Medellín the Neighborhoods

After spending the first three days here doing the ultra tourist things: Parque Arví, Guatapé etc.  We explored most of the neighborhoods of the city of Medellin. 
First, we moved from the Conquistador neighborhood to Laureles.  Our new couchsurfing host Mauricio was cool and provided us beds to sleep on compare to a shared mattress.  His upstair neighbor Catherine was very cool too.  We lived very close to the soccer stadium where there are indoor and outdoor gyms hosting a variety of sports from outdoor lifting to taekwondo.  Very unfortunately it’s all registered team sports.  We tried to play basketball at a gym and got turned away by a shitty door security.  The street nearby called Carerra 70 is lined with restaurants and bars, however, during the workdays, you have to go to specific places at night. 
We also explored the Parque berrio and San Antonio neighborhood.  Lined with parks and vendors every where, San Antonio is the center of the metro system.  We walked around and saw many cool buildings.  The botanical garden is also near that area.  The cool thing about the garden is that it boosts a butterfly park where all types of butterflies fly freely.  I have taken close up photos of every type of butterfly there, and will post them eventually. 

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Above pic shows the Botero statues.

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Pillars that light up at night outside of library.
We also ventured into the industriales area to check out some brewery.  Their craft beers aren’t as good as in the states, but its a start.

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Then we went bit further away from.the center of the city to check out Pablo Escobar’s grave at the Montesacro cemetery.  There a ground keeper told us about Pablo and his family graves and the cocaine queen Griselda and how she killed her husband and they got buried together bunch of years later.

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After couple failed attempts to get in the basketball gym near the stadium, we went to Belen park to play.  There we found bunch of people playing and destroyed the locals.  Kind of shitty that 3 local kids twisted their ankles playing with us.  There are a lot of outdoor work out and sport areas here and it’s pretty refreshing.
Also went out to the ghetto version of Parque Lleras called Parque Periodista where a salsa bar boosts live music and dancing on Tuesdays.  I got a bit sick during these days, tired, sore and head aching, but I managed to push through it like I pushed through altitude sickness.
We then moved to the El Poblado neighborhood in a hostel.  After that we went out to a local soccer game, the local team Atletico Nacional vs Junior Barranquilla.  The fans here are crazy, at the least the section that we went.  A friend we met the first night saw us and took us to the crazy fan section where young people keep singing, jumping and fist the pumping the entire game.  There are a lot of cops body searching you for drugs and alcohol, but they sneak them through their rear ends and use them to keep their energy.  They said soccer is their second religion and it shows.  The atmosphere is crazy and we enjoyed it.  When Nacional scored everyone pushed forward down the bleachers, leaving people all over the place, trampled and on top of another.  The nacionals won, and on our way back on the metro, their fans almost fought with the cross town rival team, Medellin independent. 

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Our last day we went to the supposedly ghetto neighborhood, San Javier.  There people have built escalators in the area comunal 13.  After we got there, we were wrongly informed, kids were returning home from school, people working as usual.  Everything seemed normal.  We checked out the neighborhood and escalators.  The area used to be more shitty before, but city have fixed some of the houses there, built the escalators, and also had painters to paint the roofs and walls of the houses.  People there were nice and funny, not the imagery of wife beater wearing people with pistols stashed in their belt just standing around. 
Devin got a hair cut there for very cheap and we met some kids and the barbers where we talked about soccer, basketball and music.  The barber was pretty damn good too, and it was a pretty good day. 

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Overall Medellin is a pretty dope city and definitely deserve a visit.  Tomorrow we will move on to Cali the city of Salsa and fake Cristo Redentor.

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