Eat with locals in Comuna 13, Medellin
Your Colombia adventure starts here
Eat with the local women of Comuna 13 in Colombia
On this Comuna 13 neighbourhood tour, you’ll uncover the transformation of Colombia in microcosm. At the height of Pablo Escobar’s drug reign in the 1980s, his home city of Medellín was considered the most dangerous place on Earth. But since then, the so-called “City of Eternal Spring” has undergone a remarkable rebirth, in a transformation best summarized by the colourful hillside barrio of Comuna 13.
Once the domain of violent cartels, this area has been turned around by activist Paola Rivas (something of a hero in Colombia) and other local women via their collective social enterprise Berracas de la 13, which aims to support and empower the community through workshops, from female entrepreneurship to mental health and handicrafts. Its aim is to help the people of Comuna 13 escape a legacy of violence with projects that bring tourists into this one-time no-go area.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
The Comuna 13 tour in Medellín is a rare opportunity for Flashpackers to meet the incredible women behind Berracas de la 13 and hear first-hand their stories of renewal and strength. From single mums and domestic violence survivors to characters, such as Paola herself – a drug-war widow who was one of the first people in Comuna 13 to win a university scholarship – you can’t fail to be inspired by the tales of courage behind this formidable women-led collective.
As part of the tour, you’ll get to know these brilliant community leaders as they show you how to cook a traditional Colombian meal before you all sit down to share lunch together in Berracas de la 13’s legendary restaurant. From bandeja paisa with red beans and chicharrón (fried pork belly) to empanadas, casseroles and catfish with coconut rice, this is authentic family fare at its finest. But it’s really the spirit of the place, led by the vibrant Paola, that makes the experience sing.
WHAT OUR COMMUNITY SAYS
“Once upon a time, the people of Comuna 13 knew only violence and guns. We had no aspirations.” says Berracas de la 13 founder Paola Rivas. “Now, the community has transformed. It’s taken thousands of strong female leaders to get to this place.”
First-hand Flashpacker and Alonement podcast host, Francesca Specter, agrees: “A sense of joy emanated from the kitchen when I visited. Women wore traditional Colombian dress and laughed and joked among themselves while cooking. The restaurant interior was a celebration of femininity, with a beautiful mix of murals and artistic objects. The whole thing felt like an example of how color and community cheer can be an act of defiance in itself.”
HOW TO BOOK IT
This Comuna 13 experience and neighborhood tour in Medellín is bookable as part of Flash Pack’s Best of Colombia adventure, which also features salsa dancing, rum tasting, coffee making and a private boat trip around the idyllic Rosario Islands.
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