My last stop in Colombia is the city of Medellin, and it ended up being my favorite. Medellin is a medium-sized city cradled in a valley at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. This location leads to mild temperatures year-round, earning Medellin the nickname "City of Eternal Spring". But I think the city's best asset is it's people, known as paisas, who are known even among Colombians for their warmth and hospitality.
In the early 90's Medellin had the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of the world. President Uribe, himself a paisa, has been so successful in reducing crime that Medellin is now one of Latin America's safest large cities. Colombia's fashion and flower industries are centered in this area, and the economy is growing quickly.
I didn't realize how lucky I was to be arriving in Medellin right before the famous flower festival. The "Feria de las Flores" is a giant cultural celebration of the Antiochian region, and there are over 130 events held in the area over the period of a week in early August. There are concerts, art shows, and a cavalcade which this year included thousands of horses. The central event of the festival is the parade of large ornate flower arrangements called silleteros. Check out the pictures and videos I have included from the flower festival.
I rented an apartment in the upscale Poblado neighborhood for the month of August. Something about Medellin charmed me, and I can't point to any one factor. Yes, the weather is nice, the people are sweet, the city is big enough but not gigantic. I also like how green everything is, with trees and flowers everywhere. The Poblado neighborhood is also a comfortable place to stay, with nice restaurants and shops, but I still felt the excitement of experiencing a foreign culture while in Medellin. There is just some other factor I can't quite explain that has me wanting to go back.
The good news is I will return later this month (October), and several of my classmates are coming back as well. I guess I am not the only person who fell in love with Medellin.