Getting to Medellin from Salento was a short 270kms. The drive took 12 hours!
A few road works hold ups took 3 hours in total. During one 90 minute stop, we were surprised by two Aussies on a motorbike who stopped to say hi because we were the first Aussies they’d seen in 5 months. Imagine our combined amazement to learn that they were from Alice Springs and in fact we knew one of them, Megan Crowe!
The world is truly a very small place when you can bump into someone you know at a traffic hold up in Colombia.
But why did it take 12 hours to travel 270km?
The short story…After several road blocks and a lot of the now familiar winding roads with lots of traffic we eventually reached Medellin during peak hour and began making our way from the city centre up into the nearby mountains to our campground. Dutifully following the GPS directions, the streets started getting thinner and steeper and the muggy weather had all the residents outside. Steep turned to precipitous and with no footpath and the front doors of houses opening onto the road there was no space for anything except children, dogs and the occasional drunken reveler.
Did we mention that it was well and truly dark by now?
Rounding the last bend, still climbing in 1st gear, with the troopy’s 3+ ton definitely having an effect on upward movement, we came face to face with another car coming down the road! Stand-off! A tourist vehicle in a place they shouldn’t be was never going to win this argument, so after a couple of minutes of yelling and gesticulation (not by us) and much advice from an ever increasing group of locals, and with great trepidation, Stewart dropped it into L4 and proceeded to back down the street. This feat took about 15 minutes and was an adventure that can’t be described in the space we have here. Suffice to say we made it to the bottom of the road, shaken but still in one piece and very glad to be on flatter ground.
We were still lost – well kind of lost. We knew where we were and where we wanted to go, but were afraid of following the GPS up another street with the same outcome. So Ailsa approached a bus driver for assistance.
With the help of Diego, (the very kind bus driver) who spoke no English and his cousin, Catallina, on the phone (who spoke excellent English), we followed the bus until we got to the right road heading to our destination. We arrived at our beautiful campsite, almost exactly 12 hours after we started that morning. Distance travelled 270 kms. A trip we’ll remember for some time!
The kindness of strangers when you are travelling is never something to take for granted.
If you’re interested in the long version of this story, please let us know. Sorry, there are no photos!
The city of Medellin has a population of 3 million and is famous as the home of Pablo Escobar. There are museums, churches, botanical gardens and you can visit the home of the famous Pablo which is also a museum now or take a walking tour of graffiti in the area once considered a ‘no go’ zone for anyone but those who lived there.
We enjoyed half a day here taking in the atmosphere of the city and took the excellent metro to a couple of different areas to experience daily life. the teleferico from the green mountains, down into the city. The metro system is very sophisticated, spotless, and efficient.