Walking around the once most dangerous city in the world, our badass moment.
After a week in Panama we couldn’t have been more excited to leave for South America, feeling like this was the beginning of something else, chapter 2! Figuring out the way to cross the Darién gap was not easy. Figuring out a way to cross it without spending our budget for 2 weeks was a pain in the ass. For those who have never heard of it (I was one of them) the Darién Gap is this huge jungle between Panama and Colombia where the Panamerica road stops running and so it is impossible to cross it, either by car or motorbike (some have tried and had to quit after realizing they were only making 200 meters a day). One option was for us to take a boat that would take us for a three day cruise on the San Blas Islands and then reach Colombia. Sounds nice. Sounds expensive too. When you Google it to check people’s comments this nice little $350 (if not more) cruise looks more like an ordeal than a good time to remember. There apparently also is an other kind of boat that takes you to Cartagena in 15 hours for $100. Aaaaand there was the plane. Beautiful, fast, confortable, friendly plane. For $150 each it was ours. So we took it and landed in Medellin 1 hour and a half later. Way too easy.
What we liked the most I think was discovering the city and the country through the stories of two of its emblematic figures: Botero and Escobar. Not famous for the same crimes, they both reveal a bit of what Colombia is (yes, very cheezy sentence). And they are both fascinating. Stories on Pablo Escobar are just insane and being in the city, which destiny was very closely linked to the one of the drug lord, made us even more curious about them. Medellin, once the most dangerous city in the world according to the Time magazine, started reconstructing after Escobar’s death in 1993 and is now considered the safest city in Colombia. Which was a good news because we were there for a few days!
And so we walked and wandered in the city, going from the plaza Botero and its Antioquia museum, that has a great collection of Botero pieces (sculptures, paintings and drawings) to the lively Botanical garden where we spent the afternoon relaxing, listening to people playing music in the grass, looking at people taking dancing classes on a wooden platform and … sleeping a bit apparently. Which is my all-time favorite thing to do, anywhere in the world, at any time, whatever the noise. Kids would come up to us several times, asking us amused and a bit surprised where we were from. Which was 1. very embarrasing, we thought we looked liked locals hanging in the park 2. scary, why were they surprised? Were we not supposed to be there? Was this place dangerous? Were we gonna do the headlines? Actually no the place was pretty safe and the kids just curious. But people (usually those who have never been to Colombia) tend to get so stressed out about Colombia that it made us over-suspicious at times. We then went to the Arvi park taking the cable-car that goes over a hill that is home to some of the poorest and once most isolated “barrios” of the city before the arrival of this new mode of transportation. The view of the thousands of small houses covering the hill never-endigly was absolutely stunning! And frustrating as well as cable-cars’ blurred plastic windows don’t really allow proper photo shoots.
After 2 days in the city we left without having had the time to do all the things we wanted to do but mostly eager to go discover the rest of the country as we were heading to Cartagena on the Carribean coast. And because a bit of luxury never killed nobody, we took the plane again!