Adventure Unknown: Tamesis
Colombia- Who Are You?
South of Medellin is a small town named Tamesis. Getting there from Medellin is a three hour long trip full of sharp curves and poorly paved streets, all while riding on the back seat of a cab whose driver doesn’t know the location of their break. White knuckled, and literally nauseous for more than half the trip, I hoped that around every steep turn we zoomed around, looking down into the valley of our own death, that we would have arrived at our destination.
The town is very rural and rich in culture, and the tiny streets that butt up against the road leave very little room for two cars to pass by one another. The streets are steep, and the houses are built in the sides of the mountains. Vibrant colors, murals, and potted plants brighten the drive as you death grip your seat. Small cabs, what can best be described as a “Tuk tuk,” zoom around, sounding as if they’ll give out at any moment from the inclined climb.
The area prides itself on their beautiful mountains and waterfalls, as they should. Their most prominent mountain, Cerro de Cristo Rey, rises high above the head of the town, and a large Jesus statue stands atop it, arms stretched open wide. The statue is much like the famed Rio landmark, but much smaller. The incredibly large waterfalls can be seen dropping from the heights of the mountain, even from the town, cascading down the sides into the jungle oblivion below.
The best way to see a country, a city, or a town, is to have a local show you the way. They tend to know the best routes, the most scenic spots, and the other locals. A Tamesis local and school teacher, Silvia, guided me through the city, showed me where to eat, and housed me for a few days. A 5 kilometer walk, my first day there, took me out of the town center and down dirt paths to an even more rural community functioning on the outskirts. We smiled and waved at every home we passed, to the residents sitting on the front porches, enjoying the fresh mountain air.
She made a right and took a detour from the cleared path, and we stumbled down a hill overgrown with roots and bushes, to the sound of a roaring stream. A swinging bridge was secured across the river, and made for a great photo Op. Multiple horse pastures followed, where we trekked through waste high grass and jumped over gates, and piles of manure. We carefully made our steps upon large rocks, as we found the best ways to cross smaller streams. It got dark quickly, but thankfully we had made it to a paved road just in time. We walked back into town and ended the hike with Colombian Club cervezas y empanadas at a street side bar, and caught a lift in a Tuk tuk back to her home.
The following days, many more adventure followed as I explored more of Tamesis. The town doesn't get many visitors outside of Colombia, which I find incredibly saddening. Its beauty is something of dreams, and the locals enjoy their humble lifestyles as they work, eat, and sleep amongst it. During my stay, I also enjoyed tea in the town center under the umbrellas, multiple bags of churros from the old man on the street, and I learned how to order drinks from the lady at the bar. Everyone was overly hospitable, and I couldn't have asked for a better trip.
Travel Tip: Don't always look up "places to visit," when exploring a new location. Skip the lines and avoid the tourists. Meet locals, get to know them and let them show you what they know. Eat where they eat, sleep where they sleep, and do as they do. I can promise, the experience will be so much more than a "vacation," but instead, a life shaping experience.