It’s been decided. Strolling the two miles to Cerro Volador will be a daily practice.
The birds = so good.
The juice stands along the way = so good.
The extraordinary caliber of people watching opportunities = so good.
Stepping out of the city streets and into the “mountain” sunshine = SO GOOD!
Blago defeated the travel bug [probably because he watched Kung Fu Hustle] and was ready to check out the awesome mountain forest wonderland that I discovered yesterday. Vamos!
The neighborhood in which we’re living is called “Estadio,” aptly named for the super massive sports complex about a mile from our apartment. There is a basketball gymnasium, a volleyball gymnasium, a track, a big field, a skate park, and, as I would never have guessed, a roller blading track [similar to a cycling track]. A roller blading race was in full swing and all the young people racing were vibrantly decked out, head to toe…blades / skates, helmets, elbow pads, wrist guards, and bold racing suits.
Before we started up the never ending steps at the base of the awesome mountain forest wonderland, we sat down to eat breakfast at a corner shop called Buñuelos Pan. Blake ordered first.
He ordered a loaded breakfast plate off the menu on the wall and got really excited when he found out it came with a chicken arepa, a maize fritter that is either flat like a pancake or stuffed like an empanada.
…Apparently he originally only ordered the chicken arepa, which was news to both of us. When more food didn’t come, Blake made the waitress’s day when HE asked HER what HE had ordered and already eaten. Pure hilarity, maybe you had to be there..
Que pedi?! [What did I order?!”]
“Una arepa de pollo…” [“A chicken arepa…”] Waitress smiles, is slightly confused / curious by Blake’s question…
“Ah, ok. Pensé que el arepa era parte del desayuno. Quisiera La Calentada entera?” [“Oh. I thought the arepa was part of the breakfast. Can I have a whole breakfast now?”]
Awesome mountain forest wonderland delivered expected awesomeness. Families and friends and couples from all the surrounding neighborhoods were atop the cumbre, sharing picnics, gazing into the distance, playing futbol, and taking selfies. Policemen texting on their cell phones while riding horses…
Fast forward to our evening: Sun sets. Riquisimo dinner of Mediterranean cuisine on the sidewalk. Seatbeltless taxi ride across the city. And voila, we have arrived:
E L A L U M B R A D O 2 0 1 6!
…a world class Christmas Light celebration, held annually in Medellín.
4 million visitors between Dec 1 and Jan 9, with 90,000 of those being tourists. I felt like I was a salmon swimming upstream. People soup!
A total of 31 million LED lights, 42,000 hand-woven figures, 950 kilometers of luminous hose and 13 tons of metallic paper of different colors.
Empresas Públicas de Medellín, the local utility company, creates, installs, and sponsors the light display.
This event has been happening since 1955!
The theme this year, “In Christmas, Medellín is a large family.” We walked about a kilometer and a half around the lake through a sea of lights and a sea of people, through the different themes: Manger, The Farm, Magic, The Village, Three Wise Men, and A Night of Christmas.
An 80′ tall Christmas Tree in the center of the lake with a HUGE star on its top!
At the very end of the circuit, the decorated area was within a mini theme park. Splash rides and roller coasters, and Blake’s face lit up.
“That’s it! Those are the screams. The screams I hear every evening from our apartment. This is crazy!”
Neither of us would choose to swim through a sea of people again. That was plenty!