Comuna 13 graffiti tour in Medellín pictures

 Great times with great people in Comuna 13.

Great times with great people in Comuna 13.

The more I traveled, the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.
— Shirley MacLaine

I cannot think of a city that's been undergone a transformation as powerful as Comuna 13 in Medellín. For years it was considered the most-dangerous city in Colombia, if not the world. More than 6,000 murders forced locals to stay indoors... while the bullets, car bombs, and chaos ensued outside.

Because Comuna 13 was a difficult area to travel to and from, drug lords and crime flourished. From the 1980s to '90s, the neighborhood was controlled by gangs loyal to Pablo Escobar. Even after his death, the territory was fought over for many years.

The chaotic grip on the community was finally released when a specially-executed operation with highly-trained personnel cleared the area.

And now, several years later, the community thrives. Children play freely and families feel safe outside again. Vendors sell their wares and food to people passing through. The street art depicts the story of pain and triumph.

My eyes water when writing this because I imagine the pain people went through. I've never felt more connected to a culture than during my brief time spent in Comuna 13. I cannot possibly capture the memory, but the least I can do is share my photos.