Looking for imperfection in Guatapé

Guatapé, Colombia

Guatapé looks like it’s taken straight out of an old Disney movie.

The buildings in Guatapé are painted in highly saturated colors. The front side of the walls are decorated with painted reliefs.

Guatapé colorful housefronts
Guatapé colorful housefronts

Different buildings, different motifs.

We walked among rosy-cheeked school kids with their crisp uniforms while the smell of freshly baked bread filled the clean narrow alleys. Even the street dogs were friendly and well-fed.

Is this town for real?

We soon expected to see the village’s baker and his wife, along with the other villagers, strolling down the street hand-in-hand singing a catchy Disney tune.

Being a cynical person that I can be sometimes, I wandered around looking for signs that things are too good to be true.

We saw a group of painters painting the 3D reliefs that decorate most of the houses in Guatapé. That’s right. Every single one of these was hand painted.

Hand painted wall decorations in Guatapé
Hand painted wall decorations in Guatapé

We passed a school (or a sport center) equipped with a brilliant blue swimming pool. We peeked through a window to see a gym well worth a hefty admission price in the Bay Area.

It’s like as if someone had written down a list of things an ideal pueblo should have and built Guatapé based on it.

Picture perfect church facing the main plaza? Check.

The main church in Guatape
Picture perfect church in Guatapé

Colorful, hand-painted moto-chiva? Check.

Colorful moto-chiva in Guatapé
Colorful moto-chiva

Nearby tourist magnet in the form of strange rock jutting out of nowhere that you can climb to the top? Check.

El Penon of Guatapé - or La Piedra (the rock) for short
El Peñon of Guatapé - or La Piedra (the rock) for short

Friendly local residents? Cute main plaza? And did I mention the friendly dogs? Check. Check. And check.

No, Guatapé seems to be truly too good to be true.

Even Jack, a man of the opinion that ‘a pueblo is a pueblo is a pueblo’ admitted that Guatapé was kinda nice. That should tell you something.

As we were waiting for the bus that’d take us back to Medellin, I decided to wander around to take a last round of pictures.

And that’s when I stepped on a pile of dog poo.

As I sat on the (immaculate) sidewalk trying to scrape off the offending mess off my sandals I realised that I’ve finally found the imperfection I was looking for.

And in a way, it makes Guatapé even that much more perfect.

We heart Guatapé.

27 Replies to “Looking for imperfection in Guatapé”

  1. Guatape is really gorgeous! Love the colours of the building.. and yes, I know what you mean. The imperfection that makes the place so much more perfect! 🙂

  2. Looks like you guys are having a great time!! I absolutely loved Guatape, and I actually have many similar photos 🙂 We rode donkeys to El Penon before climbing to the top. My favorite part was all the painted motifs on the walls that as you noted are actually hand painted! There is one that is a complete replica of the staff working at a cafe; the same proud old man painted in the motif, who owns the small cafe, sits in a chair outside all day long.

    1. Isn't Guatape wonderful? Thanks for that tidbit – we must've missed the cafe with the painted staff members on the wall. I'd love to see that.

  3. I think I could move there just based on these photos; I love bright colours. Everything in the town looks like it's the product of Crayloa.

  4. How adorable! This definitely does look like the South American version of the "Beauty and the Beast" town — I definitely would've bust out in the opening number while walking around, which I still know all the words to. 🙂

  5. What a beautiful little town! COming from South America, my mind tells there must be something really imperfect about this town but judging by the pictures, my South American heart tells me this might truly be the place I want to live in when I retire (or when I become a famous writer 😆 🙁 )

    1. It might as well be 🙂 It would've been a perfect backdrop for… heck, I don't know, Beauty and Beast 2? Colombian version?

  6. This is really funny! Check, check, check! literally LOL when I read "tourist magnet of rock you climb to the top of"! This town looks precious.

    1. That's too bad. It definitely adds so much color and character to the place. But I kinda love Sydney just the way it is though – such a vibrant place in its own way.

  7. This looks wonderful…. I need to stop reading travel blogs before I explode with all the new places I want to visit!!!

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