Sunday, November 21, 2010

Magical Medellin

Roger had some meetings in Medellin, so I tagged along for a couple of days.  I love the warmth of Medellin, tree lined streets of El Poblado, and the less frenetic pace.  Unfortunately, traffic was more congested this time because of a landslide on one of the main arteries leading out of the city.  Newspapers are making the analogy that is another "Katrina" because of the government's lack of support and the number of people who have died as a result.  It's staggering to think that such a beautiful city of 3 million still has a dark side with over 1500 murders last year.  Having said that everyone from taxi drivers to locals assure us it's localized for the most part in the barrios and confined to the drug world.

The city is in full swing in preparation for Christmas, and their internationally renowned Christmas light display.  I hope we get back to Medellin in time to see it, as I've heard it is outstanding.

We went to a trendy area called Parque Lleras for dinner one night with Craig, Roger's Operations Manager from Australia.  The atmosphere is electric and fun to walk around.  The plaza was lit up for Christmas, and it indeed, looked magical.

Desserts at the Basilica were all fabulous but I think my Creme Brulee was the overall winner.
The always present statue - the Virgin Mary in the middle of Parque Lleras

We checked out one of the modern malls in El Poblado, called the Santa Fe.  The huge glass roof can be retracted on sunny days, and a skating rink has been installed for the Christmas season.
Sante Fe Mall, El Poblado, Medellin

The view of Plaza de Botero from Museo de Antioquia
Aside from the great food and shopping the highlight of my trip was meeting a wonderful taxi driver, called Oscar Osorio.  While Roger was in a meeting, I hopped in a cab at the hotel to go to a mall, and as a result, found a friend.  Oscar doesn't speak any English, but he's a good driver (bonus) and somehow he understood me. I told him my name was Maria ("Heather" is just too difficult for most Spanish speaking people to pronounce), and that I was from Canada. 

He gave me his card, and he told me when I needed him, I should call and say, "Soy Canadiense Maria", and he'd come right away. He did.  Over the two days he took me various places and when it came time for him to drive Roger and me to the airport, he pulled a bag out of his glovebox and gave it to me saying it was a gift to remember Medellin.
This gift, from a man who works 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week to support his family of 4 touched my heart.  And while Oscar gave me the gift so I would remember Medellin -- it is Oscar that I will remember.

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