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Monday, February 2, 2015

Manizales

It was quite a lovely drive from Medellin to Manizales through the region called the Cafetero, the coffee growing region. And once again, there were throngs of cyclists toiling up the long steep road going south out of Medellin. But, unlike the big four lane highway with ample shoulders coming in from the airport, this was a narrow, two lane highway teeming with big tricks and buses. But drivers seemed tolerant of the cyclists. At least I didn't see any in the ditch. Roadside restaurants were packed with riders, all decked out in lycra, riding high end road bikes.

I really didn't expect Manizales to be so hilly. It's perched way up on a flattish area, precipitous slopes falling away on all sides.

 

There's an arial tram from the bus station to the downtown which is not down but way up. I guess it's uptown.

 

In any case, from there it was down, down, down to my airbnb accommodation, a place called, very aptly, Amazing View.

Perched on a steep hillside, surrounded by banana/coffee fields and a beautiful garden, Amazing View was a very modern, palatial sort of place whose owner, Majid, was originally from Iran, lived several years in Courtenay, BC very close to me, and whose daughter lives in Victoria. Interesting guy, very positive, very calm, generous and a great cook.

Though a raw food vegan himself, he provided wonderful breakfasts, usually quiche-like dishes, fresh fruit and freshly squeezed juices.

Getting to town from home was a major undertaking. His place was quite rural and it was an uphill slog just to get to the road where there were buses to town. Manizales itself has a population of around 400,000 and is a university town so it's lively with lots of young folks and a nice area where there are good cafes and restaurants.

For most visitors, Manizales is solely a jumping off point for the big national park, Los Nevados, where there are high peaks and cloud forests. I'm just not that adventurous these days and figured that the mountains would be most likely engulfed in clouds anyway. Maybe just an excuse to stay close to creature comforts. But I also have a hard time allowing myself to just sit and read and enjoy the views so it took some self talk to be content to stay put and be still.

I also find that I have a need for more social contact these days and the other guests who were there were difficult for me to connect with. One of them was also of Iranian origins, a real estate developer who now lives in Florida but has lived many places, owns real estate in many places, has lots of money and a proclivity for buying young girls for his pleasure. I felt like taking a shower after talking to him for five minutes. There was a couple from Montreal who were staying there for several months. He was a body builder, very terse, just short of threatening, she was sort of sweet and new agey and they both smoked like crazy.

One morning Majid gave me a ride into town and I visited the mercado and stocked up on veggies, explored the colonial old town a bit and rode the arial tram to take in the views.

Pleasing architecture on left...........ugly, typical Colombia, Ecuador, Peru architecture on right
 

Another morning I accompanied Majid to a local farm where they raised goats, sheep and chickens and had a little eco-tourism thing going on. Majid looked at goats to buy and bought a male guinea fowl for his female one.

And I did manage to slow down for periods, read and wrote and admired the view.

Coffee, banana, bamboo, pine......many greens
 
A surprise visitor
 

 

 

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