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Barrio Transformation

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Transformation is a complicated word here. For most visitors, the words “barrio transformation” conjure up Comuna 13, a district in the San Javier barrio (neighborhood) that has become one of Medellín’s most famous tourist attractions. But in diverse neighborhoods all over the city, citizens have struggled to overcome Medellín’s violent past and build a community that serves and represents toda la gente (all of the people). For the most part, these barrio transformations have succeeded spectacularly – but, as we said, it’s complicated. The Barrio Transformation Tour offered by Real City Tours shows just how complicated, and how fragile, transformation can be. For a year now, we’ve ridden Metro trains past a huge hill that seems to be terraced in a beautiful patchwork of landscaping. We always assumed it was a community garden of sorts, until Daniel, our Spanish teacher, filled us in: this hill was once Medellín’s largest trash…

Happy New Year! And how is it possible that it’s already January 11?? At the end of every year, we like to look back on our travels and new experiences over the past 12 months. Here’s last year’s entry, focusing on our most popular posts in 2019. And it was also fun to revisit this post from Dec. 2019, our reflections after our first year of living in Colombia. But 2020? How do we even start? We’ve tried to get this post airborne a few times over the last couple of weeks. Our go-to excuse, logistically speaking, is that we moved from Medellín to an outlying town, El Retiro, on Dec. 28 (see more about that below!) and only Friday got up and running with functional internet. But if we’re being really honest, trying to capture the turmoil and anxiety, the highs and lows, the outright craziness of 2020 has…

Back in early March, as part of our quest to see as much of rural Colombia as we can, we took a weekend road trip to the off-the-radar little towns of San Rafael and San Carlos in our home department of Antioquia. Little did we know that it would be our last trip before the entire country went into quarantine. As we enter our fourth month of lockdown, we’re anxious to duck the daily firehose of bad news and dream about the days when we can once again hit the road and experience more of this beautiful country. We’re willing to bet there are lots of fellow travelers out there feeling just as antsy as we are. On the Road to San Rafael and San Carlos Since we rented a car, we were able to take our two dogs along on a “pup-cation” to a place where they could swim.…

These rolling stones are gathering too much moss! Later this year we’re packing up and moving a bit further south to Medellín, Colombia. It’s a decision that’s been several months in the making, and our 12-day trip in late June sealed the deal. Although we’d been there twice before, this time we wanted to experience the city as residents rather than tourists. That meant staying in three different neighborhoods and spending a lot of time just walking around to get a feel for what life might be like in each. We’re already fielding quite a few questions from friends and family about this move, and some folks are scratching their heads a bit. So here are some Qs and As: We thought you loved living in Boquete and Panama! Why are you moving? We do love living in Boquete. We’ve made wonderful friends here and had unforgettable experiences. But deep…

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