I had always imagined Medellin to be a dangerous city on the edge. After all the media was full of negative publicity and cliches. My first impressions changed all that. Right in the city centre is Barefoot Park- a public space for people to de-stress. How could I resist an hour exploring and how would this change my perception of Medellin and Colombia?
Built 14 years ago by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), Barefoot Park is next to the company HQ in the centre of Medellin. The park is divided into four sections and designed to give a natural reflexology foot massage and help workers relax. How lucky are those employees to have a free natural spa outside their office?
A seated bamboo area encourages people to sit in peaceful surroundings and relax for around 20 minutes. The surrounding paths are covered with small stones. Walking on these barefoot gives a reflexology foot massage- or so they claim! It felt remarkably comfortable and soothing as I walked along the path towards the forested area.
Groups of trees are placed on a grassy area encouraging people to connect with them and hug the trunks. The grass and trees gets rid of static energy built up by computers, cell phones and toxins. It reminded me of the importance of nature in our environment.
The next area was the sandy part with a maze of wood pillars. People can walk through them with their eyes closed using touch and instinct. Eucalyptus trees grew nearby and leaves were scattered round. “Pick one up and scrunch it,” said my guide, The scent was uplifting.
Finally the water element consisted of dipping my feet into a cooling pool . It was refreshing and I felt quite relaxed from taking time out to chill a little as the water lapped around my feet. After all the walking around the city I think my feet enjoyed it too. And I felt energized and ready to enjoy Medellin.
Medellin is known as one of the most innovative cities in the world and it was heartening to see how small changes in the city opened up spaces to create a positive living experience. Maybe every city should have a Barefoot Park for its residents to support health and wellbeing.