Day three of this whirlwind trip to Colombia took me to Medellin – everyone I met explained that Medellin has the best climate, is the most innovative city, has the friendliest people and is set in a beautiful valley between majestic mountains.
The road in is really scenic, although incredibly steep and windy as you ascend and then descend into the valley. We passed cyclists on mountain bikes powering up the inclines and scooters struggling. The views are breathtaking and it’s green and verdant, white horses grazing – the stuff of movies. The city itself is busy and crowed with traffic at any hour but is on the rise economically with new buildings everywhere including a new Museum of Modern Art and the construction of a recreational central park where industrial and transport infrastructure has been demolished. The description of an innovative city is apt – there are poorer people living in incredibly steep areas on the outskirts and a new transport system has been built which provides cable cars from stations on the mountainsides which link up with a new metro (subways) on flat ground so that people can move around much more efficiently.
I was taken to a traditional village on Nutibara Hill where the vast city could be seen in its entirety – I think about 4 million people live in Medellin. The nighttime meeting was successful with one gynaecologist telling me that he had flown in from the surrounding area (it would take 8 hours by road) to attend the conference.
The next morning we charged off at an ungodly hour again to fly back to Bogata and more meetings and talks. This time we were accommodated in the centre of town, so I got to see another aspect of the city and noticed the change in altitude – slightly breathless going up and down steps, so had to pace myself a bit. I asked about snow and ski sports as there are mountains everywhere, but apparently they are not suitable slopes and most of the snow sports are in Peru and Chile.
It will be great to get home, but I have met and got to know some inspiring people and had the sense that, as one new acquaintance explained, ‘Colombia has passion for the future’. I would love to come back and have now downloaded ‘Duolingo’ on my phone as a simple way to learn Spanish (recommended by a Qantas flight attendant) – its free and so far seems good. Hasta pronto amigos!