Medellin is a city that has about 4m people in the metro area, some of whom are amongst the richest in the world, and others, the poorest. We are, of course, staying in a suburb nearer the former but have been keen to get out and about and explore.
It is reasonably easy to get out and about thanks to a reasonably good public transport system that combines trains, trams and three ‘metro cables’. The latter are cable cars like the ones in ski resorts that take people high above the higgeldy piggeldy streets of the favelas that climb the hills ringing the city, stopping at ‘stations’ in them. They are hugely efficient and offer great views as well as a glimpse of the favelas without going in to them. They also provide a vital link to the city for those who live in the hills and need access to the city for work, education, healthcare etc. Some of the homes are in modern apartment blocks, some are rough brick and the most basic are wooden structures on stilts, built on slopes so steep a fall from the front door would probably end in a hospital visit. We are looking forward to exploring at ground level soon.
At the top of one of the public systems is a separate cable car which stretches for a couple more Kms, over the top of the hill, across some beautiful woodland into Parque Arvi. This massive park has a visitors centre, a small market and plenty of walks. So essentially, the journey from city centre to countryside takes about 30 minutes. And costs almost nothing for locals and only a little more for tourists.
We have spent a little time in the city centre too, to visit the Plaza Boltero, home of a number of statues from our new favourite artist (the fat peoples one). Whilst our suburb is safe, it is still a little edgy, especially at night. The city centre is rather more edgy, even during the day. There is a move afoot to reclaim the centre from the homeless, the prostitutes and the many people who just seem to spend the day just sitting around looking vaguely intimidating. They have a bit of a way to go. It didn’t feel unsafe, but we were very aware of who was close to us and felt markedly more relaxed when we got back to Laureles. I wouldn’t say ‘don’t go’ in daylight, but I would advise to minimise what you take and ‘give no papayas’.