I take a walk through the mid morning bustle of barrio los angels; a shop keeper splashes water onto the sidewalk, his pressed slacks and white shirt slightly damp with hard work- the sun has only barley risen- "buenas" he gently growls as i pass; a young girl in a red cellular company polo slings her backpack over her shoulder, her hair shines, her eyes move over the city like a steam roller as she heads down the hill towards to the metro, she is gorgeous and knows this well; a group of old men sit and sip tinto on the steps of plaza Ignacio, 500 pesos for un vasito, I sit, sip and listen to common. The city palpitates, it shakes in the jackhammer, it rumbles below the orange line, it sleeps on a cardboard mat wet with piss, forgotten and lost. The city whispers in the laugh of midmorning chistes giggled among students, grabbing a smile from a passing man.
Medellín lives. From las calles de comuna 13, to the heavy sigh of Prado and the booming streets of San Antonio, to the ferrerias, fábricas, la minorista y mayorista- Medellín dances with ghosts. Memories hidden in the corner of eyes and the gut bottom laugh of a empeñada lady.
I sit in the comfortably large apartment of my host- too large for one person. She keeps a cat for company, although she does not like cats. From the terrace Medellín, her red brick skyline, the trickle of a river, the green of embracing mountains catches the body and soul. It is another city that has taken me by the heart and forced me to look deeper into the human experience, deeper into my own experiences. A look at my flaws, my weaknesses, strengths, and desires; it is a ancient comunión, a modern endeavor, the art of travel. To speed across the planet, to become a migrant, a migrant of the soul, this is now my everyday.
A handheld microphone crackles in the afternoon lull, "Aguacates, papaya, platano, narajnas, aguacates grandes, papaya, piña"- reminding me of Kolkata, of Delhi, and the street vendors meandering through residential streets. Although in India the vocal acrobatics of the vendors were much more impressive, no microphone and yet capable of echoing down an entire street.
We lounge through the afternoon. I've crisscrossed this city from the north to the south, east to west, rich estates of opulent consumption to grinding poor nieghborhoods of enraging contrast. I buy produce and meat at the market. I sit with pensioners in the morning and sip coffee from plastic cups, I pass by windows catching my reflection I sometimes laugh: thinking again, as I did the first time, one morning on a way to a neighborhood cafe in tangier, "this is really my life!?" The absurdity.
If i could move from city to city every 3 or 4 months cooking diners for someone in need of chef, I would be very tempted to do so for a long, long time.
Last night we patron one of the increasingly popular cafes fashioned after the more bourgeois tastes of Europeans and gringos. I don't mind. Per usual my appearance, strangely spoken Spanish, and company draw side glances. I laugh loud, lean, and smile.
I'm told my Spanish accent is both good but strange and when I speak English people are thrown off. It sounds like the movies. I laugh. Loud.
I leave for México soon, la Tierra de mis antepasados, I am excited, nervous. I know that another taxi ride goodbye is in store. Something I have begun to become accustomed to.
Strangest days, beautiful people, in a wild world.
On the move
The global Vato Loko