The 2012 Feria de las Flores Starts 03 August.

It’s getting close to the time of year again when Medellin goes crazy for a month.  This is a link to the preliminary schedule. I will post the final version when it is available.

Lots of fun stuff to do including the big orchid/flower show at the Botanical Gardens. Here is some amateur video from last years show.

Other popular events include the antique car parade (Desfile de Autos Clásicos), the horse parade (caballgata) and of course the sillateros. These are traditional floral displays that originated with transporting the flowers from Santa Elena where they are/were grown to the market places of Medellin. They are beautiful indeed.

One of my favorite events is the sancocho contest in Santa Elena. Sancocho is a delicious stew and in this event all the surrounding villages compete for the honor of  making the best. The results are of course for sale 🙂

These are just a few of the events that will take place all over the city and for most of the month. Please check the preliminary schedule for a better idea of just how much happens during August.

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The Barranquero: A frequent companion at Finca el Arroyuelo

Pleasures of the Countryside

I headed down the trail to buy some corn fritters (torticas de chocolo) earlier this morning.  A couple of days ago we bought some very good empanandas from a lady who has a small stand near the El Arroyuelo trail head about 0.5 kilometer from the house. I found out yesterday that she makes torticas and Nubia said go, you have a mission. So I went.

Mission accomplished. The walk was beautiful.  The trail leads along a singing stream. It rained a lot yesterday afternoon and last night but the creek was clear and bright. Our forests are mossy and this morning the moss was bright green and gave the woods a rich carpeted look.

The torticas turned out to be among the best we have found. They are made of ground or blended whole, fresh field corn. The batter is given a consistency that allows it to be spooned into deep fat for frying. If you like corn you will be hard put to find a simpler, tastier way of eating it.

In addition to a nice walk, and some treats was an opportunity to greet and get to know a neighbor better. People here are very friendly and they always are glad to see you and pass a few chatting. Good way to start the day. Hummm… later today I just might have to go down and get some empanadas…

Humming Birds at Finca El Arroyuelo (Piedras Blancas)

The humming birds have taken to our feeders in a big way. Sometimes it looks like La Guardia on a busy afternoon.

For years we had just one small feeder hung on the front porch. During a recent trip to the States we got a larger one and set it up in May.  Although there was always action, neither attracted a lot of attention until about a month ago. Suddenly the rate at which the birds are taking the sugar water jumped. Now I am refilling both once a week. It may be that the larger one is hanging next to a sietecueros shrub adjacent to the porch. This gives them a staging area where they can wait for an opening. Some of them are very aggressive towards others wanting to use the feeders.

We have four species visiting our feeders. They are:

White-bellied WoodStars,

Bronzy Incas (?)

Greenish Pufflegs.

Green Violetear.

Transition to the Wet Season: Staring the Wicked Witch in the Face Again

In late-September and early-October we are in the transition to the wet season. We have had a nice “mid-year summer” and sure won’t complain. Between now and December we are looking at increasing amounts of rain and a lot of cool, cloudy weather. The reappearance of la niña (the wicked witch) and its expected residence through the upcoming rains indicates they are likely to be heavier than “normal.” But then again what is normal after nearly 3 la niña episodes in a row. BTW the wicked witch brings excessive rains to Colombia and is not a welcomed guest in most quarters.

New at Piedras Blancas

A few observation on new recreational opportunities at Piedras Blancas. If you are unfamiliar with this area it is a must visit when you are in Medellin. It is easily accessed via the Metro to the Acevedo Station, there you take the Metro Cable to Santa Domingo and transfer to the Cable Arvi which rises above the Medellin Valley and crosses several kilometers of the highland forests,  including some very nice patches of native high elevation woods.

At the Arvi Station you can get guided tours along some very nice trails. There is currently no charge for this service. These give you a chance to see the native vegetation at close hand. When you arrive be sure to take a look at the folios in the shelter just in front of the station exit. They provide photos and information (in Spanish) on the local flora and fauna.

If you chose to walk down to el Tambo (less than a kilometer) there is a very well designed sidewalk with kiosks where the locals sell all manner of snacks  and some fairly nice folk art. This is all monitired by the development agency and I think the food is quite safe. Near the station there is a restaurant called el Punto de Rojas. It is very typical and the food is good. The Rojas family have been in the area for a long time and form a colony not far from el Tambo.

Down the hill in el Tambo will find a very good restaurant and store run by Mariano. He is a local fixture and his meals are excellent, quite large and reasonably priced.

Recently I have see a horse and carriage taking people on rides along the road from el Tambo to Chorro Clarin. I talked with the driver this morning and he offers the service at 6,000 pesos (about $US 3.33) for a half hour and 10,000 pesos ($US 5.55) per hour. I am pretty sure that he will take you where you wish to go and this would be a great way to see the sights if you don’t wish to walk. The local roads a lined with beautiful forests and are well worth seeing.

If you decide to go to Chorro Clarin you will find very nice picnic facilities with roofed kiosks which have fireplaces for barbecues and such. There are vendors who also are monitored by the the development group. They sell typical snacks like empanadas, and tortas de chocolo (corn fritters) that are delicious. These people are our neighbors and are very attentive to tourists. The area is named for a water fall that is very popular with people for wading. It spills in to Piedras Blancas Creek near the vendors kiosks.

Further down the road you will find the new Comfama facility. It features picnicking, and various recreational opportunities including a suspended exercise “trial” up into the the trees. I have not tried it yet but it looks like fun.

The Wicked Witch is Dead?

IDEAM is the Colombian equivalent of the National Weather Service in the US with additional responsibilities.  They are calling the end of this la niña event for the country. This is welcome news as the flooding and landslides during the fall/winter and spring wet seasons have been catastrophic. Now we are waiting for the passage of the normal seasonal rains to finish and take the water on up toward Central America. Here in Medellin we have our fingers crossed and are hoping that the last 15 days or so of the first rainy season are not to wet.  We did have some really nice weather over the past month with plenty of sunny, dry days.

Finca El Arroyuelo

An arroyuelo is a small stream or brook. In Colombia it has a special meaning rooted in the love of natures beauty. A finca is a country property which may be a farm or residence. We named our place Finca El Arroyuelo for the beautiful brook which forms our northern property line. Located in a hollow at about 2400 meters ( nearly 8000 feet) in the Andes it is rapidly becoming home to us.

The view from the porch is dominated by slopes covered in pine and cypress. Patches of native woodland also contribute to the local mosaic and we are honored to have and care for one that graces the west side of our little dell. This woodland is now tinged bronze with the new growth on the arrayan trees and here and there purple and lilac of siete cueros flowers make bold highlights. At the edge of the wood, the gigantic leaves of Gunnera form a frieze that contrast nicely and create a very tropical feel.

This patch of forest attracts many brightly colored birds including several tropical tanagers, green jays and emerald toucanets. This habitat also support at least four different hummingbirds. These sally forth to use the feeder hanging on the porch and provide constant entertainment.

The woods are mossy and full of beautiful plants of all kinds. Orchids, bromeliads, philodendrons, brightly colored mushrooms to name a few. In the landscape fuchsias, hydrangeas,  roses and begonias bloom year around. Our mostly organic garden is coming along very nicely and is beginning to produce very tasty vegetables.

I highly recommend a visit to the  Andes here above Medellin!