Medellin is an incredibly friendly city. In the US, if you go out for an evening with some friends you will almost invariably spend your evening with your friends and with only them. You will seldom meet new people. In contrast, in Medellin you will definitely meet people. I cannot count the number of times I have been talking with an acquaintance or two and had a bartender or waitress place free drinks in front of us. “I didn’t order this,” I’ll say, and he or she will respond, “It’s from that gentleman over there. He says welcome to Colombia.” When you are heard speaking English, or Spanish with a strong English accent as I do, people are interested and want to speak to you. You’re exotic to them just like they’re exotic to you.
A few nights nights ago, I was in the Prado section of Medellin very close to the Prado metro station. My friends and I met a group of paisas, they bought us a round of drinks, we bought them a round of drinks, and soon we were fast friends. Above are a few shots of the photogenic Johana, one shot of her dancing, another of her standing by some slot machines. (Interestingly, in Colombia slot machines are typically called simply maquinitas — machines or little machines — rather than the more colorful tragamonedas, or coin swallowers, as they frequently are called in other countries.) I would have taken more photos, but her boyfriend seemed less friendly with each flash of the flashbulb. See, it’s easy to make enemies in Medellin, too!
Prado is a safe neighborhood that you won’t find in many of the travel guides because it is simply a normal neighborhood without much to draw attention to itself. If you’re here late and the bars start closing, it also possesses at least one “after hours” bar, La Manzana, Spanish for “The Apple”. Unfortunately, we can’t give our recommendation to La Manzana. Why? Well, first, because it charges its customers a premium to stay open until 5am, with drinks being twice the price of anywhere else in the area. And, second, because the late night crowd of La Manzana is the type that stays out drinking until 5am. That’s not you, is it?
And if by chance you find La Manzana too tame, there is always the nearby Casa Blanca for the truly fearless late-night party-goer, but we’ll leave that for another article.
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