Friday, 30 March 2012

More from Medellin

I have been here 2 weeks now and am settling in - there are a few minor nuisances like traffic noise and random girls from downstairs wandering into our apartment to borrow stuff but I think I have to adapt to a more informal style of living. What is good is that I now have a fairly established routine based on cycling and dancing with an emerging range of other activities, mostly depending what presents itself. Somebody told me there is no easy translation of the word serendipity into Spanish - but allowing space for things to just happen and coming across stuff by virtue of walks and speculative internet searches can be good fun and has a  Colombian Latino feel of easy going acceptance.

By way of an example,yesterday, Natalia and enterprising Paisa on-line Spanish teacher whom I had contacted some time ago, posted to me meet-up of expats, a group called InterNations  - we met at the Beer Factory in Parque Lleras, a clubby zone in Poblado – there were 15 of us representing 9 nationalities; we chatted intermittently in Spanish and English- I mostly talked to a New York/Colombian architecture professor who was somewhat despairing of the Colombian free market approach and unequal trade agreements with the US. The bar sported about 50 different beers and played 80s rock a little too loudly but it wasn't too crowded and the waitress managed about 12 separate drinks bills with minimum fuss – I had 3 fancy beers and it came to around £6 with the tip. 

It is fantastic that in only one week, mainly by courtesy of Juan Carlos, I have had 3 separate and fun cycling events. At the weekend I met up with the team -  and we headed out in a North Easterly direction on 62. Everyone was friendly and, as in Peru they all have nick names – like Animal, Professor, and Sancocho which is what they call Juan Carlos.  It rained on the way out and the group fragmented somewhat, more than half of us taking shelter in a cafe in the tropical forest where I ate a welcome potato pie thing – worryingly my Garmin gave out and I only recorded half the ride, losing the climbing bit on the return – which was a pity since I now have an unrecorded 4,200 feet of ascent missing from my Strava Challenge. 

Meeting up with new cycling friends
Later in the week we went to the Velodrome – this is an excellent resource and anyone can use it to train, with or without a track bike. I tucked onto the back of some juniors being towed by a motorbike and did a few fast circuits – it was very hot and afterwards we had a great fruit breakfast near the Stadium.
Showing them how!
Fruity Breakfast

Yesterday Juan Carlos borrowed a mountain bike for me and we climbed above Envigado where he lives on a delightful and quiet lane, Camino Catederal, sometimes asphalt and other times trail we got well above the city following a fast stream and heading into the tropical forest.
Climbing along Camino Catedral

Proper Forest
So all in all I cannot complain about the cycling – this morning's effort has been cancelled or postponed due to the rain but it usually clears up so we may head out to do Las Palmas again which is probably going to become my benchmark ascent.

Apart from cycling I have visited Pueblito Paisa, a wooded knoll where there is a model colonial village and good museum depicting the planned developments for Medellin. This is based on a thorough analysis of the city's characteristics and underlying themes for the pan boil down to:

  • education
  • social urbanization and managing public space to improve life
  • Equitable conditions and inclusion
  • culture and art
  • security and cohabitation
  • competitiveness and entrepreneurship

You can also eat and relax whilst looking out over the city as it sprawls along the valley
Looking out to City Centre, Medellin
The art theme is quite prevalent in Medellin but I was somewhat disappointed by the city's museum of modern art which has very little to see except 2 visiting exhibitions one of which was OK – there is a nice shop and some up market restaurants and cafes nearby.

The Library at Santo Domingo, which you arrive at by way of a cable car, is truly impressive. A large dark obelisk attached to the side of the hill and situated in a relatively poor neighbourhood it is a good example of the city's pursuance of a cicvil society via urban planning and architecture.
Metro cable

Library at Santo Domingo
I am enjoying Medellin and as we move into Holy Week I am looking forward to a 4 day 600km cycling road trip and whatever else this interesting city throws at me.


Jill said...

Alan, reading your blog really makes me want to quit my job or retire so I can live your life. Minus the cycling part. How long will you be staying in Colombia?

Que disfrutes!

malarkey said...

Here in medellin until mid may, than a week in Cali for the dance and then to the coast maybe to chill and get a good tan before heading home for the beginning of June

te invito!