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The picturesque little town of Guatapé, Colombia, should be high on the list for any visitor. A two-hour bus ride away from Medellín, Guatapé sits on the banks of the Peñol – Guatapé reservoir, created with the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the late 1970s. This beautiful lake covers a vast area in the central Colombia highlands, and the best way to appreciate it is to climb to the top of El Peñon de Guatapé, jutting incongruously out of the lakeside landscape. It’s 740 back-and-forth steps to the very top of the lookout platform, but the view is worth it! El Peñon is about a 30-minutes walk, or a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride, from Guatapé proper. We wandered for several hours through the town and marveled at the colorful and beautifully painted bas-relief “zocalos” gracing almost every house and business. These zocalos are a uniquely Colombian art form, and they represent everything from the surrounding…

When does a goat roll on four wheels and an old Ford chassis? When it’s a Colombian chiva! Since publishing our April news post, we’ve gotten lots of comments and questions about the vehicle in the highlight photo: This colorful contraption is known as a chiva (Spanish for female goat), so named because of its ability to take on even the most treacherous Colombian mountain roads. In the rural towns, chivas are just about as common as arepas (the corn tortilla-like disks that are served with every meal). Chivas provide rustic but important and low-cost transportation for the people, their livestock, and just about any other goods you can imagine. They’re Colombia’s answer to “chicken buses.” We spotted the above chiva in San Carlos, a small town about two hours’ drive west of Medellín. (Just before the pandemic hit last year, we made a very cool road trip to San Rafael…

El Carmen de Viboral is yet another charming Colombian town that’s an easy day trip from Medellín. El Carmen de Viboral’s claim to fame is its artisan ceramics workshops, with craftsmanship that’s been handed down from generation to generation. Ceramics aren’t just an important economic sector for this region – the unique, hand-painted style of the pottery work is a symbol of local pride. All over town, you’ll see exquisite mosaic work and embedded dishes on everything from lamp posts to store fronts. As usual, photos are in galleries. Just click through to see each one by one. As small Colombian towns go, El Carmen de Viboral is relatively young. The town dates back to the late 19th century (1870-1880) when locals discovered rich deposits of feldspar and quartz in the region, key ingredients in the fabrication of ceramics. The hand-painted designs are unique to El Carmen and combine indigenous and…

Back in early March, as part of our quest to see as much of rural Colombia as we can, we took a weekend road trip to the off-the-radar little towns of San Rafael and San Carlos in our home department of Antioquia. Little did we know that it would be our last trip before the entire country went into quarantine. As we enter our fourth month of lockdown, we’re anxious to duck the daily firehose of bad news and dream about the days when we can once again hit the road and experience more of this beautiful country. We’re willing to bet there are lots of fellow travelers out there feeling just as antsy as we are. On the Road to San Rafael and San Carlos Since we rented a car, we were able to take our two dogs along on a “pup-cation” to a place where they could swim. San…

Is it really possible that we’ve been here for a year? On Nov. 22, 2018, we moved to Medellín, Colombia after living in Boquete, Panama for 3.5 years. Our one-year milestone seems like a good time to pause and reflect on what we’ve learned, what we love/don’t love about our adopted home, and what advice we’d give anyone thinking about the expat life in Colombia’s second-largest city. And it’s also fun to see how far we’ve come since we posted our three-month check-in last February.  Here are the things we love the most after one year in this colorful, modern city on the go.  1. Medellín has the friendliest people on the planet.  With just a few exceptions, each encounter we’ve had with a Colombiano has been warm and helpful. Get on a crowded elevator, and just about everyone will say “Buenos días.” Same goes for folks sitting in a doctor’s…

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