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.

On the way to guatapé

The steering wheel has a Mercedes emblem on it.  I ask if he can let me off at the Puente de los Colores and nods and says some words I don’t understand.

The seat belt doesn’t work, as is often the case. I still feel safe. It’s a huge bus.

It’s one, or sometimes two, lane mountainous roads with many stops, lots of people getting on and standing for long periods (because the bus is so full), and people getting off. There’s about 15 %  backpackers from all over world, mostly in their 20s, mostly European.

After 30 min. or so going mostly up and around, passing expansive views of the city surrounded by the tropics, we’re out of the city.

We pass hilly fields of zanahoria (carrots), hydrangea, repollo (cabbage para ensalada) and café.  I ask the bus driver what everything is. With typical Medellin good will and ease, he answers everything I ask, con gusto.

The mostly one lane roads were in excellent condition, but lacked shoulders or anything resembling a sidewalk (even though people walked calmly along the sides of the roads). When there were steep drop offs there where there were rail guards to prevent going over the sides of the roads.

There’s a constant stream of places to buy pollo o carne asado del carbon (BBQ or fried meats).

Road to Guatape

Once in a while he picks up a vendor that has been running alongside the bus to try and get on. Vendors sell arepas (typical food in this area, like corn tortillas, but thicker), arepa de chocolo (made with a sweet, yellow corn), fried pig skin, cookies of cheese and yuca (pandeyuca), breadsticks with cheese (pandequeso), freshly made potato chips, (what I bought and shred with the bus driver)…..

When they’ve sold what they can, they jump off the moving bus at a full run.

I love arepas de chocolo – I eat at least one a day, fried, with peanut butter.

Someone in the middle of the bus was playing latin music loud enough for everyone to hear but not too loud. I was going to say it was party music but excluding the serenatas, latin music does usually seem festive – it’s all party music. Now and then some ppl in the bus sing along to entire songs. We all can hear them but it’s not too loud.

Along the way, arriving in El Pinol, we pass the main plaza, which looks like it’s called El Tomatero.. and there’s a bronze statue of an old man carrying a box of tomates on his back. I ask the bus driver – he says yes, they grow lots of tomatoes around here. I found this fact to be very enjoyable.

He let me off at the right place and I walked to my AirBnb.

el penon