Caty and I went to the farmer’s market at Parque Arvi this Sunday. Situated right next to the METRO cable car station, there were 40 some stalls selling everything from clothing and jewelry, to vegetables, blood sausage, empanadas, and desserts. Parque Arvi is a gigantic park and forest reserve, so large that I’ve heard tales of hikers getting lost for weeks, or even dying in it’s expanses after setting out for what they thought would be an afternoon jaunt. Though hiking was on our mind when we were going there, all the delicious food quickly became paramount on our list of priorities.
The best and easiest way to Parque Arvi is by cable car. With a standard 2000 COP($1) METRO ticket you can take the train to the Acevedo stop, and then board the cable cars for Santo Domingo. Once you get to the Santo Domingo stop there is one more cable car to get up to the park. You do have to buy a separate ticket here for the last leg of the trip. It’s slightly more than a normal ticket, but still less than 5000 COP($2.50). The last cable car goes over forested areas that contain less and less houses and farm animals until there is nothing under your feet but the trees. The experience is like being in a silent and low flying helicopter. A microcosmic example of what I love about the transportation system in Medellín- we have taken a train all the way from Envigado across the whole city, over the farthest barrios and then out of the city by cable car to pristine forests and rolling hills for less than $3.50. Not bad.
One we got there we went straight to the fruit venders and got a little cup of mixed fruit. The fruit of Colombia is incredibly varied, delicious, healthful, and dare I say it, exotic. It deserves it’s own blog post. As I write this I have a cup of uchuvas within munching distance. It is my favorite Colombian berry, known in English as the Peruvian ground cherry, cape goose berry, giant ground cherry, or variously as the inca, aztec, or golden berry.
After that things get a little hazy. We went from stall to stall in a riotous conflagration of food tasting. The spree included empanadas (both traditional and, get this, chicharron filled), pastel de pollo, morcilla, empanaditas con papas, a cheese filled croissant-like baton served with a pineapple sauce whose name escapes me, raspberry pudding, and this little dessert here, a fried seeming sort of orange cookie filled with what I think is a maize and panela jam, coconut, both chocolate and vanilla syrup, another cookie of different construction put on top, and love. Truly though, it belies description and must be experienced.
After we had eaten as much as we could, we walked around a bit. More little stands with food or clothing, and the occasional apparently owner-free dog joyously running up and down the hills. I tried to get a good picture of these dogs, some of the happiest I’ve ever seen, but they ran too fast for my camera and by the time I got a picture off they were just a tail wagging in the distance.
The air is a few degrees cooler in the higher elevation of Parque Arvi, and it felt good to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city for an afternoon. The ride back down was pleasant, though the line for tickets was huge. Watching the anaconda-like line slowly make it’s way past the ticket counters made me sure we’d be waiting for over an hour, or possibly forever.
We ended up being in line not much more then 20 minutes, somehow. We talked in Spanish with the people sharing the cable car with us, and they were nice iterations of what Tyler Durden would call the “single serving friend.” We definitely stick out here, and I will notice people looking over at as a lot and trying to listen to what we are saying. It’s a little strange to be exotic, but it has been good for starting conversations with random people. Practicing my Spanish with everyone I can here is good for it’s own sake, and for the added inspiration I get when I think of the day when I never again have to respond to a question with “no entiendo.”