As we said goodbye, she lifted one hand up in a half-wave, her bracelets glinting in the sun. She had beautiful silver hair that nearly reached her waist, and I remember turning around again and again to wave until I could no longer see the flash of her.
My time in South America was nearly over, my bag full of sand and souvenirs, my journal laden with nine months of memories. Like all good things, the trip had gone by too quickly, and I was left with very little time to explore Brazil. I had already spent three months in Central America, bussing from Belize to Panama and then sailing to Colombia, where I started a six month overland journey down to Brazil.
I was on the last leg of my trip when I met her.
I can remember holding you for the first time, your tiny pink hand slowly clenching and unclenching around my finger. By the time you were walking and talking we were inseparable. When you were old enough, we’d go out on long bike rides, riding to the convenience store for Slurpees and five cent candies. We’d then whip around the neighbourhood, going as fast as we could leading up to the hill down Crescent Drive, toward the golf course. People joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days in the prairies, and we had to make the most out of every minor hill, every chance to feel the rush of wind on our faces. We’d race each other through the pathways of Wildwood Park, stopping in each playground to eat candy while sitting on the swings. We knew those streets like the back of our hands, knew every crack in the sidewalk, every low branch, every yard that had a dog that would bark as we zoomed past. When it would be time to go home, we’d cycle down South Drive slowly, seeing who could ride with our hands off of the handlebars the longest, both of us showing off.
Medellín has had a terrible reputation in the past – due to the drug cartel led by the infamous Pablo Escobar, it was once dubbed the most dangerous city in the world. Thousands of innocent civilians died in the 1980s and 1990s due to the business of cocaine. After Escobar’s death in 1993, however, the city started to get back on its feet, and over the past two decades there have been humongous changes. It is not a city totally devoid of crime, but crime rates have fallen in huge numbers, and I for one felt safe in its streets.
Now, as the second biggest city in Colombia, it is a city of beauty and culture; surrounded by mountains, it offered us blue skies and green landscapes. Although we only had a few days there, we filled our days with as much as Medellín could offer. There are many things to do in Medellín, but here are just a few of the things we enjoyed.
A photo essay from around South America, of all my favourite shades of blue.
One month later, after a fabulous journey that lead us from Cartagena to Santa Marta, Taganga, Tayrona, Medellín, Guatapé, Salento, Cali, Popayán, and Silvia, our appetite for Colombia was not quite satisfied. One of us read something, or heard something, or saw something: how the seed was actually planted to visit San Agustín, I can’t remember. Somehow, however, we decided to leave our heavy packs in our beloved Popayán and travel for a few days to the centre of the country, to the place of the ancient megaliths: San Agustín, Colombia.
The sun was shy during my stay in Paraty. One moment it would come out, round and inviting, turning the waves blue and the sand yellow. Just as your skin would warm, it would retreat, the ocean turning a black snarling thing again, the sand gritty and brown. Still I liked this place a lot, liked its charm and its maze of cobbled roads. I found a group of backpackers I had met in Rio and we sat on the beach come rain or shine. We drank sweating cans of beer and threw our barbecue scraps to the stray dogs who’d scratch and whine, driven crazy by the wafts of meat.