Thursday, August 27, 2009

Solid Land, Big Cities

After getting off the boat, Julia (from Austria) and I spent a few days messing around in Cartagena. We were staying in the beautiful old town and loved walking alond the wall that cuts that part of the city off from the ocean and the rest of the city, browsing around jewelry stores we could never afford, drinnking coconut water, eating baby-doll shaped candies, and going out to the "Dragon de Oro" for dinner with everyone from the boat.
We made a hilarious day trip out to "Volcan de Lodo," a.k.a. The Mud Volcano. It's literally a 10m hill of mud that they've built a wooden frame at the top of to keep the mud in. You slide into the warm, dark grey sludge and immediately realize that it's completely impossible to sink. They say it's good for your skin, but I think it's just best for a good laugh. We were all kind of flailing around like beetles stuck on their backs that couldn't roll over.
After a few hot and stucky, but fun days in Cartagena we braved the 12 hour, ice-box air-conditioned ride to Medellín. Although the city used to be well-know for it's crime, it's seriously been cleaned up and feels very metropolotian. The entire city seems to be constructed of red bricks and shaded with teracotta roof tiles, creating a butiful mosaic over the surface of the hills and valleys the city covers. The metro runs along the main part of the city, in the valley, but is lifted above the road, so you get a great view of the city. One of the most beautiful views we saw was when we took the Metro almost to the end of the track and then went the three flights up the gondola-like Metrocable. From there we could see almost the entire city. And riding up in the cable there is only one window open, which funnels in the sounds like a speaker playing a backround track of barking dogs, children playing, trucks straining on the hills, and all the other life of the city.
Most of the rest of our time in the city was spent walking from park to park and museum to museum. My favorite area was Parque Berrío, which is full of enormous bronze Botero statues. We posed for pictures with them for a while and I went back later to look throught the impressive Museo de Antioquia, which is filled with Botero's work, some of his private collection, and pieces by a printmaker I absolutely fell in love with(Jose Antonio Suarez). That evening we trated ourselves to quite the night out: beer, pizza, and gelatto-that's right, we went to Crepes & Waffles, the big fancy chain.
South American cities took quite the adjustment, after having become so used to Central America. People go on jogs with their iPods, walk their groomed dogs, have for fancy brunches, and attend business meetings at swanky bars. Strange...

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