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Published: August 20th 2013
For the same price, we could have spent 16 hours on a bus, or a one hour flight from Cartagena to Medellin, naturally we opted for the flight. What we didn't factor in was the cost of a taxi from the airport, $35!
Popping out of the cloud cover as we descended into Medellin, we were greeted with a beautiful view of the mountains and valleys that surround the area, with clouds forming and disappearing constantly and every now and then revealing the jagged peaks of the high mountains. The landscape is not rolling hills, but like scrumpled up newspaper covered in trees and grass. There was no flat area anywhere, and we soon understood why there airport was so far out of the city. The taxi ride took us through some of this beautiful scenery, and it reminded me of the southern highlands back home, with lots of nurseries and beautiful country houses with perfectly manicured gardens. The Medellin flower festival had just finished, so maybe people had taken especially good care, but nonetheless, it was landscapes that we had not scene before on this trip to South America.
At 1500m and being so close to the Equator,
Medellin is known as the City of eternal spring. It is around 30 degrees during the day, and a pleasant 15 at night, with a constant threat of storms as the temperature shifts between the valleys and the mountains. Medellin is spread out along the valley floor in a north south direction, with suburbs crawling up the side of the valley. We are staying in the suburb of El Poblado, a very posh area of the city. With spotless clean tree lined streets and open restaurants/bars, it is very well organised and pretty. In fact it is probably the nicest area that we have been to on this continent. A lot of the residents have BMW's and Mercedes, and a significant number have silicone implanted either in their chest or their butts, or both. It is even possible to buy ladies knickers here that have padding in the butt to give further emphasis!
A few decades ago, the city was the most dangerous in the world as the war was waged against drugs and the Escobar led cartel. A long time has passed since then, and the government and residents have done a lot to clean up the city,
and are very proud of how far Medellin has come. That said, there is still a very high murder rate here, but this is predominantly in the outer suburbs where life is unfortunately very difficult and poor. The city has in place two metro lines that run north/south and east/west respectively, as well as two cable cars that ferry residents from the poorer areas of the city. Away from El Poblado, it is very noticeable the change in fortunes, with a large number of crackheads smoking up blatantly on the streets, and a sizeable community living next to the river in cardboard boxes.
We have been here a week now, and have not done too much, which has been nice. We have taken the metro into the centre of the city to visit the plaza where a number of sculptures by the famous local resident Botero can be found, and have taken the cable car up to Santo Domingo for a nice view over the city, but also over houses shackled together from mud bricks and roofs held in place by large rocks. We have wondered around the botanical gardens, and also gone out and partied at some of
the many overpriced bars. But a good part of our time has been spent cooking good home food and watching some tv series we brought from back home. A small piece of normality.
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