a bit disappointing as we thought they could be a good solution at Paula’s but they were novel none the least.
The property was just flowing with the water fed from a waterfall across the road. Paula was really happy to meet the owner of the property, Mario, who was also the builder. He showed us through the property including the places up the road that he was building for his daughters. He was also keen to with with Paula on her project – the offers were coming from everywhere!
We caught the La Garrucha cable car for a coffee while enjoying the view of Jardin before jumping on our bus, which would take us to the spot we were meeting some more moto taxis.
We were a little concerned when the driver introduced himself and then invited everyone to let him know if they felt sick so he could stop the bus – more hills and bends to come! I was glad to get off. Paula had drifted off and we passed a corner I thought we’d turned from on our way to Jardin. After a minute I woke Paula to let her know in case that was related to our meeting spot – Puenta Iglesia. Paula quizzed the other passengers about where we were and yep we’d missed our meeting spot. We jumped off the bus and thankfully we hadn’t gone too far so the guys on the bikes came and picked us up.
These bikes were a little bigger so we had a bit more speed but not quick enough to get me off the bumpy roads. I was asked if I wanted rapido or despacio; I said moderato so rapido it was! I felt pretty unwell when we got home mainly caused by the bus trip but contributed to by the helmet being too big and falling down over my eyes constantly. It had been a weekend full of lots of fun and laughs.
I spent Monday preparing the kids’ lessons – Paula had agreed to deliver them for a couple of weeks while I’m away. It was then off to the block for my last day of work before my trip.
The classes on Tuesday were mixed. More adults but only a few kids in each class – I had realised it was school holidays…doh!
Paula, Lilia and I headed up to Las Palmas for a meal together before my early morning departure from Palermo. They had opened just for us as they’re normally closed Tuesday night. It was great to see the progress being made for their accommodation.
I was off to Medellin on the 5am collectivo taxi – only three passengers which made for a rough trip in the back seat. It was actually better to have three people squeezed into the back seat to minimise the falling from one side to another.
I was looking forward to meeting Cliffy at the airport (or Sifilly as Alejandra pronounced it) that night but before I did I was off to a hairdresser. I’d decided that my darker hair on arrival to Colombia had made no difference in me standing out so figured I might as well go for a little more colour… Hopefully Cliffy will recognise me!
A visit to Mario’s lovely La Oculta ecolodge
Noblerto wearing his favourite sombrero while trimming the gardens of his Cafe
Jaime getting high on the job!
Alejandro’s joined the work team
The stairs are causing some grief meanwhile the guys get a rock drain built
The rock pile cleared from near the house
Paula with her cousins Alejandra, Tato, his wife Angela and Elkin
The road needs new paving so some of the locals pitch in to get it done while the others watch on!
Satch taking a break from her pups
No RSA laws prohibiting entry to the bar area here!
Maybe the winning lottery ticket?
Off to Jardin – don’t worry mum, I’m picking up the helmet at the corner!
Lunch overlooking the high Andes plaza
Getting the anti-domestic violence message across in onesies!
…and back down we go!
Interior of the Jardin church
The Jardin night food stalls
Where to start when you get no eating implements?
The bars are packed for the America’s Cup match between Colombia and Costa Rica
Senor and his family out for the night and so happy they keep sending beers to our table!
The lovely Charvo Corazon accommodation
The faux sewer cabins
Paula and Mario exchanging ideas
Crazy Colombian braving the cold water
Waiting for the arrival of the La Garrucha cable car
The aluminium spires of the Jardin church
The variety of transport options never cease to amaze me!
Las Palmas sending me off with a great feed!
Getting my laughs on my way back to Medellin – old mate, his amigo and his amigo’s push bike!