Today, we needed to get out of the city. So, we hired a driver and car to take us out to the Antioquia, an area dotted with small and sleepy paisa villages, such as Santa Fe. These are some of Columbia’s best and most well-preserved colonial towns. I hope we also get to see some coffee plantations (more southerly than our route), and perhaps some emerald dealers.
We hired a car, since the taxis here are quite small, as in very small. They are meant for short people, as most Colombians are shorter than us. The taxi drivers also seem to have many scams going, including restaurants, “massage” parlors, and getting lost.
Santa Fe is about 50 miles northwest of Medellin, though it took at least 90 minutes. It was founded in 1541, and flourished as the early capital of Antioquia until Medellin developed in 1826. That is probably a good thing. Another remnant of the past are the trishaw taxis, or motos ratones, which cross the Puente Colgante de Occidente on a bridge over the Rio Cauca. The bridge was built in 1895!
The best part of the bridge walk? The cold beer on the other side of the river, of course. We tried the linguica like sausage, which looked great on a grill. But it had very little flavor, as did the tortilla and potato served with it. Did I mention the beer was cold?
From there, we just had to walk around the town square, which had a big flea market going on. Apparently, today is a holiday here. We found yet another place for a cold beer or two, along with some beef and chicken for lunch. They even had some white rice for me! We also tried to local homemade hooch, not too palatable to me. But the boys chugged theirs over some ice.
There was a noticeable change in weather as we went over the hills to Santa Fe. It became somewhat drier, less green, warmer, and certainly more humid. But we saw plenty of lush potato farms on rather steep hillsides. That was the only green I saw, as the emeralds were nowhere to be found.
It did feel good to get out of the city. While it was not a trip that shall be placed on anyone’s top ten, it was a chance to see life in yet another setting. The old colonial buildings are still used for business and for living. Motor scooters are popular with the young folks. Again, the beer was cold, did I mention that earlier?