Sep 3rd, 2008
After all that buildup…
I didn’t go to the family’s party. Sorry, Benji. I had the start of a cold that day and didn’t have the energy to try to hang with a 30+ member rambunctious family. Much less almost certainly drink a bunch of beer and end up getting locked in to spending the night.
I just didn’t have it in me and it’s actually pretty disappointing. There’s still potential for a future hang-out if they don’t feel too jilted, though. Time will tell.
Parque Poblado on a Monday Night
Parque Poblado is a five or ten minute walk from our apartment in Medellin. Tack another 5 minutes on that walk and you’re in Parque Lleras – which is Medellin’s Zona Rosa. Lleras is the nicest part of the city to go out in. Upscale, expensive drinks, expensive clothes, nice restaurants, bla bla bla.
I have quickly learned that there isn’t a ton to gain in Parque Lleras except for a mountain of eye candy that is certainly quite spectacular to behold, but also generally superficial. The place still has a good feel to it and I enjoy going there from time to time, but they’re more used to gringos and it doesn’t have as much potential for interesting things to happen.
Enter Parque Poblado. Poblado is generically described as where the “more alternative” scene hangs out. This translates to more cigarettes & Chuck Taylors, more economically-priced drinks, and lots more drugs. Drugs being sold, drugs being bought, drugs being done. Fat drugs, skinny drugs, drugs that climb on rocks. Also a generally much more interesting time if you enjoy observing the off-color and you’re not in to spending the night looking at rich models walking around. *ahem*
The Parque Poblado Setup
The park is not big like the Lima parks I got used to. It occupies a small block in it’s little section of Medellin. At the southwest corner of the park are four or five bars and restaurants tucked in to a little space off the park.
During the week when it’s not as crowded, everyone gathers in front of the few bars in the corner and drinks and talks on the sidewalks, occasionally taking short walks to smoke a joint or having a seat to unfold a 1,000 Peso note and grab a bump of coke.
I went there on Monday night and was happy to find Colombian English Teacher Pablo and Beck, who is actually named “Mark” and is an LA radio DJ that comes down to Colombia for four months out of the year and is the closest I’ve found to an American Borat in Colombia. He’s a smart guy with a hipster air to him, looks kinda like Beck, and enjoys hassling people.
Huffing and Puffing: Glue Kids Fight
We stood around and talked. Beck had me laughing as he light-heartedly hassled people and attempted unsuccessfully to talk to some cute girls. Pablo proudly spouted his usually-correct American English phrases and slang. A couple other Americans were there who stood with us for a while and seemed annoyed by everything. While we were inside the bar getting another drink, a fight broke out outside.
It was two glue kids. Young boys who were maybe about 15 years old. One of them broke a bottle, knocked the other kid down in the middle of the street, and commenced cutting his face up with the jagged edge of the broken bottle. Somebody pulled the bottle wielder off the other kid. Both kids stood up looking very dazed. Cut Face kept walking in circles, touching his face, and looking at the blood on his hands while a crowd of 20 people shouted at the two of them.
I was impressed and surprised at the mountain of shame and insult that immediately rained down on the two boys from the crowd. Even Cut Face received absolutely no sympathy from the crowd – only mocking and hateful comments. He looked like he might cry. However, I don’t think he would have cried because I’m fairly sure he had no idea what he was doing. He’s a glue kid and he was in his glue kid haze.
Teenagers + Industrial Solvents
In addition to the (relatively) normal Parque Poblado denizens, there are glue kids hanging around. I call them glue kids because they stand around in a detached haze huffing industrial strength adhesives and solvents. It’s really awful. It’s a disgusting and intensely bottom-of-the-barrel way of getting high.
They hover around, distant and cloudy, and huff glue. Take this girl, on the right of our group picture, for example. She had a 20 ounce Coca Cola bottle with a couple centimeters of glue in the bottom. She kept it tucked in to her oversized jacket and puffed on the fumes every other breath. The lights were on, but the house was completely vacant. She would switch back and forth from a void to angry and defensive.
I was taking this picture of our group and amiably told the random girl to get in the picture. I initially didn’t realize what she was doing and what was wrong with her until I started talking to her and caught a whiff of her breath. I was immediately repulsed by the awful, awful glue smell that hit me. People are not supposed to smell like that.
I moved away from her while she continued to hover around the group asking for money. Pablo started to get pissed off at her and, as Colombians seem to do to glue kids, rudely told her to get the fuck away from us. To this tone and suggestion, she grabbed a bottle from the trash and made a half-assed gesture like she, too, was going to break the bottle and attempt to hurt Pablo. Anytime she felt remotely threatened she made for the bottle. Pablo only got more angry and told her that if she tried anything he would kill her. Leave. Now.
She did not leave, but she put the bottle down. The Colombian girl in our group eventually took pity on her and bought her some food, against Pablo’s advice. Glue Girl left, floating off in one direction before she eventually randomly turned off down another direction.
I don’t really know much about inhaling solvents, but Pablo later explained that these people have no idea what they’re doing. They are obviously easily set off and aggressive when they’re high on glue. Additionally, I believe him that they are clueless about their actions. It’s sad and has such a hopeless and depressing feel to it if you think about it much.
That said, 90 percent of our night was smiles and laughter. Most people there are good people, the pushers aren’t too pushy and the scene is interesting. Parque Poblado is a good place to go.
Hot Girls + DJ Paul Van Dyk
I went to see a big electronica show here in Medellin which was headlined by Paul Van Dyk. Two Slovenians told roommate Brent and his friend Dan about it. As I’ve never been to a big DJ show before, I tagged along.
The music was good, if a little repetitive. I’d have probably enjoyed the actual music more if I knew some of the songs. The actual sound was really impressive – I couldn’t hear very well the next morning. The light show that went with it was the coolest part of theshow.
Noteworthy, though, was the crowd in attendance. At the risk of sounding sleazy, I will note that it was the absolute biggest collection of the most beautiful and hottest girls I’ve ever seen in my life. Hands down, no kidding, absolutely ridiculous. Everyone was hot, they knew it, and they dressed to make sure you knew it too. Brent said, “They all look like mega-hot porn stars.” We essentially stood or sat around in disbelief for half of the time we were there.
Brent and I actually had a conversation about how we would explain this scene to people without making it sound like we were exaggerating or blitzed – neither of which we were. “If I describe this like it actually is, people will think I’m making it up,” said I. We ended up deciding that, indeed, most people will simply think we’re exaggerating and overly excited about Colombia. Believe what you want, people, but it was silly. An eletronica show filled with models.
Slovenian Urine & Feces
Also in attendance were the two Slovenians guys who live in Colombia. We can’t remember their names (which are actually something remotely like Huron and Bouillon) so they have been dubbed “Urine and Borat.” Other variations include “Urine and Feces” or “Anus and Fetus” or “The Slovenians” or whatever else someone thinks of off the top of their head. Borat is the cooler of the two and Urine is the weirder one. That is Huron / Urine / Anus pictured to the right in another one of my favorite trip pictures. This is what he looked like while he was doing his hair. It was about the same when he was done doing his hair.
I think I actually had as much fun waiting in line as I did at the actual show. As per usual here in Colombia, everyone was really friendly and interested in talking to us. I met a brother, environmental engineer sister, and their friend and we talked for most of the wait. In the end, Brent and I found the show and the crowd to be overwhelming and left at around 2 to go play pool back in our neighborhood.
We saw Urine leaving in front of us, stumbling along in one of the more twisting walks I’ve seen. He was spotted earlier cowboying a fifth of Johnny Red and it seems to have worked.
All in all, it was a somewhat expensive night but it was a really interesting thing to see. Glad I went for the experience alone, even if I did just end up going to an almost empty pool hall with Brent at the end of the night.
Here’s some video from the event:
Where the Spanish Learning At?
Additionally, Brent and I have been going out each day in search of a Spanish class for him. We’ve gotten to see a few universities here, which have been entertaining and interesting. It doesn’t seem like we can leave the apartment without something interesting happening.
Get My Che On?
I’m still mulling over the motorcycle ride to Argentina idea. Unfortunately, any imported bike is about 40% more expensive here due to import duties. It’s a costly proposition and would potentially mess up the trip budget. I’d need something big enough to handle highway speeds, which means more cost. I also don’t think I can buy a bike without a Colombian national ID card.
The image I have of riding along to a perfect sunset in the countryside might be a little idealized compared to the potential reality of competing with massive trucks on small roads, police roadblocks, and rain in areas I’m unfamiliar with. To be determined.
We saw this flyer for a death metal concert called Darkblood Fest on Saturday and we’re (probably) going. Benji, consider this me (probably) making it up to you for dropping the ball on the family visit. I will go to your music. It promises to be ridiculous. We’re wagering how long in to the deep guttural screaming we’ll last. Highlighted acts include, “Bloodlust of Human,” “Sin and Grace,” “Screaming Your Name,” and (my personal favorite) “Her Body Naked and Dead.” Remind me to bring my earplugs.
More Racist Shucking and Jiving in Medellin
These two non-black Colombian men were dressed up in black face in the downtown area. There was a substantial crowd around them. When someone put a coin in their collection box, they danced liked this. Wow.
That’s all for now.
There’s a tiny flickr set here.