Friday, 25 March 2016

Medellín


For the "Semana Santa", the Holy Week, we decided to get out of Ibagué and to Medellín, the second biggest city of Colombia. And Medellín has kind of a history, but not that kind that usually attracts tourists. I found this great claim about the city online: "Next time someone says “most dangerous city on earth”, I’ll pull a machine gun on them." Because, well, there was a time it was known as the most violent city in the world, with no place where a live counts less.


Some might also know the name of the city from different series and movies made about Pablo Escobar "Don Pablo" "El Zar de la Cocaína" who was the wealthiest criminal in history and operated from Medellín. But don't worry - he is dead and Medellín is much much safer now. It is a lively and modern city that actually does not have much to offer for tourists like typical tourist spots - because the city is quite modern - but it has a lot to offer for just enjoying the time! Also, the people are really nice. In the metro, they keep seats free for those who really need it. And one woman overheard our conversation and when it was our stop she told us that we have to get out here so we don't miss it - just because she wanted to help.


In the center of Medellín we found one big plaza with many statues of the famous artist Botero that made sculptures and pictures of obese people and animals. The rest of the center consisted of many many street sellers of various goods and it seemed not always completely secure. It was nothing like city centers in Europe where the center contains the historical part of the city.


 A little bit outside there was a castle and as soon as I saw it on the map I decided I needed to see it because castles are pretty rare over here on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and it was absolutely worth it. Of course, this castle was built by europeans that settled here and the castle inside looked pretty much like a miniature version of european castles. But I was impressed by what influences could be found here from all over Europe. There were paintings of Venice in the typical style of italian paintings, there was glass of Murano, porcelaine of Germany, painted windows from France, tiles that looked like the ones in Istanbul that were probably imported from Spain and pictures of various componists from all over Europe, including many from Austria, I even found a cup with a picture of Mozart on it. It was really impressing to see which parts of the european culture have reached Latin America.


They also had a beautiful park from where we got a great view over the southern part of Medellín. Medellín itself spans over many mountains with a population of more than 3 million people, therefore too big to see it all from one spot. The park was in the typical style of castle parks as well, but with plants that grow here like the palm trees in the background.


In the middle of the city on another small mountain there was a small village called "Pueblito Paisa" that showed how a typical village in the surrounding area of Medellín looks like which is a really huge difference to how all the buildings look like in the city. While all the buildings in the city seem to be built with the same red bricks, the houses of the colonial towns are white with coloured windows, doors, fences and pillars - really beautiful! And we even encountered an iguana - just for scale, the fruit in its mouth is a mango we feeded him.


Travelling with my companions was quite different from what I was used to. We were less visiting the spots to see and more just enjoying where we were and what we do now. It seemed to me like the big difference in the cultures of Latin America and Europe. I really did enjoy the time and all the things we did but I was always thinking "we did not see this yet" or "we have to go to another spot now if we want to see it" and it was quite difficult to turn down that voice inside my head. I knew I will come back when a friend is visiting me in July to travel Colombia so I will have time to see all the missing spots, but still... I just can't imagine that someone doesn't care about visiting the most important touristic spots of the city. I guess it is all just a matter of priorities and I need to rearrange mine while living here.