We were invited graciously by President and Sister Prince to visit the Colombia Cali Mission this week. However, the Medellin Stake Conference, instead of being this weekend, is actually next weekend, which we figured out on Thursday night. Paula and I looked at each other and said, "Hey, we've got cheap tickets, let's get a cheap hotel and see Medellin this weekend!"
For all it's history (see "Escobar, Pablo"), Medellin, the second-biggest city in Colombia is set in a long, steep-sided valley, at about 5,000 feet, giving it what can only be described as a perfect climate. It's citizens are justly proud of the place, and snub their nose at Bogotá, which they consider as too cold, too big, too crowded, too noisy, too rainy, and with too many potholes (see actual picture below).So, arriving by ourselves, late from a four-hour flight delay, we set out to explore the city yesterday afternoon. We quickly realized that no one was driving by horn alone. And that the streets were clean. And that we weren't cold!
Being the plant nerd that she is, Paula was in love. She found a local nursery (plants, that is), with names for everything.
Her favorite was the Spanish term for impatiens. It was "besitos," meaning "little kisses." Aaaaahhh..
OK, so just when you think you may have landed in Paradise, you look up and realize that River Dance is coming to Medellin. Soon! (See "Fires of Anatolia, Other Disappointing Things in Cairo, Egypt") Sheesh.
But, altogether not too bad for the first afternoon.
The evening was gorgeous, with major thunder, made even more impressive by the acoustics of the valley. Oh, and the car alarms go off here, too.
So, how do you finish off a beautiful day in an exotic Colombian town with a rich and frightening heritage? Duh!! You turn on the TV in your hotel room and find a Bollywood movie, in Hindi, with Spanish subtitles! Yee HAAAH!
This morning the taxi driver easily found church, and the Guayabal Ward was warm and welcoming. Paula says emphasize the "warm" part, as she gloried in the fact that the AC was off.
After church, we walked down to the center of the valley and boarded the Metro,
and then transferred to the Metro Cable, which takes you up over one of the poorest parts of the city, and which is actually part of the commuting system for people that live up on the side of the mountain.Each car holds at least six, and the folks on the 3-kilometer ride up and over the mountain to the middle of a national park were nice, funny,
seemed to like pink, and were a little uneasy about the ride, at least the older lady.
And hey, this is Colombia, right? It had to rain a little, even in Paradise.
After taking the Metro back to "our" part of town, we walked around for another hour or two. At one point, Paula risked our being identified as being out-of-towners by pulling out a map. Otherwise, she would have blended in perfectly with the other blond, middle aged pale people wearing a dress and a missionary name tag, walking around with an old bald guy also wearing identification. We were THAT close...
So, at this point, Medellin seems a lovely, more organized, warmer big Colombian city. If only I didn't have to give lectures tomorrow on avoiding dengue fever, and then try to visit local clinics...
We hope all your gondola fellow-passengers are also pleasant, and that the plots on your Bollywood extravaganzas are at least a little more plausible than that one.
Dave & Paula