Barefoot Park, the novel, takes its name from Parque de los Pies Descalzos or Barefoot Park, located in Medellin, Colombia. Nikki Martinez, the protagonist who is an American woman temporarily working in Medellin, visits the park with Eduardo Duarte, a Colombian medical doctor she finds herself falling in love with, at least until she is kidnapped and questions whether he might be the mastermind behind the sinister plot threatening her life.
The namesake for my novel, that is, the real park lies in the heart of Medellin’s commercial district, providing a respite for people, especially children, to kick off their shoes and splash through fountains and wading pools. One part of the park gives kids the experience of fording across a shallow brook in a countryside environment while another area gives way to a large patio lined with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. Built as an oasis for relaxation in the midst of urban sprawl, the park invites visitors to go barefoot and enjoy a connection with nature as their feet sink into sand as they walk around the sandbar edges of water fountains and feel the gentle mist from those fountains. A gentler adventure is available to meditators and weekend Tai Chi warriors in a Zen garden, hidden behind a fence of live bamboo plants, where practitioners contemplate balance and harmony without the intrusion of large crowds or the shadows of tall buildings.