Just 25 years ago, Medellin was known as "the world's most dangerous city" and with street thug Pablo Escobar running the show, it's not surprising. Fast forward to today and it has gone from murder capital to innovative city and travel destination, and the perfect pick for my 4 day weekend.
Comuna 13 is a must see if you're visiting Medellin. Formerly, Colombia's "most notorious neighborhood" controlled by crime-ridden groups loyal to Pablo Escobar, it is now emerging as a livable neighborhood, full of colorful street art and gentle people.
My beautiful amiga, Danni, booked us a free walking tour of Comuna 13. Situated along the west side of Medellin, the neighborhood appears as a sort of 'slum' with thousands of homes stacked next to and on top of one another. Since Escobar's reign, the neighborhood has experienced an immense shift. What was once an area known for its astronomical homicide rates and gang activity, is now a livable neighborhood with kindhearted locals who are no longer afraid to leave their homes.
Within the neighborhood are walls covered in beautiful street art depicting scenes of the historical struggle towards peace, or simply expressions from local artists.
Book your free walking tour here!
One of my favorite things about Colombia: mountains of fruits everywhere I went, many of which I hadn't seen or heard of before!
Despite being familiar with the Narcos series, and the sort of 'bad-ass' association that Pablo Escobar received from the show, Medellin is not a place to speak openly about the drug lord. A few of my friends asked me to bring back some Pablo Escobar souvenirs or mementos, but after familiarizing myself with the horror that struck Medellin as a result of his rule, I realized how unnatural that would've been. Most locals don't even like to speak his name, let alone make souvenirs commending his historical presence.
[4 million. The number of people internally displaced by the drug conflict. The only country in the world with more displaced people is Syria, according to Medium Corporation.]
I wanted to visit the final house where he had been discovered hiding and eventually shot and killed and even that seemed an unnatural thing to ask a taxi driver. It is evident that the harsh and disturbed lengths that Escobar went to to secure his fortune, will not be forgotten by the city's locals for decades to come.