Columbia ~ Medellín

August 19, 2019

Medellín's most famous artist and sculptor was Fernando Botero known for his smooth bloated creations. (Some bloating in front of the sculpture too.)
Since the fall of its drug lords, Medellín has become safe and trendy. I'd visited the Bogotá area in 2005, but wanted to see more of this big country and see if Medellín, a metro of four million people, is as interesting as I'd read.

Short answer:
It is indeed interesting and full of surprises.

Entertaining Plaza Botero has two dozen of Botero's big, stocky sculptures.

Almost one floor of Medellín's Museo de Antioquia is devoted to Botero's paintings. This one is 'El Zurdo y su Cuadrilla" (1987).

Downtown plazas were friendly and lively.

My next surprise was by chance visiting during Feria de Los Flores, a huge flower festival! Had no idea that Colombia exports more flowers than any country except Holland.

We arrived at this photo-op at the same time and the women invited me to join them.

Medellín's Metro system was built in 1995 but you'd think it opened yesterday. Cars and stations are spotless. Everyone said proud residents treat it with great care. It's often ranked as one of the best in South America. Again, I confess, not what I expected.

Cable cars connect residents of poorer mountainside neighborhoods to the transportation grid. They were not built for tourists although these rides are now a must for visitors.

A view from one of the stops on the western cable car line.

Shows warming up and audiences beginning to gather at one of several stages at Parque Lleras. The little park is ringed by restaurants and night life. Adjacent streets are bustling too. It's a festive place to dine and hang out in the evenings.

Colombia's coffee is renowned so I must add a caffeinated pic. At the Palacio Nacional (a grand old government building saved and restored for offices and shops), the owner of the coffee shop (see him smiling just behind the sign) has written:
"One tinto" [plain black coffee] = $2,500 [pesos]."
"One tinto please" = $2,000.
"Good morning, one tinto please" = $1,600."
Half of the day tours that I saw advertised to gringos revolved around the notorious narcoterrorist Pablo E. But my first day, on a walking tour of the historical district, our guide passionately said that many citizens...
  • are sick of people dwelling on the vile man's ill-gotten "fame,"
  • refuse to speak his name (she never did),
  • want to leave that horror behind, look forward not back,
  • and hate to elevate him to continued prominence just to amuse tourists.
She was persuasive and I felt better avoiding the lurid circuit of his old haunts.

All year long it's usually in the 70s in the day and the 60s in the evening. Perfect.
During a dreary winter, Medellín would be ideal for at least a long weekend (three or four-day) getaway, although currently the only US nonstops are from New York and Florida. In any event, it's worth exploring sometime!