I’m not going to bitch about Medellin

No, I am not going to bitch about Medellin, or Bogotá for that matter. I am going to post a series of observations illustrated with photographs and then ask some questions. Hopefully, this way I can protect myself from those who feel strongly, either way, about these cities.

airports colombia

Bogotá’s old El Dorado airport currently undergoing a phenomenal makeover

To rescue Bogotá, we need innovation (see my most recent OpEd for the City Paper regarding this) and this will come, things take time as in any capital city and more so in this case. The airport has come first and the result is quite pleasing to the eye. The roads leading in to the new El Dorado still have yet to be sorted out, what will happen to the Puente Aereo? This domestic terminal serving Avianca resembles a hastily erected emergency plan. Is the new El Dorado big enough?

Additionally, I worry about Medellin resting on her laurels after having won the Wall Street Journal/ Citibank city of the year. I think Medellin is deserving of high praise for her public transport system and her customer service. Her climate is wonderful and the views from El Poblado over the Aburra Valley are breathtaking. Can you show me more please? Do people from El Poblado leave their cars and/ or the district? I just spent a weekend in an area of El Poblado known as La Frontera and it was noticeably difficult to try to walk on the pavements (where they existed) as the whole area was designed for the car.

shopping in Medellin

Could this be anywhere in the world? A Medellin shopping centre

Maybe it’s time to look within. Can Medellin share some of her know-how with Bogotá? Can we put the aggressive regionalism to bed for a while?

Cosmetic surgery in Medellin

The gift that keeps on giving, two ladies in Medellin with operated “seat” cushions.

Bogotá needs a lesson in how to market herself and Medellin, being the Colombian capital of consumerism, is the best placed to offer advice. Don’t you think? Medellin has been able to spin the press in her favour, this is something the whole country and Bogotá is in need of.

I do believe there is a coherent plan for Bogotá, there is isn’t there? There is always talk of bicycles and bicycle lanes. There are such lofty ideals and isn’t there an educated citizenry capable of implementing such change?

bike lanes Bogota

There may be no sight that infuriates me more than a motorcycle in the bike lane

It took me no time to snap this photo. This misdemeanor is so frequent that I barely had time to get my camera phone out before yet another passed. Why oh why Bogotá does this slide? Why have bike lines been designed so as they take away from pedestrians, leave you stranded on the wrong side of one for the bus stop and why do motorbikes continue to do this?

Bike lanes Bogota

Bike lanes Bogotá

Unfortunately the bike lanes in Bogotá take away from the precious few and coveted pavements that are transitable to the pedestrian.

So putting aside my Bogota-centric views for a moment and thinking out loud. Shouldn’t be working together? When you try to raise legitimate points for a reasonable discussion, you receive this kind of response below. Medellin needs help from Bogotá too.


a nice comment, I assume from a resident of Medellin regarding another blog of mine

If Bogotá does well, surely then Medellin will do even better? There is no point in making Medellin the leprous – dare I say it, Quebec equivalent in Colombia. If there is a two lane highway back and forth for ideas and innovation, then we’ll all benefit, no? Or is it always going to be a case of one region pitching itself against the rest.

About Richard

Anglo-Canadian resident in Colombia. Journalist, Writer, Hotelier, Expedition Guide
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4 Responses to I’m not going to bitch about Medellin

  1. Philip says:

    [IMG ]http://i57.tinypic.com/33mnz4p.jpg[/IMG]
    Interesting observation regarding bike lanes. Rather than a b**** session, I will opt for your path Richard, and post the link as an illustration of what I face everyday in Medellin.
    I relay nearly 100% on bike for transportation while living and working in Medellin. Maybe something to be said about the mindset or disregard and disrespect for bicycles.
    An immediate solution would be great, but unfortunately it is going to take a lot of time and hope, similar to the Medellin – Bogota rivalry that you write about.

  2. Rich says:

    Bogotá is fine–maybe it was better in some key aspects five or ten years ago, but the long-term trajectory is very positive. In the end it only has two problems, public safety and mobility, and while those are big things they're not everything. Perhaps not coincidentally, those are the two things where the city's ability to solve its own problems is most constrained. Even if the city forked over the money to hire 2000 or 5000 more police, what's the point so long as judges have to turn people loose because of overcrowded jails and too-slow justice, which are exclusively national responsibilities? (And if the government eliminated the secondary market in cell phones, most street crime would disappear overnight.) And it's the national government, not the DC, which hasn't built a ring road around the western side of the city to keep inter-city trucks off Bogotá's streets.

    For everything where the district itself is genuinely in charge, including (irony of ironies!) trash collection, the city is doing reasonably well.

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