The Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour in Medellin was enjoyable and informative. With stories brought alive by our guide, Oscar, who has an extensive knowledge of the history of Medellin and the areas we visited and delivers it with passionate enthusiasm.
The tour was well organised and the nearly 5 hours disappeared quickly.
This tour takes you through and over areas that were in the past some of the most dangerous areas in Medellin. Whether controlled by Pablo Escobar and his “army” or by equally vicious leftist urban militias, para militaries or FARC.
The violent occupations in Comuna 13 ended as recently as 2011 when the area was being fought over by two factions of Oficina de Envigado. the armed group started by Escobar. After the death of Escobar there were violent power struggles as different individuals attempted to take over the very lucrative operation.
The first part of the tour is taking the Metrocable Line J up to La Aurora. From here you have a expansive view over the city of Medellin. From here it is down to Santa Lucia where you have a snack stop. Here you can choose a snack from a street food vendor. We chose to have a favourite, any time food of the region “arepas de choclo con quesito”. These are a fried “baby corn fritter” with a slice of cheese on top and to wash it down … a cold bottle of water.
From here we hopped on a local bus to take a short ride up the steep hill to Comuna 13. The walk starts through the streets with the vibrant graffiti depicting the history and the emergence of the community. Ever up and all the while in contact with the local residents as they go about their daily lives.
The tour this story tells is interesting and inspiring. It demonstrates that there’s lots that can be done to repair and lift up communities with leadership and vision and community involvement. The world certainly needs more of these.
At the end of the tour we were treated to a frozen fruit lollipop with a choice of mango (served in a small cup with lemon juice), passion fruit or coconut – all delicious.
We were picked up by a bus taken back to the station for a Metro ride home. An excellent tour and highly recommended.