Medellin’s metro system and I became fast friends. It was there for me every day with spotless cars that never made me wait more than 2 or 3 minutes. The only mild nuisance was its lingering question of,
Why can’t New York City have subways as nice as Medellin?”
It allowed me to travel from my apartment to just about any area in Medellin that I might want to access. Then one day when I felt slightly suffocated by the busy metropolis, it offered me a much needed escape to the surrounding mountainside.
Medellin’s metro system is the only one in Colombia. But what’s even more impressive are the metrocables that shoot off the main line into the surrounding hills. The less developed barrios are stacked against this climbing Earth and the metrocables were a huge advancement in providing the poorest Medellin residents with access to the city’s wider availability of options and opportunities. A trip on the metrocable is an eye-opening glimpse into the poverty that still exists in the city’s outskirts, but also a sign of the continuing progress being made.
To access the metrocable, take the metro’s main line (A) to Acevedo. Do not exit the station (very easy to do) but instead, follow the signs for the K line. The K line is a metro cable and access is included in the ticket you purchased to ride the A line. Hop on board with other Colombians or tourists and take in the views. This will bring you past four stops, the highest being San Diego. If you’re craving some mountain air like I was, continue upwards on the connecting L line which costs another $1,550 COP.
Once you’ve reached the L line, the temperature drops noticeably as the tin roofs and clothes lines fade into thick forest. The family that shared my car bundled up in the jackets and sweaters they knew to bring, offering my outfit sympathetic glances. I was sporting shorts and a t-shirt, assuming the weather couldn’t possibly change much from the sweltering heat I had just left. I was so wrong.
The clouds were as thick as the forest by the time we reached the top and it was indeed sweater weather. I bought a tinto (a small black coffee), attempting and failing to warm up. Parque Arvi is a nature reserve with hiking trails, zip lines, boating and little shops. Its the perfect alternative to a hot day in the city and although fighting off goosebumps for the duration of my visit, I left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Skipping the metrocable means skipping a huge part of Medellin. Do yourself a favor and spend the day in the outskirts. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can explore the towns the lead up to Parque Arví, or if you’re just looking to snap pictures on the way to the park like I was, that’s a fine option as well. Just don’t forget a sweater!