The week before I left for Medellín, I was pretty nervous. Despite the myriad stories I’d read about the notorious city’s incredible turnaround, I’d let the history, the movies, and the daily voicemails from my dad scare the bejesus out of me, and I boarded the plane half-convinced I’d never be able to leave the hotel room. Three hours after I landed, I was shopping with a frozen yogurt in my hand.
Less than 20 years ago, Medellín was a place even Colombians steered clear of, and with good reason. They’d grown up in a culture of daily kidnappings and a raging drug war, while Medellín was synonymous with Escobar — a name you never hear there today. With his death, the people had had enough. To their great credit, Colombians spearheaded their own revitalization. In concert with a government overhaul, the country supported numerous public works to bring Medellín back to the vibrant community it is today. The moment you arrive, you can see just how it happened. This is not a community defined by its past. These people are sweet and open and so excited to show the world just how far they’ve come.
If you’re the type of traveler who’s looking for a cultural immersion, a wealth of natural beauty, wonderful food, outstanding nightlife, and life-changing historical perspective — then Medellín should be at the top of your list.