Arriving at the airport in Rio Negro, I wandered around unsure of what the next step was. Embarrassed by my Spanish I decided to follow a group of people onto a bus that was headed to what I hoped was the city center. The sun slowly set and the lights of the city greeted me as the bus descended the hills in the dark. The sprawl is truly overwhelming and makes one feel as if they are entering into the jaw of a monster. As the bus dropped all the passengers at the stop on San Diego, taxis had lined up to shuttle us to our destinations and three dollars later I found myself at Ivy Hostel meeting up with other fellows from the program Heart For Change. We had decided what better place to meet up than in Medellín, “The City Of Eternal Spring”.
The first thing that you notice is that it truly lives up to its name. Every day the weather was a beautiful mixture of not too hot and not too cold, with light showers occurring throughout the day. As a result, the people who live here seem to be filled with a sort of renewing energy and happiness to match. It is incredibly easy to navigate the city with a wonderful, easy to use metro system and with cheap taxis it is simple to move through it efficiently. Our itinerary consisted of the typical tourist destinations such as the cable cars and the botanical gardens and then sprinkled in with some night life in Parque Lleras and the underground salsa bars of Laureles.
These were great experiences and I would highly recommend them to anyone who visits, but we wanted to find a way to remember the trip in a different sort of way so we all decided to find a place to get tattoos. It took a bit of convincing but we decided that if we were to stumble upon a shop we’d take advantage of the opportunity. I took a chance visit to the local electronics mall where we chanced upon a two story tattoo parlour called “Exotic Tattoo” decorated in the classical sense with the old school chairs and retired needles decorating the walls as 90’s hip hop videos played in the background. My friend and I attempted to explain what we wanted in Spanish questioning the quality of our decision to get something permanently placed on your body by someone who may not even understand what you want. As horror stories played through my mind, Pablo, a resident artist came down and spoke to us in perfect English that he had learned from listening to music growing up and instantly upon hearing of my idea became excited and started saying how he was going to make it and me in turn “beautiful”. We scheduled the appointment for the same day and an hour later I was sitting facing the mall as he began going to work. I have to say Pablo’s professionalism and attention to detail was better than anything I had anticipated and the amount of pride taken in his work was apparent to all the other patrons as they gathered staring as he worked. Two hours later he presented the final product and he thanked me for letting him work on this idea. The city of Medellín will forever be a part of me and I couldn’t be happier.