Medellin, Colombia

We’re all very exited for our trip to Medellin, the long-time drug -and very dangerous- capital of the world. For decades, Escobar & his Medellin drug cartel had a strangling grip on the city and it’s 4 million residents who were terrorized by bombings and daily killings.

But these days, Medellin is a modern and booming city and proud of it’s progress with the most innovating and clean public transport system in Colombia. As every big city, it still has it’s problems to tackle but in general we feel this city is dynamic, young, innovative with bars, restaurants and coffee shops bustling with it’s own style and originality. No mainstream ‘hipster’ style where everything and everybody looks the same.

The ride from the airport to the city gives you a good view on the location of the city: surrounded by green, lush mountains in a deep valley. Unfortunately, being in a valley surrounded by high mountains and with a 4 million headcount, Medellin struggles with a very high air pollution.

The people of Medellin are very friendly and helpful, very proud and also very curious about our family and our travels. In general, Colombians are very courteous and considerate, always ready for a chat or willing to help out, specially with kids around. And especially when you have a cute, blond ‘angelito’ running around. There’s a movie-star in town and his name is GUS ! People in the street want to touch his hair, have a picture taking with him, cuddle him, … but my little boy doesn’t like it at all and there are a lot of pictures going around in Colombia with a very mad angel !                                                  Jos came up with a possible solution and told Gus to reply to all girls with photo requests with “no plata no photo” or “no money no photo” … We’ll have to see how that works out …

Medellin has 16 burrows -communas- and these are divided in estratos from 1 to 6: estrato 1 & 2 being the poorest, most unsafe neighborhoods on the flank of the valley mountains, consisting of shacks. To battle the poverty in these neighborhoods, Medellin has installed a cable lift, that links these areas to the metro system, to give the residents a better opportunity for education and work.

Estrato 3 & 4 are the average, working class hero’s, the good burrows start from estrato 5 and estrato 6  -El Poblado- are the rich and famous and most of the expats.The higher your estrato, the more you pay for water, electricity and all daily costs. Also the restaurants and shops are more expensive, schools are private, …

The metro is a cheap and easy way to explore the city so we buy are tickets and visit our first communa: La Candelaria -the city’s centre- where you can find a lot of the cultural point of interests: Plaza Botero, Museo de Antioquia, Parque Berrio, catedral La Candelaria -a huge checker-board church-, …

This is the heart of Medellin with beautiful historic buildings, theaters, libraries, … but it’s also the administrative and business centre which makes it the busiest and most chaotic burrow. At least in the daytime …

In the days of Pablo this was a hard and dangerous place to live and most of the wealthy residents moved to other, safer parts of the city so when the commuters go home in the evening, you see a whole different façade.

But we enjoyed La Candelaria & especially Plaza Botero and it’s magnificent bronze statues.

But being so hectic, it drains your energy so we’re glad when we are back in the more laid-back, green Laureles where we stay. It’s a very popular neighborhood with a lot of restaurants, bars, parks, …

Actually, all over Medellin, in every communa, you can find parks and playgrounds, which makes it one of the greenest big cities I’ve visited. They have invested a lot in making the city livable for everyone and at first glance, they are succeeding. The mayor of Medellin is now running for president in the upcoming elections.

We also meet up with home-boy Thomas who moved to Medellin a couple of years ago on a mission to find the most exquisite coffee beans, landing him in Colombia. So many years later, he’s fluent  in Spanish, completely integrated and planning to mary the Colombian love of his life, Sara ! And to top it all of, he’s going to be a first-time dad, beginning of next year. Well done, Sara & Thomas !

He shows us around Laureles & El Poblado, taking us to the best coffee houses and tasty restaurants. And while he talks about the fantastic living in Medellin, the weather and the beauty of the surrounding pueblo’s, we starting to dream about the possibility of starting a new life here. Our new land of opportunities.

Could we ? Should we ?

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