For a long time (from a foreigner’s perspective) when someone mentioned a planned visit to Colombia, it was usually accompanied by heeds of warning. When someone mentioned Medellin, old mate Pablo popped into mind. When someone mentioned Comuna 13… well now we’re just getting too specific.
However, talking to a Paisa (a Colombian born in Medellin) when someone mentioned Comuna 13 that’s when the real heeds of warning came up. There are plenty of good areas in Medellin, but avoid Comuna 13, if you can.
So obviously that’s one of the first places I went to visit.
dictator |ˈdikˌtātər| noun a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained power by force.
In 1973, Augusto Pinochet with the Chilean Armed Forces and the secret aid of the CIA, stormed into the Parliamentary Palace, La Moneda in Santiago, and overthrew President Allende. This Dictator maintained power until 1990, instigating 17 years of torture (as many as 30,000 people) and implementing economic liberalisation.
Disturbing right? But where does Valparaiso fit into this picture? And what has this got to do with graffiti?
Yes, but we can go a little deeper than that. To be honest, I have never been interested in America. It’s just a country full of concrete and too much international media coverage, right?
Yet I’ve come to understand America more than I ever expected. Despite living in Medellin, I have spent almost two months working for the American company, Publicize based largely around the Silicon Valley work culture. Also, at the beginning of the year I spent three days travelling through California. So I’ve learnt a thing or two about a culture I have never been interested in understanding.
I’ve been here in Medellin for over a month but I still feel like I am seeing so many things for the first time. This city alone has so much history, so many communes, so much diversity and so many places to see.
However, by now I should be considered an expat local, right? I had some German friends visit me earlier this week and it was my job to show them around -you know, the local tour guide. But before I become too familiar with the place, I want to remember how exactly it impacted me on my first month.
First of all – go with money. It’s Cancun! What are you doing there without money?
Technically I’ve been budgeting the whole year: staying in hostels, buying food to cook in the hostel kitchen, taking advantage of my friend’s house, busing around, catching an uber, even hitchhiking a bit. But Cancun is not really your “cultural” experience. Cancun is your holiday get-away. So that’s how it should be spent.