The following is a guest post by James McLeod.
Despite the fact that I’m from London, and I miss the city itself enormously, I still need some natural respite from time to time.
There’s no doubting that to guarantee your soul’s well-being, it’s important to occasionally leave behind the noise and dirty air of the city to reconnect with nature and its healing powers.
This need is felt here in Sabaneta because, in spite of the comparative tranquility that defines this corner of the Aburrá Valley, there’s a place within reach where the soul can relax to the fullest.
This place is called the Romera Ecological Park, the green lung of the municipality, and the ideal destination to relieve the senses.
Like many other parts of the Aburrá Valley, Sabaneta is growing towards the sky at breakneck speed, something I can’t ignore given the construction site directly opposite our office.
Unfortunately, an area that wants to develop can’t do so without some form of disruption, but Sabaneta does at least boast a place where people can go to escape the noise.
Hoping to see Sabaneta’s natural treasure for myself, I went up with my colleagues Ana and Camila, as well as our guide Sergio, Manager of Agricultural Development.
At the moment, road access is restricted to facilitate the improvement of the road that winds its way up to La Romera. However, we were allowed to head up on four wheels as an exception.
En route, we came across a group of American tourists who had come in the hope of seeing some of the famous birds that make La Romera an important destination for ornithologists, proof that its visitors are not limited simply to Colombians.
We continued our ascent up the steep track until we reached the House of the Romera, a finca-style dwelling flanked by flower beds full of beautiful flora.
Upon getting out of the car, I was struck by the silence that greeted us because my ears had been under constant attack since my first few days in Colombia.
The only sounds that could be heard were the intermittent chirps of birds carried along by the gentle breeze that seemed to be cleaning my lungs. Straight away I felt more relaxed; it was as if I had a worn out battery that was slowly recharging with each breath.
With Sergio’s guidance, we took a stroll around the house and the surrounding land to get an idea of what facilities were on offer but, unfortunately, through a lack of time, we couldn’t explore the many footpaths that extend into the forest where Romera’s famous wildlife hides.
Although the pavilions need some tender loving care, the incredible views from them undoubtedly make up for it. In this respect, I can easily imagine myself here with friends at the weekend, having hiked up on foot, lighting a barbecue and taking in the beautiful view below. At ease.
In this respect, I can easily imagine myself here with friends over the weekend, having hiked up on foot, lighting a barbecue and taking in the beautiful view below. At ease.
However, the case of the Romera Ecological Park is a complex one. It is so because the park represents the delicate balance between protecting one of the most important and abundant ecosystems in the region and the advantages that tourist activity can bring to Sabaneta’s economy.
The key for the municipality is to conserve the ecosystems as they are combined with the pursuit of a sustainable tourism development policy.
In this vein, a project seeking to build a new metrocable line connecting La Romera with the Sabaneta metro station was abandoned thanks to the strong opposition of residents.
This rejection shows how the Sabaneteños are conscious of the biodiversity and natural beauty of La Romera that must be protected at all costs, even if it acts as a brake on the development of tourism.
High up in the hillsides of Sabaneta, the municipality’s green lung can be found, where all visitors can bring themselves closer to nature in a way that is good for both mental and physical health.
Thanks to the conscience of those to whom it belongs, it remains an unspoiled treasure.
Note: As information about the location of Romera Park is difficult to find, we suggest that you take the microbus to Fonda Las Brisas (which you can take from Parque Sabaneta or Itagüí Metro Station) from there you can approach the access road.