Over the years, the paisa culture of this city of the eternal spring has taken a fairly brutal battering. For a while there, the long-held local reputation that paisas had garnered – that of being industrious, entrepreneurial and welcoming – seemed to only apply to some of the citizens’ enthusiasm for narcotics and homicide. But, ever since Pablo Escobar got a taste of his own Medellin, things have famously been changing. Once again, the people of Colombia’s second biggest city have a lot to be proud of.
Let’s take festivals for an easy illustration. How about an international poetry festival, a glamorous fashion festival, an international jazz festival, a book fair and a massive flower fair? Or we could talk about the impressive range of libraries, parks and museums, and the one-of-a-kind plaza full of the sculptures of Medellin’s real favourite son, Fernando Botero. Let’s use the Metro, the cable-car, and public escalator system as an example of how the underprivileged have been offered a leg-up. Then, of course, we’ve got the glitzier side of Medellin to show off – its monster clubs, fine restaurants, intoxicating shopping; its spectacular Christmas Lights display; not to mention its jaw-dropping mastery of the arts of plastic surgery. The sweeping transformations of this city into one that is innovative, hard-working, and beautiful, are no less than inspirational. We can all do with a bit of inspiration, can’t we?