Off to Medellin for the Feria de Flores. For those old enough, think a combination of Warana and the Ekka! Yep, even timed with the Ekka! I had a chuckle as my cab passed a guy on a bicycle with a washing machine on the front. Where there’s a will …..
I had a few items on my wishlist for this very popular city festival so first stop was the parade of the autos Antigua. Wouldn’t quite meet the technical definition of antique in car restoration language but it was certainly a great spectacle. Would have been just a usual club run for you dad! The truck display was well supported by the locals … .Kenworths only I’m afraid Pete!
I’ve said before that there aren’t many English speakers in Colombia (other than tourists). I was slowly encroaching on my neighbour’s umbrella – hot day – when he happened to ask in perfect English “where are you from, I can’t pick your accent”. He was an English teacher in Medellin! I took full advantage of the situation drilling him for info on the festival.
After the parade I headed to the Carnival Rio Ciudad. I got my fill on festival food and then wandered home to my BnB accom in Medellin centro; this was a great experience as I was staying away from the very touristy area of El Poblado.
The next morning I ventured off to the orchard exhibition in the botanical gardens. The displays were nothing short of spectacular. I had never seen so many varieties of orchards. I happened to start chatting with a couple from Panama, Mireja and Dennis, who I kept bumping into for the rest of the day, even at events in other locations. I’d agreed to go and visit them in Panama since I was visiting their town – they operated an accommodation lodge in El Valle. I was invited to stay but declined as I had already booked my accommodation there.
From the gardens I moved onto the main parade of the festival – the Desfiles de Silleteros. These proud paisas from Santa Elena decorate big stands and then display them through a parade.
All of the tickets for the VIP area had been sold out weeks before and I was told viewing the parade was near impossible unless you got there six hours before it starts. I thought I’d wing it anyway. I was arriving at the time the parade was scheduled to start (I figured this is Colombia so a start time has limited meaning) and managed to nab a fence position near the start. It was fabulous watching the spectacle but I looked on in horror as the scouts, who were there to help lift the arrangements, managed to tip a poor guy’s flowers out of his arrangement. Thankfully he got them all back in but not quite to the original beauty of his original work. I was so glad to see him hold his head up high and walk on – by this stage I was crying in empathy and so were others around me!
Paula had come to Medellin for the day to buy some stuff for the project so we caught up for a few rons in a lovely park bar in Medellin that night. The heavens opening up was our sign it was time to head to our respective accomodation. I’d opted for a taxi given it was close to midnight. The driver was so sweet, refusing to drop me off nearby when we missed my street. He then sat in his taxi until I was safely inside the house.
With the festival now at a close I took a bus to Canon del Rio Claro. This was a beautiful nature reserve along a marble bedded river. The birds were prolific and the water was gorgeous, although you had to hold onto the ropes across the river lest you’d get washed down over the rapids.
I loved the accom type I had selected – a room in a lodge perched high above the river that was open on two sides so you could enjoy the views of the trees, river and listen to the birdlife. Although I must admit I wasn’t so keen on the praying mantis that decided to hang out on my mosquito net!
Despite having visited many caves in my time, I decided to take their 3 hour tour that involved a hike through the mountain jungle, river crossings and the cave hike. I had no idea what I was in for – in the cave we had to wade through water waist deep, slide down natural rock formations to land in out of sight pools, jump into pools that couldn’t be slid into and swim across areas too deep to reach while the colony of bat like birds screeched overhead … needless to say it was a hoot!
With the caving adventure out of the way I spent the next two days just chilling on the river’s edge, dipping in to freshen up and reading my book. A beautiful place that was hard to leave!
I arrived back to Palermo with Lilia telling me how much she’d missed me (lucky I knew what ‘falta’ meant or could have been quite embarrassing) … so, so sweet!
I visited the project to do the update and then the rest of the week was cruisy just drawing locals, reading, giving my English classes and chatting with Johanna (Paula’s niece who paid an unexpected visit from Cali)..and planning an adventure to the indigenous occupied northern most point of South America – La Guajira!