A few weeks back, I was unexpectedly asked to move out of my beautiful Envigado apartment on extremely short notice; as you might imagine, this wasn’t the most ideal situation. I didn’t know it at the time, but this unexpected relocation came with a silver lining.
And nestled in the heart of this neighborhood, I discovered a lovely little park, appropriately named Parque de la Floresta, which reminded me once again just how innovative and progressive the city of Medellín really is.
At first glance, Parque de La Floresta might seem rather average.
Like many parks around the city, it’s outfitted with a small playground for children. The green areas, well, they’re less green and more dusty brown—or maybe it’s half and half. Trees line the perimeter providing a healthy amount of shade, and benches are ample.
A few lonely palms stand tall and proud in the center plaza to remind you that you’re in a tropical climate. Pigeons splash about in the fountain at the park’s northwest corner when they’re not being pursued by giggling children.
Day and night, buses whiz by, paying little regard to the pedestrian crossings and whether someone might happen to be passing through them.
In short, it’s very much like any other park you’d find throughout the city.
What struck me most about Parque de La Floresta, though, was that it was well-used by anyone and everyone, at all hours of the day and night. There was a general calmness about the area—even after dark, I felt secure even while meandering around alone.
Elderly couples take midday strolls here. Runners zip through, perhaps stopping for a stretch break in this tree-lined oasis in an otherwise heavily trafficked area.
Dogs on leashes are paraded through by their owners. Teenagers congregate at the corners, skateboards in hand. Street vendors set up shop at night, hawking the usual goods—hot dogs, empanadas, and cold beverages. One cart even offered burritos at rock-bottom prices.
And never mind the street food—if you want to nosh on foods that aren’t served on sticks, just cross the street to one of the contemporary restaurants lining Carrera 86. You can also pop into the supermarket, Consumo, located on Carrera 84 to the west of the park.
When it comes to innovative features, the most notable is the free Wi-Fi network available for public use, provided by Fundacion EPM. Signs posted throughout the park list the name of the network and the password you’ll need to connect to encourage park-goers to enjoy the service.
Just a block down the road, past the Parroquia La Inmaculada, you’ll find the Floresta public library where each day from Monday to Saturday, literary events such as workshops, lectures and readings are held.
Last but certainly not least, the park is well-maintained. Public employees are seen at all hours of the day, clearing litter and debris from the footpaths and keeping the lawns nicely manicured.
Parque de la Floresta is another example of Medellín’s commitment to providing equal access to public services.
And innovative programs aside, it’s a lovely green oasis in the middle of a bustling urban center for those looking to take a leisurely stroll, run a few errands, grab a bite to eat or simply relax on a Sunday afternoon.