Monday, March 28, 2011

Colombia: Show and Tell

At long last we got a taste of home with visitors who came to see what Colombia was all about.  On March 18th our friends Kathy and Randy Cardon arrived in Medellin, followed the next day by Brad and Anette.  It was a case of feast or famine but we happily took on the role of tour guides to give everyone a peek into some of our favorite places in Colombia.

Kathy and Randy Cardon with us at the Dry Bar
We went to Guatape and climbed El Penol --- as you can see in the photo below, we weren't the only ones to have the same idea!

Brad and Anette checking to see if the ol' folks were making the climb!

Not only a beautiful vantage point, but it gave me another chance to catch my breath!

A special family photo!

Kathy and Randy

Sharing a beer and a laugh with Craig Stratford at the top

A beautiful church in the Guatape plaza....the Roman Numeral IV was written incorrectly (IIII)!

There is a beautiful park near our apartment complete with an outdoor gymnasium
Billboard near Botero Plaza

Anette and Kathy enjoyed Botero's sculptures

Old men in the plaza

Most men have their picture taken with their hands on the statue's butt

El Diva

Sculpture of El Perro --- looks like the cleaning crew is ready....

El Hombre in the Botero Plaza

It's easy getting a taxi in the city

Kathy and Anette overlooking the city from Cerro Nutibara

This is a great restaurant chain in South America that only hires single mothers.  You can tell women run it -- the bathrooms are spotless, and they have a huge dessert menu!

Kathy reviewing the dessert menu with us -- thank goodness for the pictures!

The desserts were muy delicioso!!!
Couldn't resist this sign at a shopping mall near us
While the ladies were taking the turibus around Medellin and having a decadent lunch, Roger surprised Randy and Brad by booking an ATV tour through the Colombian countryside.  Clearly the needs of everyone were met that day!

The guys ended their day with lunch at Casablanca -- or as it is referred to in our house "The Man Store"
The next day we all decided to take the famous Medellin metro

We rode the Medellin metro system which was clean, safe, well organized and connected to a cable system that provides transportation for people living in the poorest neighborhoods of Medellin to access work and school in the city.

The view was amazing

Above:  The Santo Domingo library sits high on the hills of Medellin.  It is one of the initiatives to transform Medellin from its violence plagued history.
We ended up going through the clouds on the way to Parque Arvi -- a new station above Santo Domingo

When we came down from the mountain, we went to the Rafael Uribe Palace of Culture in Botero Plaza -- a beautiful building that houses artifacts and photographs.

 We invited a few friends over to the apartment to meet everyone.
The six of us flew to Cartagena on the coast for the weekend.  It was filled with good food, great wine and a good dose of culture. 
 We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel, called the LM Hotel in the heart of the old, walled city.
The rooftop terrace was a fabulous place to relax, swim in the chilled pool and have dinner

View from the terrace

There is another part of Cartagena that is more modern, but we stayed in the old city

Narrow, cobblestone streets with colorful buildings are a hallmark of Cartagena's walled city

Of course, we had to go to the Naval Museum
Captain Roger at the helm
Kathy peeking out

We watched the sunset while having a drink at Cafe del Mar -- an open air bar right on the wall

We took advantage of the great seafood available by having ceviche whenever we could

I love the sound of horses clip clopping on cobblestones

Cartagena at night is simply magical

Chess games near one of the plazas

 We couldn't have chosen a more beautiful hotel to stay in.

Brad and Anette enjoyed getting away because Brad had been working 70+ hours a week since Christmas while he concluded his contract at ILM in San Francisco where he worked on Transformers 3.  They are moving to Vancouver on Thursday where he starts his new job with the video game company, Capcom.

Kathy and I at the wall -- and trying not to melt from the heat and humidity
 Kathy and I toured one of the beautiful churches near our hotel.

Colorful clothes and music remind you that you are near the Caribbean islands

After a day of walking around in sweltering heat, the pool was the perfect place to hang out

Roger and Anette cooling off

We had a wonderful dinner with Brad and Anette on the terrace.  Brad planned the menu with the hotel's personal chef while I provided translation services!
Heaven --- 3 types of ceviche -- octopus is the one one on the plate
Grilled lobster and risotto

A decadent dessert finished off the amazing meal
The food is this region is very different from Medellin and Bogota -- this was a typical breakfast and was delicious.

Breakfast in the LM Hotel dining room
So, we have 4 more converts to the beauty and friendliness of Colombia.  When people ask, "Why did you go to Colombia?", Brad, Anette, Kathy and Randy will have a week of memories and photos to tell people, "Why not?"

Treat your family like friends, and your friends like family.

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