Medellin, Colombia, from drug violence to tourist destination
From the Washington Post
By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
At 7 p.m. on a Friday, the patio of Basilica, a Peruvian-Asian restaurant on one of the most prized street corners in Medellin, Colombia, is bustling. Young men in polo shirts and blue jeans are passing around a bottle of rum at the bar, and women in miniskirts and stilettos are being seated at tables marked “Reserved.” Sushi chefs are busily making California rolls against a fake waterfall backdrop, their movements almost in sync with the Lady Gaga and Madonna tunes reverberating all around.
As the night wears on, the party spills out onto the sidewalk and into the street, which is closed off by police barricades. Young boys accost the revelers, hawking everything from chewing gum to bracelets. (“Una fresa para la princesa?” asks one, offering me strawberry-flavored Trident. “A strawberry for the princess?”) A bar outside the restaurant Barcelona is selling “political shots,” including the Hugo Chavez, an arguably toxic mix of vodka, creme de cafe, tequila and soda.
At the Parque Lleras, the park in the square, partyers drink Club Colombia beer as vendors entice them with empanadas and other street food. But there’s no need for BYOB, because the many open-air bars surrounding the park are literally giving the drinks away. When my friend Daphne and I order two caipirinhas at Barcelona, the waiter insists that we take advantage of the three-for-one drink special.
Daphne and I observe the mayhem from the patio, comforted by the presence of police officers on several blocks.
Not long ago the mayhem on Medellin‘s streets was controlled by notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar. In the 1980s and ’90s, Medellin was the largest cocaine producer in the world, and Escobar guarded his empire so ferociously that the city became one of the most dangerous in Latin America.
For more information regarding Medellin and other exciting Colombia destinations, visit us at www.discovercolombia.com.
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