10. The art of Botero, Medellin, Colombia
Walk around the centre of Medellin and you will eventually encounter an enormous ‘fat’ horse or maybe a ‘fat’ lady or gentleman towering above you.
These enormous bronze statues were donated to the city by the artist, Fernando Botero who wanted to contribute something positive to the place where he was born. Actually I learnt on the walking tour that they are not ‘fat’ as such but if you look closer, they are disproportioned – so for example the arms might be too short or the head overly large etc. There are loads of them filling the Plaza de las Esculturas and even more in the museum of Antioquia, also donated by the artist.
If you might do the walking tour (which I highly recommend), don’t read this next bit…
This bird statue (called “The Bird of Peace”!) is a terrible reminder of some of the problems in Colombia. It was blown up in a terrorist attack in 1995 that killed 30 people and injured 200. Botero created a new one and gave it to the city, insisting they keep destroyed statue so as never to forget the people who died in the attack.
For me, seeing the positive aspects of this city and how it is developing became more important than visiting the house of Pablo Escobar. Now, whenever I see a Botero (which I have quite a bit in other places too in South America) I smile and think of the excellent days I spent in Medellin.
9. Climbing the Basilica, Quito, Equador
I’m not sure why I’ve included this as a favourite thing to be honest as I was terrified during the actual experience – to the point of shaking and feeling sick. You have to cross a thin wooden bridge to get to the turret and then climb two sets of ridiculously narrow stairs.
It took me half an hour to persuade my legs to go up the second set as they preferred to have me stand there, numb, watching everyone else do it while being frozen to the spot with a ridiculous grin on my face trying to pretend to the other people around me that I was not petrified.
I think there are two reasons its got a place in this list though and its not even because of the view (which is lovely, but not as good as Parque Itchimbia). Firstly, I loved all the beautiful old buildings and churches in Quito old town. Its impossible to turn a corner without seeing ‘another one’. However, the main reason is because this trip is all about doing things that scare me a bit. Being scared and doing it anyway. Not letting my fears stop me and trying to become braver and generally improve as a human. Its not always possible of course, but on that day I blooming well did make it to the top!
8. Exploring the walls, Cartagena, Colombia
The city of Cartagena is beautiful (if a little bit expensive and occasionally ruined by people hassling you a lot to buy stuff). It looks quite European in some streets, which at this point in my trip was different to other places I had been. I met some really nice people there, which probably made me like it more, but my favourite thing to do here wasjust to walk around the city walls. At night time there was a make shift disco with music and people dancing. During the day you can pay a lot of money and go into the fort and explore even further the inside of the castle, which makes me feel like a medieval princess warrior. Which is always a good feeling! A really pretty way to see the city.
7. Come on you reds, Medellin, Colombia
After seeing photos of Colombian fans going crazy during the world cup, I couldn’t resist heading to the stadium for a football match during my stay in Medellin. Equipped with newly bought team shirts, tickets bought from a dodgy bloke, and faces painted, we followed the sea of red walking towards the grounds.
It was Medellin’s second best team against another local team, but don’t be fooled into thinking it was just a meaningless friendly. To these fans, it was war. The stadium was rammed.
To our right was about 300 super fans, who jumped up and down and shouted along with some drums for the whole 90 minutes and during half time.
One man jumped so much he fell off the stand and was taken away on a stretcher… no one went with him as there was too much jumping still to do. The crowd action on the opposite side to us involved what looked like a sort of combination of salsa with fighting. There was no away team supporters watching – we thought it would probably be suicidal to enter the stadium wearing white for this game.
The fans were truly dedicated to their team. They seemed to be a mix of amazed, shocked and delighted to see a bunch of gringos wearing their shirt.
We were a little nervous things would get violent but when Medellin scored everyone went crazy with positive energy. We were high fiving and screaming with the locals infront of us and the atmosphere was incredible. Medellin won 3-0 so everyone left happy. I’d love to know what its like when the first team play!
6. Munching fried stuff, ice cream and chocolate bread, Colombia
I think I’ve established during this trip that I am not a foodie, but there is a lot of food in Colombia that is very bad for you but really tasty. Many things are fried, which makes me so happy.
My most happy food memories include…
– Vegetarian arepas on tayrona beach – a bit like deep fried pupusas and really yummy;
– The fried cheesey potato thing from the street vendor in Cartagena;
– The ridiculously tasty artesanial icecream in Cartagena – i had to have 2 a day…
and of course the CHOCOLATE BREAD in parque tayrona.
5. Dinner with a tarantula or 3, Amazon, Equador
In the roof of the dining area of our lodge in the amazon there lived three, lets say VERY large tarantulas. While we ate they crawled around above our heads. This meant that we ate three meals a day which included the constant threat of a tarantula taking a wrong step and falling onto our table, or worse – our heads. Our guide was a crazy person (he called himself Satan) and he liked to hold the babies and let them crawl up his arm!
This behaviour is madness. This and the size of the moths meant I had to face a lot of fears during my time in the jungle… but its pretty hard to believe you are actually in the amazon when you are there. Im still scared writing this!!
4. Medellin Metro, Colombia
Being from London having not sat on a tube for over 7 months, it was really exciting to arrive in Medellin and be able to get to my hostel by metro. The people of this city love their metro, so they proudly keep it clean and free of grafitti or rubbish. It’s fairly small and easy to navigate and just a joy, making this London lady feel almost at home for a couple of days.
3. Otovalo Market, Equador
Theres just so many beautiful things!!!
I tried so hard not to buy stuff but there were so many colours and I just couldn’t help myself!!
The market here is massive and isn’t just arts – there is a huge area for fruits, meat and crazy herbs and spices I’d never seen before.
A chocolate banana kept me going through all the alleyways. I will really miss these beautiful South American markets so much when I’m gone.
2. Sunsets and Swimming in the Amazon, Equador
There is something about swimming in the amazon that is more special than any other water.
The minerals make the water look murky and there might be a massive snake or a piranha swimming beneath your feet, but it feels somehow softer against your skin and YOU’RE IN THE FRIGGIN’ AMAZON. Every night on the tour we went to sit in our boat watching the beautiful sunsets and jumping into the water.
These are moments I will never forget and I had to keep pinching myself to believe I was really there.
1. Parque Nacional Tayrona, Colombia
I already wrote about this:
(here…. http://thewanderingfeline.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/a-little-bit-of-ali-heaven-in-colombia/ )
A place with a perfect carribean beach, crazy coloured lizards, monkeys and chocolate bread is of course going to be high on my list of favourites. Wonderful days and I have to go back one day!