colombia


Crossing the road in Medellin | Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

In case my previous post about Medellín wasn't lengthy enough for you, here's an entire post dedicated to the art of pedestrianism in Medellín.

Forget the Venezuelan tanks massing on Colombia's border, or Rafael Correa's General Hospital-ish scowl at accusations of ties to the FARC. The true threat to all of Antioquia's fine citizens comes from within.

In my travels as a mainly bike-riding, trail-hiking, city-walking spectre, I've come across more than my share of close calls with close cars. During my bicycle tour of Cuba in 2005, an oncoming, swerving 50s Chevy narrowly missed sending me into a drainage ditch at the side of the carretera central at 6am. In Budapest, for the World Science Forum last year, the narrow streets and confusing signage had me hugging the sidewalks more than usual, and I'm sure I've annoyed more than one London cab driver by not looking at the right side of the road while crossing, but instead trying to read the faded paint signage on the asphalt instructing me to ``Look Right ->''.

Ahh, London cabs. The kind of car that only looks cool if someone is leaning out the back window firing off a Tommy Gun. Otherwise, they're just lame. The identical-looking drivers who all dress like not-so-distance relatives of Mr. Peanut don't help.

Perhaps I'm just spoiled because I live in Quebec... home - along with the United States - to some of the most courteous drivers you've ever met. Or maybe there's something about the Colombian driving psyche that gets lost in translation when you try to understand why they speed up instead of slow down when a pedestrian appears on the horizon. Whatever it is, the fact of the matter is that your average Colombian driver makes a monster truck demolition derby look like a canine fashion show.


The real Pilsen billboard. | Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

This was the original Pilsen ad in the Medellín metro stations, until they pulled it when girls started falling over into the train tracks, mesmerized by the men in the advertisement. Especially the second one from the left.

Every hero deserves a Pilsen - some of us deserve seven.


Medellin-The Good, The Bad, The Beautiful | Friday, February 1st, 2008

As per my usual modus operandi, I'm writing about Medellin after I've been back in Montreal for a few days. The various memories in the 16 or so months I spent on and off in The City Of Eternal Spring have had enough time to soak amongst the various synapses that connect them to each other. I'm going to write about some random, disjointed events I happen to remember from my trip, and then some overall impressions on the city and the country. I will limit my thoughts to those lucid enough to make sense when written down. This generally - but not always - excludes those wherein I'd already consumed a certain amount of Club Colombia or, more unfortunately, aguardiente.


To baby powder and fireworks... | Monday, December 24th, 2007

... from cocaine and hand guns.

So, Medellin, Colombia is a pretty hot place. Not temperature wise though, the weather is quite perfect all year round from my point of view.

Like I'd mentioned, we found a pretty sweet flat up in the El Poblado barrio of Medellin (if you're in Montreal, think economic scale of Westmount but urban development style of Ville St-Laurent). We've got 2 nice bedrooms (I let David have the master room, since I'm such a caballero and all), 3 (!) bathrooms, and a nice full kitchen, along with a big, shared dining / living room and a couple balconies. It costs not much more than a third of what a place like this could cost in Montreal, I imagine.

After having settled in some, I was able to get (finally) getting some work done, when all of a sudden my laptop stopped charging. Turns out the power supply for this $120 Toshiba Portege overheated, and I spent the next day or so trying to find a place that could help me, finally giving in and paying the $80 to a repair shop for 10 minutes of work in the Monterrey shopping center down by El Poblado metro.


No Snow Here. | Thursday, December 13th, 2007

A few days ago, we had some considerable snowfall in Montreal. It came down pretty hard and didn't let up for nearly three days. I probably ended up shoveling 4 or 5 normal snowfalls worth of snow, some light, some heavy.

As the first real snowstorm of the season, it was enough to shut down most schools and non-essential services. While this didn't affect me directly very much since I can work from home, the indirect effect turned out to be that I ran into lots of my neighbors who I hadn't seen in ages, shoveling the fronts of our homes together.