As a travel hipster, Medellin is a place I’ve never been interested in visiting. It’s probably the most popular white person and ex-pat destination in Colombia owing to convenience, temperate climate, great infrastructure, lush flora and legendary, beautiful women. Without a doubt Medellín is the prettier, daintier little sister to the hulking, dirty mass of my-favorite-Colombian-city, Bogotá. So while I have been able to avoid it for sometime it was too easy to spend two days there on my way back from Santa Marta en route to Bogotá. In preparation, had so many reasons to be unimpressed.
The best way I can describe Medellin is “Colombian Disneyland”. If you walk into a café in Poblando, aka Gringo Central, it’s not unlikely to find everyone there is an American. The city has been the beneficiary of a lot of post-Escobar foreign and local investment (Bogotá is a little sore that the money set aside to build its subway went instead to Medellin’s metro and Bogotá got stuck with the much-detested TransMilenio instead) and from where I have been in Colombia thus far it’s the most cush.
Back when I was in Barth-a-lona I lamented the city’s infatuation with its own Antoni Gaudi, at the sight of whose work my soul hemorrhages. Medellin takes a page out of that book in utilizing every opportunity to showcase Fernando Botero‘s works. Like Gaudi, Botero has an atypical style celebrated for being so unique. Both a painter and sculptor, he works at gigantic scale and his creations are always bloated, obese caricatures. His paintings are beautiful if only for their craftsmanship: the color and brushstrokes (invisible) and simplicity but the subject matter seems purposefully disgusting.
Here’s a good example named La Familia depicting a father giving attention to a cat instead of his two daughters, one of whom mirrors his action with a doll of her own (will the cycle continue?). Mother/wife in turn pets Father/husband like the cat — the only sort of familial responsibility seemingly being the outstretched hands of the off-canvas servant providing coffee. Everyone is morbidly obese – something I infer to suggest that surplus of comfort is itself ugly. In the background flies hover over what must be rotting meat — or you know, this family.