The most dangerous city of the world?

26. October 2018

Medellin is probably one of the most interesting cities we have ever been to. The change this city and Colombia as a whole is undergoing is impressive. In the 80ies and 90ies the Narcos basically ruled this country and Pablo Escobar as the head of the Medellin cartel was the most powerful of them.

But since the government, with the help of the US, managed to regain control over the country, so much has changed. The Narcos still exist but mostly in the jungle where the coca plants are harvested and processed to cocaine. The FARC has put down its weapons and the number of paramilitaries has been significantly reduced.

With the end of the violence tourism started to come to the country and many other legitimate businesses like mining and fruit plantations were able to grow. We took a “free” city walking tour, a “free” walking tour through Comuna 13 and a cable car ride to the Arvi park. We can recommend those “free” walking tours a lot, as the guides are super knowledgeable locals and you decide in the end for yourself what you are willing to pay for the tour.

The ride with the cable car offers you an incredible view on this unique city. You can see how the city spreads from its center in the valley into the mountains. As almost everywhere in Colombia there is no flat area. The houses are built into the hills and you wonder how the inhabitants reach them.

In Comuna 13 they resolved this problem with a several hundred meters long electrical escalator. The kind of which you normally see in shopping malls. But the escalators are not the only thing that is new in this place. What is new is as well the fact that you can walk there freely without the fear to get killed. Because of its location close to the mountains, which the government could not control, it was an important entrance point into the city for weapons and drugs and therefore became the most dangerous neighborhood in the former most dangerous city on the planet.

But after many failed attempts the government managed to regain control over this comuna and initialized several projects to improve the living conditions of its inhabitants. One of those initiatives was the building of those escalators, another one was the building of social housing. Some of those were paid for by Germany as part of a set of trade deals. Further on, the local graffiti artists put their artwork on the walls of the comuna and attracted therefore many tourists. They offered free education to the community and our guide that day was one of the many who took the opportunity to learn English and is now working as a tour guide.

But all those excursions only happened in the afternoon as during the mornings we went back to school. After our first two weeks of Spanish school in Guatemala we added another one to improve further. This time we didn’t had private lessons which reduced the possibility to customize the content but Leo, our fantastic teacher, and our four amazing classmates made more than up for that. We did not only spend the twenty hours of classroom training together but also went for the above-mentioned excursions together, went to an intercultural exchange, had a homework&beer session and went out together. It was so much fun with theses guys and we so hope to stay in touch.

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