Moravia, the vibrant neighborhood of Medellín that transformed its garbage dump into a garden



Medellín (Colombia), Aug 6 (EFE) .- Climbing to the top of its colorful hill and being embraced by the breeze is one of the many gifts that Moravia keeps, a vibrant neighborhood of Medellín that turned a garbage dump into one of the gardens largest in Colombia and in an unexpected tourist corner with a powerful story of transformation.

It is hard to believe that this place, covered with more than 70 species of plants and where bees dance on flowers, has been a mountain of garbage that exceeded 30 meters in height and had an area of ​​seven hectares.

“It is the icon of the transformation of Moravia because it tells the story of resilience, our processes and struggles in our territory,” community leader Cielo Holguín told Efe about the so-called “Morro de Moravia.”

To take a look at the past and enjoy the present, among photographs and posters that accompany the route through steep trails, a journey begins through the bowels of a neighborhood built by displaced people who settled in what was the municipal garbage dump.

A REAL AND AUTHENTIC PROCESS

The executive director of the Medellín Bureau, Sandra Howard, told Efe that this place has undergone an “authentic” process that is born from the base of its inhabitants.

“Moravia is the story of how a garbage dump, the most despicable place in a city, becomes a development hub for an entire community,” he said.

It is still a place of welcome. There, travelers are guided by local leaders with proposals for environmental and nature tourism; social and transformation and cultural, gastronomic and handicrafts.

From small houses made of wood, plastic and canvas, because this neighborhood has “a history anchored in recycling”, locals come out to interact with tourists, in an immersive experience so marked that, according to their story, a Dutch woman “fell in love” and he stayed for three months to give a photography workshop to the children of the neighborhood.

“Many people come here and want to know how it is possible that people have lived in the middle of the garbage,” said Cielo, also co-founder of Moravia Tours, which promotes sustainable, responsible and regenerative tourism.

The journey is fed by the stories of the community, ranging from the treasures found in the landfill -such as a gold chalice or mattresses with wads of bills- to the story of the young man who became an expert in repairing hundreds of watches that appeared in the rubble.

Another of the magical places in the neighborhood, full of works of social urbanism, is a nursery with more than 15,000 plants.

Succulents, orchids and bromeliads are carefully cared for by Elsy Torreglosa, a member of Cojardicom, a women’s cooperative in the Moravia neighborhood of Medellín.

“It was always my dream to have this wonderful place,” commented the leader and added: “(There) we can enjoy ourselves, have a picnic, stay one afternoon, hang a hammock, have fresh air and play with the children.”

THE POWER OF CULTURE

When descending from this artificial mountain, made of layers of garbage, the experience with nature contrasts with the most convulsed streets of the neighborhood, where the neighbors even share the pots and the smell of almojábana and Pacific food.

Music and art have their place: the Oasis Tropical stairs, a space embellished with painting, an open-air gallery thanks to an international co-production process.

There, between brick houses and with the street as a track, dancers from the Afro Power Urbano collective take the tourist into rhythms typical of the cultural diversity that inhabits Moravia, according to the artist Deivy Moreno, who impacts with dance and appearance similar to the footballer Djibril Cissé.

“There is a lot of art here. Although Moravia came out of the dump, there is a lot of talent here,” said the dancer, who leads a seedbed with children and young people.

Next to the soccer field, there is the ‘Via de la Transformación’, an inspiring place that exhibits creation with recyclable material and that later connects with the ‘Map of Moravia’, a mosaic that immortalizes the feeling of the neighborhood.

Another of the symbols of the neighborhood is the Moravia Cultural Center and its architecture that reinforces the sense of community.

The Moravites place it on the same level of importance as the garden, feeling that this space has also allowed them to flourish, being considered “everyone’s home”, where education, art and culture are the engine.

The undersecretary of Tourism, Ledys López, highlighted the community and creative tourism proposal of this neighborhood because it allows the visitor to interact with the community and its sustainability proposal.

“There are experiences from healthy eating, with vegetable gardens that teach visitors to cook and eat healthily,” he explained.

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