We were up at dawn on Sunday morning. I gorged myself on a big buffet breakfast while Jay went to Sunday mass. We had agreed to meet Germán at 8:30 for the big tour and he showed up right on time.
Here is the breakfast buffet:
First stop was the house where the final battle occurred when Pablo and his driver were killed in a hail of gunfire. I had seen photos of the house on the internet so when we drove up we recognized it immediately. I had to have my picture taken in front of it! This is now a quiet neighborhood and many people were on the streets walking to church while I am having my picture taken in front of the house. I am sure they thought “crazy tourists”. Germán described the battle in detail and it pretty well matched up with what I had read. It was unbelievable, just having finished the book, and now I am standing in front of the very house! It was like living the story.
Next, it was off to the cemetery to see the tomb of Pablo. Again, as soon as we walked onto the cemetery grounds I recognized the tomb after seeing pictures of it on the internet. Quite an impressive little plot of dirt! Several family members are buried right there next to him. Germán told us that Pablo was considered the “Robin Hood” of Colombia and that people still bring flowers to his grave every day.
Here German is giving Jay a little history of the events surrounding the burial of Pablo:
For the next 4 hours Germán drove us around Medellin visiting various sites which were major points of interest including many of the buildings that Pablo used to own and some of the apartments where he lived. We finally got our fill of Pablo.
One more thing I wanted us to do was to ride the cable car that is an extension of the metro system in Medellin. The cable car is part of a transit system that serves a rather large, lower socio-economic neighborhood that is built up into the hills. It is the main system of transportation for this neighborhood and connects with the metro for travel throughout the city. It is a series of 3 different cable car stations; each one located a little higher up the hill than the other–similar to a ski lift. We jumped on a car and rode it through all 3 stations and back while Germán waited on the street for us.
It was quite interesting to go over the top of the neighborhoods and see how people are living below you. Each car held about 6 people. The other passengers were all very friendly so we chatted with them a little in Spanish.
As you can see, it is an interesting way to travel through your neighborhood:
(click on the photos to enlarge them)
By this time it was 12 noon and we still needed to call Dr. Olga. Germán dropped us off in the park where we had dinner the night before. We used a pay phone to call Olga. Olga wasn’t there but her sister answered and said she was aware we might come by the farm. She said Olga would return in an hour and suggested we call back then. We used the hour to have lunch at an outdoor restaurant. Great cheeseburgers!
When we returned to the hotel we called Olga again and this time she answered. She suggested we get Germán to drive us to the little town of Retiro which she said was on the way to the airport (sort of). She told us to have him drop us off in the town square and she and her sister would pick us up at 2:30. So, on a wing and a prayer we told Germán…”It’s Retiro for us, Amigo”!
Next-Retiro and meeting the family of Dr.Olga
At the base of Monserrate there is a funicular or as they call it the “teleferico,” which is basically a little railway car that goes almost straight up the hill. They also have a cable car as well, but it was closed until after 12 noon. In the interest of time we decided to take the funicular up the mountain and the cable car down. We had to wait in line for about 40 minutes before we could catch the car up the hill.
On top there is a church, a little village, a market, a couple of restaurants, and one incredible view of Bogotá!
I had seen a picture of Bogotá in a book over 6 years ago and promised myself at that time that someday I would make this trip. It was an incredible feeling to see the skyline from a point that was probably the same spot from where the picture in the book was taken.
Bogotá is a city of 8 million people and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Often times there are clouds hanging around the mountains which can obscure the view. Fortunately for us, the clouds cleared and we had a great view of the city below. From up high you get a feeling of how really large this city is. Check it out:
It was lunchtime and we were right on schedule. The plan was to eat lunch and be off the mountain by 1:30 because we had to be back at the hotel at 3:00 for our ride to the airport. We got a window view in the restaurant that sits right on the edge of the cliff. We both had “Ajiaco” which is the special soup dish of Bogotá….incredibly delicious and very filling.
We started down the mountain around 1:30, this time in the cable car. On the car we met a woman who could speak a little English. She wanted to know what our plans were and I told her we were going to try to at least see the Zona Rosa which is the upscale area I referred to in an earlier report. She validated our choice but insisted we not hail our own cab. So, what did she do? She gets one of the many soldiers standing around at the cable car station and asks him to hail a cab for us!! She waited with us and told the cab driver where to take us and the rest is history.
Here is the cable car ride down the hill:
When we arrived in the Zona Rosa area we knew we were in the big money part of Bogotá. Very nice looking condos and hotels in the area. The Lonely Planet guide had suggested visiting an enclosed mall. The mall was full of high end shops. We walked through it, and then strolled outside through the myriad of sidewalk cafes filled with people. We finally stopped, had some dessert and Colombian coffee, and watched Bogotá walk by in their designer clothes. Life was good!!
By this time it was 2:30 and time to head back to the hotel. We had a 30 minute taxi ride back to the hotel and knew our airport driver would be waiting for us. We had seen a lot of the city in a short time and in a fun and exciting way. When we arrived at the hotel, they gave us our bags and signaled our driver we were ready. The hotel staff was very pleasant, asked us to return someday and wished us luck in our travels the rest of the way through Colombia.
Next –the airport in Bogotá and meeting Dr. Olga