viernes, 2 de noviembre de 2007

COLOMBIA

Our trip to Medellín, Colombia began on the 20th of October. We were seventeen of the Sagaró family who went to that city to celebrate my ex-husband's 80th birthday. Between daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and sister and brother-in-law, we totalled 17 as mentioned above. The flight Madrid-Bogotá took ten hours, then Bogotá-Medellín one hour. First day (evening) that we arrived we rested. The little apart-hotel where I stayed, sharing with a niece, looked out over a jungle! Beautiful, lush, splendid, magnificent trees of all kinds. We inhaled the oxygen that we could sense was being expelled from them. It was such an invigorating feeling! Next morning, in our little mini-bus, we had a tour of the city with a local guide. Medellín is not a beautiful city; it is, however, located in a valley surrounded by mountains which are full of greenery, little jungles full of exotic birds. The city has interesting theme parks of all kinds, to look at the stars, for lovers, for ecologists and, of course, the wonderful Botero Square with this artist's huge sculptures. Even though Medellín hasn't gotten rid of the violent reputation it had at one time, right now it's quite a peaceful place, very industrial, with hard-working people bustling back and forth.

In the evening we had a family get-together between my ex-husband's and his new wife's family which was just great. We ate and danced all night. Following morning we were off to the coffee area, about six hours drive from Medellín. Wretched trip. Full of bends, cliffs and trucks! Thank God our driver, Luis, was excellent. There were soldiers everywhere, in one of the controls they stopped us and made us come down from the bus. One of my nieces was absolutely petrified! She thought they were rebels and would probably kidnap us...,(I don't think they could have put up with us for very long) I asked them for their identification because we didn't know if they were really military personnel (someone told me that if they WERE rebels they probably would've shot me right there on the spot). We finally ended up taking pictures of eachother along with their submachine guns. After a long, long drive (we got lost before reaching our destination), we finally arrived at the wonderful rural hotel in a coffee plantation where we stayed for three days, "El Bosque del Saman" is an absolutely gorgeous place, run by wonderful people with all sorts of activities. We took the coffee trail where we saw the coffee-making process which was very interesting and it's very sad that the owners can't live off the coffee production (prices have gone down) and have had to set up a hotel to make ends meet. Especially when one sees all the work that entails the production. It's not fair. Anyway we had a very relaxed and happy three days doing all sorts of things, swimming pool, jacuzzi, sliding down rails overlooking the coffee plantation hills (the grandchildren and the younger members did that) horseback-riding, etc. Then it was the trip back! Another wretched ride, except that for lunch we stopped at another beautiful restaurant with splendid views over the Cauca River and surrounding mountains with its exuberant tropical forest.

Back in Medellín we stayed at a friend's country house also set in beautiful surroundings, full of animals, and long stretches of white "hortensias" which they export to the U.S.A., a lake full of ducks and lotus flowers. The house had millions of flowers of all colours, specially orchids of all types. The hosts, were extremely nice and highly welcoming. I found all the Colombians I met very, very nice people, well educated, spoke a perfect Castilian Spanish--better than we do in Spain--and very kind and helpful. After a week's stay, I came back but hope to go back soon, I simply loved the country and its people.