MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA – WHY IT’S EVERYONE’S FAVORITE COLOMBIAN CITY
November 7, 2019
Ok, I admit it. I fell in love during my travels. It is something that I always try to avoid as a traveler because I continuously move, so it is hard for me to establish anything long-term. But it is inevitable, given that I have been to many exciting places and met many interesting people. However, this time, it was love at first sight, and remembering the first day brings a smile to my lips.
I want to tell the world; I fell in love with Medellin, Colombia!
INFORMATION ABOUT MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
Medellin is the capital of the Antioquia region and the second-largest city in Colombia. An estimated 2.5 million inhabitants are living in the city, who are collectively known as Paisas.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
The city has an unfortunate reputation of being dangerous due to its history of violence and gang wars. Years ago, it was dubbed as the “Most dangerous city on Earth” by TIME magazine because of the constant chaos proliferated by the Medellin Cartel led by the infamous drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar. His story became known worldwide after it was shown by the hit TV series Narcos, so people associated Medellin with Pablo Escobar and drugs more than ever.
However, is it still the case today? We need to remember that this sad part of Medellin’s history happened years ago, and so many things changed. The Medellin Cartel disbanded, and the city experienced rapid growth these past years. It was even awarded the title of “Most Innovative City” in 2013.
REASONS WHY I LOVE IT
I initially planned on staying here for just a month, but I decided to extend it after falling in love with the city. There are many aspects of Medellin that made it stand out from the rest of the cities I visited in Latin America:
- LOVELY PEOPLE
Paisas are among the loveliest people I encountered on my trip. They are extremely friendly and courteous, and since Filipinos and Colombians share similar values, it was not hard for me to relate and befriend them. They also have the coolest Spanish accent, and as a foreigner who speaks Spanish, I do not struggle to understand them when they talk.
I am not exaggerating; Medellin has the best weather in all the cities I’ve been to in Latin America. It is in the tropics above the mountain, so the weather here is just the right mixture of hot and cool. Locals told me that it is now more desirable than before, but for someone who used to live in scorching, humid 43c temperature, the weather here is heaven!
- TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Public transportation was a daily life struggle when I was still in Manila, what with the horrible traffic I had to endure to go home. So after arriving here, I was so surprised at how organized the transportation system is. They even have a metro, something that Bogotá, the capital city, lacks. They also have a centralized ticketing system; you only need to load one card to ride its numerous transportation system – be it by bus, metro, tram, and metro cable.
- COST OF LIVING
Medellin is a cheap city to live in. In some ways, it is as affordable as Manila, with food and transportation almost costing the same. According to my Colombian friends living in the Philippines now, lodging here is cheaper than back home, with which I agree. I shared an apartment with my German friend, and we only paid $500 monthly for a fully furnished one good for two already. Partying is also affordable here. A bottle of beer costs 2,500 COP per bottle, and a bottle of the local liquor Aguardiente cost as low as 13,000 per bottle. Entrance to most clubs is just 10,000 COP, and 40,000 for barra libre.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT IT
I struggled to think of something to put here. Nevertheless, there were still some things I struggled with when I was staying here.
- DIFFICULTY OF FINDING ASIAN INGREDIENTS
I always cook my food in my travels, not only to save money but also to satisfy my crazy cravings. In Medellin, however, Asian ingredients are hard to find. Typical ones such as soy sauce and vinegar for my adobo are available everywhere. As for the rest, it was nearly impossible. And also, the Asian food here sucks! I still remember the day when I ordered stir-fry noodles, and they gave me Italian pasta cooked Asian-style, OH, THE HORROR!
It was a culture shock for me. The usage of marijuana is so common that you can smell it in most places. I remembered when I was in Parque Ciudad del Rio, someone was selling chocolate covered weeds like it was nothing, and they even have an Instagram page!
THINGS TO BE MINDFUL OF WHEN YOU ARE HERE
You need to be mindful of some things when you visit Medellin or when you talk to Paisas. Do this, and you will have many friends and a peaceful stay here.
- NEVER TALK ABOUT PABLO ESCOBAR OR NARCOS TO A PAISA
Paisas hate it when you open a conversation with anything Narcos related. Remember that there were many victims of the drug war during the city’s dark times, and you never know if someone you are talking to lose a family member at that time. Before coming here, I had this in mind, so I never did it, but I saw some aggressive reactions when foreigners would open a conversation with this topic.
- NEVER COMPARE MEDELLIN TO BOGOTA IF YOU DON’T WANT TO END UP IN A LONG DEBATE
Colombians are regionalists. They are prouder of being part of a region than being a collective Colombians. There are individual rivalries here, and none more apparent than the rivalry between the Paisas and Rolos (people living in Bogotá). Don’t even think about comparing both cities, or else you will get on the wrong side of the Paisas, and you will be drawn into a never-ending argument on who is better.
- WEAR GREEN WHEN YOU WATCH AN ATLETICO NACIONAL MATCH
We watched a football match between Atletico Nacional (Medellin) and Milionarios (Milionarios). I was about to wear blue; my German friend told me not to because blue is Milionario’s color. Atletico Nacional might have ganged up on me had I worn blue during the match.
The rivalry between Paisas and Rolos extended to football too. So to be safe, wear green in the match to show your support to the local team.
Give Medellin a visit, and I am sure that you will fall in love with it too, just like I did. It is a city that I plan to stay in long-term soon.