Santa Elena, Colombia – April 16

Chris:

After leaving the heat, humidity, and bugs behind on the north Coast and driving for three days, we have established ourselves in a campground in the hills to the east of Medellin – at al Bosque Hostel and Glamping. The campground is at 8100′ so weather is Pacifica-cool. Yippee!

The campground offers good wifi, electricity, hot showers and a well-equipped kitchen. I’ve done more cooking in the past week than in the prior two months. Our neighbors have included an Argentinian couple on the way back south, a French couple with three children under the age of 7 (gee, trip is tough enough with us two adults – let alone with kids) and a Mexican couple traveling by bus.

One day we took Colombia’s only Metro system down into Medellin. The first leg was a gondola-styled car soaring over the large Arvi Park on the northeast slope of Medellin. The second leg was still a gondola but suspended over the favelas (slums) perched on the hillsides. Another transfer onto a regular elevated subway system took us to the main Cathedral, Bolívar Park and Botero’s Sculptures park. After a few purchases like getting a new watch battery for Dave and an increase in internet time for my iPhone, we reversed our steps back to our campsite.

Mostly we have wandered the roads and pathways around the campground up hill and down dale. The mornings here are foggy which burns off around 9. Then the rainstorms and thunderstorms roll in around 4.

We had roof leaks, probably from when the solar panels were ripped off or maybe when new holes were made to re-attach. So first day we tried duct tape. Didn’t stop the leaks.

So went to local hardware store (called Ferreterías here) and through our limited Spanish and sign language conveyed our need for silicone caulk and a caulk gun (those items were not covered in our Spanish classes). After climbing up onto roof, I patched 8 new attachment points and 8 old attachment points and anything that looked like a hole. That afternoon’s rainstorm showed the patches were successful. Not pretty caulking but got the job done. Now to figure out how to access the ceiling light fixture that is sputtering because water got into it. Think of your home and all the fixes and repairs necessary to keep you warm and dry. We have same problem just in miniature.

Life is full of serendipitous choices/moments. We were out walking. 1) Decided to take a staircase down the hill to another road. 2) Saw a sign for a small museum. 3) Walked down driveway towards museum, and 4) Met a man who was taking his trash out. 5) Started talking, he invited us to his house to meet his family. He is a professor/artist for ecological house designs and will be going to San Francisco at the end of the month. Enjoyed his company and  hospitality with his wife and two sons (and brother and nephew and niece-in-law) for over an hour. Serendipity.

We’re hanging out here to re-charge and wait for Semana Santa (Holy Week) – which is a big deal in Latin America – to pass to continue our touristy things in Medellin.

Dave:

The coolest thing, so far, about Medellin (pronounced meh-deh-JEAN) is the Metrocable. It’s integrated into the city’s public transit system.

4/18 update: We ventured into Medellin for the second time today to do some shopping.  We took the Metrocable to the Metro and got off 11 stops later at the Monterrey Mall.  It’s a mall that specializes in computer and high-tech equipment.  There are hundreds of small stores in the mall.

The primary objective was a USB hub.  We had no way of knowing which store sells what.  The method we used to find a store selling the hub is as follows: First, we google what we want on the iPhone and save an image to the screen. Then we walk up to store we think might sell hubs and show them the image.  We’re told either no or where we might find it.  Rinse, later, repeat until we find the store that sells hubs. The method is time consuming but almost always works.

From the Monterrey Mall, we walked a few blocks to the Home Center (imagine the world’s largest Home Depot). We found most of what we wanted with the aid of a couple of seriously helpful employees. When ready to leave, it was pouring rain outside.  So we have lunch in the food court. We lucked into the Tuesday’s 2 for 1 sale at Mimo’s, an ice cream shop we discovered in Cartagena.

When we get to the Metrocable station we notice the system has stopped.  We hung around for a while, talked to a few Metrocable employees before finally giving up on Metrocable.  We took a taxi back to the hostel.

Note on the Metro: It’s crowded, but someone always gives Chris a seat.

For my photographer friends: Camera used is an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.  Lens used on 90% of the photos was an M.Zuiko 12-40mm PRO 2.8 lens. The other ten percent are taken with either the wickedly sharp M.Zuiko 75mm 1.8 lens or the M.Zuiko 40-150mm PRO 2.8 lens.

A note about the Google Photos interface: There is a bug in Google Photos. The photo captions, if they appear at all, stay on the screen for five seconds.  To make them reappear, move your mouse/cursor around on the image. This may not work. The captions can only be seen when there is one photo on the screen and you are not in grid or slideshow mode.  Got that?

But not all photos have captions. If you really want to see the caption, click the i icon (black i in a white circle). A sidebar will appear with the caption and other fascinating information.  It will also appear if there’s no caption. Click the X or the i icon again to dismiss the sidebar. If you want to read my witty and incisive captions, my recommendation is to leave the sidebar open if you don’t find it distracting.

As always, comments and criticism are welcome.

Whew! That was a long one. To the photos!