Eternal Spring in Medellin.
In Episode #19 Lainie & Miro share the beautiful city of Medellin, located in the heart of the Aburrá Valley in Colombia. Also meet 5 travel bloggers, via twitter connections & listen to what happens at a tweet up armed with an 11 year old and a microphone.
After Lainie & Miro left Santa Marta and Taganga, they took an 18 hour bus ride to Medellin. They were greeted by a beautiful modern brick city. Since they arrived, they have been exploring the city, enjoying the amazing weather and being welcomed by the wonderful citizens. Miro and Lainie even found their story featured in a local newspaper called Gente.
“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.” And our hearts have been touched by Medellin Colombia, a city famous for eternal spring.”
Medellin, located in the heart of the Aburrá Valley, one of the more northerly locations of the Andes, in South America. The Medellín Metropolitan Area produces 67% of the Department of Antioquia’s GDP and 11% of the economy of Colombia. Medellín plays an important role in the regions economy because of the universities, academies, commerce, industry, science, health services, flower-growing, festivals and nightlife. The city is unique in many ways, including the friendly people, the eternal spring-like weather and the infamous history. Medellin is also the birthplace of artist Botero and as we’ve become more immersed in the city, we are noticing just how much culture exudes from Medellin.
For more on Medellin, visit the wikipedia page here.
History in Brief
Medellin was founded in 1616 by Spanish explorer and conquistador Francisco Herrera y Campuzano. The city’s name was changed to Medellín in 1675 and was granted city status in 1813.
Over the years, Medellin, became a major center for commerce and industry, particularly in textiles, making Medellin the fashion capital of South America. Medellin is also the birthplace of the popular Latin American artist, Fernando Botero.
Botero is an abstract artist in the most fundamental sense, choosing colors, shapes, and proportions on a grand scale. Lainie & Miro visited a sculpture garden with dozens of Boteros, and the museum featuring his art. They were overwhelmed by the hugeness of his figures, both from a 3 dimensional form and in his paintings. From the permanent exhibition of Botero’s work, the question is presented outside the entrance to the multi-room gallery with dozens of his paintings: Why does Botero paint fat people?
In reply, the gallery explains to it’s visiters, Botero does not portray fat people, they are expressions of volume. Fruit, landscapes animals and peopele, just about anything, it he creates has a deformation to exalt volume.
And the Boteros do indeed express volume and can be found scattered throughout the city, somehow fitting perfectly within the Medellin landscape.
Medellin’s Dark Side
However, there’s a darker side. Unfortunately Medellin is remembered by many for it’s recent history of violence, once being thought of as one of the most dangerous citys in all of South America. Several decades of violence are responsible for this perception.
In 1994, Colombia’s World Cup soccer player Andres Escobar was shot dead outside a bar, shortly after returning from the World Cup. The Colombian team was out of the tournament, after he accidentally scored a goal for the other team. Escobar, who was 27, was shot 12 times as one of the gunmen shouted, ‘Goal! Goal!’”
The most notorious, and responsible for Medellin’s former reputation as the world’s capital for murder, kidnapping and crime comes from the reign of drug lord, Pablo Escobar, no relation to the soccer player. Escobar’s cartel was responsible for countless deaths in the 1980s & 90s and the reign of terror paralyzed the community.
Pablo Escobar was captured in 1982 and an entire prison was built specifically for the “the billionaire godfather of international cocaine trafficking.” This prison, however, actually has more similarities to a 4-star hotel than to a jail.
In July 1992, Escobar escaped, and was killed in a dramatic rooftop shooting. However, some believe he is alive today, investing some of his riches in expert disguises, fake passports and identification.
Side note from Lainie & Miro: we are not intending to present these stories to portray a culture fear. These stories are a part of the city’s history just as Al Capone is a part of Chicago’s history. Miro and I always find the human condition fascinating and have hope that humanity can learn from it’s past. We come from Los Angeles California and used to live in the downtown area a place many people fear. In the 15 + years I lived there, I never had a problem and I don’t anticipate having a problem anywhere else in the world. We are looking at Medellin’s history only from a point of fascination and intrigue, and are not suggesting it is a place to fear.
Our experience of Colombia and of all of Central & South America does not match any of the images that are portrayed in main stream news. In the states we are meant to fear the Latin American countries with “scary histories”. But what we have come to know and experience is the exactly opposite of that experience.
People throughout Central and South America are amazing. They have an resilient spirit and for the most part are welcoming and friendly. It has been such an honor to get to know many of them over the year and a half of our travels.
Bottom line is, the world is a safe place and this is exactly our choice on how Miro and I choose to experience it.
And we do.
Travel Tweet Up
Lainie has recently become more active online through social media, and twitter. As they’ve been traveling, they’ve tried to create a borderless community, often what they refer to as a global community.
When Miro and Lainie were invited to join a group of travel bloggers for lunch, all who happened to be in Medellin Colombia in one single afternoon, the pair was excited.
Episode #19 features and interview between Miro on the travel bloggers. Then, something special happens, they turn the tables on Miro and ask him a few questions too.
From left to right: Roman Steiner, Scott Kobewka, Lainie Liberti, Erin McNeaney, Simon Fairbairn, Yef Iksel, Mike Manning, & Miro Siegel
Meet the Travel Bloggers:
Simon & Erin
Podcast #19 Sponsor
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Miro and Lainie are still in Panama and will remain there throughout the holidays. Sometime after the new year, they will venture into South America and continue their journey southward. They have been reaching out to all of our contacts and asking for references for conscious communities, eco- villages, sustainable farms and volunteer opportunities. Lainie loves working with children, Miro loves working with animals and neither of them have ever worked on a farm, but they’re open to whatever opportunities come their way. Their desire for the first few months of the new year is to participate , volunteer their time and energies. Lainie would really like to be part of an intentional community, one that practices mediation, lives consciously and gives back to the surrounding community, helping to make locals lives a little easier. They are putting it out into the universe and making it known. If you have any suggestions or contacts for us in South America, please don’t hesitate to send off an introduction. They plan on be posting all the organizations they are considering after the beginning of the year so you can participate with their decision making process.
We want to take a moment to thank a few peoplewho have contributed to our travels. Your donations have helped cover our travel expenses and for that, we are so grateful! The people who have contributed to Raising Miro are: Scott Van Pelt, Sashya Amee, Ivan Amador, Heather on Her Travels, Bradford Akerman, Tuan Vutran, Terrance O’Dowd, Eric Hammond, Chip Jacobs, Billy Horn and Sonia Kim. Thank you so much! Your support is heart-felt and much appreciated!
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To those of you who have supported us so far on this journey, the donations we’ve received and the wonderful words of encouragement. Thank you all for your comments and feedback, and please keep them coming. Thank you Hanna for giving us a wonderful professional boost with the intro & outro, engineered by Hanna Jakobson, music “Multilayered Timbres” by Dr. Pimp courtesy of CC (creative commons) license.