Written by Mia:
Our second inland trip in Colombia started with a flight to the city of Medellin. We’d heard so many great things about this city from both other travelers and also from Alejandro, a friend who grew up there. During our time moored next to each other in Curaçao he regaled us with stories of growing up in the most dangerous city in the world.
Clearly the opportunity to take our 6 year old son to the most dangerous city in the world couldn’t be passed up! Glad we have not watched the TV series yet…
More seriously, we were aching to explore a real place and grabbed the opportunity to see a bit of this incredible country and we started with the Antioquia which is a region in northwest Colombia, lying mostly within the Andes mountains and extending toward the Caribbean Sea.
We spent four days in the vibrant, edgy, unique city of Medellin. Sorry if this starts out with a school project feel but this is what Google has to say “Medellín is the capital of Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province. Nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring” for its temperate weather, it hosts a famous annual Flower Festival. Modern metrocables link the city to surrounding barrios and offer views of the Aburrá Valley below. Sculptures by Fernando Botero decorate downtown’s Botero Plaza, while the Museo de Antioquia displays more of the Colombian artist’s work.”
We very much enjoyed the springlike weather in the area. It is the first time in months we craved long sleeves and it was a nice, welcomed change. We stayed in the La Poblada area which reminded us of Grunnerlokka/Soho/Islington and we spent some time around the area just soaking up the vibe. We had a ball walking through the parks, watching people and admiring the graffiti. We visited the Botanical garden which had a complete use-it-like-a-local-park feel. There were huge iguanas climbing trees but unfortunately the butterfly enclosure was closed. Just across the street is the Planetarium with the attached science museum and we enjoyed a few hours there and watched a movie on the impressive dome screen. It had gotten dark during our visit and it was incredible to see the barrios spreading up the mountain side. There are amber colored lights climbing the hills of every side.
The next day we visited the nature reserve, Arvi. It was a wonderful three hour hike over spongey woodland floor and it rained a little and we got to wear fleece jackets and rain coats. We were happy campers! We topped it off with lunch like the locals, hearty soup with avocado bits and freshly made juice which was a treat, but the best part of the adventure was the trip there and back. Medellin is situated in a bowl and to enable everyone to get around they use cable cars as part of their public transport system. We had a blast riding the cable cars and even got a birds eye view of an urban mountain biking race through the winding streets and down staircases. Teo’s Eyes were very round as he exclaimed “Epic!” It was sobering to see the conditions in the barrios and even when you can clearly see people have very little, they paint their homes bright colors and seem to be busy making a living and making their living as nice as possible.
We slowly realized that in Medellin the affluent folk live in the high rises in the center of town with doormen, lots of security, and usually a small annex where the maid/nanny lives. The outskirts with gardens are not desirable to the upper class as we are used to in Oslo and London. On that subject we have learned that Colombia and its government have divided people into strata and these levels are established in the residential areas even reach as far as how much people pay for electricity and water. Whereas it is meant to make things more fair, we were left wondering if it keeps the gaps between people more established.
We returned to Medellin after our road trip and visited the bustling/crowded Botero Plaza to see the giant, corpulent bronze statues. In an imaginary world they could meet their Stoney friends from Vigelandsparken in Oslo and they would have a marvelous time. We just soaked up the vibe and grabbed a lovely meal at well established lunch place that has served locals for generations before heading to the airport. Our trip was over far quicker than it should have been!