22.04.2013 - 26.04.2013
Our recent 3 days in Calí, Colombia, our 2nd visit to this city, confirmed our affection for the place. The residents are incredibly friendly and helpful. We were all enthusiastically welcomed back to our hotel. They even installed a new router on our floor when we mentioned we were having problems with the WiFi connection! And my favorite manicurist remembered me with a smile.
We returned to our favorite restaurant/drinking hole, where we watched two Champions League matches with the locals. The folks are curious about the US and our travels, and are also very proud of their city, understandably.
A man from the hotel--the owner, perhaps--drove us around the city, showing us a lot of things we missed the first time. We especially enjoyed seeing the Parque de los Gatos, filled with cat sculptures. It appears that the same basic cat/mold was used for all the figures, each being decorated and designed by different artists. And the velodrome is terrific. It is the site of several UCI World Championships, and it will host them again in 2014.
We were a bit sad to say goodbye, but look forward to returning another time.
The drives from Pasto to Calí and from Calí to Medellin were both strenuous, to say the least. We came across numerous rock slides, including live ones, and saw a huge number of workers trying to clean them up. It seems to be a 24-hour job in these parts. And there are frequent military posts, with sandbags and many soldiers carrying automatic weapons. They always smile and give us the thumbs-up.
We also witnessed a troubling sight: two dogs being hit by the vehicle directly in front of us. Actually, it appeared they were rolled under the vehicle, rather than actually run over. We stopped. The larger one, a German Shepherd, yelped and got up. A little boy came and led him away. The smaller one remained in the middle of the road. I got out and approached it, thinking I would at least comfort him in his last moments. However, he was awake, though obviously stunned. He let me pet him w/o growling. His bladder had emptied during all the commotion, and there was some blood where his little mouth was scraped. A man came to help me, and drug/carried the pooch to the side of the road. The pup lifted its head and seemed to be coming back to normal. I am hopeful he will survive. Left me shaken for awhile.
And then the drive into Medellin . . . Good googly moogly. It is the Panamericano, with all the truck traffic one would expect to see on such an artery. And it is remarkably narrow and steep and winding. Trucks drive at approximately 5 mph, so it is customary to pass them, even on a double-yellow line. However, one Tránsito cop decided gringos should not pass, and signaled us to the side of the narrow road. Tried to tell us we had committed and infraction. We played dumb, "lo siento. No entiendo." They sometimes get frustrated enough to just tell you to go on. It worked this time. Best we could figure, the guy was bored and wanted to check out the Jeep. His partner came out and told us to go on. Until this episode, we've had no problems in South America with cops pulling us over for bogus infractions, probably expecting us to fold and pay a bribe. Central America was another story . . .
At any rate, we were rewarded by locating our apartment in Medellin relatively quickly. And it is terrific! 17th floor in barrio El Poblado, a hoity-toity part of the city. Nice to have a kitchen and a washer and dryer! We will hang here for a few days.