Saturday, February 05, 2011

Bird's eye view

Going to El Penol and the village of Guatape has been on my list of places to go, and today we did it.

Just 2 hours from Medellin through beautiful countryside villages and winding roads, we saw El Penol sticking out like a sore thumb in the distance -- at a height of 650 ft -- about 10 meters higher than the Calgary Tower.

A truck careening around tight curves....hang on!!!
When I saw the switchback staircase, I turned to Roger and said, "We don't HAVE to climb it, you know....wouldn't you rather go check out the boats?"  After a beer to fortify us, we started up the 649 stair climb.  After the 20th stair, I was already sucking wind and wondered how the hell I would make it to the top.  Well, 23 minutes later...we did!
El Penol and the dreaded staircase
A statue of our Lady of Lourdes is about 3/4 of the way up the rock.  I could have used an oxygen bar instead.

The lake district near Guatape.
Word has it that Pablo Escobar's holiday home is on the lake and has been deserted for 15 years.

Going down I could concentrate on the construction instead of just trying to breathe -- it was amazing to see huge boulders wedged into crevices. The stairs were replaced a few years ago because the original wood staircase, with moss growing on them, were treacherous when wet.

After the climb, which took 23 minutes to do, and 13 minutes to descend, we headed to Guatape for a late lunch and cold beer. San Tomas beer is made in a microbrewery in Medellin and was recommended to us.  Roger gave the wheat variety 2 thumbs up.

Guatape is a charming town with the prerequisite town square and church.  But it's cobblestone streets and beautiful frescoes on houses and store fronts really makes it unique.  That, and the lake, of course.

Sausages hanging which is a very common way of preparing them in this region

I just can't believe we climbed it!

Roger's favorite store is Casablanca which has a great variety of gourmet food, beer and wine.  He has it logged in his GPS as the "Man Store".  And what's right on his way home from work.

It was a wonderful day and I'm glad we made the climb up El Penol....but I'll be even happier after a couple of Advil.

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