TOWNS & VILLAGES

Please note that these Reviews were written in 2012 and 2013 unless otherwise stated, whilst we were waiting for my house in Spain to sell, there will have been changes in the intervening time, both neglect and improvements depending on the area.

Ebejico



La Iglesía /Church Ebejico

55km north west of Medellin is the town, and municipality of Ebejico, at 1125m above sea level, and set in a valley, the main access being from the Medellin to Santa Fé de Antioquia road, you turn left just after the Tunnel, and by the time to arrive, you wished that maybe you hadn't! Once you turn off onto the Ebejico road you then have about 20km to go, about five of that is so bad, it is now officially classed as track.

Main Road
It is barely wide enough for two small cars to pass each other, and makes the journey much longer, taking over two hours, although I have to say it didn't seem to slow down the local Bus, I pulled in to let it pass me, and as we arrived in Ebejico, it was ready for the return journey.

The Local Government website, states they have borrowed from the Government to start repair work, but it is not enough, and they are unable to do all the work. This is such a shame, because if there was good access, it would be a wonderful place to settle, the surrounding scenery, with mountains all around, is amazing, the town itself has all the amenities to survive, without having to leave on a regular basis, and the people were very friendly.

The main business are related to agriculture, the growing of sugarcane, bananas, cocoa, and coffee, also production of pork and beef.

It was a bit warm!
The temperature was very similar to that in Bello, probably being at a similar altitude and in a valley made it seem that way.

Being good dog owners, Pépe was out and about with us, and making his mark!










All that driving left me with a thirst, and Marcela who had not been that keen on the road, likewise needed a drink, so we settled in the shade for fizzy apple pop, and Pépe had his bottle of frozen water, so he was catered for.







Having had our refreshment, and noticing that even 'Bob' did not seem that impressed with the access to the town,
we decided that the road was the reason there were still properties for sale here, that had been advertised for the last 18 months. It is such a shame, because it is a lovely town, in a lovely setting, but unless you want to be cut off from civilisation, then this is not the place for you, sadly it definitely is not for us.

From Ebejico we headed home, stopping off at a roadside Restaurant for a late but delicious lunch, where Pépe could lie under the table!







Caldas


La Iglesia  / The Church



Caldas is situated about 35 miles south west of Medellin, it is accessed by a main road, full of potholes, some of which were bigger than some swimming pools I have seen! Also unmarked speed ramps, to catch out the unsuspecting Motorist (Yes! you guessed it, our little Corsa suffered on this journey). The Town is at an altitude of 1750m and has a permanent population of just over 70,000. There are 24 Barrios within the town and 19 Veredas (Parishes) attached to it.

Caldas was a surprising town, it is a lot bigger than I expected, and surprisingly well kept, I think the town also has a lot of revenue from businesses owned by outsiders, and national chains are represented in may quarters. If you happen to be a shoe fetishist, then this is definitely the place for you, I thought I was going to have to leave Marcela behind!

The Town Square, is thoughtfully designed, and very attractive, it would have been better in the sun, but beggars can’t be choosers!

El Parque  /  Town Square


There is just about every facility you could want, and the people are very friendly. The town Veredas sit nicely on the surrounding hills and valleys, they are lush green, and there are many properties here.

Yes, this is somewhere we would definitely consider if the right property came along.



La Estrella


La Iglesía  /  The Church


La Estrella is situated about 15 minutes drive (16km) south west of Medellin. For Colombia, it is accessed by a decent main road, as long as you avoid the obligatory potholes! at an altitude of 1775m, with only 54000 Inhabitants (Taken from Town Site).

Unfortunately the fact that there are so few inhabitants, shows when you enter the town, which is dirty, unkept, and the pavements were covered in dog muck! (However in it’s defence, there was an event in the main square, where the Council were giving out the annual free rabies vaccinations to the cats and dogs, but the owners could have picked up their animals mess!)

Our intention had been to walk around town, and get a feel for the place, with a view to looking at houses in the area. In the end we were there for less than an hour and glad to get out.


La Ceja




La Ceja, 2149m above sea level, there is no easy access to this town, south east  of Medellin,  you can either go via Las Palmas on a windy but scenic road, or via the Medellin Bogota Autopista then Rionegro and San Vincente, both routes take about an hour.

La Ceja like many towns has grown over the years, a lot  of money has been spent on maintaining the town, and this is reflected in the higher house prices, which are anything from 25-40% higher than those in neighbouring towns. Despite it's well kept appearance, I was left with the feeling that I was an intruder, I can't pinpoint why, but I was not as comfortable here as in other Towns nearby.

I am sure that all the shops you need are available, but as we decided that this town was just that bit too far away for Marcela's work, we had lunch and left.


Marinilla




Marinilla situated 2120m above sea level,  40-45 minutes South East of Medellin, and 5 km south of Guarne. 

This town was originally founded in 1690, it remains deeply religious, and you will find the Churches packed out on for Services, with the sounds of High Church eminating from within!

The 'old' Town Centre retains it's character, but over the years, this Village has grown to become a relatively large town, spread out along the valley, and alongside the Medellin to Bogota Autopista.

There is just about every shop you could want, without ever having to leave the Town. All Services are available, from Banks, Abogados, Medical Centres, Restaurant / Bars coming out of your ears.
Marinilla is an untidy town, the roads need a lot of maintenance, the place needs cleaning up, but the atmosphere is very friendly. 

Property prices in this area are very reasonable, although there are not as many available as in neighbouring Guarne. With it's easy Motorway access, and close proximity to the airport, this is definitely a place to consider when purchasing property.



Guatapé


Guatapé is classed at being in eastern Antioquia, it stands about 1950m above sea level, approximately one and a half hours from Medellin. It sits on the edge of a hydro-electric Dam created by the Government in the late 60’s and stretches for miles in every direction. I am sure that at the time of construction, this Dam was far from popular, flooding vaste areas of land, and changing peoples lives beyond recognition. However in the long term this has been beneficial to the Community, as now there is a growing tourist industry in the area.

Iglesía de Guatapé (Church)


People from Medellin and elsewhere regularly visit, for a day out, and there are a growing number of tourists both from elswhere in the Country and abroad, as a result there are Hotels going up, and an expanding industry in lakeside Cabins. Restaurants where ever you look, also watersports play a major part, with water-taxis, pedaloes, jetskis, small motor boats, launch trips and bigger Cruise trips, this has brought a wealth of employment to the area.

However on the downside, for those of us not living in the area, Property prices have risen, especially for ‘lakeside’ property, and even those a little further afield, although a similar price to elsewhere, have only a small plot of land in comparison.

The property in the town of Guatapé, is very individual, each house has plaques along the outside of the house, if on a shop, it usually depicts scenes of the profession within, houses have the same plaques, but either related to their beliefs or the cultural and agricultural heritage of the community. If you view the Youtube Slideshow below it shows some of designs, both serious and querky.

Overlooking the whole area is Peñón de Guatapé, just a short car ride away. If you are feeling energetic then you can climb the 649 steps built into the side of the rock... No thanks!

Will we be considering House hunting here?... Unfortunately not, it would be too far for my Wife to travel for her work, but it is somewhere I have visited a couple of times now, and would certainly visit again.

For those of you who want to see a bit more, you can see this Youtube Slideshow


Girardota

Girardota lies 22km north east of Medellin at an altitude of  1521m, it is the next town to Copacabana, but lies a little further back from the Autopista Norte, however it is still easily accessible, and handy for Medellin.

(Town Centre)


This is a town, although it is somewhat smaller than it's neighbour Copacabana, but again, it has all you would need without having to travel, the Commercial Centre at Bello is only fifteen minutes down the Motorway if needed.

(Iglesía Girardota)

The mountainsides around Girardota are covered in Fincas, of varying sizes, standards, and prices, however there are far more for sale in this area, at affordable prices,  and a number where you get two for one, because there is also a casa majordomo (Servants accommodation) in the grounds, which provides visitors accommodation, or even letting potential.

Having now decided that we want somewhere warm, this has slid to the top of the list. I have just told Marcela, that she will have to get used to me rising early to work outside, because I certainly wont be out after breakfast!


Copacabana

Copacabana lies 18km north east of Medellin at an altitude of 1454m, it lies alongside the 'Autopista Norte', making it easily accessible, being only about 25 minutes from Medellin.



The town itself, is not small, and appears to have everything you would want to live a comfortable life. Because it is so near the motorway, within spitting distance of Medellin, and warm all year round, property prices are noticeably higher here, but there are still bargains to be had.


Copacabana lies in a valley with mountains both in front and behind, dotted with Fincas, within easy reach, lying in lush green meadows. The town itself is well kept, and clean, and has a friendly atmosphere.


(Town Centre)


Having thought long and hard about it, despite our attractions to Towns and Villages higher up the mountains, we have decided, that warmth is not something we want to sacrifice, so this is definitely a contender.




Guarne


Guarne is a town that lies about 25km east of Medellin at an altitude of approx 2150m, and straddles the autopista between Medellin and Bogota, it is also known as the Gateway from the East (Puerta de Oriente).





(Puerta de Oriente)


Guarne, can never be described as a pretty town, but it is functional, if a bit 'disorganised', because the town centre, is not in the centre, it is in the old original part, and they have built on in bits, as the town has expanded, and it shows!




(La Iglesía )


The town road need maintaining, and soon. However there is every type of shop you could want, especially living in the countryside, the number of Ferreterias (Iron Mongers) were staggering, I would be in my element. Unfortunately there were also many clothes and shoe shops, to keep the Boss happy! We hit town in the middle of a Fiesta, so it was a bit of a scrum, but we will call again.

Guarne really comes into its own, when you venture out of the town itself and visit the outlying villages or Veredas of which there are 34 attached to Guarne, some little more than hamlets, nestled in the hills around the town.

The area is as hot as anywhere nearby during the day, but cools off towards evening, which has it's attractions, the area is a rich green, from the combination of the sun during the day, and rain during the night. There are Fincas (smallholdings) all over the place, different sizes, states of repair, and corresponding prices.

One of the benefits of being in Guarne, is that you are only 35 minutes from Medellin, and 15 minutes from the International Airport, and during our time in Guarne, I was not aware of one plane above, so I think it is off the flightpath.

This is definitely a place we will consider when we are ready to buy, but we have decided that we need to visit again in the wet season, which should start next month!

If you are interested, here is a YouTube video of Guarne As previously, the commentary is in Spanish.



Santa Elena, Medellin

Santa Elena is one of five zones that make up the City of Medellin, it is about 30 minutes south of Medellin at 2500m. There is no real village as such, they have created an artificial centre, which is surrounded by a Church, couple of small shops, restaurants, a library and the Municipal Buildings, which seem rather grand considering the location. There are numerous other eating establishments of varying standards on the roads leading into the 'village'.

Santa Elena is famous for it's flowers, and besides the annual International Flower Festival held every August in Medellin (Fería de las Flores), it exports most of the flowers far and wide.



Santa Elena is also a re-knowned Eco area, and for those interested there is even an Eco Hotel. In the main, the area is made up of Fincas of varying sizes.

The weather is very different from both Medellin and the villages further north, when it is hot, it is as hot as anywhere else nearby, but when the weather turns, it can be like a British winter, jumpers and coats needed, with plenty of rain!! 

(Here is a YouTube video of Santa Elena)


San Pedro de los Milagros

Medellin is a great area to live in, but not everybody wants to live in the City, and some prefer it a little cooler if only at night. I for one, have been searching the outlying areas in readiness to find somewhere to buy. There are some great videos on YouTube, although understandably those with narration are in Spanish, you can get an idea of what the area holds.

The first is San Pedro de los Milagros, and at the moment it is still at the top of my list. The Town itself is about forty minutes north east of Medellin, at 2500m give or take.

This area is reknowned for it's milk production, so there are many dairy farms in the area, the town is surrounded by rolling green fields heading up into the surrounding mountains.



There is property available in all price ranges. The Town itself is totally self sufficient, with every type of shop, Bank, Medical facility etc. you would need. 



Whilst hot during the day, the temperature drops in the evening to give you that much needed relief from the humidity.



Barbosa

A town that lies about 35km north east of Medellin set in the 'Valle de Aburrá' , at 1295m above sea level, it has a tropical climate, and is also known as the town of the pineapple.

Barbosa is a town as opposed to a village, to reach it, you drive from Medellin via Bello, Girardota, and Copacabana on the autopista which is toll road, and turn off along a country road, surrounded by lush greenery.

Unfortunately as you enter Barbosa the reality sets in, because of the warm climate, it is a popular area to live, and prices reflect that, however the roads are unkept in the town, and you get the impression that people are looking at you as if you shouldn't be there.

We parked in the centre, and walked, there is everything you need in the way of shops  and facilities, but to be honest I did not feel comfortable, and Marcela, stated she had been informed that there was a growing crime problem in the area.

As it was hot, we stopped for a drink, and then decided we had seen enough, and hurried back to the car, before heading off.

It is a shame, because Barbosa is easy to access, (which may be one of the reasons for the alledged crime problem), the scenery surrounding the town is lovely, and there are good facilities, both for residents and visitors alike, you can go hang gliding, horse riding, both good ways to view the surrounding countryside, but for us, this is not the place we want to rest our heads.

To see more of the area you can view this video of Barbosa, as in previous videos the commentary is in Spanish.    


El Carmen de Viboral


Continuing my search for the area to live in, today we went to El Carmen de Viboral, about 50 minutes south east of Medellin at 2100m.

El Carmen cannot be classified as a village, in fact it is quite a large town, where buildings new and old, stand side by side. It is reknowned for it's ceramics industry, much of it run in small one room workshops. Also for it's cut-flowers and potatoes.

The town has everything one needs to survive, without ever having to go to the city, other than for official business with Government Departments. Many of the buildings in the Town are decorated outside with ceramic plates, bowls etc. which are quite effective, but how resistant they are to the weather is another matter.

The Auto pista (Motorway) from Medellin to Bogota, takes you most of the way to El Carmen, and it is a good run. You can feel the temperature dropping as you leave Medellin and start climbing up towards Rio Negro and then arrive at your destination.

The outlying areas of El Carmen appealed more, there were plenty of small fincas standing in plots of land that would be easily managable, and this is born out in the property sites, there are many for sale in the area for the average man to buy, without breaking the bank.

Would this be my first choice when it comes to buying... Having spoken with my wife, we don't think so, but at the moment it is a close second!!

Here is a YouTube video of El Carmen






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