A Halo, History and Art in Medellin - Day 524
Another free walking tour; in downtown Medellin for the next 3.5 hours. The time flew by with halos, characters, curvacious statues and a brilliant guide explaining more about this fascinating place.
One of the first things we noticed was a ring like a rainbow around the Sun, called a Halo. Have you ever seen anything like this? We hadn't.
As we walked along the street, we saw men sitting at tables with typewriters. Many people either cannot write or have no access to a computer or printer, so if they need a formal letter or form typed, this is where they go.
At one plaza, retired men came to swap objects with their friends, another man was selling viagra, and a group of men gathered to have a jamming session. Such a fascinating place with so many characters.
Our tour guide Maribella was fantastic; great humour, very knowledgeable, and made the trip very interesting.
She enhanced what I researched the day before and explained that four key players caused the complexity of the Columbian chaos: the extreme-right the militia, the extreme-left, the FARC, the drug lords and of course the politicians. What a mix and a mess.
She talked a bit about Pablo Escobar but refused to say his name. If the locals heard it, they might get upset. Instead, she called him "he who shall not be named." Apparently, some other tours take people to his former home and paintball there. How distasteful. He was a murderer many times over. A few people think of him similar to Robin Hood as he gave 400 homes to the poor. But how many people's lives does a house cost?
As we walked around the city, Maribella pointed out sculptures and artwork that focused on the history of the Paisas (people from this area) rather than Colombia. The people have a stronger connection to the city than the country.
As we walked around, many people would smile, say " Hola" or stare at us in a bemused and friendly way. I asked Maribella "how come people seem so friendly, despite all the trauma?" She gave a beautiful analogy.
"It is like drowning, with your feet stuck in the mud and the water rising fast. You think you are going to die. Suddenly you see a branch hanging over, and you can grab it which gives you hope. When you survive, you are so happy."
After the tour, we returned to the Plaza Botero, named after the artist Fernando Botero who originates from Medellin. In 2000, he generously donated 23 statues for the City; each is worth about US$1.5 million.
I love his work, bulbous and comical with his signature style known as "Boterismo." After wandering around, we went to the Museo de Antioquia where we were offered another guided tour to view Botero's paintings. I was pleased to see that they were in the same style as his statues.
There were two large fantastic paintings of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI which he painted as his mother loved everything Royal. He even included her in one of the pictures peeking out from the doorway of their original home.
Sadly his four-year-old son died when a barrier crashed onto their car. Botero damaged his hand and nearly stopped painting, however eventually he was able to continue and one of his best paintings, which he gave to the museum, was his first after the accident, which was of his son.
Another fascinating day learning more about Medellin, it's people, art and seeing a Halo.