September 20th - 27th, 2014


September 26th PROEXPORT Colombia Tradeshow

Again much of the same thing expect that after our meetings were done we went to Parc Arvi to see what the gardens were like there and then back to our hotel to have our banquet. Great food, wonderful entertainment...overall just a very productive trip. The show was just super, well organized and so many wonderful suppliers.

September 27th

Not quite done yet! I was leaving tonight on a late flight so arranged to have a private guide pick me up at the hotel and take me around to a few spots in Medellin. Our first stop was to a garden center. I always like to visit garden centers as I can get a really good feeling of what people grow and what they like. This one had it all including some very nice shrubs and pottery. Then a wonderful little village where the traditional Silletero parade takes place. The statue shows a farmer who would usually fill his chair like basket up with flowers to take to the market. These could weigh a lot! With his wife beside him they would set off. She would be going with him to pick up laundry that she would do for someone, thus both earning some kind of income to support their family. They use this chair like basket instead of animals and carts because the roads where often too hard or narrow to use except if you walked on them.

El Museo del Castillo & Gardens

It was built in 1930 by architect Nel Rodríguez in a gothic european middle ages style inspired by the castles of Loire, France. Its first resident was José Tobón Uribe who brought the plans from France. He lived there until 1943 when the industrialist Diego Echavarría Misas bought the castle for his family. He donated the castle as a museum in 1971. The gardens were lovely and while in them it was hard to remember that I was in Colombia.

The French Garden, which formerly made up the main park of the Museum, now looks like it is for the European castles, with its magnificent floral ornaments and fountains bronze by the sculptor Humberto Tamayo Jaramillo. The expert in gardens, Martha Cecilia Cardona was responsible for developing the landscaping of this project. The stone cobbled Royal Bronze Beta, now trails, allow visitors to travel through the scent of flowers, the sound of birds and flowing water. This work is of great significance as it represents the recovery of a green space for the city, a meeting place for locals and visitors, a place where you can enjoy the culture, art and recreation. The French Garden is inspired by the work of Le Notre in France; gardens are large and symmetrical. The Tropical Gardens main features are large-leaved plants where the vegetation forms a compact as a stage, creating a dense foliage. There is also a Japanese Garden and Contemporary Garden merging elements from the past, with other traditional styles, like contemplation and serenity of the East, and the materials and technologies today . Since its inception, the Castle has preserved a beautiful forest of native species. Today it ensures their preservation and protection of existing wildlife there. Lastly the Patio Azaleas - Designed symmetrically; adorned with a fountain, lanterns and mosaics that resemble Seville Andalusian patio homes.

>From there to a chocolate shop to pick up some local chocolates and drat, there are some pretty incredible pastries here too! Look at those marzipan oranges and apples! We were hungry so we stopped at a cool outdoor resto to have Sancocho. Sancocho is a traditional food in Colombia made with many kinds of meat (most commonly pollo (chicken), gallina (hen), pescado (fish), and cola (ox tail)) along with large pieces of plátano (plantain), papa (potato), yuca (cassava) and/or other vegetables such as tomato, scallion, cilantro, and mazorca (corn on the cob), depending on the region. Some even top it off with fresh cilantro, onion and squeezed lime—a sort of "pico de gallo", minus the tomato; it is also usually served with a side of sliced avocado, and a plate of white rice, which is usually dipped in with each spoonful of soup.
Totally filling and I admit I could not eat it all.

I had wanted to see the park that holds a huge amount of works done by Botero called Botero Plaza. I had first seen him in Cartagena and was taken by his work. Fernando Botero Angulo (born 19 April 1932) is a figurative artist and sculptor from Medellín, Colombia. His signature style, also known as "Boterismo", depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs Elysées in Paris.

His paintings and sculptures are united by their proportionally exaggerated, or "fat" figures, as he once referred to them. Botero explains his use of these "large people", as they are often called by critics, in the following way:

"An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it."

Botero has donated several artworks to museums in Bogotá and his hometown, Medellín. In 2000, Botero donated to a museum in Bogotá 123 pieces of his work and 85 pieces from his personal collection, including works by Chagall, Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, and the French impressionists. He donated 119 pieces to the Museum of Antioquia. His donation of 23 bronze sculptures for the front of the museum became known as the Botero Plaza. Four more sculptures can be found in Medellín's Berrio Park and San Antonio Plaza nearby.

My last visit was to the Botanic Gardens. The Medellin Botanical Garden is almost 40 acres of outdoor space dedicated to orchids, plants, botany and nature in general. With an enormous wealth of flora native to Colombia, the botanical garden boasts more than 5000 individual plants with contributions from more than 1000 different species. The Medellin Botanical Garden is a greenbelt area in the heart of the city where people gather to bike, hike and engage in water related activities including canoeing and rowing.

Most recently in 1972 the Medellin Botanical Garden became formally known as the Joaquín Antonio Uribe Botanical Gardens. Joaquín Antonio Uribe was a well respected and accomplished writer, educator, artist, naturalist and botanist during the latter part of the 1800's and the early part of the 20th century. It is in tribute to him, his scientific vocation and his efforts to make knowledge accessible for all audiences to experience, that the gardens and park bear his name.

The complexion of the Medellin Botanical Garden was drastically changed starting in 2005 when the entire area underwent a major revival during ex-mayor Sergio Fajardo’s urban investment initiative. The two year initiative and project included the construction of both the glass science building as well as the wooden and steel 50 foot tall flower patch called the Orchideorama. The overall character of the newly renovated Medellin Botanical Garden suggests a symbiotic relationship between man, nature, science and education. The area is enjoyed by thousands of people every week including local families as well as tourists.

Jardin Botanico Medellin is a much used garden. When I was there it was full of people - a Saturday. I think they come here to enjoy the space and the cooler temps. Lots of plant material but what I saw here was a first...many nest boxes up high, and I am talking maybe 50 of them. Could not see what they were until we saw a fellow actually cleaning one out...these are nest boxes for the Tetragonisca angustula, a tiny little stingless bee. And here you can see inside the box with these unique little storage pots for was really something to see!

On the way to the airport we passed what used to be a garbage dump, now transformed into a fact it had just opened. "A combined team from the University of Illinois and Medellin had been working on a landfill site called El Morro in the Moravia Hill neighbourhood of Medellin, which served as the main city dump between 1972 and 1984. In that time, thousands of people worked on the dump, picking up trash and building their homes upon it. Microbiologist Jerry Sims explains: "At one point, close to 50,000 people lived there. They grew vegetables on the contaminated soil and hand-pumped drinking water out of the garbage hill." Based on these findings, the Colombian government decided to launch a bioremediation project using indigenous organisms. In one strand of the project, the microbes are being provided with extra nutrients in order to speed up the process. In another, plants are being used to absorb heavy metals." As I said it is now open so what they tried seems to have worked...I guess time will tell but if it does it will be fantastic news for every one looking for ways to keep trash under control.

I know I missed a lot more in Medellin but when a plane leaves it leaves so I had to go, but I know I will be back to discover more of this beautiful country.

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