August 17, 2009
More of Ten Days in Colombia

After three days of flying and workshops, half of the Colombia guests flew home and the rest of us, Kevin Sanders of Australia, the Molina Brothers of Spain, and myself took two days to explore Medellin and the surrounding countryside. Organizer Inez Elvira Uribe took charge and made sure we got a good, well rounded tour.

Sightseeing Days

Day 4 and 5:

We visited public squares and galleries, rode skyways to the surrounding peaks, and toured huge fruit markets.

The gondola system is not just for sightseeing. It transports residents from the hills to the metro system below and crosses over many depressed neighborhoods. Want to see a city up close. Try flying in low over the back yards. Interesting, it was not unusual to see kites being lofted from roof tops or sidewalks.

Medellin Sightseeing Medellin Sightseeing Medellin Sightseeing Medellin Sightseeing

In the countryside, we visited a stunning lake area created behind a dam system. In the center, a huge monolith reached up high above the waters. We stopped for an informal kite show. It is difficult to see but a star system climbs nearly 20 stories above the parking lot. The view (and the climb) was breath-taking. But I decided to pass. The steps were steep and without rails or support. For a guy with mild vertigo, the cable cars the day before were enough....

Medellin Sightseeing Medellin Sightseeing Medellin Sightseeing

Day 6:

On the sixth day, we rose early and joined a number of local kiters for a bus ride to Cartegena. The bus was late and smaller than requested. The roads were treacherous and sitting in the front seat, I got to see every tailgating maneuver, every pass on a blind turn, and every stop sign ignored. Driving in Columbia is different than back home! The trip was hot, cramped, and longer than expected. Sixteen hours later we arrived in the coastal city.

Cartegena is a historic gem on the Caribbean Coast. The city was founded by the Spanish in the early 1500's and served as the principal port for transferring wealth back to Europe. This means it was also a prime target for Spain's enemies.

Cartegana Sights Cartegana Sights Cartegana Sights

Francis Drake sacked the port and later, defensive walls and a protective castle were constructed. Five hundred years later, the walls are a wonderful place to stroll, examine old cannon, and to let your imagination wander.

Cartegana Sights Cartegana Sights Cartegana Sights Cartegana Sights

The streets within are narrow and filed with colorful colonial buildings, churches and cathedrals, , squares, hotels, stores, and cafes. The Old City has been recognized as a World Heritage Site. And we were going there to fly kites!

Day 7, 8, and 9:

Early on Day 7, we were brought to a marked area just outside the city walls. Wind was coming off the water. People walking the ramparts could look down on our show. At noon, I phoned Susie. "The bags are empty!!" I reported. "Everything is in the sky!!"

Cartegana Flying

I generally choose kites for the flying conditions I expect. This trip I brought one bag of mid-sized inflatables ands one long bags of large Ghosts. (Usually I can carry three heavier 70 pound bags. But the airline servicing Colombia limited me to two fifty pound ones.) I lofted a school of Fish, a flock of Parrots, and a .... hmmmm .. what do you call a group of Frogs??

Cartegana Flying Cartegana Flying Cartegana Flying

Kevin added a collection of his original Aussie Road Signs which flew very well and proved surprisingly durable when one was cut, fell into the roadway, and wrapped around a bus.

Cartegana Flying Cartegana Flying Cartegana Flying

Juan Miguel and Rafa brought out a wonderful collection of Revolution Variants with creative shapes and graphics. It seems these two guys can fly anything with a Rev frame and four lines!

Cartegana Flying Cartegana Flying Cartegana Flying

For three days we filled the skies at the corner of the city. People called out from passing traffic. The walls became crowded. And hundreds of kids added their own kites to the show. It was a great gathering in a special place and I was pleased to be a part of it.

Finally, Sunday night we packed for home. Fortunately, we were flying back to Medellin while many of our friends faced another long bus at night.

Festival Field

We checked onto our hotel; at midnight and asked for a 4:30 wake-up-call. We needed to leave for the airport at 5.

Inez and Jaro have my respect for organizing a good show and my gratitude for being wonderful hosts. I was proud to be a part of it.

Jairo and Inez

I'm flying home now and should land in Portland at midnight. Susie will be waiting and we'll get home about three. While changing planes in Chicago, I received email from a friend in Austria with a newpaper photo of our Colombio flying show.

Two days at home and then off to Long Beach Washington. Should be good fun there too! See you out there!

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