Parque El Salado: Envigado’s Secret Tranquility

It's so peaceful here. But on weekends, there is more energy, more people.
As you can see, it's a fun place.
As you can see, it’s a fun place.

The water winds its way downstream, washing over the sun-worn rocks that dot the hilly landscape so hidden from much of the valley, you feel like you can escape your shadow.

The beauty strikes you, like the first time tasting chocolate, and you melt away into the scenery. You’re only a witness, nothing more.

Enjoy it, though, because that’s what everyone does at Parque El Salado, way up in the hills of Envigado.

It is a sanctuary from stress and misery, from the devastating feelings of the girl who broke your heart or the business partner who stole your money, from the wonderful urban chaos that you love and hate at the same time, depending on where exactly you are in the city and what time of day it is.

The ironic part of all this is, the first time I went, I was not absconding from anything. I don’t run, only my mind does, fast, worried I won’t fill it with more knowledge and it’ll fall behind like an out-of-shape marathoner.

This trip eased my mind, enhanced it too.

Parque El Salado (photo: David Lee)
Parque El Salado (photo: David Lee)

I learned about a new place that I only found because I met up with my friends John and Carolina on a sunny June day too late to get to Parque Arvi, which closes on weekends by 1 p.m., usually. Too full, they say.

“What about Parque El Salado,” Carolina said, and for the record I am translating her words because she prefers to speak Spanish despite being able to speak English too.

John and I looked at each other and shrugged. Why not?

We headed for the buses with the Parque El Salado placard sitting below Estación Envigado, stopping only to buy some strawberries from one of the millions of venders in this magnificent valley.

The little green bus climbed and climbed, passed the big church in the San Jose neighborhood, passed the area where new condos are sprouting like beanstalks, passed the bridge, then arrived at tranquility.

The barbecue is getting started.
The barbecue is getting started.

There’s a nature park but we didn’t go because there’s plenty of free nature there.

We actually got off the bus in the wrong place, or the place that could be construed as wrong, depending how you look at it, even though underneath it all you feel like everything is all right.

We hiked up a hill and stopped to take some pics, and then there was another hill and I fell behind, capturing the panorama in my camera, but caught up to my friends, easily, even though they were already halfway to the top.

The meandering road then took us to a dead end, where my inner princess revealed itself in the form of me not wanting to walk the dirt trail wearing my brand new navy blue and white Adidas shoes.

John made a joke to that effect and I could only concur.

I took off my shoes then hit the trail barefoot, each step a reminder that my Hawaiian feet had softened, and it actually hurt to go on, and this time I fell behind and only caught up because John and Carolina stopped to wait for a moment.

After 40 minutes we reached the area along the creek where people were barbecuing and drinking and swimming and talking, and this continued for a quarter-mile stretch that ended at the road where the green buses stop.

I wanted to crash someone’s party and I think we could have because the people here are very friendly but instead I told myself I would return with my own grill and group of people, and we would have a great time too.

It hasn’t happened yet, sadly.

Shortly after the trip to the park, I started seeing someone I really liked and then we broke up a few months later but it didn’t hurt me nearly enough to run. I had a falling out with my business partner at our tourism company and that didn’t spur me to put on my shoes either.

I returned because a friend wanted to see the area, because he is thinking about buying a condo nearby. It was a brief visit, on a Monday, so the park was mostly empty, but I did run into a buddy from Chile whose name escapes me.

As we walked down the hill I told myself I’ll be back soon but I didn’t think about it too forcefully, not like last time. Leaving without making any promises means I won’t disappoint myself later.

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  1. Excellent article Ryan! Muchas gracias! I will plan to go there soon and enjoy it too, por favor keep posting about interesting places in this beautiful city!