District 13

As soon as we got out of the car the rain stopped. We effectively managed to visit district 13 without the usual crowds and had great weather The story of this place is incredible.

District 13

Once the most dangerous place in the world, run by the Urabenos, hundreds of people were killed each year. In one year more than 1,600 people were murdered in an urban war for control of the local drug traffic.

People were trapped in their homes by violence from the drug gangs. They couldn't leave their district because other gangs ruled the districts around them. The elderly could never leave to go to the city because the walk up the hills back to home was physically impossible. The neighbourhood was poor, terrified and gangs ruled. One day the police and soldiers came and 'disappeared' the drug lords, henchmen and main gang members. 300 people were never heard of again. This was after 3 days of gunfights which ended when every occupant of the district walked out of their homes carrying a white 'flag' pleading for an end to the violence. And so the clean up began. Small businesses sprung up everywhere, people learned English and escalators were put in so that the elderly could get home. Public walls were given over to urban art and the district began to welcome 1,000s of visitors for a conducted tour in English or Spanish of the once notorious neighbourhood. Colombians are very proud of this success story.

The tours take in urban art, great coffee, popsicles and break dancing displays. A really relaxed afternoon.

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 We are all the same under the skin

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 the orange roof at the bottom is over an escalator

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We finished with the art pieces of Maestro Botero donated to the city. One of these was bombed, but the artist donated a replacement and the two stand together as a reminder of the past.

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A last stop at Cafe Malaga where people dance the salsa and tango, fanning each other after the exertion and changing partners for each dance, even dancing the tango the traditional way; 2 men. The locals fill this place and come every Sunday, such a lovely vibe and with much history.