The cross vs. beer (beer edition)

Life is full of choices. Some are easy, some are difficult and still others are just so absurd that you have a hard time believing they were ever posed to you, like having to choose between a cross and beer. Yep, it happened to us. It was in Guatapé, Colombia that we had to make the tough call between these two unlikely rivals.

Guatapé is a small town in the mountains near Medellín. It’s known for a big rock, its festival-like atmosphere on the weekends (lots of Medellinense looking to escape the city), vibrant paintings on the lower half of the town’s buildings (again, I’ll get to that later) and a sprawling man-made reservoir (which I’ll get to now).

Guatape, Colombia lake from La Piedra.

Here it is.

Our guidebook said that on the reservoir we could take a boat tour and that on that tour we could do the following:

  • See the lake (duh)
  • See one of Pabol Escobar’s former houses (interesting)
  • See a half-submerged cross from a church that was part of the village that they flooded in order to make the reservoir (very cool and also a little eerie)
  • Drink beer (always a plus)
  • Dance (umm… seriously? Maybe with enough of the beer… but probably not)
Waterfront in Guatapé, Colombia.

Andy, along the waterfront in Guatapé.

Not long into our quest to get out on the water, we were approached by a guy selling tickets for just that. He was a really nice guy who really knew how to slow his Spanish WAAAYYY down so I could understand him. Still, even with his slow Spanish it was a bit tricky to get the tickets. We understood the following and it seemed like it should have been simple enough…

Can he sell us boat tickets? Sí.

Can we go out on the boat this evening? Sí.

Can we see the cross? Sí.

Can we drink beer? Sí.

Are the ticket prices close to what was listed in the guide book so we know we’re not getting ripped off? Sí.

Easy peasy. Right?


For some reason, even after going through all those questions and answers several times, when we would agree to buy the tickets he would stop us and explain something – which was the part we didn’t get.

Finally, after about a million listens, it clicked: we can’t see the cross and drink beer on the same boat tour! He was telling us that we had to choose between the two.

Julie: La cruz o la cerveza, que es la pregunta. (Translation: The cross or the beer, that is the question.)

Man selling tickets (laughs long and hard): ¡¡¡¡ Sí !!!

The mystery was solved. The cross was quite far away and you get there on smaller, faster boats. The bigger boats, with beers and dancing, are slower cruises. Therein lies the tough decision: the cross vs. the beer.

Guatapé, Colombia boat tour on lake.

Here is a big boat.

Monster Energy Drink boat on Guatape lake in Colombia.

Here is a small boat. (Also, do you think this is seriously sponsored by Monster or do you think the owner is just a die-hard fan of the energy drink?)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that since this post says beer edition that we’re terrible people and we obviously picked the beer. You’re only half right. We actually did both. Don’t redeem your opinion of us too quickly though because we did choose to go with the beer first. In our defense, the sky was looking ominous and the smaller boats didn’t offer much protection from rain. Also, it was Saturday evening – a prime time to drink beer and we decided to see the cross the next morning, Sunday morning – a prime time to visit a cross. I mean, seriously, would you rather us drink beer on Sunday morning? I think not.

So we bought our tickets and boarded the boat. Then, we got to check off three of the five things the guidebook promised.

See the lake?

A small boat on the lake in Guatape, Colombia


Drink beer?

Beer on the boat tour in Guatapé, Colombia.


Dance? Check… but other people, not us.

And then we even got some extras thrown in, like almost running over this boat:

Near boat collision in Guatapé, Colombia.

They got their boat started and scooted away in the nick of time.

So three out of five ain’t bad. And besides, we’d see Pablo Escobar’s house and the cross in the morning because nothing says sightseeing cohesion like checking out a drug lord’s former home and a cross on the same tour. Well, not really, but we weren’t the ones planning the boat tours – you can take that up with those boat captains, that is, if you can understand them.

Here are a few more pictures from our boat cruise. Stayed tuned for the cross edition of this post later this week!

Guatape, Colombia lake at dusk.Lake cruise in Guatape, Colombia.

3 responses to “The cross vs. beer (beer edition)

  1. Pingback: Foreign Findings: The cross vs. beer (cross edition) | See Jules Travel·

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