Flower Festival in Guatape

The Flower Festival in Antioquia (the “department” or state in and around Medellin) is a huge deal.

To give you an idea, the Flower Festival program is 32 pages long.

I attended a few events, some involuntarily, like the dog/flower festival near the city center, which was blocks and blocks and slowed the surrounding traffic to near halts.

My favorite was the event in Guatape, an exceptionally colorful, beautiful town around two hours from Medellin.

There was a parade, music and dance fitness.

I’m writing this mostly because my mom loves parades.

Most of this post is pictures of the parade and is primarily for her entertainment.

The hugely popular parade lasted about an hour.

The “moto-chivas” (in the picture on the left) are the Colombian version of Tuk Tuks that you see in Peru and Asia. They’re motorcycles with a cover and seats attached. I used them to get from my AirBnB to the middle of town I could either walk 15 min or pay $2.

Chiva means something like Big Truck. In Guatape they’re all super festive, decked out with color and design.

In the parade the job of the moto chiva drivers are to drive around in short, fast circles, drive fast toward an onlooker and at the very last second swerve away from the pedestrian. The intended targets (like me) usually scream and run away and everyone laughs.

Posted by Bedegee in Travels

How I Got to Guatape

There’s nothing particularly outstanding about this post. It’s a slice of life: what it is to go from one place to another – from Envigado (Medellin) to the beautiful town of Guatape.

Traveling Logistics

I walked one block to the bus stop near Museo Otra Parte, near my apartment in Envigado. I flagged down the bus after waiting just a couple of minutes (buses are frequent and while there are bus stops, it’s just as common to flag them down/get off wherever you want) that goes to the metro station – about a 10 minute ride and costs about 85 cents. Then walked another five minutes up the stairs and over the river to the packed Ayura metro station. The ride to Caribe (near the bus station) was about 20 minutes (costs about $1), passing through the busy Poblado station, Industriales where the museum of Modern Art is, Aguatala and more.

The bus ride to Guatape from the Caribe station will be about two hours (and 85 km / 52 miles) and costs $5 USD. From my apartment, another hour on top of that.

The Ride

I was seated in the front seat, next to the bus driver. It has the best views of all the seats, and I felt glad to be there. I was charmed by the regal velvet and satin decorations on the front and side windows – just for the people in the front. The drivers seat cover was full on blue and white fringe like a flappers dress from the 20s.  The front window, rear view mirror and sun visor were draped in blue velvet banderas with long white fringe.

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Posted by Bedegee in Travels

El Retiro

I'm house-sitting/dog-walking/plant-watering in a small private community that's not really in a town, although there are stores I can walk to. It's closest to a small town called El Retiro (Antioquia, same as Medellin) and near to La Ceja.

The gated community is deep in the hills of Antioquia, and is a little more than a mile above sea level.

The views are gorgeous and the yard is sweet, with a little vegetable garden (I take rosemary, different kinds of mint, and and some kale and spinach-y kinds of veggies every day) and lots of fruit trees (tree tomato, fig, some little fruits I don’t know the names of, mandarin, and more).

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Posted by Bedegee in Travels

I Know What I’m Eating at Least Half of the Time

I know when it’s vegetarian and fruity…. so I dig in, regardless  of  the  details.

Vegetarian offerings are harder to find here: a shame really, because everything seems to grow here miraculously.

Fruits are plentiful and gorgeous and huge! I haven’t seen or heard of many of them anywhere else.

Usually there are great deals on the meals of the day (menu del dia) that are easily found for less than $5, including soup, meal, salad, small dessert and fruit drink.

This one is soup with veggies and oatmeal, whole grain brown rice, breaded (I think) and fried yucca, white something with basil, salad with a bunch of veggies and a dessert of a piece of pie of gulupa (fruit I’ve never heard of) and a uva/limoncello juice drink.

Super healthy and delicious.

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Posted by Bedegee in Travels

Casa de la Cultura Miguel Uribe Restrepo

The cultural center of Envigado is about a 15 min walk from where I’m staying. The building is a large,  beautiful traditional home with an open patio in the center, and auditorium and classrooms along the edges. I always stay in high rises near main roads and really enjoy the quiet and charm of the traditional neighborhood.

Many times a week they have live performances, movies, lectures and classes…

Lately on Friday nights they’ve been having musical performances early in the evening. Last week they had a group visiting from Spain performing Flamenco music and dance.

Both the women seated to my right and behind me were singing along until the group started playing Volero, and that’s when the entire place started singing. Rueda! It was a party!

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Posted by Bedegee in Culture, Travels

All the Exercising Outside

Most mornings the patio of Cafe Otraparte becomes a space for “gymnasio” and yoga. It’s around the corner from where I’m staying, so I go a few times a week.

Paisas (people from Medellin) sing along with any music that’s playing – in an exercise class, in a formal music performance…anywhere really – out loud, enjoying it for all it’s worth.


I think this song from Celia Cruz was playing when the woman in front of me, top right of the picture, starts embodying the soul of the song, doing her own dance, singing every word with all her heart. The class leader knows her name and cheers her on, the class starts clapping and whooping.

It’s a party now and we’re all singing and dancing and sweating!

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Posted by Bedegee in Culture, Travels

The Bridges Hike

Early winter here means Perfect Weather (around the mid 70s) … with a little rain and mud.

The tropical mountains around Medellin beg to be hiked, so in May, early winter, I went for a hike about an hour or so from Medellin.

It was gorgeous except for about 5% of the trails were quite muddy, but not in an unsafe way.  None of the three bridges we crossed were negatively affected by recent / daily rains, and we missed the rain altogether even though we hiked from around 9:30am to 2:30.

We passed through several small towns and stopped for snacks (arepas – like thick corn tortillas, Chocolo (sweet arepas made from a different kind of corn),  sandwiches) and drinks. I had a slice of pound cake as a snack and then later a toasted arepa with cheese and spicy salsa.

Before starting the hike, we got snacks in this snack stand and cafe and the other shops around it I’m not sure what all they were selling here, but there’s a nest or two on display and some other interesting items.

These guys, below, were across the street drinking “tinta” out of what seems like has become a tradition – plastic cups – and looking so charming and campesino.

We headed out to the first bridge. I can’t tell you how much I did not want to cross that bridge. I kept thinking that if a board broke or I misstepped I would fall straight through. I imagined one of the dogs on the hike would run by me or run up to me and bark or want to play and scare the heck out of me. I crossed it but it was torture.

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Posted by Bedegee in Travels

La Pascasia in Central Medellin

In El Centro of Medellin is a music and culture foundation called La Pascasia.

Most visitors don’t stay in the city center (it can be a bit sketchy, especially at night), but it’s worth a trip for sure – if just for La Pascasia.

Traditional and non-traditional music is offered, and it’s always a rueda (party!)- people love it. It’s jammed when there’s live music. There’s also a small museum and art gallery… and in the center is a garden with a tree. None of my pictures captured the loveliness, so imagine something lavish and tropical and you won’t go wrong.

At different points people from the crowd would randomly get on stage and start dancing.

My mind couldn’t get itself around this. Too many questions.

So much fun.


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Posted by Bedegee in Culture, Travels

The Christmas Lights of Medellin

The lights don't escape anyone during the Chrismas holidays. Paisas (the gracious people of Medellin) are BIG into Christmas lights.

Colombia is "Mega Diverse."

A snippet of music, captured while walking through the park:

This year the spectacular Parque Norte lighting exhibit celebrates the biodiversity of Colombia.

Colombia is "Mega Diverse," as the sign says.

There are more species of orchids and birds than any other country in the world.

The number of species of plants, amphibians, butterflies and fresh water fish, outnumber every country except Brazil (a country seven times larger than Colombia).

There are more species of palm trees and reptiles here than in every country but two.

Similarly, mammals are more diverse here than in all but three countries.

Fun fact about the Colombian mammal the anteater: they're called "ant bears" (osos hormigueros).

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Posted by Bedegee in Travels

Parade of Myths and Legends

Welcome to the Myths and Legends Parade 2018 (Medellin, December, 2018)
“Desfile de Mitos y Leyendas” December 8, 2018

People were packed tight in El Centro the night of the parade -super tight, like U.S.-football-stadium-when-the-game-is-over tight. And the paisas (people from Antioquia/Medellin area), and my group of ex-pats, were polite and noticeably not drunk (so completely unlike a U.S. football- stadium-when-the-game-is-over). 

Brass during the parade.

The paraders got right up in the faces of the watchers, shot water at us, and played all kinds of latin marching band music. The crowd went wild for all the action the parade brought. 

Dancing zombies at the Myths and Legends Parade in Medellin, Dec. 2018
The vampire dancers had their own band.
Sad Ghoul at the Myths and Legends parade in Medellin, El Centro
The Ghouls!

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Posted by Bedegee in Travels