The beauty in Medellin isn’t in the actual city itself, which is polluted, densely populated, and always busy. This is also the reason why I didn’t take many photographs of the city itself because everyone knows what that kind of city looks like. But I do like how almost all the buildings are made of brick. The walls of the “crater” in which Medellin sits in are lined densely by the poorer families, much like favelas in Brazil.
My favorite view of Medellin is when I was being taken by a taxi to the airport. No, I don’t mean I was happy to leave. The road to the international airport winds through the mountains, which gives me several opportunities to look at the city from a bird’s eye view, all lit up at 4 am. It’s absolutely beautiful, like looking into a star-filled crater.
Medellin used to be one of the most dangerous places in the world, filled with warring drug cartels. The legendary cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar used to run this place until he was gunned down by police in 1993. I don’t know why but I wanted to go visit his grave and have my picture taken with it. I felt absolutely safe there, partly thanks to police presence at every street corner. In the mornings, a truck full of them will be driving up and down the streets, dropping them off for their daily duties.
I spent some time visiting little towns about 2 hours outside of Medellin. Sometimes, it’s nice to get away from the busy cities and walk the alleys of little towns with unique qualities. Like the village of Guatape, about 2 hours outside of Medellin. It is vibrantly colored and quiet. Every resident there is required to pick a design to decorate their “kerbs”. More often than not, designs are picked to represent what the owner does for a living. For example, a bakery could have pictures of bakers making pastries.
Just before Guatape lies a giant rock called “La Piedra”. I had to walk up nearly 700 flights of steps to get to the stop but the views were worth it.
I got to spend the last day watching the local football team, Atletico Nacional, play a rival of theirs. I did not realize that Nacional are one of the best teams in the country. Going to the stadium, seeing everyone wearing their green and white jerseys with the words “Postobon” on them (their sponsor), listening to the die-hard fans sing for 90 minutes made me think of my dream to one day watch Manchester United play at Old Trafford. Nacional won 1-0 so the atmosphere was fantastic on the crowded subway ride back.