Comuna 13, Y Mas Medellin

The end of the month was filled with tourist things, given as the beginning had a lot of local touches and a taste of home (complete with an island vacation). Getting back to reality (or whatever it is that I live) meant catching up on work for the rest of the week and taking it pretty darn easy. Which is why this post will be the end of my Colombia adventures (for now). Also, because I'm so behind and trying to catch up AGAIN. I swear when RY ends I'll have all the time that I would be spending bonding with these amazing humans to, instead, sulk in self-pity and blog 24/7. Until then, I'm recapping my days and living as much as I can with them IRL. ANYWHO, the rest of my month went like this. I:

  • took an awesome tour of Comuna 13, a neighborhood that was known as one of the most dangerous in Medellin, (in a city that was also named "Most Dangerous City") as recently as 5 years ago.
 
 

Short History Lesson:

Known for many drug and gang wars, Comuna 13 was once controlled by several people that had close ties with Pablo Escobar. (Therefore, SUPES dangerous. Obviously.) Cut to Operation Orion, which was carried out by the Colombian government. "You know what'll fix this?" they thought? "A STRIKE!" Negative. Over 1,000 policemen, soldiers, and aircrew in helicopters attacked the area (comprised of roughly 100,000 people, and it did NOT go so smoothly. Nine people were killed (three of which were kids), and HUNDREDS were wounded. The siege made it impossible to seek medical attention for the wounded, and the community decided that enough was enough - a woman, who started an amazing movement, waved a white rag out of her second story window (which I actually saw on this tour). Others saw her, found any piece of white fabric that they could, and joined in. By the grace of whatever power that was watching over these actions, the fighting stopped.

Cut to now...

Street Art covers the neighborhood, depicting both scenes that remind the people of the hardest times that they've faced, as well as visions of peace, love, and camaraderie. There's clearly been some serious progress since then, and we got to take a tour with one of the neighborhood's own, AND an awesome graffiti artist, Chota!

Chota (Follow him on insta!) is amazing and self-taught; his signature piece is faces, but he does tons of other beautiful stuff. Check out some of his (and some other) art below. 

 
  • were taught graffiti techniques (that we clearly nailed), walked around, painted aprons, met a baby turtle, and took the awesome public transpo back to our neighborhood. It was an amazing day!
  • worked from a coffee shop (which didn't actually work out because the wifi was terrible) downtown in the Art Museum. We sat outside, all ready to open our laptops and...it started pouring. Everyone then ran inside, trying to save their precious computers, but Margit and I said 'screw it' and bought tickets to the museum instead. The Botero exhibit was what we wanted to see, and we definitely saw it - and reenacted it. Fun fact: I've mentioned Botero in a previous post, but if you didn't read it, all his paintings of people are very...fluffy. He says that they're not fat, they're basically just so full of personality and character that he's enhancing it. Ok, Botero...
  • had an awesome goodbye party at the finca (a piece of property) of one of our city manager's family members (which was so super nice). I hardly took any pictures because this is when technology decide to completely turn on me (more on this later) and my phone wasn't working. BUT here are some from my friends; it was also an amazing day. We slipped, slided, drank a bunch, and some even worked, thanks to wifi hotspots!
  • Played our final tejo game: the one that would determine the tournament champion. Statistically, we were up - we just had to close it. But that wasn't good enough for our team (or me). The first game went well. We won. On to the next - my first turn in the second game I pulled out a 9-pointer - the center AND blew up an explosive. BOOM. We were in the lead by a lot. The rest of us went and I was up again...and somehow, someway, the tejo gods were into me that night - I got another 9-pointer and won the entire game and tourney for our team. And just like that, two turns in, it was over! And now, I can never play tejo again. If you'd like a photo with me please send inquiries to tejochamp@gmail.com (jk I don't own this email address). Here's our group pic - I got MVP and won a giant handle of Aguardiente (which was obviously shared among the group). 
  • did the Medellin walking tour on the last possible day with a few peeps. Walked around some shady neighborhoods, saw the downtown area, walked through a very old building that is now a mall (DAMN CORPORATIONS! but it's ok bc it helped the neighborhood) and got my last fill of Colombia in as far as "tourist attractions" go. 

And that's a wrap on Colombia. Two incredible months in a country that I knew nothing about, and it completely blew me away. (ha, ha.) But seriously. This place was incredible. I'll definitely be back. But until then, it was time to see what a world wonder, a mountain of colors, and the seaside had in store for me in Peru. Adios, Colombia - te amo mucho. 

Freelance writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Traveling the world with Remote Year 6, living in a different country every month. Currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and probably drinking craft beer.