- This morning, we’ll meet with urban-planning consultant Jorge Melguizo to discuss the history of the drug trade in Colombia and the radical urban transformation of Medellín. Medellín is considered by many to be the epitome of the “Colombian miracle.” In 2013, the city was hailed as the most innovative city in the world by the influential nonprofit Urban Land Institute—beating New York City and Tel Aviv to the title. Melguizo served as the former secretary of culture in Medellín from 2005 to 2009 and was instrumental in the city’s inspirational makeover in the late 2000s.
- We’ll also make a stop at the House of Memory museum.
- Later, we’ll again admire the work of artist Fernando Botero, known for his paintings and sculptures of figures of exaggerated volume. His works provide a useful commentary on Medellín’s sense of self and the body. In the southwest corner of the central Parque Berrio is his Torso Femenino, a bronze sculpture of a very inflated female form nicknamed La Gorda (The Fat Lady) by locals. Botero gave the sculpture to the city in 1987—the first of many donations by Botero, who was born here in 1932. On nearby Botero Plaza are more of his bronzes—of men, women, a cat, and a Roman soldier.
- We’ll then stop at a former steel mill, built in the 1930s, which has reborn as MAMM, or the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, in 2009. Its staggering exhibition spaces showcase contemporary Colombian artists like Beatriz González, Carlos Rojas, and the hometown expressionist Débora Arango with astutely curated exhibitions. Be sure to check out its great gift store!
- We’ll enjoy lunch at Bonuar, a smart bistro serving dishes like leek-wrapped whitefish.
- Later, we’ll depart Medellín for a one-hour flight to Cartagena, the jewel in Colombia’s crown and one of the most exquisite colonial cities in Latin America..
“The city, his city, stood unchanging on the edge of time: the same
burning dry city of his nocturnal terrors and the solitary pleasures
of puberty, where flowers rusted and salt corroded, where nothing
had happened for four centuries except a slow aging among
- So Gabriel García Márquez described Cartagena, his adopted city for much of his life, in his novel Love in the Time of Cholera. The description largely stands the test of time, just as the city itself. The 16th-century colonial city still perches, walled and turreted, on the Caribbean shore. The bougainvillea tumbling from the balconies in the narrow streets still “rusts,” the salt still corrodes, and the air is still full of solitary pleasures.
- Upon arrival, we’ll transfer to the Hotel Ananda.
- In the late afternoon, we’ll take a short walk along Las Murallas, Cartagena’s fortified walls—five miles of impressive walled defenses that encircle the old town. The walls were constructed over two centuries to defend the city against marauding pirates, who coveted the huge stores of looted native treasures that Cartagena held while waiting for the twice-yearly visits of the Spanish galleons. In the 16th century alone, the city endured five pirate sieges. In 1741, a massive English sea assault by Edward Vernon failed to break its defenses. Combine this with Cartagena’s early declaration of independence in the 19th century, and you can see why Simón Bolívar named the city La Heroica.
- Dinner will be at your leisure tonight.