Chao South America

Medellin is a bit overwhelming at first, but pretty quickly I settle into enjoying the wonderful parks, museums, and fantastic weather.  Having nine days to kick about before meeting Barb up in Cartagena, there's a nice non-rushed pace that gives me time to re-visit places or spend an entire day in the botanical garden. 

Impossible to capture the subtlety of this art piece at the Museo de Arte Moderno, it is one of the most beautiful pieces I've come across on this trip.  A series of Rothko-esque paintings on scrim, stacked one after another, create an ethereal piece simultaneously solid and translucent.

The streets of Medellin are ripe with murals.

A trip to Parque Arvi and Parque Ecological park seems like a good days activity but leaves me scratching my head a bit as both parks seems largely inaccessible without much in the way of the hiking trails I was expecting when I got off the metro cable. But, the views out over the city from the metro cable are fantastic and definitely worth the trip just for that.

I originally met Dieter and Marcela back in Ecuador's highlands as they rumbled past in their Oregon plated Toyota.  Reconnecting while they await final touches on a rebuilt engine, we share some great laughs and views for the afternoon. Suerte Amigos.

After a lengthy stay in Medellin, I hop a flight north to the beautifully picturesque colonial city of Cartagena to rendezvous with Barb.

The Caribbean cultural shift is immediately apparent.

We duck into a few museums to escape the mid day heat and take in the culture.  Palacio de la Inquisicion is by far the favorite. Set in a beautiful courtyard building and chock full of information, the museum showcases the Catholic Church's grisly years spent trying to purge the surrounding territories of heresy and witchcraft.

One of many gnarly torture devices.

Next it's the impenetrable fortress of Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas that sits just outside the walled section of the city.  A massive military complex, it stands in stark contrast to the modern high-rise towers scattered throughout Bocagrande.

Beneath the complex is a warren of tunnels that provided escape routes and supply locations. 

After a few days taking in Cartagena's sites and mingling with the Tommy Bahamas' of the world, we head north for the mellower thatched hut shores of Palomino.  Morning yoga on the beach, great veggie meals, beach walks, and a lazy tubing trip - not bad. Not bad at all.

Backtracking towards Cartagena a bit, we spend the last few days at Villa Maria - a swanky lodge a stones throw from a nearly deserted stretch of Caribbean white sands.

It feels like a nice closed circle to have wound down my time in South America with Barb.  Integral to nudging me out the door, I feel extremely grateful that I listened to her "do it" from way back when. Thanks B!

One of the things I will miss most about South America is the simple word buenos; a shortened greeting with an implied morning/afternoon/evening depending on the time of day.

I have no idea how many times it has rolled off my tongue during my time down here and how many times it has been said to me.  It is so utterly positive and welcoming, minimally capturing the pure warmth of South America culture. 

Buenos noches South America y gracias para todo.