The Dark Side of Medellin Tourism: A Sobering Reality Check

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I was so hopeful I didn’t have to write another one of these, but here we are. Back in February, we had a scary trend of murders of tourists happening. There seemed to be a battle in the media over the root cause of these deaths. Things calmed down a bit after the US Embassy came to Medellin to calm the fears of the people here, but that just turned into something else entirely. I’m talking about this topic again in July because things have not gotten better, they have continued, but morphed. 

Public perception of tourists in Medellin

This is something that you have to factor in when deciding to come here. Right now, the perception is the same as it has been since last year – the male tourists coming here are visiting for three things – sex, drugs and parties. Something that the largely male tourist population has done nothing to change this perception. For the groups of male tourists that come here there is a wink-wink, nudge-nudge reason for visiting here. They want to say why they’re here but they don’t want to be seen as bad people. I want to tell you that the locals know why you’re here, and their patience is wearing thin on it. 

Anti-tourist sentiment is not only happening here, but it’s in full force in Mexico, Costa Rica and even Spain recently. It used to be that the “Ugly American” was the type of tourist that the world hated, but somehow, that net has been cast to not just anti-American sentiment, it’s just tourists in general, and that’s an alarming trend. Before everyone chimes in with some variant of “I’m on vacation, I can’t have fun anymore?”, the short answer is – if your version of fun is to be disrespectful to the culture where you are visiting, then no, no you can’t. This is being met with deadly results here in Medellin. 33 men have been killed this year, nearly passing the total for last year, and we’re only in July. 

But, I’m on vacation, I can’t have fun?

I need to speak directly to the men who are coming here to party and be Great Value Drake for a weekend, or the bachelor party bros. Your ego is going to get you in trouble here. Be honest with yourself, and if you are coming here for sexual tourism, stick to the strip clubs here. Plain and simple. How many men have been drugged at La Isla this year? None. It’s bad for business. If you are going to try and hook up with women, and you are using dating apps, going to clubs, picking up girls on the street, etc. you are literally rolling loaded dice with your life. I need you to listen to this tough love, and I need you to let this get past your ego, no matter what TikTok, IG and YouTube influencers are telling you – you are not special here. 

The name on the front of your passport doesn’t impress girls here, and if it does you need to get away from that girl immediately. The only way you as a foreign tourist is special is for what you can provide. For the women, that is sex, for the men that is money and for both that is possessions that can be robbed from you. Other than that, you are just another tourist to them. A fat fish that can be cut up. If you don’t think it is gonna happen to you, you’re not being realistic. There is such a miniscule chance for the girls robbing you to get caught, and they can get a year’s worth of salary for drugging and robbing you, so again, you and your life mean nothing to them. 

Another thing that is a rumor that I’ve been hearing for 5+ years, but now is starting to look realistic with the number of suspicious overdosing deaths over the past 2 months is that there is cocaine that is being sold on the streets in popular tourist spots that is tainted with various chemicals, meant to hurt you. Several people I’ve talked to about this have stated that it is laced with trace amounts of rat poision, finely crushed glass and many other things. For your health and safety, NEVER buy drugs on the streets. Never. 

Don’t Buy Drugs in the Street!

– Medellin.co Team.

Beyond this the popular drug here is 2CB – tussi, and even though the traditional media has sold it as pink cocaine, it’s not that at all. Drinking and taking tussi is a dangerous combination and if you take it and drink bad things are going to happen to you. In addition to that, if you do partake in cocaine here, and it’s not tainted, you are not only at elevation here, but the purity of the cocaine here is exponentially stronger than it after it’s been exported and cut tens of times when it’s exported. You are taking your life in your hands here. You’re not ready, and it’s becoming more and more obvious with the overdose deaths lately. 

Staying smart in Medellin

If you visit, I want to give everyone some bullet points to think about here. If you want to listen, great, if not, best of luck.

  • Don’t be in the streets drunk/high – If you are sober in Parque Lleras, Provenza, La 70, etc you are already a target for bad things. If you are drunk you just make the thieves job easier. Getting blackout drunk here makes it so much more likely that bad things will happen to you here.
  • Don’t flaunt expensive things in public – Your chains, designer clothes, watches, etc might help you get laid in the US, but here they help to get you robbed. Same goes for your cell phone. Your iPhone 15 Pro Max may be normal in the US, but here it might as well have a target drawn on it. Leave your expensive jewelry at home, and if you are smart, get a burner phone to bring out. Macbooks here are one of the things most stolen here, so while it may look cool to work at a coffee shop on Calle 10, the moment you open it, eyes are on you. 
  • Do what you can to not stand out as a tourist – There is a stereotype here amongst Colombians that tourists are easy to point out because they are all wearing “chanclas” (flip-flops, thongs, etc) and shorts everywhere. That is not a typical thing to wear, and if you are wearing the ‘tourist uniform’ you will stand out, and many times it’s not in the way you want to. Be comfortable, but try to blend in as much as you can.
  • Get a fanny pack – No matter how you feel about fanny packs, they are a safety item here. Wear it on your shoulder, and if you can cover it with a jacket, even better. This will save you from getting pickpocketed here. 
  • If it seems too good to be true, it is – There are tens of thousands of tourists coming here every month, and the scams here are very sophisticated. The scammers know what your deepest desires are, and use that to their advantage. Don’t get caught up. I hate to tell you this, that Tinder threesome you think you’re getting is going to end up so badly for you. 
  • No dar papaya – Essentially this is the overarching theme to it all. This is a famous Colombian phrase, which loosely translates to “Don’t give the bad people a reason to make you a victim”. It can feel like victim shaming if it’s said after a crime happens. So if you’re coming here, let me tell you right now – No dar papaya. Don’t stand out here any more than you already do. 

Getting home safe

I don’t want to victim blame, but if we dive deep enough it all comes down to the dark desires of many tourists coming here putting them in positions to be taken advantage of, or even killed. Look within, and if you’re coming here to be a narco-tourist, or a sex-tourist, don’t come. This city is not what you’ve been sold. It’s a gorgeous city, full of beautiful sites, incredible people and perfect weather. With that said, it’s also a very dangerous place, because it appears to be a place where your dark dreams and fantasies can be had at a fraction of the cost. YOU determine what version of Medellin you see. YOU will see whatever side of this city your desires want. Those idiot influencers that have tried to sell you on Medellin being a place where you can come to party and pick girls off the street by showing you a video with the hookers on Calle 10 are putting you in a losing situation. 

Be smart while you’re here. This is not a moral blindspot, and you alone have the ability to mold the opinion of the locals here. Don’t put yourself in a place to be taken advantage of. I know there is an epidemic of loneliness in the world, but coming here to alleviate this is going to cause you problems. 

Please share this article, I truly think this needs to be heard, and nobody else is going to tell you like it is. I’m tired of every other day seeing someone got drugged and robbed, or someone died in their hotel here. This nonsense has to stop, and if just one life is saved that’s a great start. Comment below what you think. I won’t censor differing opinions, I truly want to know what people are feeling right now. The media or the government is not here to help us, let’s help each other. Stay safe everyone. 

2 Responses

  1. Hey Steve,
    Well one again I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve been to Prague, and the Ukraine to name a few places. Both have told me they hate Americans because of them coming just for sex, and how they act. It sucks that I have had to apologize for my fellow countrymen. But, after that I noticed I was more readily accepted and even if you would watched over by the locals.

    Here while I’ve been in Armenia I’ve visited several other nearby cities. Met people from Ireland, Germany, Cuba, and the US. Most are exploring but still everyone needs to be careful. Let’s just say from some training and past jobs you never want to stick out. Granted when you open your mouth people will know your a foreigner. But why stick out more than you have to. Here in Armenia while walking downtown my lady said let me have your phone, she put in her bag and off we went. This was her way of looking out for me. So your comment about pickpocketing definitely hit home.
    Great article…

  2. Hello Steve, my name is Isaac a fellow American. You are completely right, these American come to this city as if they’re celebrities walking on the red carpet. I live here mow and have a salon and a fast food American sandwich restaurant. This is a great story and maybe we should do more for the few Americans that are insane and believe that they are untouchable.

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