Colombia’s biggest military base happens to be located in Melgar. The area is huge and holds houses for officials and their families, apart from buildings for soldiers in training and combat.
The military activities that I could see included a helicopter cruising over the mountains – possibly to keep an eye on the oil drilling installations. And in down-town one could see groups of some six to eight soldiers walking by every 10-15 minutes. One soldier is caught on the photo here to the right. Those soldiers were all wearing the letters “MP” on the uniform, telling they are military police, i.e. employed by the Army but fulfilling police-like duties such as maintaining the order on the streets and in bars.
CAFAM is a big Bogotá non-profit organization that thru affiliation with companies is giving social security to their employees (and the families of those). In Bogotá CAFAM runs a hospital and supermarkets. In Melgar CAFAM runs Latin America’s biggest resort with two high standard hotel, one of them with five stars, and a number of bungalows. In total the capacity must be some 5-7.000 beds.
The resort offers anything the vacationer may need: a number of swimming pools, supermarket, luxurious places to eat at, as well as hamburgers, BBQ and the marvellous tropical fruit juices. On top of this there’s a zoo, a lake, bars and more. An inhouse bus service makes sure that you easily get around. Best of it all probably is that you can relax from the stressful city life – watching the tropical birds in the early morning hours withouth having to fear pickpockets and cars. Another plus is the high standard when it comes to food and hygiene.
Well, what more can I say apart from that we had a nice, relaxing stay in Melgar? Sunday afternoon around 5 PM we started the bus trip back to Bogotá. Having an aged bus climbing up to 2.600 meters in heavy traffic is a rough ride though. So just like many other travelers we made a short stop at a “paradero”. A number of buses stood parked in front of this long building with an open front. Loud salsa and merengue music was streaming from the old loud-speakers. Some people went for dancing, while others had arepas or soup. Personally, I chose to jump the fast food this time. One has to pick the risks with care.
My first weekend in Colombia was coming to an end.