When you hear the word “Colombia” or “Medellin”, you tend to think of drugs at first. You think of the terrible time period in their history that dominated the news, the DEA trying to fight it, and the man who put Medellin on the map as dangerous, Pablo Escobar.
Surrounded by mountains, Medellin is known as the city of Eternal Spring. The nightlife is unlike anything else, clubs are open until 7 in the morning and there are bar crawls or salsa almost every night of the week.
On a walking tour of downtown, multiple residents of Medellin came up to our tour guide and said in Spanish “Welcome to Medellin. Welcome to Colombia. Thank you for coming.” The amount of joy that comes to people’s faces when they see foreigners walking around really shows. This country has been trying to wash their hands of their past and it is now starting to become a reality. Tourism has started to spike over the past few years and the word is getting out, “Colombia is amazing!”
Another tour I did was an Escobar Paintball Tour. A tour like this is very frowned upon by locals but tourists are drawn to it, I was one. This tour consisted of going to a small town in the Guatape region and riding on top of jeeps to La Manuela, Escobar’s summer mansion named after his daughter Manuela. We then played paintball in the area of the property that held the stables and a guest house. Playing games of capture the flag and DEA vs Narcos in a decomposing mansion of Escobar was so chilling but an amazing experience.
After paintball, we got a tour of the mansion, were able to ask questions about Escobar, and learned so much about Colombia that is unknown to a lot of people. They are becoming one of the mass exporters of fruits and have the second largest portion of the Amazon, behind Brazil.
The town of Guatape wasn’t far so after eacting lunch in Escobar’s bar, untouched as if he had just left. Hopped on a boat and got a beautiful lake ride over to the town. With an hour of wandering around, we saw all of the city and were on our way to El Peñol. El Peñol is a 200 meter rock, the second largest one in South America. There’s around 700 steps you have to climb up to reach the top, taking around 10 to 15 minutes. The view is absolutely stunning and so worth the agonizing trek.
Medellin has been amazing these past few days. As of now, I’m here until Sunday but that may change. I’m not sure where I want to head to after here but I have time.