October 30, 2013
Our hostel offered a free walking tour so we figured we should take advantage of the activity. Our guide emphasized how far Medellin has come since the days that Pablo Escobar, a prominent drug lord, who ruled the city during the 1980s and 90s.
Medellin was once considered the most dangerous city in the world, but after Escobar’s death in 1993, crime decreased. Slowly, the city was able to rebuild itself. Today, Medellin is a thriving city full of culture and felt safer to us than Bogota.
One of the most interesting stories we heard was about the statue of the Bird of Peace. In 1995, terrorists set off a bomb under the statue, killing a number of people at a local market. Instead of tearing the statue down, Botero, who sculpted the original bird, made an exact replica to sit beside the damaged statue. The contrasting sculptures provided a vivid visual reminder of how bad things could be, and how good they are now.
Medellin has been working hard to make it easier for the people living in the slums to have access to the city center. A huge affordable metro line was constructed, which included gondolas lines and in some areas, massive escalators providing access to the most poor neighborhoods high on the hills. A large public library was also built in a slummy neighborhood in an attempt to help improve access to education.
We took the gondola to the very top and were thinking about getting out to walk around but it began to rain with some lightning. It was a good excuse to head back to the hostel.
The day ended with the Red Sox winning the World Series! We were very happy.