Sunday, November 19, 2017

Colombia day 10: rest day, wet day, dry day

I mentioned before that Medellin marks a transition in our trip. Another, unexpected, transition occurring here is of my cold to Emma. I've had evening time running nose ever since we started riding: literally as that stopped Emma's has started, but she's suffering it a bit more in the sinuses than I did. Thus, this morning we just had a slow lazy morning at the hotel guesthouse rather than get up and ride the closed streets Cyclovia as planned.
Midday we strolled the nearby botanical gardens, and then took metro system to the cable car than runs way up over the Eastern "wall" of the valley stopping at a few stations for local barrios (neighbourhoods) before heading up to the Parque Avrí forest over the top of the mountain and outside of the city boundary.
The view on the way up is astounding and really gives a sense of the size of the city, spread along the valley floor and spilling up the mountains on both sides. Generally the higher you get, the more impoverished the barrio. The last station before the park is Santo Domingo, which 2 decades ago was one of the most dangerous "no go" zones of this famously dangerous city. The cable car was built last decade as part of a package of measures to tackle this, another being the landmark city library built alongside it. CNN ran a story on exactly this just a few days ago: http://money.cnn.com/video/technology/2017/11/15/innovative-cities-colombia.cnnmoney/index.html

As we looked down we could just make out an urban downhill mountain bike race going on through the alleys and stairways of the town, with a big party happening around the finish line. Fiesta!






It started to rain when we got to the Avrí park, so we just did a little exploring in the wet before heading back down. 
As our ticket included transit to anywhere in the metro  system we carried on through to El Poblado touristy area for a beer and bite to eat. Shock horror! All the bars and restaurants had gone dry. Turns out it's presidential primary elections today and that means no alcohol sales this evening. Hence loads  of police patrolling the area too. So we ate some Colombian style Mexican small plates (so much delicious avocado! Rico! Even speaking as a Californian. London is going to come as a shock) then scampered back to our guest house for a sneaky beer (as it's a private bar they're exempt).
Back on the bike tomorrow as we start our second week of touring.