Where is John Lama? travel blog

My apartment building in the Poblado neighborhood of Medellin. I love how...

There is a construction boom here, with nice new buildings going up...

The director of my language school in Medellin was Rafael (on right)....

We took this MetroCable up one of the hills surrounding Medellin.

The city is nestled in a valley with a river running through...

One reason for Medellin's dramatically increased security is a very visible military...

These wild-colored buses are called chivas, and they used to be the...

This little cutie and I were at about the same Spanish skill-level.

This guy was dressed for a walk on the town.

I walked past this lingerie store, glanced in, and ... oh my,...

Wow! Nice shoes! This was also a great opportunity to learn some...

My classmates and I standing behind our director Rafael and our professor...

We had a field trip to the Museo de Antioqia which was...

The museum is located in downtown Medellin.

Saray is from Medellin, and according to her, it is good luck...

The statues of fat people are the work of Fernando Botero, Colombia's...

Photo of church is included as required by the State Department for...

The last thing I remember is this picture, and then I woke...

Federico is another one of our Spanish professors, to his left are...

Another day we took a day trip to a town called Santa...

The word for butterfly in Spanish is mariposa.

Ever wonder what that macro mode on your camera is for?

Apparently the butterflies like all these exotic plants.

This is a close-up of a pupa, which is the intermediate stage...

 

Lot's of good subjects for macro-mode here.

 

This is a really spectacular butterfly in person.

The girls are always breaking the rules.

Next stop was a home where people were preparing for the upcoming...

A main event in the flower festival is the Desfile de Silleteros...

This family is famous for creating elaborate and gorgeous flower arrangements, called...

Once I gave one kid a spin, they all wanted to do...

I love this photo of Marloes and her new friend.

Federico likes to kick back with one or two (or three or...

The house was packed with fresh flowers while the family and friends...

Even the statues on the silleteros are made of plants and seeds....

This is what a finished silletero looks like, and being carried in...

The traditional style of silletero looks more like a wooden basket filled...

Some of the newer style arrangements had contemporary themes, such as this...

I heard that many silleteros weigh over 150 pounds, and they are...

 

Women also carry these huge arrangements. The crowd is cheering them on...

 

 

Fresh mango. Yummy!

Several awards are given out for the best silleteros in many categories....

Not sure what this was about, but it was cute.

 

 

There were some bleachers set up at the end of the parade...

A fun "chiva" bus in the parade.

 

 

 

This woman and her blonde baby were standing next to me watching...

The last category were the silleteros "comerciales". Most large busineses in Medellin...

Even good old Coca-Cola participated.

 

Marloes and I got our professor Fabiola flowers on our last day...

Federico invited me to a school in the countryside where he teaches...

The school is on a farm (finca in Spanish), and the kids...

Did you know kids actually do play in sandboxes? I thought it...

Apparently the movie "An Inconvenient Truth" has not been released here since...

After class Federico and I went to lunch with another professor Diana...

Valentina and I had a ball together, and she didn't mind my...

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

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I was standing near the end of the Parade of Silleteros with...

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These people were exhausted since the silleteros are very heavy and they...

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There were a lot of traditional dancers in the parade.

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This is the view of Medellin from a condo I looked at....


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My last stop in Colombia is the city of Medellin, and it ended up being my favorite. Medellin is a medium-sized city cradled in a valley at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. This location leads to mild temperatures year-round, earning Medellin the nickname "City of Eternal Spring". But I think the city's best asset is it's people, known as paisas, who are known even among Colombians for their warmth and hospitality.

In the early 90's Medellin had the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of the world. President Uribe, himself a paisa, has been so successful in reducing crime that Medellin is now one of Latin America's safest large cities. Colombia's fashion and flower industries are centered in this area, and the economy is growing quickly.

I didn't realize how lucky I was to be arriving in Medellin right before the famous flower festival. The "Feria de las Flores" is a giant cultural celebration of the Antiochian region, and there are over 130 events held in the area over the period of a week in early August. There are concerts, art shows, and a cavalcade which this year included thousands of horses. The central event of the festival is the parade of large ornate flower arrangements called silleteros. Check out the pictures and videos I have included from the flower festival.

I rented an apartment in the upscale Poblado neighborhood for the month of August. Something about Medellin charmed me, and I can't point to any one factor. Yes, the weather is nice, the people are sweet, the city is big enough but not gigantic. I also like how green everything is, with trees and flowers everywhere. The Poblado neighborhood is also a comfortable place to stay, with nice restaurants and shops, but I still felt the excitement of experiencing a foreign culture while in Medellin. There is just some other factor I can't quite explain that has me wanting to go back.

The good news is I will return later this month (October), and several of my classmates are coming back as well. I guess I am not the only person who fell in love with Medellin.



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