During our stay in Medellin we heard a lot about the resort area of Guatapé and were eager to get out of the city and into the beautiful natural surroundings that awaited us, just east of Medellin. Guatapé is known for its large lake with many branches, inlets, and islands, and for the Piedra del Peñol, a 220 m high granite monolith with 740 steps that can be climbed to be rewarded with a 360 degree view from the top. It is a popular resort area and many locals have secondary residences there. The town of Guatapé is known for its colorful houses with bands of sculpted and painted friezes.
During our first two nights camping we met a German family from Heidelberg who were travelling in their truck camper, a renovated former Swiss fire brigade truck. Christophe and his two children are heading down to Ushuaia as well and it is likely that we will cross paths again as we continue on our separate but similar journeys. We also met Isabelle and Willy, a swiss couple from Luzern, who have already spent 15 months on the road and are heading up to Alaska. Isabelle is a walking wikipedia of travel information and advice and provided us with many contacts for the months to come.
While searching for a place to overnight on New Year’s Eve, I came across the contact details for Jake and Monica, a couple who had just completed building their home not far from where we had spent the first two nights in Guatapé. I sent an email to Jake and to my surprise, he not only agreed to our staying on his property but also invited us to spend New Year’s Eve together with his friends at their new home! Jake and Monica are originally from the US, but worked for many years in London prior to deciding to hit the road for 3 years in their camper. They travelled extensively from Alaska to Ushuaia (or was it the other way around?) before deciding to settle down in the Medellin area and building their beautiful home in Guatapé. We were truly touched by their generosity and had a wonderful time celebrating the new year together with them and their friends. Jake and Monica, thanks again for your hospitality, your easy-going personalities, and for sharing what you have with us!
We learned of a New Year’s Eve tradition here in Colombia that consists of burning a life-sized doll at the stroke of midnight, which represents burning the old year and all it represents. Unfortunately the doll that someone brought to the party had been left out in the rain and did not burn exactly the way it was supposed to!
We left Guatapé on New Year’s Day heading south to the beautiful town of Jardin and the start of the coffee growing region of Colombia, from where we will write to you next.