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Weekends and holidays are all reason enough for them to visit nearby pueblos, usually no more than an hour or two away by car or bus. Weekend homes in these pueblos are called fincas, and if you're lucky enough to be invited to stay in one by a Colombian -- go!
On one such occasion, my friend Troy and I accepted an invitation to Guatape, a popular weekend destination for paisas. Carrying toiletries and a change of clothes in a daypack, we paid no more than $10 for a one-way bus ticket.
We left on a Friday afternoon, with the bus ride lasted around two hours. The Colombian woman seated next to me was a real estate broker in Medellin, who said she made the trip to Guatape every weekend.
As we neared Guatape, the landscape turned into rolling hills, with small lakes surrounding them.
Geographically, I hadn't seen anything like it before. The bus dropped us off in Guatape's central plaza, which was bustling with the usual mix of people, motorbikes, cars and buses. Unlike the big cities, there were also motorized rickshaws.
I immediately had flashbacks to Thailand and Cambodia, though my first ride in one was actually in Flores, Guatemala way back in 2006.
We dropped off our bags at the friends' apartment, and grabbed a few beers and arepas con queso in the main plaza.
People continued to arrive via bus as it got dark, including another friend joining us for the weekend. In the evening, the four of us went out dancing at a small bar. It was crowded, however we managed to get a table in a back corner, where a speaker was in perfect position to blast us with popular salsa and reggaeton songs.
Around 11 pm, several police walked into the bar, and an announcement was made, followed suddenly by a mass exodus of people. Apparently the message was that kids under 18 needed to leave!
There must be a local ordinance, because the following night at the town's larger discoteca, the same thing happened. Whatever the reason, it left more room for the adults.
On Saturday, we awoke to beautiful blue skies. While walking along the lake, we were approached by several guides selling boat tours.
At the mention of Escobar's farm, I knew we'd be getting on one of those boats to visit the vacation homes of Pablo Escobar. Other lakeside activities include a fairly long zipline and renting jetskis.
The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent walking around Guatape -- it's not large, however it's very idyllic, and as such, lends itself well to leisurely walks.
There was a popular game being played in a tent across the street from the church. One of my favorite parts of the pueblo was the variety of panel art on the facades of homes and businesses, each depicting unique aspects of the regional geography, culture and lifestyle.
Saturday night, we found ourselves in a larger discoteca more reminiscent of what you'd find in the big cities. In fact, it's safe to say a lot of the kids in there drinking and dancing that night were from Medellin.
Sunday afternoon was spent visiting El Penol, a monolith in a nearby town by the same name, and then we caught the bus back to Medellin, just as the sun was going down.