It's hard to forget the images of burnt ruined buildings and assassination victims lying in the streets from the days when Medellin was the world capital of Narco-Terrorism. Truthfully, that was all that I really knew about Medellin before I went, so when I got the call for the trip I was a little hesitant for a second. Thankfully I continued, and had an amazing experience. The changes that Medellin has gone through in the past decade are nothing short of miraculous. With a combination of effective police measures and social programs, Medellin has become a city that's safe for residents, tourists and businesses again.
Medellin is a beautiful city of over 4 million inhabitants in a valley surrounded by towering lush green mountains. It is near the equator and lies in a valley at nearly 5000 ft of elevation keeping the average yearly temperature in the 70's. Its year-round beautiful weather has lead Medellin to be nicknamed the "City of Eternal Spring."
For all of its ascetic beauty, the true beauty of Medellin lies with it's people. Warm, welcoming and astonishingly attractive, it was their heart and will that finally made their city streets safe. There is an amazing sense of enthusiasm and pride within the locals. After going through some trying times, their city is not only safe again it's thriving. There is construction everywhere. In the streets, people would approach me and declare how excited they were about the nascent prosperity in their city.
I was fortunate enough to meet the mayor Sergio Fajardo. A mathematics professor before he became a politician, he is a great example of the new Colombian politician, whose backgrounds come more from the worlds of business and academia. He stood before the pictures of schools and libraries built during his administration hanging on the wall beaming with pride. It was a clear sign that Medellin, and Colombia as a whole, is looking towards the future.
Is Medellin perfect? Of course not, no city is. But I'm happy to report, the long tumultuous and violent winter has ended and it's spring again in Medellin.
Written and photographed by Jason Fitzpatrick