(Friday Fotos) Guatapé: Walking Forward, Looking Back
A pictorial depiction of Guatapé’s motto.
A trip to Medellín is not complete without a side excursion to the nearby town of Guatapé. A one-day visit convinced me that the people who live there have committed completely to the Renaissance of their region. Their efforts have made Guatapé justifiably famous now as a tourist destination, rather than infamous as a dangerous region too close geographically to the power and corruption of former drug lord Pablo Escobar. The outer walls of houses in Guatapé feature brightly painted squares, or zócalos, that tell the stories of those who live there. Many zócalos feature the town’s symbol, a sheep whose stance depicts Guatapé’s motto: “caminando hacia adelante, mirando hacia el pasado” — walking forward, looking back. Grounded in a promise to never forget its history, the future of Guatapé looks very bright indeed.
Note: Many photos in the mosaic have captions. To read them, click on a photo to open the slideshow. Some photos don’t make sense without their captions. Thank you!
This sign in the town square explains the zócalos. It says in part, “An element of identity, the zócalo tells the story of an individual, a family, a past or a value of this friendly community conglomerate.”
The zócalos on the left depict the lamb that is Guatapé’s symbol. The zócalos on the right appear to show doves with olive branches.
The cathedral in the town’s main square.
Inside the cathedral.
Even on a rainy day, this town shines bright.
This zócalo depicts the displacement of a family during the drug-related violence that was so common to the region in the 80’s and early 90’s.
Some zócalos tell you about the person or business inside. These are on a home for the elderly.
The zócalos on the side of this hospital show the cycle of life from conception to death and the afterlife.
Marcello wears a ruana, a traditional cover-up for the sometimes chilly weather.
Not all zócalos tell of times gone by. Marcello was a fan of these pictures that decorate a trucking or construction business.
Antioquia, the state in which Guatapé sits, has a rainy season and we were in it. This awesome moto-taxi allowed us to tour the town and still stay dry.
La Piedra de Peñol (the Rock of Peñol), or El Peñon de Guatapé, is a natural rock formation that rises over 2,000 meters above sea level. Like an iceberg, supposedly the largest chunk of it is below ground. The locals told me it may have been a meteorite. This big hunk deserves its own post, coming later!
This cross marks the town of Viejo Peñol, which was flooded in 1978 to create the Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir that produces approximately 30% of Colombia’s energy. The town, originally founded in 1714, was relocated to a new spot nearby.
The man-made lake has given rise to many outdoor leisure activities – boating, fishing, zip lining, etc. – and to the return of posh urbanites who maintain luxurious weekend homes on its shores.
The bombed shell of La Manuela, one of drug lord Pablo Escobar’s most well-known estates.
The guides on our boat tour informed us that these holes in the hillsides lead to a series of tunnels. Pablo Escobar had them built in case he needed to make a quick escape – to his submarine. No kidding.
The nightclub that was part of Pablo Escobar’s estate, La Manuela.
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Wow…that pretty much covers it…Wow
Just completed my vicarious tour of Guatape. Your pictorial really makes it seem like actual travel. I continue to luv traveling thru your eyes. A favorite is Marcello in his ruana. He’s a lucky ‘lil tike to travel so young.
Thanks so much for traveling with this blog, Aunt Nan! I am truly grateful for your support and continued readership.
Great pictures and story! I agree that Marcello is too cute in his ruana.
Thank you so much, Maria! 🙂
I hope to understand one day the true reason why there is so much poverty in South America while the UK is seemingly so wealthy. Despite the oil, they have no mines in operation and produce nothing. I hope the best for Colombia.
Colombia does have natural resources, but I think unfortunately it is still the case that the proceeds from those stay in the hands of a few. That doesn’t answer the question about the UK, but in Colombia I think it would help to be able to get more of a handle on corruption. Only one aspect of a complex issue, of course.
I agree with your answer and I wish we were in Colombia “ahora”. Cold where we are. I think that those companies engaged in the exploration and development of natural resources are controlled by foreign shareholders. Hope things change. Colombia has so many young people. Demographics in many European countries as well as the US and Canada are not so great. In Killa there are so many young people working everywhere.
Love to see a blog on Los Helechos and Pizza Loca. My most used internet place is TeleMic just across the street from Pizza Loca on 53rd
Interesting, but I have to clarify that Colombia is not poor, Colombia is part of the CIVETS group of six leading emerging markets. Today there are many successful companies created by Colombian entrepreneurs, Avianca, Argos, Bancolombia, Grupo SURA and many more companies, today Colombia is one of the countries that more is creating new millionaires in the world and in recent times Colombia has created millionaires quicker than Brazil and Mexico. Colombia has a large young population ready to start business and develop their country. Colombians have always been very good for legal or illegal business, but few people have been able to appreciate this hidden ability.
Colombia is the third-largest economy in the region, home to nearly 50 million consumers and a rising middle class with significant economic mobility. With gross-domestic product growth over the past four years estimated at close to 5 percent and the lowest inflation in decades, Colombia — soon to become a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development — has fast become a major regional power.
A simple example illustrates the vibrancy of the Colombian market. As a result of rising available income, more than a third of Colombian households own a pet. The pet-care market is estimated to grow at 13 percent per year; according to industry data, the market for pet foods grew from $68 million in 2008 to $400 million in 2013.
Colombia is Florida’s second-largest trade partner globally. Since 2003, foreign direct investment in Colombia has increased sevenfold. The Colombian stock exchange climbed from 1,000 points at its creation in July 2001 to over 7,300 points by November 2008. The potential of Colombia is huge and I am sure that a future will be a economic power.
Hi Geert! Thank you so much for your comment, and for all the valuable information. In addition to getting to know our family here, moving to Colombia was an attractive opportunity for my husband and me in part because of the economic opportunities and growth that you mention.
I first visited Colombia — Bogota, specifically — in May of 2010. It was notable then that business leaders there (I was part of a leadership development program that scheduled meetings with many) seemed overwhelmingly optimistic. The attitude stood in stark contrast to the general feeling in the US at that time, as the economy shuddered in the ripples of Lehman, et al’s, 2008 collapse and the recession that followed. My understanding is that Colombia’s economy never even went in the red during that time; growth simply slowed.
Here in Barranquilla in the present day, it’s undeniable that a boom is occurring. There is quite literally construction around every corner. Spirit (much as I love to loathe them) flights between Fort Lauderdale and Cartagena are one of its most popular routes, or so I have heard. The flights are consistently booked up both ways.
The US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement seems be taking things to the “next level”, at least for some. And of course Colombia has long held natural resources — something that has sustained the country, or at least the one’s holding the country’s wealth at any given time, through much turbulence.
In short, I agree with you that Colombia is already an economic force, and one that stands poised to achieve a whole new level of growth in the global market in the very near term. It was not my intent to portray Colombia as somehow “undeveloped” or overall impoverished, since it is neither. (That being said, poverty is a tremendous problem in some areas, just as it is in the US and other countries. Neither Colombia’s economic “positives” nor the “negatives” experienced in the past have been shared or shouldered equally across the nation’s population — some have benefited or suffered exponentially more than others.) Instead, it was my intent to shed light on what has been a pretty epic turn-around from the instability that the past period of violence inflicted on some areas of the country and some people in the country – a message of hope, optimism, and admiration. From what I have read and studied, Medellin and the Antioquian region surrounding it have been truly innovative, economically and otherwise, in adjusting and moving forward. I think I was trying to talk less about dollars and more about healing, though it would be naive to think that one doesn’t have anything to do with the other.
Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to more of your shared insights.
I agree that there has been a lot of construction in and around Killa. There are industries and there is an economy. The malls appear to be busy and yes the Fort Lauderdale/SPIRIT & the NY JFK/Jetblue to Cartagena is busy all year.
But I believe that the Colombianos in Miami who are working do not wish to return to Killa. In general there is little future for them unless they can return to buy a business. If they speak English well, they can work in a call center for $400 a month. Although there are executive positions in Killa, there are not enough and in general there are frankly not enough jobs in Killa. Things are of course better in Bogota.
I hope the best for Colombia. It is rich in resources and its location and climate are ideal. The young people are fine and optimistic. Pets are perhaps better cared for than people!
I hope to move there this year or next.
It looks like an amazing place, and I’ll make it a trifecta of votes for the Marcello pic breaking the sound barrier of adorable-ness. It’s true, there is construction EVERYWHERE in Barranquilla. And with Jet Blue now flying direct from JFK to Cartagena, I’ve started running into folks in NYC who have begun vacationing there. Of course, there are still some things that drive me crazy about BQ (how hard is it to not litter? or respond to a prospective tenant’s inquiry about renting an apartment?) – but then, NY certainly has it’s share of crazy-making stuff, and at least Barranquilla has a great sushi restaurant, now!
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