I’m sat in the food court of a shopping centre in Medellín. In front of me a woman – early 50s, pretty flowery dress, long, dark, glossy hair, pale, carefully made-up skin – is sending a message on a pink phone. Next to her is a little one-year-old, cushioned in a pink and brown pushchair that looks so ridiculously comfy I’m tempted to jump in there myself.
To my left a more elderly lady is on the phone. She has darker skin, slicked back black hair that’s greying around the temples; two reams of pearls flow around one of her wrists, a gold bracelet round the other, and a thick silver chain sits around her neck. She’s dressed in pink.
Sandwiched between these two women is a couple, both also wearing pink (there seems to be a theme). In the twenty minutes I’ve been here they haven’t smiled once. Presumably whatever’s in the three bags around their ankles isn’t enough to raise a smile.
It’s this side of Colombian life, this side of life in any country that I don’t understand. People, couples, families work hard all week – in many cases through jobs that they can barely stand and with people they will easily forget about when they decide it’s time to leave – and they reward themselves by spending their Saturdays in a shopping centre like this. They spend money on things they barely need, eat generic fast food in the food court, finding themselves stuck with only each other for company and nothing to say, and so they sit in silence.
Do they not realise they could be at a football match, walking through a forest, drinking a beer with a friend, or even making plans for more exciting adventures than “shall I buy another pink blouse today?” It really doesn’t make any sense to me.