The City of Medellin:

Nestled in the stunning Aburra Valley in the mountainous Antioquia terrain lies the magical city of Medellin Colombia. Known as "The Land of Eternal Spring" and "Capital of  Flowers". Medellin is experiencing a renaissance.

Medellin a proud and modern city of almost three (3) million population, encompasses an area of 362 kilometers squared, and an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit). It is the capital of Antioquia department. It is widely regarded in Colombia as a clean, well-organized and economically vibrant community. Its people are hard working and industrious. Major industries include coffee and flower export, information technology and hotel services. It is also the fashion capital of Colombia. And each year the "Feria de Las Flores" (Flower Festival) attracts visitors from all over South America for parades and conventions. The city's fast and efficient "Metro" is the only public transit subway system in Colombia. And the "Empresas de Pública de Medellin" is widely viewed as the best public utility service in the country. In culinary delights, Medellin is said to have created Colombia's ubiquitous "arepa" - a bread and corn patty stuffed with cheese, and often chicken or beef. Meanwhile, Medellin's historical traditions are evident in Pueblito Viejo, a squared section of town with homes and shops preserved as they were 100 years ago.

The Medellin Lady, affectionately called Paisa, is seen by many as the most beautiful of the Colombian Latinas. A famous Colombian saying goes: "If you want a pretty mistress, go to Cali, but if you want a beautiful wife, go to Medellin.

The Lake of El Penol/Guatape:

Outside Medellin Colombia approximately 30 miles in the mountains lies the city of El Penol. Bordering this city is the quaint little town and lake known as Guatape which was created from Colombia's hydro-electric damn that was built in the late 1900's. This quaint town is the gathering place for "Las Vegas", or the small farms of the area. It is also a growing area of recreation for citizens of Medellin, and aims to be a tourist destination for U.S. and European travellers.

Once the home of Pablo Escobar, the famous Cocaine drug smuggler and terrorist, it was a dangerous place for both foreign visitors and local population. Following his death at the hands of the Colombian government working with U.S. Special Forces, the Antioquian and national government sent security forces into the area in force to crush the paramilitary that once controlled life here. By 2004, the remaining military police presence has diminished drastically. With no paramilitary activity remaining in the area, the national police presence is now only necessary to ensure that they do not return. Escobar's home is now a bombed out shell that is easily viewed from the lake; a fitting testament to the life of a brutal terrorist.

Today, the peaceful highland region of the Andes mountains is a safe and beautiful. New resorts, several restaurants, and rental homes along the lake are available for visitors. A walk through the town of Guatape shows the obvious pride of those who live here; clean and well cared for.

The "Rock" that borders the lake is an unexplained geological phenomenon. With 2/3 of its height below ground, the exposed vertical face is over 200 feet high and visible from throughout the surrounding countryside. Visitors can scale the rock via a staircase built into one side. On the flat top of the rock, a restaurant offers outdoor tables overlooking vistas that stretch to the horizon in every direction.

New resorts currently cater primarily to Colombian visitors but hope to attract international tourists as the reputation for violence of the area is gradually realized as a thing of the past. A marina outside the town rents boats to visitors for use in touring the lake. Homes that can be rented by the week or month are also available, though there does not appear to be any easy method for finding these rentals.

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