I’m moving from Medellín to Guatape. I buy a ticket at the main station in Medellín and look for a bus. The ticket says platform 13. I find this and a small bus pulled up, which is not marked in any way, but the stickers suggest it is heading to my destination. I head inside, the driver is nowhere to be seen, just a few passengers urging me to board. After a few minutes, the bus pulls away, no one checks my ticket and if I hadn’t bought it, I don’t think much would have happened.
Less than an hour and a half later, I’m in Guatape. A small, picturesque, literally picturesque (you can read somewhere that it is the most colorful village in the world), village, brimming with life. The Christmas holiday has attracted a lot of tourists, mostly Colombian it seems. I get lost in my search for a motel, but after an hour, with sweaty forehead and cramped calves, I arrive at a secluded accommodation that is famous for being a gathering place for artists. It’s a kind of cottage with a large patio, a caravan with hammocks, and horses standing at the gate trying to get in to beg a few morsels of leftover food from the tourists. I’m greeted by a dreadlocked two-metre tall Frenchman who discovered Guatape some time ago and liked it so much that he and his girlfriend bought a plot of land and built a hippie-style hostel on it. If the internet worked a little better here, I could easily imagine spending months here.
I check into the hostel and head back to the village, it’s nighttime by then and they clearly spared no expense with the Christmas lights in the main square. I just sit there and stare at it with my mouth open. I buy some street food in the form of chicken skewers, sit on the wall and watch the fountain, around which the youth of the village start riding their bikes. A strangely melancholy song plays in my headphones (which you can listen to in the top left corner) and that’s when all the youngsters decide to ride their bikes on the back. About 15 to 20 of them. It may be hard to imagine, but for me, with all the Christmas lights, it was a spectacle straight out of a music video that sent shivers down my spine like a squirrel on moss.
The next morning I ask at the hostel how to get to the adjacent rock from where the best view of the local “Třeboň” ponds should be.
“It’s a 4 hour easy trek, you can’t get lost. You walk out in front of the hostel gate and take a left.”
With these comprehensive and exhaustive instructions, I set off on my pilgrimage. I turn left at the gate, walk past the river, and on the other bank I observe a gentleman in a typical Colombian hat, machete in hand, cutting grass (or waiting for stray tourists, who knows…).
After a while I come across the end of the road and a gate where it is written in big letters: ‘NO ENTRY. And the last thing you want to do in Colombia is enter someone else’s property and catch 10 dudes transferring suspicious packages from a barn to a truck. “Impossible to get lost…” overcome in the first 5 minutes.
So I head in the opposite direction, straight into the village and from there on my own path towards the boulder. Surely it was fate that wanted me to be able to buy a handful of energy for the journey as I passed through the village. I pull out the only twenty-thousand-dollar bill I have on me from my pocket and buy a snickers for 3,000 pesos (they just don’t have tater tots here) and set off.
The trek is really easy, almost no people, lots of nature all around, cows, dogs running around, horses and a motivational rock sticking out in the distance.
After four hours of hiking, repeat 4 hours(why? because next paragraph), I arrive at the mythical boulder and a consensus longer than your grandmother’s speech on the dangers of drugs looms before me.
Still, I am full of enthusiasm and I am about to tame a stone that even a neanderthal Mr. František Huml could not make a wheel out of. And that’s when I grab my armpits, of which I have more than Mr Huml, and stare at the gate to the staircase, where it says “Admission 18,000 pesos!“. And if you remember well that fate told me to buy a snickers and you can count how many is 20 – 3, you may be holding on to your armpits with me now.
I consider begging at the entrance for a thousand pesos for a moment, looking out to see if I can spot anyone from the hostel among the flying tourists. Eventually I sit on the ledge of the lookout under the stone and take in the view.
I enjoy it for a few hours until the sun goes down. I don’t even think of climbing the budr anymore. Because of this view, Guatape becomes one of the TOP places I have visited in Colombia.
And a few more photos from the village…