Visit to the Medellin botanical garden: nice site, especially the Orchideorama, an open building very well integrated with nature. For dinner we went back to Zona Rosa at Rojo, where we had a good meal with live jazz and backgammon. There are few Yoga options in Medellin, especially Atman Yoga has a nice schedule in different locations in the city, including Orchideorama. Because of the rain I couldn`t actually try any but I will!
Next step: going to Guatape`, a beautiful set of island overlooking a large artificial lake. From Terminal del Norte we took a bus to Guatape', COP $12k, 2hrs.
We arrived there and it was rainy and cold and with nobody around... With the rain everything sucks!
Sadly we had to leave Finca San Sebastian this am, we love you guys!! After the tuk tuk ride back to town we hitch- hiked our way back to Medellin because all the buses were full. We found accommodation in El Poblado at Hostel Casa Blanca, $22 w shared bath. Rain in the pm so no crazy nightlife for a change! In the am we went visiting la 'zona rosa', which is a newly developed area full of restaurants and bars. I like more artsy, creative areas but it seems to be the hottest spot in Medellin. In the pm after the rain we went to the old centre. It rained again for a while, but we still went to the Botero sculpture garden, Parque de Los Pies Descalzos, and to the zona Fucsia, which we thought being the artsy alternative to zona rosa but it's actually not. More rain and dinner at the hostel, again no crazy night life.
We spent these days at Finca San Sebastian surrounded by Nature and good company. Our friends Matilda and Alexis are about to be ready to officially open the doors to guests as a Hostel and we are here also to help them: we scrubbed the walls of a bungalow to prepare them for painting, and brainstormed with them on marketing and management options. They have an organic vegetable garden where we picked up our salad ingredents, and herbs for natural teas. We cooked in the open kitchen, chatted, played with their adorable kitten Mila, and ate Easter Swiss chocolate. At night it gets a little fresh: so nice to put on a sweater for a change! I led a couple of Yoga classes on the wide porch with mountain view and Mila joined us. I love her!!! By the way, they are looking for volunteers, especially a yoga teacher!!!
Medellin is a big city in a valley surrounded by mountains, there's a lot of constructions all around but the consistent use of bricks makes it look good. The weather as expected is lovely, no wonder this is the city of the eternal spring!
Metro to El Poblado, the area of town with more hostels, restaurants and nightlife. Everything is closed because it's a festive day. We visit the Black Sheep Hostel and after talking with the friendly owner we quickly realize that it's going to be very quiet all weekend. There's no reason to stay here now and we decide to visit a Finca in the mountains that friends of ours are renovating and in need of help.
Metro back to bus station, bus to San Jeronimo $4, 1hr. We are in the mountains, beautiful landscape. Lunch in the main square, full of locals enjoying the holiday. A group of street musician plays great tango. Grocery and tuc tuc ride up the mountain to get to Finca San Sebastian. 30min of unpaved road uphill on a three wheel vehicle made me quite worry at some point, but the Finca is gorgeous, the people very nice, swimming pool with view, and there's Mila, an adorable 2 month old kitten... and there are hot showers!
Nice chats over dinner and tango music in the background.
__This afternoon the first big procession will parade through the streets of Mompox. The whole town is preparing. Visitors are arriving, the churches are full of flowers and all the procession statues are receiving the final adjustments of their cloths and accessories. You can feel the expectation building up. There's a very strong military presence, a lot of guns. People say the president may come too... and on the other end we are leaving, probably the only ones in town. We have to go to Medellin today because tomorrow is festive and there are no buses running until Saturday and staying two more days here is not an option. It's nice to feel the expectation building up, and very interesting leaving right before the big event happens. I've never done it.
Anyway I still had few adventures today before leaving: my Canadian friends met an archeologist who found human sculls maybe 400 yo in one of the main squares being renovated. We helped him digging them out and we found another bone too! Then I went crazy shopping: leather sandals, a new hat, and filigrana silver hearings. Goodbye Nieto family, thank you for the hospitality. Minivan to Bodega $7, 40min. Chalupa boat to Magangue, $4, 15min. Note: we had to pay also for the missing people because they wouldn't leave if the boat wasn't completely full! Brasilia night bus to Medellin, $60, 12 hrs, we'll arrive tomorrow around 6am.
We went from the hottest heat in Mompox to the coldest cold in the bus: the AC was freezing and they wouldn't turn it down. I had long pants, wool socks and sweater, wool shawl as a blanket and on top of it the yoga towel for protection from the AC wind...
God! It's hot here.. and humid! I was supposed to go for an architecture tour of the town with the Canadian friends but the guide disappeared so instead we went to the market to buy food for dinner: I arrived back home completely sweaty. The middle of the day is hell in Mompox, you can't really do anything but siesta. Robbert came back from his walk with a bright pink chick: apparently it's part of the local Easter traditions to paint the real chicks, not the eggs! We kept it for an hour and then gave it to the maid for her kids: apparently she has more colored chicks at home.
In the evening there was a procession going to the cemetery:all the people light candles in front of family graves. It was a beautiful scene, and we lit candles on abandoned graves. Back home we had a nice evening cooking and chatting with the Canadians.
_Easy morning in Magangue, and in the pm we move on to Mompox, where the Nieto family will gently host us. Chalupa (kind of boat) to Bodega, $4, 15 min. Taxi to Mompox, $8 each, 40min. On the boat we met this local guy and we took the taxi together. He told us a lot about this part of Colombia: they had two big floods in the past two years -climate change? - and the government is very slow in helping them. There's a lot of corruption and people are disilluded survivors. Mompox colonial core wasn't damaged but most of the villages around it were devastated.
Mompox is a Unesco site due to its colonial architecture and I guess to the peculiar atmosphere of being suspended in time. Everything goes slowly in this town laying by the river, people sits outside their front doors on their rocking chairs, but for Semana Santa there's a big celebration with processions basically every evening. The Nieto family welcomed us in their traditional colonial house along the river. It's a full house because also their son with 3 friends from Canada are there. It's going to be an interesting mix!
_I joined the early morning Bakti Yoga at Gambhira Ashram: singing mantras, playing drums, and reading Vedic books was nice. They made me lead mantras and read something from the Bhagavad Gita. I led the following yoga class as well. It was sad when we had to leave: these people are so nice and we felt like family but we had to move on. Our next destination is Mompox, where I have friends staying there for Semana Santa. Bus to Santa Marta, minivan to Baranquilla, lunch in a nasty comedor along the highway and car all the way to Magangue for $20, 3.5hrs. We really didn't expect to be able to get here today. We stay at Hotel Casa Dorada, decent,AC, wifi and private bath.$22.
Am Bakti Yoga with chanting and meditation, and then at 7am I led another yoga class. I love to share my yoga, especially here because they have so much to learn.
After breakfast our Seva was helping Krisna building the wall of the new cabana. I really hoped to have the chance of doing this. We built the wood frame first and then we filled it up with balls of mud that we made using the soil of the finca. Hard but fun work, and it was especially interesting for me as an architect. The cabanas at Gambhira follow the ancient techniques of the Tayrona Indians. They use only natural materials: wood and palm leaves for the roof, wood and mud for the walls. Round plan. The result is a fresh, ventilated space that embraces you with positive energy.
_Today at 7am I lead the yoga class at the Ashram on the grass. They were so impressed: "This is very professional!" "Well, I told you I'm a yoga teacher...". I'm happy I'll be helping them out with this.
After breakfast Robbert came up with the idea to do our Seva painting the dining table. I loved it. So we spent few hours on this project: I really miss doing projects like this. I painted the Maha Mantra in Sanskrit all around it, so relaxing. I also helped cooking and learn about new vegetarian meals. All the food is organic, some is grown in the finca, some close by. They have a composting program to use organic waste to produce nutritious soil for cultivation. They desiccate tasty bananas in the sun and they make their own delicious chocolate.