Medellin for Christmas

I spent over five weeks in Medellin over Christmas and New Year (yes, I am a bit behind with my blog post writing) and had a fantastic time. It is blessed by a wonderful climate, most of the days I spent there were in the mid 70s with a light, refreshing breeze coming through the valley most of the time.

Nativity scene in Medellin shopping mall
Nativity scene in Medellin shopping mall

Living In Poblado

The apartment I rented was in the quiet, and rather posh, area of Manila, which is in the upmarket Poblado neighbourhood of the city.

Many people criticise well off tourists who visit Medellin and spend their time in Poblado, saying that they don’t experience The Real Colombia. I think that is fair criticism ……. but …….. I will be living a lot more simply while I am working in Palmira. Thus I excused myself a little luxury.

I did a lot while I was here, and I am not going to cover them all in one blog post, but here are my highlights.

Casa De La Memoria

Medellin’s Casa de la Memoria is a museum about the recent war in Colombia. It uses a range of different art forms to inform visitors about the war and its effects. They even had a spaced-out-camel nativity scene to promote the peace (see below).

Peace Nativity at Casa De La Memoria
Peace Nativity at Casa De La Memoria

One room told the stories of various combatants in the war, while another used a variety of art forms, including interactive digital ones, to tell a whole range of people`s stories.

It was very moving and, while it tells of a horribly sad recent history, it also looks forward in hope towards a better future.

Guatape

I took a day trip to Guatape. For once in Colombia there was no hill to climb. However, there was this freakishly giant rock with a concrete staircase built onto it. The views were breathtaking (as was the climb).

Standing on top of La piedra del Pe?ol in Guatape
Standing on top of La piedra del Penol in Guatape

Comuna 13

I went on a Graffiti Tour around Comuna 13. It is one of the poorer districts of the city and was previously known for being a dangerous place to live (or visit), in no small part due to the fighting between narcotraffickers and the military/police for control of the area

Motorcyclist and graffitti in Comuna 13
Motorcyclist and graffitti in Comuna 13

There has been a concerted effort by community groups to improve opportunities for local young people, including through Hip Hop schools and international graffiti competitions (some of the graffiti in these picture are by artists from outside Medellin and Colombia).

This has been backed up by the local council who have built the Metro out to Comuna 13, integrated a cable car up one side of the valley and outdoor escalators that go up the other side.

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art was only a short walk from the apartment and they had a large Antonio Caro retrospective on when I visited, which momentarily baffled me until I realised that he’s a Colombian artist with a very similar name to the British sculptor.

They also have a sizeable collection of works by Debora Arango, who was born in Medellin.

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Debora Arango painting in the Museo de Arte Moderno Medellin

I really enjoyed her work, which included a range of self portraits as well as paintings with a lot of social and political content, especially exploring the role of women in Colombian society. She had a really strong style that was realistic while still being distinctive.

There are many other interesting things to do and see in Medellin, from Downtown Walking Tours to catching the Metrocable up to Parque Arvi. While I was here I also spent my mornings learning Spanish at the Total Spanish school in the Parque Lleras area.

After a lovely time and at the end of nigh on six months of holiday I set out for Bogota, and work, at the start of January.

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