Tag Archives: Medellin


20 Jan

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.

Medellin to Cartagena by Bus

4 Feb

The big talking point on this bus journey was whether I should have gone at all. I was told nothing would be happening on the last night at Discos Fuentes for the Ondatrópica guys, just tidying up, that kind of thing. So I booked an overnight bus to Cartagena. No point wasting 13 hours of the day on a bus. However, they ended up having a listening party for the whole album, starting literally just as I left. Which meant not getting to party with some amazing Colombian musicians, including Fruko.

But anyway, really I wanted to talk about the journey itself. Essentially, there is just one thing you need to know about taking the overnight bus. For God’s sake bring a blanket or lots of layers. The bus drivers are sick individuals that feel more than okay in spraying freezing cold air down your next for the entire duration of the trip. It’s not pretty!

Ondatropica in Medellin

3 Feb

So the reason I came straight to Medellin was to catch what I could of Ondatrópica, a new project featuring Colombian musicians old and new, a “tropical” exchange of ideas. The project is headed by Will “Quantic” Holland, a British producer, and Mario Galeano Toro of the ridiculously good Frente Cumbiero. In total they recorded 34 tracks in Discos Fuentes studio – known for it’s unrivalled productions of Colombian salsa and cumbia. The results are already sounding legendary, and could be an album that really takes off when it’s released – slated for April 2012. The aspiration is for it to get close to the success of Buena Vista Social Club.

A slimlined version of the group, called Los Irreales de Ondatrópica, will also be appearing at the London Olympics as part of the Cultural Olympiad. That’s on July 21st/22nd and is definitely gonna be worth checking out. I wrote about this whole project in length at Sounds and Colours so check out soundsandcolours.com/articles/colombia/onda-tropica-rejuvenating-colombias-tropical-music for more info.

Medellin At Night

2 Feb

At night Medellin is covered in God’s sparkly dandruff: