6 parks worth the walk in Medellín, Colombia

Parque de las Esculturas del Cerro Nutibara. Medellin, Colombia. Photo by Clay Duda.
Parque de las Esculturas del Cerro Nutibara. (Photo by Clay Duda)

Nestled between the sloping hillsides of Valle de Aburrá (Aburrá Valley) in central Colombia, Medellín is a breathtakingly gorgeous and boisterous city. Home of the Paisa, as people from the region are known, they’re said to be Colombia’s proudest residents — something we learned fresh of the plane when I asked our cab driver where he was from. “!Soy Piasa!” he said, puffing out his chest with a big grin.

Colombia’s second largest city, there’s something for everyone crammed into the narrow valley, barrios trailing up it’s steep-sloping fringes. From nightlife in Zona Rosa and Poblado, a touristy neighborhood on the southside, to the ultra-modern shopping malls scattered throughout the city, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find whatever you set out for.

But sandwiched between it’s bustling thoroughfares, and nestled in the tree-covered hillsides nearby, Medellín is also home to a laundry list of large parks, natural areas, and green space, making it possible to easily escape the torrent citylife below with just a short walk or ride on the Metro Cable (sky bucket transit).

Here are some of the best parks to visit in Medellin, Colombia:

Penguin Pursuit: A search for the tuxedo birds of South America

https://www.flickr.com/photos/magical-world/3113761444
Photo: Vera & Jean-Christophe/Flickr/CreativeCommons

Life, love, and the pursuit of penguins:

All my life I have tried to find what exactly it is that makes me happy. What I really care about. What makes me smile. What I enjoy more than sleeping my life away. (I really like to sleep.)

Over the years I’ve come to realize that happiness is not something you can find. It’s a way of thinking. Happiness is not circumstantial, it’s a decision you make to see the good in what you are given. It’s a choice.

However, love is not always a choice. You don’t get to decide who or what it is that you love. Love is just what makes you happy whether you choose to be or not. It’s an uncontrollable feeling of joy.

Two things I’ve found that I really love are 1) experiencing other people’s culture and way of life, and 2) animals! To have the privilege of observing someone else’s world, and being able to interact with them is just so amazing to me. Not only other people’s way of life, but different types of animals in their own habitats as well. Can you imagine getting to see a penguin colony up close and personal?! AHHHH! In my dreams! Well, it doesn’t have to be just a dream — for me or for you!

Scenes from Carnaval in Barranquilla, Colombia

Carnaval 2016 Barranquiila, Colombia. Photo by Clay Duda.

Barranquilla is an industrial behemoth of a town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, somewhat off the beaten path for tourists most of the year — that is, except for each February, when the annual Carnaval parade and festivities attract thousands from around Colombia and abroad.

Call it luck, but we happened to be spending the week in Cartagena nearby during this year’s throw down. We hoped a bus with a couple of friends we made at our hostel and set out for a day in the mix. I couldn’t bring myself to pay the 150,000 price tag (about $47 U.S.) for a seat in the bleachers to watch the parade, but we did spend hours roaming the streets, met some good people, and soaked it all in. I also managed to get pickpocket of my iPhone. On my birthday, no less. But otherwise it was a great time and quite a unique experience.

Barranquilla’s Carnaval dates back at least 100 years, they say, and has even been declared some sort of cultural masterpiece by UNESCO. Pretty cool, eh? It also happens to be on of the largest Carnaval celebrations in the world, and if you ever have the chance to attend I wouldn’t pass it it. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from the street scenes:

Getsemani street art in Cartagena, Colombia

Street art in the Getsemani neighborhood of Cartagena, Colombia. Photo by Clay Duda.

Getsemani is a small neighborhood nestled just south of the tourist-saturated El Centro in Cartagena de Indies, a bustling city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. It’s known for it’s posh eateries, as a hotspot for backpackers and budget travelers, and for walls adorned with color-saturated murals and street art. This is a visual guide to its narrow alleys and walkways — or at least some of the paint on its walls. Read more about Cartagena.