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Old 04-26-2013, 03:41 PM   #204
porkandcorn OP
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Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Portland, Oregon
Oddometer: 296
medellín, colombia

wednesday, april 24, 2013

i've fallen in love with medellín. the mystery remains, but the fear is diminished. in the early 90's, when i was only in high school, this was the most dangerous city in the world. it is still dangerous today, but not so differently than many other big cities where we all have traveled. but it's alive, and vibrant, and unpredictable, and exciting. in some ways, i feel like i am helping the city to regain it's pride and it's dignity. a tourist would have been unimaginable here 20 years ago. and yet, here i am today, exploring the city like i have all the others.

monument, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

metro bridge, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

last night, a small group of people from the hostel took the metro about 6 stops north into central medellín to find a small salsa club. arriving at a small park, all eyes were on us. it's obvious from this attention that tourists are not incredibly common in this city. walking a couple of blocks, we found the spot. inside, a young, but extremely talented salsa band made infectious music while sweaty salsaleros fought for dancing space. i danced only once with a swiss traveler, and then was content to sit again the ancient, bare brick wall in the club, listen to the band, and think about where i was - medellín, colombia experiencing something to which no price can be attached.

salsa band, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

salsa band 2, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

salsa band 3, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i took a guided walking tour today and visited places where most people would feel very uncomfortable. the 25 year-old engineering student guide, working in his spare time for tips, showed us the sides of the city that made him proud and not so proud. we walked shoulder to shoulder with the real people of the city. on the bad side, we sat in parks with toothless and glue-sniffing transvestite drug-addicts, stood on the spots where presidential candidates were assassinated, and visited parks where pablo escobar set off bombs that killed sons and daughters of the city. on the good side, we saw war-torn slums transformed in to beautiful public spaces, school and libraries where there were once drug labs, and streets were legal commerce has overtaken criminal commerce. medellín is a fascinating and complex place, as is colombia overall.

tourist, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

downtown, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

church 1, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

after 4 hours, i was in need of a siesta. unfortunately, my right foot is hurting again, and my left achilles tendon is bothering me since the mountain hike in salento. the neck issues have worsened again, and i'm loosing sensation in my right hand thumb, index, and middle fingers - this means there is pressure on the nerve in my neck at the C3-C5 levels. i'm not happy about any of this, but in time, and after getting back to a normal exercise and eating routine in portland, i'm confident i'll be back to normal quickly. in the meantime, i seem to be in a bit of pain. luckily, and sadly, i think i only have one more days ride to reach cartegena. after this, i'll be coordinating the shipment of my bike, and then hopefully relaxing on the beaches of the caribbean for a week or so before my return.

lot's of mixed emotions in these final days, as is to be expected. the end of the adventure is becoming very real now. i spoke with my shipping coordinator, and we are planning to begin the logistics on the 2nd or 3rd of may in cartegena, colombia. i should arrive in cartegena on monday.

i've made peace with the end of this adventure. i was fighting it for a while - back and forth between thinking too much about the end and wanting to be home, and on the other side not yet ready to return to my life in oregon. now, i have settled into an acceptance, and am just trying to make the most of the days that remain.

old dudes, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

explaining to a friend some related thoughts, i said: i may be content now, i may not be tomorrow. i'm ok with that, and that's where the real progress has been made in my thinking. i've been up and down so many times in this adventure, that there is no longer capacity (or energy) for the drama that feeds the ego for good or bad. consequently, i can see through the fog. i hope to take that home with me.

wednesday, april 24, 2013

thursday morning, i hopped on the medellín metro system with some friends from the hostel. there are two major cable car/gondola lines in the city, both of which were built in the poorest neighborhoods in an effort to connect those people to the city. giving them transportation to and from the very sleep slopes where they have settled in the slums and shanty towns is the same as giving them opportunity.

tourists, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

tourists, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

medellín is enormous. these photos capture just a small fraction of the red brick building that fill the entire valley for miles and miles. gliding quietly over these neighborhoods, rocking slightly back and forth, you can see down into these people's lives. it's clearly a very challenging existence, and the poverty is striking. the crime in these neighborhoods can be very intense, and the violence moreso. there are some neighborhoods where people born and raised in medellín cannot enter, as they are considered outsiders and would risk everything doing so.

metro cable station, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

cable view, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

south cable line, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

cable view 2, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

slums, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

porkandcorn screwed with this post 04-26-2013 at 03:47 PM
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