What a vibe this place has!
30.07.2009 - 07.08.2009 20 °C
Two weeks in Medellin and we are still really enjoying it without any itchy problems or hurdles.
Because it's so comfortable here I am scheming on how to return after our time with Chris in Peru and Bolivia.
School is going well although I still can't understand everything that people say to me. Our teacher, Yadi, is a beautiful, friendly lady and we are lucky to have her. The kids are still taking classes and Ariel is doing particularly well.
The Festival of Flowers has started and it's basically a two week party for the whole city. We attended the horse parade - sounds mild right, a few nice horses and riders posing, think? No, it was a huge party where they close the highway to allow 10,000 horses and riders to parade through the city. Onlookers line the street with coolers full of booze at the ready, music is thumping, and typical Colombian chests are heaving everywhere. I feel under dressed without a solid push up bra and seriously low cut skinny tank top! As we walked down the boulevard looking for a spot to sit, we are pulled into a family crowd that share their space with us. They are next to a Colombiano American family who immediately introduce themselves and handout coctails with grand toasts. By 6pm we are ready to head home although the party is still just winding up, what fun.
The next day is Sunday and we are ready for the Cyclovia since buying our bikes. Cyclovia is when Medellin closes traffic in one direction on Sundays on several major boulevards so cyclists, rollerbladers, joggers and walkers enjoy the city. We spend 4.5 hours riding the various routes and their terminus is crowded with prepared fresh fruit stands with accompaniments of juice, yogurt, ice cream. This is a wonderful lunch after a long ride.
We quick change at home and run for the metro as there is a national soccer game at 3:30 and we must figure out the ropes for attending this match and buying tickets. With the efficient transit and kind fans we are able to buy good tickets and we run into the gang from the Horse parade who usher us to their area in the stands. Soccer games are full of enthusiasm but strictly no booze. Which is a good idea since Medellin is playing Bogata
today. I have a funny feeling the Colombian team might not be in South Africa next summer.
Medellin seems really safe and it's hard to imagine this cities bloody recent past as the home town of drug lord Pablo Escobar. The kids and I take walks at night, have visited lower income barios, ride the metro frequently and never worry. There is a lot of security everywhere including the young army men who work the streets and metro and are dressed in non threatening uniforms as opposed army personel in other countries.
I am reminded of the violence that exist in this culture because recreation signs tell you "no pets, no barefeet, and no revolvers" are common. Wand mirrors are used under cars in parkades to look for bombs. And although you can bring your knapsack into any store without security worrying about stealing, they open it looking for guns. At soccer games everyone is frisked diligently for weapons. Every motorcylist must wear a vest with their license plate number in bold letters, your number should also be worn on your helmet as well. Most murders for hire are still committed by motorcycle drive bys and this help police identify suspicious people on the road. Although just like in Canada with our gun registry, I ask myself, would the bad guys follow this rule and probably not the day of a job?
Our friend Mike the Motorcyclist is here so we talk about his charity and his next project in Bolivia. We shall see what he comes up with and if we can help somehow. Another goal I had for South America was to do some volunteering but with Spanish and home school plus enjoying the sites I have not had time to give it a thought.
On a day off from school I treat the kids to a day of Science Centre, amusement park and the kids alley of the Festival of Flowers. Although we have enjoyed a few festival events it's really hard to understand where and when they take place as there is no English information at all. I guess part of the fun is waiting for things to happen or looking for them.
We attend two more parades as part of this festival but they are not as enjoyable as the horse parade. The grand festival of Flowers parade is beyond fun as there are several hundred thousand people here and we can't see a thing without grand stand tickets. How you get those, I never figured out unfortunately. There is also a lack of bathrooms which seems crazy for this many people. In order to get a good seat we showed up 4 hours early for the car parade and by the time it arrived I was ready to leave!