Ex-Murder Capital to Trendy Vibrant City… Medellin, Columbia

by Ron McGinty

Currently, the metropolitan population of Medellin is over 3.8 million, making it the second largest city in Columbia. If you like the winter weather in Naples, Florida, then you will love the same weather in Medellin year round. It is in the Aburrá Valley, a central region of the Andes Mountains in South America at an elevation of about 5,000 feet.

Many visitors from the USA go there for medical services as I did and for Spanish language classes. I had two dental implants done for only a few hundred dollars. The new dental facility was the nicest I had ever seen with marble floors and state of the art equipment. I asked the refined looking young oral surgeon if he performed many implant surgeries. He laughed and said he trained in the USA and all he does are implants.

The money I saved paid for my two-week trip. Wikipedia states, in February 2013, the Urban Land Institute chose Medellin as the most innovative city in the world due to its recent advances in politics, education and social development. The most recent survey on the global status of the Smart Cities by Indra Sistem as catalogs Medellin as one of the best cities to live in South America, sharing first place with Santiago, Chile, and along side Barcelona and Lisbon in Europe.

Medellin with the help of the Ronald Reagan administration performed a dream like job of ridding itself of Pablo Escobar and his murderous cartel.

The next successful chapter of events was to bring home almost all of the young cartel gorillas from the mountains. Finally in 2016, the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC guerrillas) have declared the final day of one of the world’s oldest wars with the signing of a ceasefire agreement to end more than 50 years of bloodshed.

Two events lured me to Medellin. In August, La Feria de Los Flores (The Flower Festival) takes place. Secondly, December marks the beginning of the annual Medellin Christmas lights display that is known as El Alumbrado. Unfortunately, the tragic plane crash on November 29th of the Brazilian soccer team postponed the lighting of the city until after I left. Both of these events attracts visitors from all over the world.

The La Feria de Los Flores weekend involves two parades. Saturday is an old car parade, and Sunday is the main event with five hundred people carrying flower arrangements (called silleteros) on their backs for about two miles. Everyone from little kids to women and men in their 60s and even older can be seen carrying the flowers.

The weight some silleteros carry is approaching two hundred pounds. The crowds were so immense I had to buy a ticket from a scalper to get into the bleachers to view the parade.

In closing, I would recommend visiting Medellin to experience all it has to offer. The sidewalk cafes, the nightlife, the metrocable car and so much more awaits you. Also,the people are some of the kindest you will find anywhere.

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