More Medellin

Jeans on sale in downtown Medellin market

We took the train almost everywhere we didn’t walk to in Medellin. Taxis are cheap and we used them occasionally but mostly the train since the closest station was only about 10 minutes away. These electric trains are used a lot in this area. They could be very crowded and we kept our backpacks on our fronts instead of our backs in the crowds. Often a young person would offer me (and sometimes Lesia) their seat. I appreciated that since standing a long time can be an issue for me. The trains were clean and everyone was polite on them.

There are also a couple of cable cars as part of the train system and one set of 6 outdoor escalators in Comuna 13, more on that in another blog.

One cable car route takes you to Arvi Park. It is delightfully cool up there and literally a breath of fresh air in this smoggy city. The park is mostly untouched with a couple of buildings and some vendors for things like bathrooms, shelter, etc. The 4 of us spent several hours walking around there and Dan went back on his own another day.

Comuna 13 used to be a very dangerous, not well accessed area but over the years, that has changed dramatically. Built on the side of a mountain, the streets are steep and the houses very basic. The escalators were added in 2011 and is now a model for other cities around the world.

We took the free tour (donations at the end) with a woman who grew up in Comuna 13. As a child she was embarrassed to say she was from this area of town. Now with the violence and drugs under fairly good control, she is proud to say this is her home. You can see a very nice story about the area and the escalators here.

Our guide explained some of the beautiful graffiti art (art as opposed to “gang tags”), took us through a quick tour of her house in Comuna 13, and even provided entertainment compliments of some young students (school holiday) doing some break dancing and another man doing a rap song. The students were moderately skilled but I really liked that they were putting their energy into learning to dance rather than other less savory efforts.

Pueblito Paisa (Little Town) is located on the top of Nutibarra Hill (Cerro Nutibarra) in Medellin. It is a replica of a typical turn of the century Antioquia town with a traditional stone fountain in the middle of the town square, a church and other buildings. The view of the city and surrounding mountains and valleys is lovely and there is a small museum with old photos that is interesting.

I found the most interesting part was information on silleteros. These are hand made art that is carried on the person’s back during a parade. The art is very intricate floral designs, done the night before the parade. The work that goes into the designs is amazing. Like a parade float, much of it is last minute. Unlike a parade float, it is carried on the person’s back! Would have loved to actually see a parade. You can get a sense of one here and here.

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