The inocentes hit an Antioquian hot spot

29 Apr

With 5-6 week left in Colombia, the time finally came for us to visit a place recommended to us time and time again by every paisa we come across: Guatapé.

An hour or so outside of Medellín, past fincas and pueblos, is the sprawling man-made lake of Guatapé and a huge hulking rock that people trudge up for the spectacular views. From day 1, every paisa has told us that visiting Guatapé is mandatory, and while we always planned on visiting, we realized that we couldn’t wait any longer–it was time!

After waking up with one of the worst hangovers in recent memory, I pulled myself together (barely) and Greg and I met Erika to being our day-long journey. We kept an eye on the clouds, hoping to ward off the rain, and climbed up over the mountains to the sprawl beyond.

Our drive was painless and traffic-free. The cloud cover helped soothe my hangover to a dull roar and by the time we pulled into the parking lot at the base of the rock I was feeling like a new person. And then we started the climb.

The rock is no joke. It’s a dark, ominous mass in the middle of nowhere, totally out of place amid the green, rolling hills and island-studded lake. There are no other rock formations nearby; it stands alone, awkward and ugly in its stoicism.

Colombians, like all other humans, see something big and think “I think I’d like to climb that”. Up the side of the mountain, a series of concrete staircases criss-cross a slender crack in the rock, looking for all the world like the most uncomfortable corset imaginable.

With my downgraded hangover, we slowly slogged our way up to the very top of the rock,  Greg & Erika stopping along the way to look at the view, me dragging myself up the stairs, guzzling water and trying to keep my breakfast down. Fun!

As you might imagine, the views from the top are far-reaching and lovely. The man-made lake reaches out for miles, curving around tree-covered islands, with small, finger-like bays curling around to create quiet, semi-private beaches. It was peaceful when we looked down on it, but the sheer number of speed boats and jet skis indicate that when the hotels are at capacity during the warmer months the lake is abuzz with motors. The nice thing is that, with all of those semi-private beaches and bays, you can kayak yourself to a more quiet, secluded area to escape the tumult.

We lunched in Guatapé and walked along a waterfront and through the colorful streets of the pueblo. It didn’t threaten rain once and we were pretty lucky to enjoy a day that wasn’t too hot or cold. We had the Goldilocks special: just right.

By mid-afternoon we were wiped (Greg and I more so than Erika) and we packed it in and headed back to Medellín, finally able to tell nosey paisas that yes, we have visited Guatapé, and yes, it is as awesome as it’s made out to be, thanks.

And now it’s time to relax and curl up into a ball. Tequila hangovers are no joke; how did I forget that?

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