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Dom_Wren

Medellin

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Alas, other than a few hour stopover in Bogotá , I’ve  not been to Colombia , 

Damian used to visit there ( I’ve forgotten his VT name , don’t think he logs on any more ? ) and he had good things to say about the place.

 

 Edit - remembered his VT name just in case he is still about  @b23avfc

Edited by tonyh29
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I looked at cartagena for a while, it was getting a big push on the top 2018 destinations type things in social media, looked like an amazing place but the hotel infrastructure was behind the push, couple of decent ones but no resort type place 

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Isn't it a tad dangerous there?

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3 hours ago, rjw63 said:

Isn't it a tad dangerous there?

used to be. Not now apparently.

 

One of my best mates is from comunna trese (sp) where escobar ruled. think were gonna go for copa america next year! 

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On 30/04/2020 at 23:58, Dom_Wren said:

Anybody been. Worth it? I hear its ace!

Hi, yes I was in Medellin in 2012 for four days. For me, as I love nature, one of the best things was the view of the hills and small mountains that surround it. It has quite a few cable cars that the locals use to go to and from their houses that are high up on the slopes. My best day was taking one of them to the top, where I got a good view of the city below, and then from there taking a second one more or less horizontally for a long way above a forest. Beautiful! At the end of that one I went for a walk in the forest along one of the paths.

On another day I visited a big salt mine, which was an atmospheric experience. It's in a lovely little town in the outskirts of Medellín.

Medellín also has a very modern train system and weirdly Bogotá didn't have any trains at all! (That was also in 2012, when I was there. I don't know if it has any now).

Nothing bad happened to me in Medellín. I don't know if it's dangerous or not really, I suppose maybe it can be in the most disadvantaged areas. I didn't stay out until late at night and my hotel was in the centre. I spent six weeks in Colombia in total and I didn't have any problems. : )

Edited by robby b
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On 02/05/2020 at 17:28, rjw63 said:

Isn't it a tad dangerous there?

You couldnt pay me to go. My friend went and told me there is a lot of kidnapping for ransoms all over Columbia 

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Yes, sadly kidnapping is an issue in South America. I read about some scary kidnappings in Peru, mostly involving 'taxis', a few of which involved chloroform even (like in the Tintin comic books!) I think I had a near miss there myself... one day I was trying to get from Peru to Ecuador and I was in a poor border town. My bus had left me a long way from the passport control and I didn't know where it was. Suddenly a 'taxi' driver was speaking to me. Usually I didn't take taxis in South America but I was tired and lost, and I decided to take one exceptionally. Bad decision. I was walking along the side of a building with him and I suddenly had a bad feeling about it, an instinct... there was a little car park at the back of the building and as he walked up to his car I saw all the windows were blacked out! That was a very scary moment. I immediately turned around and ran back to the safety of the front of the building and the main street, with my big, heavy ruck sack on my back, as he was shouting and swearing. Then I asked around for directions and walked to the border checkpoint instead, even though it was quite a long way. To this day I still believe that guy may have been dangerous and very dodgy.

I spent two years in total in South America, mainly in Peru, Chile and Bolivia, and I didn't get kidnapped, maybe partly because I rarely took a taxi, just in case. I took one only as a last resort, and when I did, a few times it was when I was staying at decent hotels that I trusted and felt comfortable with. The reception arranged it for me. I think it's good if the taxi company's details are displayed in the reception. A few other times I shared a taxi with other travellers (foreigners and locals) and kidnapping felt much less likely that way, safety in numbers. Often I walked quite a long way instead of taking a taxi (usually in the daylight!) I think it was probably safer to do that on quite a lot of occasions. 

Wherever possible I used public transport, which in South America is mainly buses (apart from cities that have an underground, such as Santiago, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro) or I walked. 

So I took a lot of buses! And I walked a lot!

Apparently Colombia is quite a lot safer these days than before, partly because the FARC paramilitaries have been less active than they were. In the past they kidnapped some foreign tourists for ransom but I haven't heard about that happening again in recent years. Venezuela is much more dangerous than Colombia now, I wouldn't go there at the moment, what a terrible state it's in! : (  I guess Mexico's also maybe more dangerous to visit than Colombia these days? I think certain parts of Brazil might be too. 

Edited by robby b

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Dem's friend is right, there have been kidnappings in various parts of Colombia over the years, some parts more than others. There are some political kidnappings and there are some for money. I just read the 'safety and security' section of the Foreign Office's Colombia travel advice page and, yikes, it's worse than I expected!  <  But a Colombian friend told me a few years ago that the main danger to foreign tourists is in or near the drugs areas, where they're grown and processed (coca, marijuana and opium). I wasn't in or or near them... most of the time! (I just realised I was near one of them accidentally! But here I am today, still alive, phew!) However, I admit there is still danger in the major cities too, including Medellin, but as the Foreign Office says, especially in the deprived areas and after dark or if you hail a taxi in the street, which I never did! I recommend reading the 'safety and security' part of their page, it's comprehensive and some of it's all about taxis! :s

Edited by robby b

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On 02/09/2020 at 22:34, robby b said:

Yes, sadly kidnapping is an issue in South America. I read about some scary kidnappings in Peru, mostly involving 'taxis', a few of which involved chloroform even (like in the Tintin comic books!) I think I had a near miss there myself... one day I was trying to get from Peru to Ecuador and I was in a poor border town. My bus had left me a long way from the passport control and I didn't know where it was. Suddenly a 'taxi' driver was speaking to me. Usually I didn't take taxis in South America but I was tired and lost, and I decided to take one exceptionally. Bad decision. I was walking along the side of a building with him and I suddenly had a bad feeling about it, an instinct... there was a little car park at the back of the building and as he walked up to his car I saw all the windows were blacked out! That was a very scary moment. I immediately turned around and ran back to the safety of the front of the building and the main street, with my big, heavy ruck sack on my back, as he was shouting and swearing. Then I asked around for directions and walked to the border checkpoint instead, even though it was quite a long way. To this day I still believe that guy may have been dangerous and very dodgy.

I spent two years in total in South America, mainly in Peru, Chile and Bolivia, and I didn't get kidnapped, maybe partly because I rarely took a taxi, just in case. I took one only as a last resort, and when I did, a few times it was when I was staying at decent hotels that I trusted and felt comfortable with. The reception arranged it for me. I think it's good if the taxi company's details are displayed in the reception. A few other times I shared a taxi with other travellers (foreigners and locals) and kidnapping felt much less likely that way, safety in numbers. Often I walked quite a long way instead of taking a taxi (usually in the daylight!) I think it was probably safer to do that on quite a lot of occasions. 

Wherever possible I used public transport, which in South America is mainly buses (apart from cities that have an underground, such as Santiago, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro) or I walked. 

So I took a lot of buses! And I walked a lot!

Apparently Colombia is quite a lot safer these days than before, partly because the FARC paramilitaries have been less active than they were. In the past they kidnapped some foreign tourists for ransom but I haven't heard about that happening again in recent years. Venezuela is much more dangerous than Colombia now, I wouldn't go there at the moment, what a terrible state it's in! : (  I guess Mexico's also maybe more dangerous to visit than Colombia these days? I think certain parts of Brazil might be too. 

Wow that sounds scary.  Glad you used your initiative and legged it. You may mot have been here to tell the tale.

 

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21 hours ago, Demitri_C said:

Wow that sounds scary.  Glad you used your initiative and legged it. You may mot have been here to tell the tale.

 

Thanks Dem! : ) Yeah I really legged it! 😂  I've just remembered that my ruck sack wasn't actually heavy that trip, fortunately. It was just quite big. I think that was maybe the only time in South America that I accepted a random taxi offer like that, in a street and travelling alone, so it was out of character of me. I must have been tired and frustrated at the bus dropping me off far from the passport control but it was a stupid decision. For a minute I let my guard down and that can be a minute too long! :s

Edited by robby b

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Medellin was Pablo Escobar's city, it's in one of the country's  drug growing/trading 'departamentos' (provinces) and with the civil war, which was the left-wing FARC revolutionaries against the army and right-wing paramilitaries, in the 80s and 90s it was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. This century it has gradually become safer than before. However, I spent yesterday evening researching and unfortunately I was sad to learn that in the last few years there has been some increase in violent crime there.

On the other hand, a lot of it only involves local people involved in drugs and gangs. A Japanese tourist was shot dead not long ago in Medellin but this is because when someone tried to steal his mobile phone, he resisted. A fundamental rule in Latin America is that, whether through bad luck or carelessness or a bit of both, if you end up being the target of a robbery, you don't resist! You just give them what they want straight away, and that way you're pretty likely to walk away physically unharmed, just shaken up and a bit less wealthy! And maybe in need of a few visits to the nearest consulate.

I got mugged in Panama in 2012 because I was carelessly running late one day and ended up arriving in my destination, a small town, after dark. At the end of the day it was my fault for not being careful with a schedule and not getting organised earlier. My muggers were five teenagers, they looked about 16. They walked up to me, in a winding residential road. They didn't have a gun and if I remember rightly I don't think any of them ended up pulling out a knife either... this part is a bit blurred in my memory though because it was dark and it was a dark road... one of them put his hand in his pocket as he was approaching and I remember this alarming me because I instantly wondered if he was maybe about to pull out a knife. When one suddenly grabbed my wrist I said "I'll give you my money"  ("te doy mi dinero") and I let another one check my pockets. I said ok a few times, a very helpful international word! He took out my wallet and the notes inside it, about £30 worth. I was worried that this wasn't much money so then I handed them my ruck sack and told them they could have my mobile too and pointed to the pocket on the back where it was. Looking back maybe that wasn't such a good idea, I guess it could have made them annoyed, as they looked a bit disappointed when they saw it was just a basic, cheap Nokia, haha 😂 but they took it anyway. (I don't know what 'Are you taking the piss?' is in Spanish but I suppose one of them might have said that). :D They were young, maybe one or two were a bit nervous to be carrying out this crime, and I think they were inexperienced muggers, they didn't check for a money belt around my waist. And what surprised me was that they didn't ask where my bank card was. But if they had I'd have given it to them, straight away. I was really scared and I remember at least two of them clearly felt bad about it, one put his hand on my arm and said sorry ("lo siento"), then they left. I complied and I was ok. Really shaken up but unharmed. With that level of fear it really was the hard way to learn the lesson though! :s A holiday in Latin America can be mostly great adventure and fun but isn't a holiday the whole of the time! : D

Anyway, back to Medellin and Colombia... when I went to Colombia I vaguely remember someone mentioning to me that there were some landmines somewhere that had been laid by the FARC (the main revolutionaries) at some point, but not in the area where I was. But nobody told me just how many had been laid in the whole country. Apparently this issue of landmines in Colombia is somehow not very well-known outside of the country. Yesterday I was very shocked and sad to read that Colombia has the second highest number of deaths and injuries caused by landmines in the world! Second only to Afghanistan! I was absolutely amazed and quite ashamed to discover this only now, years after I went there. The number from 1995 to 2015 was 11,000 deaths and injuries (a lot of them serious injuries, i.e. a lost leg, arm or eye). This number has of course gone up further since 2015. And it turns out that the mines are in various parts of the country (especially in the mountains but also in the jungle), and that the second left-wing revolutionary group, the National Liberation Army, has also laid some.

Medellin is in a mountainous province called Antioquia and apparently, out of all the provinces in Colombia, it's the one with the highest number of landmines! They're in the surrounding countryside. So... I think it's best in Antioquia, but also in Colombia in general, to avoid going 'off the beaten track'. I stuck mainly to 'the tourist trail' luckily, despite not being aware of this landmine danger at the time. I would understand a foreign tourist sticking totally to the tourist trail, to be on the safe side. The army and even some FARC/ex-FARC members have started to deactivate the mines, with some help from a Colombian NGO, but only a small percentage so far. It's going to take years and years, perhaps decades, and a huge amount of money, to find and clear most of them. Really sad. ☹️😢

Edited by robby b

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missus has given me the green light for 7 days during copa america next summer!!!

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