Medellin (updated)

Coming down the cable car from the top of one of the mountains overlooking Medellin, we get our first views of the city,

and are shocked to see the poverty,

which didn’t fit the picture I had of Medellin being a colonial city full of flowers and beauty at all. It’s actually a huge modern  sprawling city of 3 million people with very few colonial buildings remaining, with poor areas like many cities.

Once in town, we join one of the two long line-ups for a tram in the hopes of getting to the Museum of Memories to learn about how the cocaine drug war ruined the lives of so many families in Medellin between the 1970s and 1980s. Unfortunately, we arrive as the museum is closing, but we look up the history online and read about the car bombings, murders, kidnappings, and political corruption that made this the most dangerous city in the world. Here’s a quote from a 16 year old boy about his neighborhood in Medellin as quoted in The Observer on June 9, 2013-
“ It was impossible to reach the centre of town; we were stuck here. All our elder brothers were on drugs or dealing drugs. I just lived in the house, and the bullets came flying in, during dinner…”

In the last 20 years, a lot has been done to make the city safe again, and these days tourists can safely visit.That doesn’t mean that all parts of the city are safe at night though, and we’re told to avoid one of the tourist areas after dark. We had intended to go there for dinner but change our plans and stay in the same area and find a place for a meal, where it’s safe.

While having dinner, we get an unexpected email from the shipping company we’re using saying that now we have to be in Cartagena in 2 days’ time as the date of departure for our camper has changed!

Unfortunately, this means we have to cut our visit to Medellin short and cover the 650 km to Cartagena without delay rather than having another 5 days to get there. Don’t want to miss the boat!

The Pan-American hi-way is quite slow and with all the mountain passes and towns; we are lucky if we average 50-60 k/hr with all the slow trucks. We only were able to drive 400 km in 12 hours which included a 1 1/2 hour tire repair stop where we discovered we had slow leaks in 3 of our 4 tires from the bad roads around Jardin. Almost 20,000 km done with 400 km to go to get to Cartagena and we have our first tire problems of the trip.

A passing motorcyclist pointed out that one of our tires was low on air and when we stopped and checked all our tires we found that two others were also leaking air. We put on our 2 new spare tires and had the third tire repaired (all 3 would not be repaired in North America). Our first tire issues on the trip but the tires have had lots of real abuse with all the bad roads in South America. The tires are covered by road hazard insurance in Canada and we are curious to see if the tire shop we got the tires from will honour the warranty or use some weasel clause to get out of replacing the tires. They still have about 50% tread left but all the leaks are on the side walls of all the tires. When the tires were taken off the rims, they had big cracks on the inside of the tire from the bottom (road) portion of the tire, but the slow leaks were bubbling out the side walls. The tire shop said ‘no problem’ to fix but they shouldn’t be fixed, but we must get one fixed anyway to get to Cartagena as there are no replacement tires available in the countryside.


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