Day 431: Guatape

Guatape is a small town 40-50 minutes outside of Medellin. Everyone we met suggested we go and see the town, and mentioned the big rock that was a ‘must climb.’ I was excited to get out of Medellin for the day. It’s not that I didn’t like Medellin… It’s just that I think I would have liked Medellin more if we had stayed somewhere else. I also think I would have liked Medellin more if we were within walking distance to more sights. However, Medellin isn’t exactly a small town and I’ve definitely grown to love the small Colombian towns even more than the ones in Peru and Ecuador. They are full of character and color and super friendly faces. We planned on spending the day in Guatape, but once we arrived, we wished we would have spent a night or two in the quiet, quaint little town.

I’ve been fascinated with the different religions we’ve encountered on this little trip around the world. We went from Buddhism to Hinduism to Islam with a little Judaism sprinkled in before some Catholicism, back to some Islam, then more Catholicism… It’s been interesting. Growing up Catholic, slipping into a Catholic church obviously feels the most familiar. Seeing the enthusiasm over Catholicism in South America has been new. Every small town in Colombia seems to be centered around a town square with a beautiful church on one side. In Salento, our guesthouse had a wall of small ceramic churches. In a shop in the same town, I saw the ceramic façade of the church that was in Salento’s square. Fortunately, finding another façade of Guatape’s church proved to be just as easy.

Guatape was fairly colorful, but in a different way than Salento. While Guatape also offered bright walls and doors, the siding of nearly all of the buildings also offered up little murals. Perhaps what their trade was, or a testament to their religious devotion, or even their favorite flower. Regardless, it was beautiful and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of all of the little murals as we walked through the streets surrounding the main square.

I realize the above kitchen cabinet on the sidewalk doesn’t look like much, but we got two piping hot empanadas from a couple of women making them for anyone passing by. Andrew asked if I would like one, and I almost rolled my eyes because the answer is pretty much obvious whenever we walk by a street food vendor. In case you forgot: the answer is always yes.

La Piedra (the rock) is what everyone calls the gigantic rock on the outskirts of Guatape. I’m not sure what’s more impressive about the rock. The fact that it was formed 70 million years ago, or that two thirds of the rock is actually underground! It only took roughly a half hour to climb the 650 steps to the top. It was breathtaking in more ways than one. Maybe it had something to do with the humidity, that is, until we got to the top and it started raining. It’s like Colombia kept direct tabs of what we were doing and always picked the most perfect time to open its skies on us. Somewhat used to the rain, I grabbed my umbrella and we made our way back down the rock, hopped in a tuk-tuk to get back into town with just enough time to have a quick bite of bandaja paisa before our bus back to Medellin.