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Wed Jan 15 2014: La Vida Colombiana

Medellin is located in the Aburra Valley. The city creeps up both eastern and western slopes like an urban kudzu, eclipsing the mountainside underneath, threatening to crawl up even beyond the horizon. From any point in the heart of the city, you can see the terracotta-roofed urban sprawl curving upwards as if you were inside a Dyson Sphere.

Because we are in a valley, there is a permanent haze as the mountains trap smog and pollution...

...Despite that, we still love staying in our new adopted city!

One thing Neda didn't like was this tiny pueblito...

To relieve Neda of her planning duties, I did a bit of research and found a tourist attraction not too far from our apartment called Pueblito Paisa (Paisa is the name that people from Medellin call themselves). It's a little replica turn-of-the-century villa built on top of a hill called Cerro Nutibarra, which I keep referring to as Nutbar Hill.

Neda wasn't impressed, saying it reminded her of Epcot Center: "Why would you visit the France Pavilion when you've already been to the real country?" But isn't the most popular pavilion at Epcot Center the USA Pavilion...? In your face, Neda!

The view of the city from up here was nice though...

Cat hangs out in the fake church inside Pueblita Falsa. I think they actually do hold services here.

Street painting in Parque Lleras

Dropped into the Medellin KTM dealership

KTM has quite a lot of 200cc-400cc motorcycles on the showroom floor. It makes sense as there's no need for 115hp with the traffic and road conditions here, plus being small, light and agile means being able to lane split and filter through the constant jams and gridlock. Riding a motorcycle down here means saving an hour each day in commute time to work and back.

Limited Edition is KTM-Speak for Pay More For Decals

Beautiful city, horrible traffic!

Apparently I took this picture not during Rush Hour. You can still see pavement...

I was really missing playing music for a long time now, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money buying an instrument that I knew I would just have to leave behind. So one day, while browsing the music stores, I found a cheap $40 guitar to bang away on! It doesn't stay in tune for very long though...

...And now I'd like to play an ancient Chinese folk song called Too Ning...

We're two weeks into our month-long lease on our Medellin apartment and we are loving it! Life is muy tranquil. Neda peruses the grocery store daily coming up with dishes for us to try now that we have a kitchen. Even though this is supposed to be down-time for us, compared to me, she is a whirling dervish. All throughout this trip she has been preparing and giving weekly English lessons to her niece in Italy over Skype. Now she is able to devote more time and energy towards it.

I am able to devote more time and energy into doing nothing. :)

We're really enjoying having home-cooked meals again. Easy on the budget and the waistline!

Neda has been trying out new recipes. This is her No-Cream Mushroom Soup and Soft-Cheese and Spinach Crepes

I think back to my reservations about leaving the tiny haven of Taganga and now it all seems so silly. Everything is much better here: the weather, having our own place, having more stuff to see in the city. Neda did her research very well. To her credit, not once does she say "Told ya so".

I totally would have...

Checkered cathedral of Plaza Botero behind the "Plump Fellow in Hat"

Gigantic bronze sculptures of chubby men, women and horses are littered all over the Plaza Botero, which is named after the artist who sculpted them, Fernando Botero. We were first exposed to his Rubenesque figures when we first arrived on Colombia's shores so long ago in Cartagena. That was almost 9 months ago! We haven't traveled very far since then...

On the weekends, the plaza gets super-busy - tons of tourists posing in front of the sculptures, and kids climbing all over them. In the middle of the day the bronze gets very hot, so not so many kids climbing then...

Hey kiddies, you can ride the pretty horsey if you don't mind a bit of seared flesh...

Back streets and the alleyways of Medellin

North American Indians? In Colombia? Last time we saw this was back in Winnipeg
However, they weren't playing Peruvian flutes back then... LOL!

In NedaGene, even the malls are cool-looking

Open air shopping experience

I'm next!

Antique train sits as a monument in what used to be the old railway station in the heart of downtown Medellin

The railway system, constructed in the 1870s, used to be an important transportation network in Antioquia, hauling gold from the mines and then later coffee to all parts of the department. The trains stopped running by the 1960s, having been overtaken by the new highways being built and truckers hauling cargo faster, cheaper and further than the rail.

As we rode through the mountains of Antioquia to get to Medellin, we would often see remnants of the rail system - no tracks, but huge circular holes in the mountain face just large enough for a train to run through.

A rainbow of variety in the streetside snacks

One nice thing about having a (temporary) permanent address is that we can get stuff shipped to us now. We took the opportunity to get some motorcycle stuff mailed to us that we couldn't find locally. Surprisingly, you can't find Heidenau tires at all in Medellin. When we asked the BMW dealer in town, his response was, "Our riders like to go fast", so nothing but street tires sold here. Our Tourance fronts were getting worn down, so we had to get a couple of K60 fronts shipped from Bogota.

I installed a mini wading pool in the back, just like those El Caminos with their beds lined with garbage bags!
Helps with the MonkeyButt at the end of a long riding day...
I had to get one of my heated handgrips fixed, so we headed down to the dealership to get our fronts replaced as well. I've seen some other adventure riders roam all over the world with an extra set of tires strapped to the back. After having just ridden 2kms from the apartment to the dealership with these tires behind me, I don't know how anyone could do it for thousands of miles, month after month. They're freakin' heavy!

Cool tank decal! "Adventure" is BMW-Speak for "Let's make your off-road bike heavier and less suitable for... Adventure..."

Neda's bike is next in line for a frontirectomy

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