Wednesday, January 18, 2006

That's What I Call Holiday Lights: The Medellin River

When people ask about memorable moments from your traveling experiences, it's sometimes tough to convey in words what you mean. Case in point: The Medellin river and the holiday lights that hung over it through the Christmas holidays and the New Year. Say "holiday lighting" and people in the United States will picture a cheesy set-up of many a "ho-ho"-ing plastic Santa, five or eight plastic deer pulling Santa's sled and some blinking lights (maybe a pink flamingo to boot if you are in the warmer climates) but noooooooo...

When I was a kid growing up next to the Medellin river in Colombia (once named the most polluted river in Latin America and still mierda-brownish but not as toxic), I remember how I used to marvel at the carrion vultures could stand the smell as they looked for food in the dirty waters. My dad, for one, still thinks they're one of the most magnificent birds on earth (and it would be hard to argue when you see them extend their amazing wings and fly).

Jump ahead 25 years and the Medellin river is now the most popular attraction during the holidays due to efforts to reduce its pollution and the new annual tradition of launching mind-boggling feats of holiday lighting design over the river - with brand new designs every year. Not sure who pays the bill for the electricity costs but it is simply stunning and it seems as if every Medellin resident is as proud of the holiday display as they are of their city-wide Metro.

For more photos click here.

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