The Most Stairs I’ve Ever Climbed At One Time
The first day of my vacation in Medellín was not spent in Medellín. Another student from my Spanish school, who happened to be visiting the city as well, and I went to La Piedra Del Peñol (The Stone of Peñol—Peñol is a town; or the rock officially might be called El Peñon De Guatapé—a peñon is an offshore island fort and Guatapé is another town). During the two-hour bus ride, we picked up two fellow travelers for the day, one from Switzerland and the other from Germany, and the four of us made our way through the day in a mix of Spanish, German, and English.
When people learned that I was heading to Medellín for a few days, most told me that I had to check out the big rock. And a big rock it is. Some liken it to Uluru/Ayers Rock in Australia because both are sacred to indigenous people and loom large over relatively flatter landscapes around them.
A big difference is that you can climb La Piedra Del Peñol. And climb we did. All 740 steps. At its highest part, La Piedra has an elevation of 2,135 metres (7,005 ft) above sea level. Since we climbed to the top of the man-made lookout tower, we get extra credit.
This part of Colombia is very mountainous, so while La Piedra stands out within its immediate surroundings, it’s not in a completely flat area. It is surrounded by what look like small and large lagoons and islands. This amazing view is man made: in the 1970s, the government flooded 5,600 hilly acres to create a hydroelectric dam, which now generates about 36% of Colombia’s electricity. The spectacular landscape and waterfront properties are a nice byproduct. Here’s the photo album.
The Prettiest Village I’ve Ever Seen
We found transport from La Piedra in an old Renault convertible and arrived in Guatapé, the prettiest village I’ve ever seen. It also is known as the Pueblo de Zócalos, because the zócalos (baseboards) of the buildings are adorned with beautifully sculpted and painted 3-dimensional decorations. We saw a few zócalos by the same artist who decorated the wall around the lookout tower on top of La Piedra.
Some clearly relate to the purpose of the building (we actually heard music coming from inside one of the buildings with instruments on the outside) while others depict wildlife, nature, and village life.
We spent a lot of time wandering through the residential part of the village and then let ourselves into a field so we could rest while overlooking the mountains and water. Here’s the photo album.