Thursday, January 7, 2010

From DAS to art to juice in one post

As it turned out, I was in big passport trouble. I was an illegal alien, and DAS did not care that everyone told me it would be fine to go on to Medellin. Boy have I learned my lesson.

On Monday Ana and I went to DAS first thing, only to discover I had to return the next day with a filled out form, 5 pictures of myself, and photocopies of everything. So we ran our errands and continued on to Museo de Antioquia, an art museum. The square outside of it is filled with Botero statues. You know Botero? He's the artist that depicts everyone and everything as fat. Roundingly plump if you will. It's a lovely plaza, and a great place to people watch. We also picked up some local pastry. The art museum was fantastic. There was a wonderful exhibit of F.A. Cano, Colombia's most important artist. He worked at the turn of the century through the 20's I believe. He covered quite a few subjects. I tried looking for my favorite pictures (I had many) online, but no luck. There were a few other Colombian artists I really enjoyed as well, whom I'd never heard of before of course. Great museum experience. It was also great to be there with Ana who was an art major at university, so she could fill me in on a bit of Colombian art history. Luis Caballero, Debora Arango (first Colombian female to paint female nudes, got excommunicated for it).

We took the extremely clean and smooth metro back to the El Poblado neighborhood and met up with David to grab dinner. Then we met some Argentinian friends of his for drinks. I didn't know what they were saying most of the night, but I had a great time anyway.

The next morning was the day of DAS. Ana and I got there at 7. Ana is a complete saint. I don't know what I would have done without her help. She waited with me at DAS the entire day, went back and forth to the bank and to get yet more fotocopias, translated everything for me, and basically plead my case for me. Seriously. SAINT MATERIAL. It was an extremely frustrating day of hours of waiting, only to be told it would be a 3 day process and that there was no getting out of hundreds of dollars of fees. I was LIVID with Dennis. I recall the exact conversation when he said "We should really head over to Caperganau to get this passport business taken care of... oh naw, let's go to land and have a drink instead." I pulled out the tears, and maybe they helped because we miraculously got taken care of by the end of the day. Though I still had to pay $150 in fees. Freaking expensive sailing trip.

I was exhausted, but spent that evening running a couple errands and catching up with the internet.

I hope that when I think of Medellin, I don't recall DAS, I recall how the city looked this day from the metro at sunset. The metro runs above ground here, which is gorgeous. So much better than underground. You speed smoothly through the tops of buildings, spires of cathedrals periodically rising above the rest. Sunset never fails to amaze me, how it can transform any almost any scene into something beautifully different.

The next day I went to the Museo de Arte Moderno, but it was closed. Ah, let me pause and point out how much art is happening in my life right now! Remember Central America? Remember how in that entire land mass I didn't visit one art museum, go to one play, or do anything related to the arts at all? That's because there isn't really anything related to the arts. Art is really a luxury, one that Central America has, so far, not been able to afford. There was occasionally some traditional dancing, but nothing that displayed a real creative spark. It's been strange because so much of my previous travel experience has centered around art. Museums, theatre, street performances, architecture, what have you. Central America was all about natural beauty rather than human achievement. And I didn't realize quite how much I missed art until I stepped into that Plaza filled with Botero. In fact, this entire city really has its act together, and statuary/monuments are everywhere. Walking through that museum was like walking through a church. It was so refreshing to shuffle around the hushed halls, focusing on depictions of the past, evocative slashes of paint, beautiful testaments to the human body. Connection achieved without words or sound or a similar language.

Despite how much I love, and will always love, art museums, I do think they are somewhat bizarre. They will always be a comfort zone for me, BUT, doesn't it seem odd to contain these vivid, evocative, vessels of human communication in rectangles and hang them, evenly spaced, on a giant, sterile, white wall? Where people shuffle from one completely different work to the next in the space of seconds? Shouldn't these be out amongst the people rather than housed in a big warehouse of a building? I know, I know, when we set them apart like this they cause us to regard them more significantly, consider them a bit more. There is plenty of art out amongst the people, and our eyes commonly skip right over them on their way to the next street sign.

I am well aware I am contradicting myself, comparing an art museum to a church, a sacred space for me, dedicated to important things, and then tearing the use of them down. It's just interesting for me to think about.

I decided to take the metro line to the end and hop on a cable car. All within the price of one metro ticket. :) As I mentioned earlier, Medellin is in a valley, surrounded by steep hills, or shall we say mountains, on all sides. Little adobe houses climb all sides of the valley, and the metro system turns into a cable car system at the end to climb the slopes. So into a cable car I go, and I feel like I am in Willy Wonka's glass elevator. Except I obviously can't go any direction I would like, I can only go forwards and back. And instead of floating over what... London? I am floating over the slums of Medellin. But I've got to say, I've seen worse slums. These slums looked pretty clean and cheerful, comparatively.

Colombia's street food is fantastic. Unhealthy for the most part, with plenty of fried foods and pastries, but tasty tasty tasty. I try something new every day. Favorite thing so far: THE JUICE. JUGO! There are fruit stands everywhere ready to blend you up fresh juice at a moment's notice. And there are so many fruits here I have never heard of or seen before, it's kind of exciting to order a juice of something I have no idea if I'll like or not. The BEST when you're hot and thirsty. I will have juice every day while I am here and I will quickly grow used to it. After the barren lands of Central America where all the produce was shipped out, it is a delight to see a fruit stand with freshly sliced mango around every corner.

Speaking of food, why do I always feel absurdly happy and comfortable in a supermarket? Without fail, I'll run in to grab some aguacate for dinner or some bananas and bread for lunch, and I'll spend an hour wandering around, comparing all the different local arepas or candy or produce. And I'll end up happy no matter in what mood I came in. I find supermercados especially helpful when I'm feeling lonely and sad. This has got to be connected to my emotional eating challenges. The other day I was writing to a friend who just moved to NYC, and who is also a little lonely and sad. And my advice (other than to GET OUT and go see a free play or something), was first to go to the grocery store. What kind of advice is this? But seriously, to go and fill her pantry with good, delicious, wholesome food. Whole Foods is one of my happy places in NYC. I don't know why. But I love all the good choices housed there. I know that as a company they are not perfect, but they sure are trying a lot harder than a lot of other companies to do right by the environment and the human body. I love food. That's all there is to it. I admit it. But I love good food, not crap. Maybe it has something to do with homemaking/nesting. Creating a place for myself with my food. Claiming to the world, "this place is mine, makings for my dinner are here." Even if that place is just my backpack.