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Medellin's Many Faces

sunny 27 °C

In the 1980s Medellin was the epicentre of a multi-faceted war between a cadre of merciless drug kingpins, and the governments of both Colombia and the U.S., and was considered the most dangerous city in the world. However, this was long before Baghdad, Kabul, Aleppo and dozens of other middle-eastern cities re-defined the term, ‘dangerous.’
Since the extra-judicial ‘execution’ of the prime suspect Pablo Escobar in 1993, the city’s tree-lined boulevards have gradually been reclaimed by a collaboration of the armed forces and the good citizens…
Medellin and its five satellite cities haven’t got a flat piece of land between them and while the original community may have been built alongside the river that meanders for many miles between steeply inclined mountains, as the city grew it had nowhere to go but up…
And up, and up and up…
Perhaps Medellin’s greatest achievement, (and an innovation that led to it being awarded the title, ‘Most Innovative City in the World’ in 2013), is its Metro system that links the whole city together with a combination of busses, skytrains and cable cars…
While cable cars are most often used as tourist attractions or to access winter resorts, in Medellin they are simply part of the daily commute for the masses of workers whose meagre homes are precariously perched on the near vertical mountainsides….
However, the Metro is bringing wealth to the most remote communities and at the summit of one of the cables there is a sparkling new community of highrises that gives a stunning view of the city more than a thousand feet below…
Maybe the best thing about the integrated Metro in Medellin is the price – just $1 for any distance – although the 20 minute cable car ride in bad weather might be a little scary.

Medellin today is largely a very modern city with smart shopping malls, upmarket stores and innumerable good restaurants - if you enjoy Indian, French, Chinese, Thai, American, or, most frequently, Italian cuisine. Burger King, McDonald’s and pizza joints are everywhere in the city, though we were able to get some excellent local dishes including something that looked, smelled, and tasted, exactly like a true Cornish pasty…
This ‘Empanada Argentina’ cost just over a dollar and was stuffed with beef, vegetables and gravy just like the real thing- it was delicious.
Most of Medellin today is as peaceful and safe as any large city but, although it is deservedly cherished by its citizens, we didn’t really get it; anymore than we didn’t really get the many statues by Medellin’s most beloved son, the artist Botero, (the guy with a fat fetish whose works seemingly fill every gallery in Colombia). This is one of his larger pieces that was blown up by terrorists in a city park…
But, just as the city has been revived, so has the statue. Botero created another to go alongside the wrecked work to show that terrorists will not win…

Posted by Hawkson 13:16 Archived in Colombia

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We watched a documentary recently about Medellin, and how the city has been so transformed. Sheila, do you remember we had a student from there? He worked for a fashion magazine, and while he was at VIU the editor of the magazine was murdered by the drug cartel. The city is truly an example of how people can transform what seems to be a hopeless situation.

by Sharron

Certainly not the picture I had of a Colombian city. It looks more like a mini Hong Kong with those modern highrises. Couldn't see Juan Valdez and his donkey anywhere.
Cornish pastries-yum.

by R and B

Love the cable cars. Nice idea. Would beat a bridge here! Always surprised to see forests of high rises in places like Medellin. Saw a shot of Pyongyang, north Korea's capital, showing high rises all along the river. Looked like any other modern city.. Elegant even. Go figure.

by Tom

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