Medellin to Popayán: Medellin City Tour
Medellin to Popayán: Medellin City Tour.
Getting out of bed with a gorgeous naked woman at 7am when you are on vacation to go on a Medellin City Tour is difficult. I had been recommended the free Medellin City Tour by three different people, so I put my immediate thoughts of interest aside and headed for the shower. A cold water shower because there is no hot available will certainly extinguish any lingering ulterior thoughts.
Our guide was a guy named Hernan. He has been doing the Medellin City Tour for a while. Actually, the Medellin City Tour is the only free walking city tour that I have ever had to sign up for ahead of time because of the amount of people who want the experience. The first thing Hernan told us what that it was not a Pablo Escobar tour. I can only imagine how sick he is of gringos bombarding him with the same questions daily about the man the city is most famous for birthing.
Apparently there were two groups of Spaniards who settled the area proximity to Medellin. There were peopled from the Basque country and persecuted Spaniard Jews who came to the new world to be free. Medellin developed, and the area was basically self-sufficient as the people here basically lived in isolation here for 400 years until the railroad came though. People here were initially farmers. Then they mined gold for the next 200 years. Then they grew coffee for the next 70 years. They had modernized themselves. Access to the rest of Colombia showed them that the rest of Colombia was still just farming. It gave Medellin a superiority complex that they still feel today. The 1980’s were the time of another major export that made Medellin very famous. The stigma of a Colombian passport and cocaine makes passing through airport security a major hassle for these people.
The locals are friendly. As the tour was taking place an elderly man overheard the tour guide speaking in English. The old man walked past saying, “Buenos dias. Buenos dias. Que es buenos dias en Inglis?” The guide told the old man who continuing on his way promptly repeating our guide’s answer, saying, “Good mooorning. Good mooorning.” It was awesome.
According to Hernan, Colombia has a tough position of being a supplier. It is not Colombia’s fault of the demand globally for their famous leaves. Poor people take advantage of the opportunity from a tough position. They hope it will improve their quality of life. They really have nothing to lose.
But Colombia is changing, and they are building libraries in the slums. Children used to be given a gun. Now they are being shown that they can get an education. In the 1990’s, Medellin was the world’s most dangerous city. In 2013 Medellin was voted the most innovative city with the most innovate way of public transportation of any city in the world. There has been a massive shift in the direction of the city in recent years.
But with any city, it has its complex issues. In front of one of the churches in the downtown, the girls hanging out in front were prostitutes. After selling their flesh and sinning, they are able to return to the front of the church, confess their sins and wash their hands clean of the whole affair. It is one of the benefits of a Catholic society.
Our guide would not refer to Pablo Escobar by name. He only referred to him as the ‘Famous Criminal’ because he can not say the name out loud with locals around. The locals usually do not speak English and they will only hear the name and they will assume he is saying positive things about Escobar. It will make the locals angry to hear Escobar’s name.
The Colombian flag is yellow for the gold mined in the country to begin its prosperity, blue for the two oceans that meet its shores, and red for the blood spilled to arrive in its position today. It is a nice reference to the land.
After the Medellin City Tour, Lucia and I returned to the metrocable to look at the slums during the daylight. I figured out that the terraces on the mountains where the people live are made out of stacked sandbags covered with earth. I had no idea how they were made before and had always wondered. Then we took a second metrocable to a national park that is just beyond the city. One would never know the other is there from either place. It is incredible how such a massive city can be a cable-car ride to complete nature isolation. Medellin is a special city.
When we returned to the slums, I was hungry but Lucia did not want to be in the slums with a gringo, even during the day. It made her very uncomfortable. We only ventured in about two blocks to find some snacks and headed back to the part of the city where we were staying with her friend Zule. Nap. Sex. Shower. Bus station. We caught a 10 hour overnight bus towards Popayán. Sharing a pair of bus seats with a snugly woman kicks the hell out of having to share it with some asshole stranger heading the same way. Life is alright. Contention is returning. The fire is drowning.
“Smiling is good for the soul. There is always a reason to smile. Smiling is also part of the metro system culture.” – The recurring voice recorded reminder on the Medellin Metro.
“Do not push others, so no one gets hurt or misses their train.” – The recurring voice recorded reminder on the Medellin Metro.
$12 – Tips for the Medellin shared walking tour.
$3 – Cost to take the cable car to the national park just outside of Medellin.
$35 – Price for a 10 hour overnight bus ride from Medellin to Popayán.