Arrival in Medellin
We left our hotel almost on time. Tatiana was flying back to her home in Medellin and was escorting us to our flight. The airport was chaos as a Colombian soccer team had won the national championship and evidently, they were flying home that day. The team was being interviewed and people were rushing up to players getting their pictures taken and asking for autographs. We did manage to get through to the ticketing agent and then looked for the gate. We walked right past our gate and then turned around to look for it and just as we arrived it was time to board. The flight was very short and we were able to grab our luggage quickly. We walked out and met Tatiana and she introduced us to our new driver, Alex, and guide, Ana. We said goodbye to Tatiana and hopped aboard the van. We were going directly to a flower farm where we would see the flower exporting operation and meet the family who exported them to the USA and around the world.
A little bit about Medellin – Medellin is the capital of Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia Province and is Colombia’s second largest city. In the ’80s and ’90s, Time magazine called it, “the most dangerous city on Earth”. It was during this time that the infamous Medellin drug cartel reigned and at its head was Pablo Escobar. He was eventually gunned down by American-funded military in 1993. These days, Medellin exhibits a sense of pride and its renaissance has been most dramatic. In 2013, Medellin was hailed as “the most innovative city in the world by the Urban Land Institute and today its transformation is still on-going. Medellin is a fertile region famous for its coffee plantations and flower farms and is known as the City of Eternal Spring for its temperate climate.
Loma Linda Flower Farm
In the town of Santa Elena outside of Medellin, we enjoyed learning about the Loma Linda Flower Farm. We met the family that runs the farm and learned about the production and cultivation process of hydrangeas and how they are exported around the world.
We drove to the farm and Alex, our driver, parked the van and we walked down toward the owner’s house. The owner was very welcoming and showed us around the house. As we walked along, we saw lovely rock gardens and all kinds of plants decorating the farm.
We walked around the corner of the house and came to a building and inside was a man watering plants. We were introduced and learned that he was part of the owner’s family and that he did most of the farm management. We met his wife and young son and they accompanied us around the farm.
We walked to the flower fields and were amazed at the hundreds of plants growing on the hillsides. Then we met some of the workers who were preparing the flowers for exportation. It is quite a tedious process getting every single flower prepared.
We walked all around the farm. The manager asked if I wanted to help plant a tree so of course, I said yes. I think Shawn took some photos of the event.
We finished up the tree planting and walked back to the house. It was almost lunch time and we had been invited to eat with the family. I took a few more pictures as we walked along.
It was very pleasant sitting with the family, having lunch, and looking out over the mountains. Lunch was very interesting and we enjoyed eating local foods. We had a bean soup which was excellent. Unfortunately, my stomach was very sensitive so I couldn’ eat too much of it. In fact, soup seems to be a staple and included in every lunch and dinner. I have to say that every soup we had in Colombia was delicious! Then I had rice, plantains, an arepa, and avocado. Shawn had fried pork belly (chicharron) added to his meal. Our guide told us that this was a typical farmer’s lunch. I think we had three such meals during our stay in Medellin. The owner’s grandson joined us and halfway through the meal fell asleep in his dad’s arms. After lunch. we gathered our things, said goodbye with hugs all around, and were soon on our way.
Look for more flowers as we learn about, “La Feria de Las Flores” and we meet a woman involved in the parade since it first began 62 years ago.