Robin & Jean's Travels travel blog

The weather was all over the board today - cloudy, overcast, we drove through fog as we climbed in altitude, and beautiful clear skies at the lake.

The breakfast buffet was nice at this hotel. They had good scrambled eggs with ham, an omelet station, tangerine juice, plus all of the regular cheeses, meats, cereal, pastries, etc. The breakfast area was a covered open air restaurant.

On the bus at 8:00, our local guide, Julian, talked about his life in relation to what was happening in Medellin. He talked about the unrest, FARC, religion, landmines, and how some army soldiers panicked and shot two people when they did not identify themselves. They were mute farmers. So the soldiers planted guns and made-up the story that they shot at them. The people knew that these men were not rebels, and protested. The soldiers were eventually exposed.

Julian has been dating his wife since he was 18 years old and she was 16 years old. She is now a doctor.

At our first WC stop, we also were served hot chocolate (not my cup of tea when one is allergic to chocolate), chorizo, arepa, and a tasty cheese bread. We had a learning and discovery moment when we walked over to talk with the young man, Sebastian, who was making the cheese bread. After he demonstrated how it was done, some of the ladies tried it, including Jean.

Back on the bus to Guatape Lake, Julian talked about the small towns as we passed through them. The Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir was caused by a large hydro electric dam. The level rose so much, they had to relocate several villages.

Once at the lake, we took a boat ride to see the house/fortress owned by Pablo Escobar even though the house was destroyed by a bomb, you could still see the guard towers, swimming pool, etc. Not far away in the lake was a metal girder cross which marks the location of the church in the village that is now below the lake. You could also see the giant letters "G I" on the monolith, called Piedra del Penol. Someone had started to paint Guatape on the monolith, but were caught/frighten off before they could finish. The "I" is actually the left leg of the block letter U.

Our next stop was the monolith. The bus took us up to the base. On the way up I saw what I would call in SE Asia a tuk-tuk. My first thought was this would be the local transportation for the day. We were challenged that if we could do the 659 steps to the top within the 20 minutes we had at this stop, don't let anyone stop you. Pam went half-way up Piedra del Penol to get some pictures. Jean and I stayed down below and took pictures, read the sign about the monolith, and looked in some souvenir stores. The monolith is composed of granite, quartz and feldspar. It may have occurred due to a volcanic eruption.

We hopped back on the bus for it to take us to our lunch in Guatape. At the restaurant, we had been given four choices earlier in the day. Our choices eere: tilapia, pisa platter, vegetarian pisa platter, or beef. Jean and I both chose the pisa platter. They served us appetizers of pork rinds and a plantain fritter, both were delicious. The pisa platter had too much food, and then we had a dessert of chocolate ice cream bar (I had a fruit bar).

After WC at the restaurant, we walked up a side street to the main square. Here we were to take local transportation. My guess back at the Monolith proved correct, we were taking tuk-tuk, or as the locals call it las moto chivas. We went two by two in the chivas zooming around the village. Guatape has many buildings with zocalos (tiles) along the facade's lower walls in bright colors and 3-D images. Many of the tiles are tied to either the products sold by the shops, or the beliefs of the residents. Others are cultural images of their farming heritage. As we zoomed along, our driver would stop at interesting zocalos and allow us to take a picture before moving along to the next.

At one point, we all stopped and disembarked to talk with two zocalos artists who were busy painting new tiles. The older gentleman, Nacho, talked with us about how you make the zocalos from partially dried cement. You have to work quickly before the cement hardens. Then you can paint the zocalos after it has dried. It was very interesting to talk with the artist and his assistant. Diego compensated them for their time, and we got back in our chivas and continued on our journey of taking pictures of zocalos.

We returned to the square from whence we started and disembarked our chivas. We then had an hour to explore the village. Jean and I explored the church on the square. We looked around the flower festival displays from the local businesses. Jean stopped in a shop and found a necklace she liked. We just continued around the square until we reached the meeting point and then sat until it was time to go. When Jean opened her bag of jewelry to show the other ladies, she had a necklace in silver, when she had picked out one in gold. So, she returned to the shop and exchanged for the correct necklace.

We then walked back to the restaurant for a WC stop before boarding the bus back to Medillin. Jean read her book and I slept on the return trip. Dinner was on our own again, so we just returned to our room and had her leftovers from the Hard Rock Cafe, and the cheese and crackers we bought yesterday. We read and watched some TV for the evening.

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