1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 133 134 135 136 137 138 396 397 398 399 400 401

Mon Feb 10 2014: Climbing up the Face of a Meteorite

Today, we're going to investigate that huge rock in the distance. The owners of our hostel say it's only a couple of kms away if we ride through Guatape. Or... we could take a 10km dirt road that travels all the way around the valley, cutting through lush farmland and the scenic coniferous forest... So we opt to take the Long Way R[rest of comment deleted pending either trademark lawsuit or gross overuse by the motorcycle travel community]


Very pretty-looking farms along the way

As we make our way around the bend, La Piedra looms up ahead

La Piedra del Penol y Guatape (The Stone of Penol and Guatape) is this lone monolithic rock that rises 220m (650ft) from the ground. It's a landmark that can be seen from miles away in all directions because it's the only object of that size and shape in the area. This has led to speculation and legends from locals that La Piedra is a huge meteorite that fell to earth. The scientist in me looks at how intact the rock is as well as the lack of a surrounding crater, and I've come to the conclusion that it is indeed a meteorite... especially when I can tell friends and family back home about the time we climbed a huge rock from outer space that landed in the middle of Colombia...


Cue the 5-note theme from Close Encounters

In our hikes around the area, we've seen La Piedra from all angles. Behind this view, there's a giant "GI" painted on the back. Strangely enough, I don't have a picture of the "GI". (Edit: Neda says, "But you take pictures of EVERYTHING!") The "GI" was a remnant of the time the town of Guatape tried to paint its name on the side of La Piedra and but were stopped half-way through the "U" when the neighbouring town, El Penol, claimed that La Piedra belonged to their town.

You'd think they'd have washed it off by now... but then again, you'd lose a pretty funny story!


There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold...

About half-way up, they've put a Virgin Mary up here so people can pray for strength...
to make it up the rest of the way...

Along the way, you can catch both your breath and a nice view at the same time

There are 659 steps on the way up La Piedra. They are labelled in increments of 25,
should you want to keep track of your progress or measure just how out of shape you are...

When I was a kid I used to listen to radio programs late at night in my bed under the covers while my parents thought I was sleeping. I used to listen to shows like "The Shadow" and a Twilight Zone-like program, can't recall the name. On one of the shows, the hero was climbing up a spiral staircase in a tall, dark tower. He was claustrophobic, so to calm his anxiety he counted the number of stairs till he reached the top. As he made his way down, he counted the stairs again and was horrified when the number exceeded the count on the way up...

I think I've told this story before, but everytime I climb stairs, I always think of that radio program. Those numbers written on La Piedra's stairs made it even more vivid! I also have a Buried Alive Like a Mummy story, but that'll have to wait for another more appropriate blog entry...


"Ok, let's see what all the fuss was about..."

Oooh, nice. I like how La Piedra casts such a huge shadow over the land

If you look closely at all the little islands, you'll see that the greenery doesn't reach all the way to the shoreline. We found out that the artificial lake around Guatape and La Piedra has been lowered by about 7m (21 feet) recently because of the hydro-electric dam. This has exposed the brown soil previously underwater, and it looks quite picturesque when viewed from this high, but up close it's not really that pretty - twigs and roots sticking out of the soil, reaching out to thin air...

I am very impressed by how large this reservoir is, it stretches as far as the eye can see in most directions!


Front row seats to the best show in town

The Andean Condor is the national animal of Colombia

We recently saw a three-dimensional version of the Colombian coat-of-arms and wondered why they chose a vulture to sit on top of their crested shield. We later learned that it was actually a condor, but for the longest time we thought it was a turkey vulture and we snickered. Kinda absurd, like having a beaver as your national animal...

Edit: I just found out condors are vultures. Back to making fun of their national animal again! HAH-HAH!


The stairs on the way down were haphazard and made no sense at all.
They reminded me of an Escher drawing...

Sign our Guestbook or send us E-mail: ride_dot@yahoo.ca