Sunday, November 17th 2019
We’ve just made it up the 659 steps that zig-zag up the front of the Piedra del Peñol in Guatapé, Colombia. The huge rock looms over the Nare River that intertwines itself with the land creating a myriad of small islands and peninsulas. On the horizon, layers of distant mountains jet up into a wall of fluffy clouds. Overhead, the clouds open up exposing the bright, blue sky and a slight breeze raises goose bumps on my sweaty skin.
I pull a plastic chair out from a small table and sit down with my traveling companions. I order in broken Spanish a couple of micheladas con mango – light beer and mango juice with a salted rim. We came prepared with our own food – fresh tomatoes, avocado and cream cheese on top of savory bread with kiwis, cut in half, and eaten with a spoon. As I sip from the over-salted rim of my drink and take a bite of my sandwich, I look around and start to take in my surroundings.
The concrete plaza is littered with people. They naturally clump together with the familiar group they came with and the low murmur of conversation is carried over the breeze.
In front of me, a little toddler teeters joyfully away while his mother chases him, eventually scooping him up and carrying him back to start the charade over again. Along the railing, an enthusiastic boyfriend squats down to get the perfect camera angle of his girlfriend who changes poses every couple seconds. A little further away, a group of friends jokingly dances to the reggaeton music playing in the background. There’s vendors scattered across the plaza, selling anything from fresh fruit and drinks to Guatapé coffee mugs and T-shirts.
The atmosphere is jovial and the air is fresh and cool. We sit for a while, not wanting to rush the day along. Soon we would have to walk back down all those stairs and take a bus back to Medellín.