1 For those of you who may not know, Colombia is located on the northwestern part of South America. Panama separates Colombia's coastline with the Caribbean Sea on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the south.
2 A more detailed map of Colombia - You can see that Medellín is located in the Andes Mountains at 4,905 feet.
3 The terrific house in which we stayed was built in 1978 in the very heart of Medellin. It is situated on a vast piece of land with lovely gardens and is surrounded by the city.
4 the exterior of the house is very modern- soaring ceilings, big panes of glass
5 The gardens are resplendent with lush, tropical vegetation. There is a swimming pool, a hot tub, a clay tennis court, and even a soccer field.
6 The gardens are very well landscaped.
7 These smallish guayabas, or guavas, grow right around the house. We all sampled them and found them to be delicious. They're actually called 'strawberry guava' because that's what they taste like.
8 Inside the house - A still life by the famous Colombian-born Fernando Botero - This is one of his early works, which is extremely colorful and vibrant.
9 The kitchen is so large and efficient. Huge parties can be prepared here.
10 With pantries, cupboards, and clean-up areas, this space is a party givers dream kitchen.
11 This is one of the lovely housekeepers, who takes care of guests, preparing breakfast.
12 The fruits are similar to what I have on my kitchen counter, with a few exceptions. Notice how the large papaya is scored with a fork through the skin. This is to make it ripen faster.
13 Arepas, unleavened flat breads, were served hot off the grill for breakfast.
14 On that first day in Medellín, we visited the Museo D'Antioquia, the main museum of the city, where the artist, Fernando Botero, has bequeathed many works of art. This wonderful building, formerly the Town Hall, is a 1930s Art Deco edifice.
15 Our group consisted of Patricia Ardila, myself, Kathy Sloane, and Lina Uribe.
16 The art deco details on the museum are very interesting and reminiscent of the great building at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
17 The mahogany doors are topped with grills of stainless steel.
18 A very stark glass-enclosed elevator lends an air of pure modernity to the old building.
19 There are extraordinary murals everywhere in the museum, painted by local artists of the 1930s. These by Pedro Nel Gómez are a discussion of the effects of the oil industry on Colombia.
20 There are many Botero bronzes and stone sculptures in the museum. Our guide was adamant in pointing out that they were not sculptures of obese or fat people, but the size was indicative of the volume and importance of the human body.
21 Each sculpture is named and placed on a stone base. Many visitors come to this museum to see the Boteros.
22 One of the most important paintings in the museum's collection is this large oil, called 'Horizons,' depicting the pioneering spirit of the early European settlers in Colombia by the artist Francisco Antonio Cana.
23 The windows of the museum look out onto a grand plaza, in which there are many other monumental Botero sculptures.
24 I love Botero's animal sculptures.
25 This gigantic cat has a tongue and whiskers!
26 This sculpture is the most touched and beloved of all the Plaza works of art, according to our guide. It's called 'Mujer con Espejo' or 'Woman With a Mirror.'
27 I loved this very European-looking structure with its flying buttresses and towering cypress trees.
28 The plaza is very well-used and crowed at all times of day.
29 That evening, on the first day of our visit to Medellin, we were invited to dinner at the home of Carmen and Jorge Londoño. Here I am with the chef and staff who cooked us a delicious dinner in a very wonderful kitchen.
30 The chef, Anita Botero and Alicia, the very beautiful daughter of Carmen, a great hostess in her own right
31 Our hostess, Carmen Londoños, is famous for her orchid growing. Her extensive garden boasts hundreds of Vanda orchid plants, many more than eight feet tall, just growing outside, in the earth! Carmen's centerpieces and place settings were beautiful.
32 Cattleya orchids, lady slippers, and green glass decorated this table.
33 These are pureed and fried potato fingers - they were so delicious!
34 We were also served coconut shrimp with coriander.
35 Tiny meatballs with pimento sauce were served on bamboo spoons.
36 I visited the kitchen and saw them making this potato puree, which was served with the main course of grouper. The potatoes are a special variety called papas criollas. They have a thin, tender skin and a buttery yellow interior with amazing flavor.
37 This pale green coriander sauce is made from fresh cilantro and cream. It pairs beautifully with fish.
38 Back in the dining room, the first course was a velvety soup of cream of corn flavored with just a touch of rosemary.
39 The main course was so good! The grouper was flown in from the Caribbean side of the Colombian coast. The big beans are a type of fava called haba.
40 Here's another look at this very colorful and tasty dish.
41 The dessert was also delicious - scoops of chocolate and coffee gelato, an almond tuille, and a dried slice of sweet orange.
42 The next night, after a long lunch in the country, we decided to stay put, watch TV, and have pizza. Little TV tables were set up.
43 The rest of us sat around a large coffee table and watched soccer and Woody Allen's 'Hannah and her Sisters' while we ate local pizza.
44 Madrid was playing Bogota. The boys are very big sports fans.
45 I posed with the housekeepers.
46 One more
47 And another! What lovely ladies - diligent, talented, pleasant, and very accomplished.