Perks of my first week in Medellin:
- practicing my Spanish listening skills
- discovering different neighborhoods
- mango verde popsicles
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I needed to take a break from being on the go and parked myself in Medellin for three weeks. I don’t think I’ve said it yet but Colombians are the nicest people! This city welcomes tourists with smiles and hellos. I’ve had a really busy week.
Here are all the things that have kept me busy:
Colombia Immersion Spanish School
I’ve been studying Spanish more or less for a few months now and have taken classes at a number of different schools. What I’ve been trying to focus on more recently is being conversational in Spanish, so I’ve found myself at Colombia Immersion – Laureles campus in Medellín.
The school is in a house, which makes it feel quite cozy and not like a typical classroom. It’s actually the house where they shot and killed Pablo Escobar! The neighborhood prefers to focus on more positive aspects of the city other than Pablo. The 4 hour group classes have a structure that maximizes speaking – 20% grammar, 80% speaking. Hopefully this will help with my pronunciation that needs a lot of work!
The school hosts cultural exchanges and barrio tours where you have to listen and speak in Spanish and are super fun at the same time. I think my Spanish will improve at the end of my three weeks here.
Real City Walking Tour
If you ever come to Medellin, you MUST do the Real City Walking Tour. This walking tour covers the central downtown area of Medellin and walks through the interesting and, at times, dark history of the city in a way that is so incredibly engaging so you’ll feel like you understand the city much better when it’s over.
The one story that stuck with me is the one about the metro. The metro is Medellín is incredibly clean and easy to use. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a metro this clean anywhere. The reason this is the case is the metro was built during the most violent and turbulent time in Medellin. The people respect the metro as a cultural symbol for rising up during a time when everything around them was bad. I found this story to be incredibly uplifting and can see that it is possible to keep positive in dark situations.
A calm oasis in the city when you need a break. I spent an hour here just sauntering around with my friends.
The “gringo” area of the city… filled with lovely boutique shops and amazing restaurants and bars. If you want to party, you’ll definitely have a fun time here.
Barrio Trece de Noviembre
I was lucky to have the opportunity to go with a guide organized by my school to barrio trece de noviembre. This barrio on the hill is still one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Medellin but the government has invested in putting parks and gyms in the area for the people. The houses were built by the people without any urban planning so there are no roads. After the barrio, we walked up for 25 minutes to a Jesus statue on a hill and ate the best arepa at a tiny restaurant on the hill. It was such an interesting afternoon! If you’d like to go, make sure that you have a group (three or more people) for safety.
Famous now for its outdoor escalators, comuna13 has some of the best graffiti I have ever seen. The local artists are incredibly talented and show many messages of hope, pride, history, empathy, and strength in their murals. Comuna13 is also home to an award winning green mango popsicle that you dip in salty lemon water. It was delicious! I took a tour with toucan tours but you can definitely check out this area on your own.
After all the walking tours mentioned above, my legs are sore so I’m enjoying my Sunday drinking a coffee at Revolución Coffee in Laureles.