The '80s and '90s were a tough time for the Medellin tourist board, with the city's murder and kidnapping rates during that period being some of the highest in the world.  Pablo Escobar's cocaine cartel, engaged in a bloody war with both its main rival in Cali and the Colombian government, had made their leader's name synonymous with the city. $10 assassins riding on the backs of motorbikes were so common at one stage that the government banned pillion passengers. Foreigners on the streets were likely to be assumed to be DEA.

A decade later, though, Medellin has made determined efforts to project a different face to the world, a face that was always there but which was obscured by the violence of the druglords, guerrillas and paramilitaries. The weather that gave Medellin its nickname of the "City of Eternal Spring" has stayed springlike throughout. The work ethic, ingenuity, and friendliness of its people (known as paisas) did not change during Escobar's reign. The murder rate is down to a tenth of what it was. All that remains is for the rest of the world to take note.

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  • John McCabe

    From the UK, lived and worked in Japan and the US. Currently on a multi-year trip having a look at the rest of the world. Fir…

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