Want people to use the public transportation system? Then make it so that it's cheap, easy, and efficient. Then, add an element of fun, and everybody will use it!
Yesterday, Ruth and I used the public transportation system here in Medellin, Colombia to go from the Robledo neighborhood situated high on an eastern hill to the Parque Arvi (Arvi Park) situated high on a western hill on the opposite side of the valley that contains the city itself.
First, we had to take a bus.
There are very few actual formal bus stops for the small local buses, and no schedules. You simply stand beside the road, and when one comes by, you stick your arm straight out and wave your hand up and down.
Normally, a bus will come by within 10 minutes. Very rare that you would have to wait longer than that, and often it will show within 5 minutes.
And provided you live on a route, there is no walking to a bus stop. You simply walk outside your front door, and wait!
Sure enough, the bus came along. We asked the driver for "dos integrados" (two integrated) tickets that would include both the bus and the transfer to the Metro line. They cost 2,300 pesos ($1.00 CAD, or 72 cents US) each.
From our location, it is about a 10 minute bus ride through (sometimes steep) residential streets to do the 1.8 kms (1.1 miles) to the MetroCable station.
Medellin has a system of two above ground subway style rail lines, and two cable car lines that attach to that system. Plus, all of the small, nimble buses.
From the bus, we walk directly into the MetroCable terminal, wait in a short lineup to get on the cable car. Maybe two minutes at the most.
Kevin in the MetroCable car high above Medellin.
What a fun way to get somewhere! Each cable car seats 8 people. They're clean, comfortable, and with great views of the city.
Looking back at where we came from.
We traveled about 5 kms (3 miles) on that one cable car, and that took us directly into the terminal to switch to the MetroRail system. Again, perhaps a two minute wait and we were on the train riding the rails above the streets below. These trains get quite busy and you are often standing room only. But because they travel quickly between stops, you're not standing for very long. We had to transfer trains to the second line in order to get to the next MetroCable stop. Then, another transfer station.
This time, the lineup was quite a bit longer. It took maybe ten minutes to shuffle our way through to the point that it was our turn to get into a car.
Soon, we were heading much higher up! This is looking back at where we had come from.
We went through to the end of that line, and that was the end of our $1.00 journey! Not bad, for a buck!
Then we had to transfer to a more expensive line. This is more of a tourist car because it takes you high up the mountain without any further stops until you get to Parque Arvi (Arvi Park), about 2 kms past the edge of the mountain. This line costs 4,900 pesos ($2.15 CAD) each for the one way journey. Many people simply go for the view and don't even get off at Parque Arvi.
Of course getting into enclosed quarters with six strangers can be interesting. You never know what you're going to get, and you're going to be spending 10 or 15 minutes with these people.
This time, we were with five women, a couple of whom were visiting from Venezuela. We had a great conversation with them in Spanish and after talking to them I think we would go visit Venezuela. Even with the political turmoil there just now, they say that once you are outside of the big cities, the countryside is gorgeous and the people are friendly. In other words, just like Mexico and Colombia...don't pay attention to the media reports!
They took a photo of us.
And we took a photo of them!
Once we got up over the mountain, we were surprised to see that the cable car route took us over a beautiful forest for about 2 kms. Then, it drops you at the station and you are free to explore.
When you get off, there is a market with stalls selling handicrafts and food. We bought a couple of empanadas and another type of corn bread product stuffed with cheese. Can't remember the name of it!
We had read that you're supposed to pay for entrance to the park and that you can't do any hiking without paying a guide. But the place didn't seem well organized, and the information booth was closed when we arrived. (We did notice when we left that it was open). So we just started wandering around and went off for a hike. Nobody ever stopped us or told us that we couldn't. We probably did about 6 kms (3.7 miles) just wandering around. Nice way to get out of the city for a half a day or so.
Ruth, on the trails.
Both of us on the trails!
Back at the market.
Fruit cup, anyone?
And then it was time to get back on the cable car and do the entire route in reverse.
Here's a short video of the cable car ride over the forest...
And then, it was back down over the city. We should have gone on Saturday when there were clear blue skies!
Heading back down.
Looking towards downtown.
They ever decorate the road surfaces here!
This new highway only opened about six months ago.
And another shot of the city.
We enjoyed Medellin much more than we enjoyed Bogota. At half the size, (4 million people instead of 8 million), Medellin is still a really big city. But there's something about it that made us feel more welcome than Bogota. Not sure what it was...perhaps the fact that we stayed with someone local? Not sure. Thanks for having us, Andrea and Herber! We enjoyed our stay with you!
Today is our last day in Colombia. This evening, we will take a taxi to downtown, and then the bus to the airport. At 1:00am in the morning we will be on our flight to Mexico City which is scheduled to arrive at 4:45am! Then, a subway ride and a two hour bus ride and we'll be back with our motorhome Sherman!
It's been a great first visit to South America, but we're looking forward to relaxing with our motorhome in Mexico for a while!
Need a last minute toy idea for a child? We bought one of these Stomp Rockets for our 4 year old grandson and he loves it!
You can buy them at Amazon...