Having picked up our car from the Medellin regional airport*, we started the long-ish trek down to Cartago. Distance traveled is less than 250km (155 miles), however it took eight hours for a couple of reasons – the twisty two lane road up and down the mountain range and also the amount of construction to widen/modernize/repair the roads on the flat part. Whilst it was a long time, I certainly enjoyed the drive.
Having arrived in Cartago, we met Olivia, a local guru on regional embroidery and went to the Museum of Embroidery. After this, I stayed in the cafe and drank coffee whilst the ladies went around the stores in town.
Afterwards, we drove to our hotel – quite the harrowing trip along a single track road with huge potholes (no road surface to speak of), blind corners and the ever-present risk of bad things happening (a local was kidnapped the day before we came here). Needless to say, we survived the trip, arrived at the resort and had a lovely dinner, during which the electricity went out and we enjoyed a lovely candlelit meal.
*We rented a car through Hertz in the US and locally, the regional rental car company is Localizer. So our pick up process involved about 30 minutes of back and forth whilst the chap re-loaded our information into their systems… Turns out the Colombian authorities have minimum safety equipment standards which means each car should have a high-visibility safety vest, comprehensive first aid kit, etc. Our rental car was missing many of these items, as we discovered when we were pulled over for a safety education session on the trip. There will be some feedback passed on.