There’s a tree next to my backyard that’s perched so high on the hill it nearly kisses the sky. It’s larger than the other trees and it sways with the confidence of such. As I lay in the hammock - which had become a daily spiritual practice - on the back porch overlooking the shared space with the neighbors who built their houses when they came of age, leaving the family house they were born in, the same house which I now called home.
My first night here my neighbors who speak no English invited me to dinner at one of their houses and I gladly agreed, especially considering I had no food, I didn’t know where I was in relation to a market, and I hadn’t eaten in over a day having taking the extensive bus ride from Cartagena, again (I did this back in 2017, too).
It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with this massive family who has lived in Medellin for decades, or centuries, rather. They would eventually take me in as their own, inviting me to birthdays, weekly chats over fresh fruit, helping them retrieve avocados from the tree, meeting my mom, making me vegan empanadas, I would bring them a plate of whatever plant-based dinner I was making, so they could try my “rara comida” or strange food, although they never called it as such their eyes sure did relay the message.
That’s the thing about Medellin, although a city of 3+ million people, it some how incredibly feels like a pueblito, a small (adorable) town.
Most of the neighborhoods (except El Centro, or the Center, of course) don’t even feel like a city, they’re so quiet you can hear the trees rustling in the wind and a car driving by can take you by surprise.
I can think of very few cities (if any) in the world where walking through the city you’re guaranteed to run into a forest of wild bamboo towering over you swaying in the wind on one side and on the other coffee plants lining the side walk on the other.
I’m constantly in awe of the life in this place – whether it’s plants, birds, or people.
One day walking my twice weekly walk between my house in Envigado and where I teach yoga in El Poblado, I was passing by a golf course and saw a giant orange parrot like bird flying overhead. For me, that exotic bird isn’t seen outside of a zoo or deep in the jungle, but here it was flying about the city; between the golf course, the gym, and some luxury high rise apartments – incredible! The kind of thing that when happens, you stop as chills rush over your body in absolute gratitude for where you are.
Medellin has a lingering and outdated bad reputation outside of Colombia due to the infamous Medellin cartel. But that image is changing quickly, very quickly.
For the people who are lucky enough to visit Medellin, you can feel it the minute you step onto the land here. The feeling of life is unparalleled; beautiful, grateful, full enjoyment of every breath of life.
You see it on the streets, in the bright eyes, kind faces, big smiles and warm body language of everyone who lives here.
You can feel the rush in your bones. It’s exciting, vibrant, and so full of hope, love and community.
When my mom came to visit, and doesn’t speak a word of Spanish (okay she speaks a few words, mostly what she remembers from her 9th grade Spanish class which I find impressive she remembers anything!), every single person was trying to help her meet with my friend and driver who was picking her up. She was overjoyed and so impressed. She said she’s never had that kind of treatment on that level… anywhere!
Everyone wants to help. Everyone cares about everyone else. For the good of the other person, not for their own selfish agenda. I think that is a direct correlation, a silver lining, to the violence that happened so short a time ago.
People value life here more than most places in the world.
To have strangers looking out for you; that’s how the world should be. Where more of us care about people we have just met or yet to meet, just for the sake that in this world there is enough harm that I will only do onto you as I wish to be done unto me.
It touches you in a way that makes you grateful for every breath you take.
It just feels good to be here in Medellin. You feel welcome.
Then there is all of the amazing things you can do in Medellin; museums, breweries, hikes, the incredible food scene where you can get delicious vegan meals, or a 10-course posh dinner event, or the lunch staple of menu del dia (menu of the day) which is a soup, juice, main plate, and often a dessert for the whopping price of less than $5, and the dancing… oh, the salsa and bachata dancing is such a joy!
I’ve been to 30+ countries in the world. And 10x the number of cities. And Medellin, ranks among the top.
Between the metro making it oh so easy to get around, the food scene, the outdoor activities, the coffee, the dancing, and the people, Medellin is the kind of place you’ll want to stay a while, and I recommend that you do.
I’ve spent 9 months in Colombia, roughly 6 months of which in the city of Medellin. I count down the days until my soul can return to a remarkable place I call home in the world.
TRAVELING TO COLOMBIA?
Get guidance with your upcoming trip to Colombia. You can download my free 10-day itinerary that I created when my lovely mama came to visit me while living here (below) or explore the Colombia Destination Page for more resources.