What I Miss About Medellin

Sea lions on a beach in the Galapagos
Sea lions on a beach in the Galapagos

Last August, I left Medellin to begin a journey around the rest of South America.

The last 8 months have been filled with new adventures — some of the best the world has to offer, yet with each new city and country, I find myself reflecting back on what it is I miss about Medellin and Colombian culture.

I thought today would be as good a day as any to stop and put some of those thoughts down on virtual paper.  Believe it or not, I’ve only visited 3 new countries in those 8 months.


My primary reason for visiting Ecuador was to take a week long cruise in the Galapagos Islands.

Thankfully, you can get cheap international flights to Quito. In fact, I think I paid just $400 for my 1-way flight from New York City. Not bad!

The Galapagos trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I had a great time, and don’t have any intentions to return unless it’s to share the experience with a loved one.

Afterwards, I discovered there’s a lot of cool stuff to do in such a small country. I mountain biked Cotopaxi, one of the world’s tallest volcanoes, and hung out at the surf/party beach of Montanita for a few weeks.

On the whole, I found the food in Ecuador to be marginally better than Colombia. You know I love Colombia, but lets face it, the cuisine is not one of the country’s strong suits. Ecuador offered me new dishes, and I tried cuy (guinea pig) for the first and last time.

I sampled the nightlife in Guayaquil, and felt very safe partying in Montanita given it’s a very small, super touristy town, but overall, I didn’t feel safe in Ecuador.

Part of it was having just been robbed a few months before leaving Colombia, but it was more than that. It was all the stories of people getting their backpacks slashed and stolen on buses. And people getting robbed in broad daylight around their hostels in Quito.

I didn’t find a city as beautiful as Medellin.

Montanita was fun for that party at the beach experience. If you like surfing, it’s great, but otherwise I found it too small for me to live in for more than a few weeks.

And Cuenca, a medium-sized city in the South felt like an oversized pueblo, but aside from the old cathedrals and churches, it didn’t offer stunning mountain views like you get in Medellin. The nightlife was good, but the options were far fewer than what you get in the Medellin valley.

Also, you had to buy individual drinks. Cheap bottle service isn’t the norm like you get throughout Colombia.

I didn’t find the Ecuadorian women to be as pretty, on the whole, as Colombian women.  At the same time, I found them to be more traditional and conservative.

Bottom Line:  Ecuador is a place I’m happy to have visited, but I wasn’t inspired to drop my bags and start living there.


I entered Peru overland through a northern border with Ecuador, and proceeded to spend five months in the country.  And I already have plans to go back and spend another month or two there.

Peru offers a bewildering number of sightseeing opportunities — from various ruins and Machu Picchu, to some of the world’s best trekking and climbing in the Cordillera Blanca and excursions into the Amazon rainforest.

After a month of traveling in the northern part of the country, I settled into Lima. It was the start of Summer, and thanks to the desert environment, it drizzled lightly no more than twice in the 3 months I lived there.  The dryness was strange, but I began to appreciate it.

Peruvian food is excellent, and I quickly found a plethora of dishes I could count on to bring a smile to my face. Seafood, ceviche, sushi, alpaca, and even simple stuff like a club sandwich were often done well.

I found the women in Lima to be quite striking. On par with Colombians, but more aggressive toward foreigners too.  That’s great news if you’re a white guy with blue eyes.

I’ve dated a lot in Medellin, but I never found someone I felt I could fully trust.  In Lima, it was almost the opposite.  I felt they were more sincere.  It was just a gut feeling.

Medellin is a place to have fun. Lima is a place to have fun, but also build a relationship at the same time. At least that was my experience.

The cost of living was a bit more expensive in Lima, perhaps on account of all the eating out I did. Clubs have higher cover charges than in Medellin, and you buy drinks individually so a night out can cost you more.

The taxis aren’t metered like in Medellin, but I quickly began to learn the appropriate rates for the places I’d go. I almost got use to it, but I still prefer to live in a city that has metered taxis. It’s a small thing, but it makes daily life a little bit easier.

I was living and spending most of my time in Miraflores, which is Lima’s equivalent to Poblado.  I felt fairly safe.  I was taking taxis at all hours of the night too.  I think taxi crime is less prevalent in Lima and Peru than it is in Ecuador and Colombia.  That said, if you wander into the wrong parts of Lima, it can get very dangerous, very fast.

Also, I loved that there were very few motorbikes on the streets.  It was mostly cars like you have in the USA. Since getting robbed by a guy on a motorbike last year, being around them makes me extra anxious.  Unfortunately, Medellin is rife with motorbikes, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Bottom Line:  Lima is the first city I’ve found that can compete with Medellin. The food is better, and the climate is similar (at least in Summer). There are plenty of pretty women to choose from, without the heavy emphasis on silicone enhancements. Unfortunately, it’s not a pretty city, and unless you’re paying a lot for an ocean view, there’s not much to look at.


I’ve only been in Argentina a few weeks, and most of that time has been spent traveling Patagonia, but I’ve already started to get a feel for Buenos Aires.

The city and it’s people remind me of New York City, or perhaps Madrid.  It’s cosmopolitan. The food is excellent, though not nearly as varied as a city like NY. Still, it’s light years ahead of Medellin. The ice cream (gelato) is the best I’ve had in Latin America.  The wine is good and cheap.

Most restaurants seem to have WiFi.  It’s ubiquitous. I love it.

But Buenos Aires can be quite expensive. The rent in the Palermo neighborhood (equivalent to Poblado) is noticeably higher. A furnished studio or 1-bedroom apartment will run you $900+.  By comparison, I was paying $600/month for the last one I had in Lima.

I haven’t gone out to any clubs yet, but usually they don’t get started until around 1 or 2 AM, which is well past my bedtime.  By comparison, most Medellin clubs start to fill up between 11 – 11:30 AM.

I expect cover charges and drink prices to be higher than Medellin and Lima, and again, none of that bottle service I love so much in Colombia.

But once you get here, it’s easy to see the appeal of Buenos Aires.  The Summers, however, get ridiculously hot, and it’s lacking mountain views.

Bottom Line:  After only a few days, I know I could live in Buenos Aires, but so far it has yet to inspire me with the raw beauty that I’d see when looking out my apartment window in Medellin.


What I Miss About Medellin

The things I miss about Medellin are the same things that caused me to fall so hard for the city in the first place.  It’s not a utopian paradise. The city is far from perfect, but I can’t deny it still holds a strong appeal for me.

  • Beautiful mountain views everywhere you look. By day — green.  By night, it’s like the stars have fallen to rest on the mountainsides.
  • Beautiful women.  Every city has its share of pretty girls, but paisas still top my list.
  • Low cost of living.  You can live a comfortable lifestyle and not break the bank.
  • Nightlife.  Salsa music and dancing doesn’t seem to be as popular in Ecuador, Peru or Argentina. In Medellin, I’d hear it everywhere.  I miss that.  As a result, I’ve been dancing less.  And I miss that too. I also miss, if you couldn’t tell, the bottle service which allows you to have a fun Friday or Saturday night for under $20.
  • Climate. Sure, it rains in Medellin, but I miss how steady the temperatures would be year round.  I’m not made for swelteringly hot weather, and I don’t miss the cold of Winters either.
  • Friends.  Every city I’ve visited since is at a slight disadvantage, for I’ve spent less time in them.  I miss the friends I’ve made in Medellin over the years, and I can’t untangle that factor.
  • Paisa & Colombian Culture.  Every country has its own distinct culture, and by visiting other South American countries, I can more clearly see the uniqueness of Antioquian and Colombian culture.
  • Pueblos. I’ve yet to visit a pueblo in another country as picturesque as Guatape or Salento.
  • X Factor. Medellin’s notoriety is growing as a tourist and retirement destination. Despite the growth in tourism, and the tourism industry, it’s still a bit of the Wild West, and that lack of infrastructure still appeals to me.

The good news is I’m planning my return to Medellin.  It won’t be for as long this year, but I currently intend to spend August there.

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  1. What really caught my attention is the food! I’m curious about this “Causa Limena”. Why is this called a bomb? Does it explode when you eat it? Lol! Looks so delectable!

    • There’s a difference between “a bomb” and “the bomb”. I don’t know how it came to be, but “the bomb” designates something is being the best. It means (or briefly meant) the same as “the bee’s knees” meant a hundred years ago.

  2. I love reading about Colombia on this website but consider refraining from these types of statements:

    “I found the women in Lima to be quite striking. On par with Colombians, but more aggressive toward foreigners too. That’s great news if you’re a white guy with blue eyes.”

    It makes you look nerdy and clueless to the fact that you might be getting attention due to your perceived wealth. I’m not saying that you are coming off as one of “those” guys but it really doesnt add value to your reports either.

    In countries with alot of poverty , single foreigners get alot of attention. We get it.

    • Thanks for the feedback Trey. I get your point. I guess I was including that somewhat obvious statement for the guys who’ve yet to travel outside the US, let alone to Latin America.

    • Trey,

      I’m also a white guy with blue eyes living in South America. I have been living here off and on for over ten years. There is no stronger aphrodisiac for any woman here or anywhere else in the world than than the perceived wealth of a man. We also look physically much different than they do and I’ve been complimented by them more than once on the color of my eyes. It is very different than what they are used to seeing. We are also racially profiled very quickly down here. Women here associate white skin and blue eyes with wealth or at least more than they have and that works to our advantage. It is one of the reasons that they find us attractive. I think if I were a single man coming to Medellin for the first time I would find this information very useful.


    • lol@ this hater. This is valuable feedback for his white readership who also happen to have blue eyes! I have been on the fence about LIma for a LONG time, but this just solidified my decision to at least give it a shot! Good cuisine and hot women that like white dudes? Sheesh, sign me up! Why the haterade? I’ve heard other travelers say this same exact thing, so when a well respected blogger like Dave says it, it holds weight. Let’s face it if our women were awesome most American men would have probably never even left America, but we all know what the score is at this point. Thanks again for another great article, Dave, and keep up the great work!

  3. I just arrived in Medellin a few days ago but I’m quickly falling in love with it! Its going to be hard to tear myself away to visit the rest of South America in a month or two.

  4. Dave, as a Paisa who lived for three years in UK and has returned to Medellín to spend the rest of his life in this paradise, I´d like to congratulate you on this fantastic blog.
    I feel very proud of my city although its bad reputation for things that happened in the past and reading your posts really nade my day.
    Thanks for spreading the voice on what we have in this city, and thanks for loving it so much!

    BTW I am starting a quadbikes rental in Guarne (close to Rionegro) and it will be an honour to have you as my guest of honour once it kicks off!

  5. I have lived off and on in medellin for 5-7 years as practice international law in many areas and have clients in medellin. currently heading into mendoza for a month then on to BA for one to two months.

    lived in cuenca for a month and cannot say enough about the food and low cost of living, the markets and restaurants. for me and my girlfriend from Neiva, cuenca and arequipa peru are 2 pretty nice places for both price, weather and amenities. I am 10 per cent paisa by nature, love medellin, the weather and have many close friends there so looking around has been a blast, climbing in peru for a month doing many non touristy things because, well, we have the time.

    chile, expensive and not much there except in valparasio and patagonia, both fantastic. will let you know on mendoza but we love great food and wine and of course, climbing. and with a 60 percent exchange value on your dollar, looks like a great place to visit, bike and climb for a few months.

    as far as deep relationships with a paisa, ummmm…would seriously recomend a gorgeous woman from Neiva over a paisa as their sensibilities are less focused on the monetazation of life. after climbing from salkantay to machu pichu over 5 days, 34 miles and several thousand meters, the legendary inka guide jimmi jhon in an aside, mentioned that in all his years he had never climbed with a colombiana. found that interesting but did see a few colombianas recently here in santiago and clearly not the climbing type. so, if you want to find someone with a little more rounded viewpoint, into excercise, fine cooking, travel, you might have to go to hell to find her as Neiva is like in the 90’s every day, dry, flat and devoid of just about everything…nice column dude, keep up the good work

  6. Excellent blog,
    I too found Medellin to be a great city in the time that i spend there, but quite honestly I found Quito to be a much more interesting city to visit, a better destination as per say. Now in terms of actually living in one city or the other you actually have to go to the right areas as most cities in south america have some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the world as well as some of the most dangerous.
    Lima i found great, specially as a foodie, but its ridiculous size overwhelmed me a bit.
    Also, what other dense, urban neighborhoods would you recommend in Medellin other than Poblado?