Medellín, Colombia

I had just a quick 12 hours to visit Medellín, Colombia’s second city. Thankfully Avianca has daily flights from Bogotá to Medellín. I caught a flight at 9 a.m. and was back in the airport in time for the 8:30 flight home.

Medellín is mostly known as the former headquarters of Pablo Escobar, drug czar. (And not a drug czar in the sense that Gil Kerlikowske is a drug czar.) In his 1989 heyday, Escobar was the 7th richest man in the world. Escobar’s cartel was known as the Medillín cartel.

Medellín is tucked into a deep crevice between mountain ranges. The airport is actually located in a town overlooking the valley of Medellín. There is actually a climate change between the top and the bottom of the valley, much like the Grand Canyon. At the top it can be chilly, but the bottom remains a temperate 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. My only thought as we zig-zagged down the road at the mercy of a fearless taxi driver was, “Please don’t let me throw up in front of my coworkers.” 

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The City of Eternal Spring is also well-known in Colombia as a fashion center and for its colorful flower festival. I missed the 2009 flower festival and Colombiamoda (the yearly fashion expo) by just a few days. Darn. And I didn’t even have time to go shopping while I was there.

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This park is apparently THE place to hang out in Medellín. I could see why. The surrounding neighborhoods are dotted trendy restaurants and bars. The weather outside is perfect for year-round alfresco dining. And clusters of young people in the latest fashions linger in the park, waiting to see and be seen.

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For dinner we chose a Peruvian/sushi restaurant called Basilica. Each of the beef dishes on the menu were named after the seven deadly sins. And the creme brulee was called something like “Sodom Sauce.” That’s my idea of a good time. 🙂

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The highlight of the night was my mandarina (tangerine) juice. Amazing.

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The strawberry juice was good, too.

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An Aussi, an Ecua-American and a Cuban walk into a bar…

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Believe it or not, I hadn’t had patacones (fried, sliced plantains) the whole week I was there. So I ordered some for an appetizer. The oversized patacones that arrived were smothered in a mild, white cheese. They were served with a tomato pico de gallo-like sauce and a chimichurri sauce. I smothered my patacone in the tangy chimichurri sauce and enjoyed it bite for bite, until I found this little guy mixed in with the green sauce:

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Oh well. The restaurant did give us a second order of the patacones on the house. I declined to put chimichuri sauce on that second patacone, though.

The funny thing was that two weeks earlier in Panama, I was the only one at the table who got a slice of pizza with 2 bugs and a small stone mixed in. A la Nancy Kerrigan, why me?

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After a relaxing dinner in the golden light of the setting sun, it was back up the windy road and a last glimpse of the city tucked between the mountains to the airport: Medellín, Bogota and then home.

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